“What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
Napoleon Hill’s classic Think and Grow Rich was published in 1937. Since that time it has sold well over 70 million copies and is, as of today, the top-selling personal development book of all time.
Not only that, but it is also one of the best selling books—across any genre—of all time. And, a lot of people credit Think and Grow Rich as being the starting point for the personal development and self-improvement movement.
At the behest of steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie, Hill set out to interview the most successful people of the early 20th century in hopes of finding a set of learnable and teachable principles that anyone could use to become wealthy.
Some of the top names that Hill interviewed were Carnegie, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford, among others.
Think and Grow Rich is the product of Hill’s 20+ years researching the topic of success. The book has been attributed by many successful people as having been a big influence on their life (Oprah, Ken Norton, Andrew Tan, W. Clement Stone, etc.).
And, for me, personally, I can attribute Think and Grow Rich as being one of the most important books that I have ever read. In fact, from my point of view, Hill’s work is second only to the Bible in terms of the impact it has had on my life.
In this post, I will cover the four lessons that I have learned from Think and Grow Rich, as well as discuss how they have helped me achieve success.
Lesson #1: My Thoughts are Things
Think, thing. Thing, think. I’m not a linguist, but I do wonder why these words are so similar. Perhaps it is a coincidence and perhaps there is someone out there more knowledgeable on the subject than me who can shed light on why they are nearly identical.
In my opinion, though, the two words are interconnected. And, I come to this conclusion based off of what I have learned in Think and Grow Rich.
Perhaps the most important lesson from Hill’s classic, and the foundation for the entire book (or what he calls, ‘the secret’), is that thoughts are things.
Think about that for a moment…
Any thought that you have has the potential to turn into something real, measurable, and touchable. Any great achievement in any one person’s life started first as a single tiny thought in someone’s mind.
Sometimes, the only way that thought survived was by communicating it to someone else. In which case the original thinker of the thought was not the one to actually see the thought come to fruition.
In that way, the thought was given to someone else, much in the same way we give real things to one another.
Essentially, thoughts are seeds that can be grown, destroyed, or passed on to someone else…
How this Lesson Impacted Me
When I picked up on this concept in Think and Grow Rich it changed my life. It made me realized that everything I was thinking was either working for me, or against me…
Negative thoughts result in a negative reality. Positive thoughts result in a positive reality.
With this idea firmly planted in my mind, I finally understood that my life was completely in my control. And, the way to control my life was to control my thoughts.
Of course, this concept alone is not enough to produce success. Unless we live in complete isolation, outside forces will undoubtedly influence our thoughts. And, outside influences don’t always have our best interests in mind. (Just watch the news, the latest political debate, or one of the many “reality” television shows on TV.)
So, we have to treat our mind as a garden, tending to those thoughts that are fruitful, and removing those thoughts that are not.
According to my understanding of Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill lists three main ways to tend to the garden of your mind… all three of which must be used in unison for the best results…
- Back your thoughts (those you want) with a burning desire
- Pursue your desire with great persistence
- Have Faith that your desire will come to be.
In reality, the book goes into many different principles on the topic of success. However, these three points, along with the fact that thoughts are things, were my biggest takeaways from the book.
Lesson #2: Back Your Thoughts With a Burning Desire
Another big element that I took away from Think and Grow Rich is that you must back your thoughts with a “burning” desire in order to help them come to life. This makes complete sense if you think about it…
Thousands of thoughts come into our minds on a daily basis. And, a lot of them leave as quickly as they come.
In order to get a thought to stick, we must dwell on it. And, the more we dwell on it, the more of a reality it becomes.
Depending on the thought, this can either be a good thing or a bad thing. For instance, dwelling on negative thoughts—and, let’s be honest, all of us do this, and we probably do so more than we dwell on positive thoughts—on a regular basis brings about negative consequences… arguments, depression, stress, anxiety, etc.
On the flip side, dwelling on positive things constantly will likely bring about positive consequences… friendship, satisfaction, success, gratefulness, etc.
Thoughts alone cannot achieve anything. They are merely paths that we choose to pursue or not.
For instance, if we have an idea for a business and it only slightly intrigues us, that business idea will likely fade out of our mind before we can ever pursue it.
However, if we make that business idea the dominant thought of our mind, becoming so passionate about it that we are constantly thinking about it, we will be much more likely to take action on that business idea.
This is essentially what I did prior to building my first successful website.
How this Lesson Impacted Me
A couple of years after reading Think and Grow Rich, I had the opportunity to start a website. It wasn’t the first website that I had ever started. In fact, I had tried building a couple of websites prior to starting my new website, and both of those ended up being failures.
This time was different, though…
This time I had an idea that I could build a successful website and this time I backed that idea with a burning desire to see it come to life.
I told myself, “It doesn’t matter how long it takes—even if I’m a 90-year-old man trying to make this website work—I will make this website profitable, or I will die trying.”
Believe it or not, I actually said this. I told it to people. I told it to myself. I believed it.
With that kind of desire, I couldn’t not think about my website. It was literally on my mind at all times. And, because I was thinking about it so often, I took action on it every single day.
When you take action on something and back it with a strong desire to see it come to life, (in my case, working on my website) and pursue it every single day, that something starts to grow. And, the bigger it grows, the more real it becomes.
But even that is not enough. Desire is great, but in order to keep taking action, you cannot be thwarted by failure, or temporary setbacks.
And, believe me, anytime you take such massive action, setbacks and obstacles will get in your way. If you let them, obstacles will kill all of your desire quicker than you were able to build it up.
The only way to avoid being defeated by obstacles, is to face them head on. And, to do that, you must be persistent…
Lesson #3: A burning desire must be pursued with persistence
Think and Grow Rich instructs that persistence is another key ingredient for success.
You start with a single thought. Then you become so passionate about that thought (or, you develop such a strong burning desire to pursue that thought) that it dominates your mind.
When such a thought dominates your mind, you will inevitably pursue that thought in an attempt to bring that thought into fruition.
And, inevitably, when you pursue something in an attempt to bring it into reality, you are guaranteed to run into speed bumps along the way.
Speed bumps come in many forms. They might be discouragement from someone close to you, criticism from someone you don’t even know, a mistake you made along the way which caused a big setback, or an informational barrier that you run into, in which you realize that you don’t have the knowledge to proceed with your plan.
While speed bumps are merely bumps, temporary setbacks, or obstacles that get in our way, a lot of people see them as the end to their idea, or as such monumental obstacles, that they are not worth traversing to continue on in your pursuit.
These people, much like I did (and still do in a lot of situations), lack persistence.
Persistence will pick you back up when you get knocked down. It will allow the criticism to flow through one ear and right on out of the other.
In the light of persistence, obstacles will be revealed to be what they really are… tests.
A test of your character, a test of your plan of action, and a test of how bad you really want it. Obstacles offer a chance to strengthen your character, improve your plan of action, and shed light on how badly you really want what it is you are pursuing.
If you aren’t willing to make the necessary adjustments, you don’t deserve to achieve success. If, however, you are persistent, and willing to adapt so that you can continue your pursuit, then you can achieve just about anything.
How this Lesson Impacted Me
In all of the years prior to my first successful online business, persistence was the one thing I lacked. Before that, I had never lacked new ideas and I rarely pursued anything that I wasn’t passionate about.
The problem was that I would let those speed bumps deflate me. And, often times, it would be the first speed bump that would deter me. I had the false belief that everything would just happen and that if it was meant to happen it would happen.
With that kind of thinking, obstacles appeared to me as being the end, rather than as the stepping stones that they really were. So, regardless of how good the idea I had was, I never even got the chance to start the ascent toward the realization of my ideas.
However, with my first successful website, and with the attitude that “I will make this website profitable, or I will die trying,” I had finally had something to drive me. And, that never-say-die attitude propelled me to develop the one thing which I had lacked for so long: persistence.
The funny thing about persistence is that, often times, when it is applied fervently, it will develop within you the third important trait you must have to achieve success.
And, that is Faith, the fourth important lesson that I picked up from Think and Grow Rich.
Lesson #4: Faith is the most powerful faculty of man.
In the third chapter of Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hills covers Faith.
It is difficult to stop a persistent and passionate person from achieving their objective. These types of people are so dedicated and focused on their goal, that not much can slow them down.
However, it is pretty much impossible to stop the same person if they know, without a shadow of a doubt, that their objective will be made a reality. I’m talking about someone who sees their goal so clearly, that it isn’t a matter of if they will achieve something, but rather a matter of when they will achieve it.
In fact, in the minds of these types of people, they already have achieved it.
This type of belief is Faith.
Faith is the action of believing and seeing your main aim as a reality, long before it has ever manifested.
Faith is the action of owning what doesn’t yet appear—to the outside world—to be yours.
You have to know you are going to succeed. You have to be able to clearly see yourself in victory. Your vision has to be so powerful, that you already feel like you have achieved it.
If you can have Faith like that, there isn’t a whole lot you won’t be able to achieve.
How this Lesson Impacted Me
I started my first successful website in June of 2012. I met the beautiful woman who would eventually become my wife in October of 2012.
At the time, I was broke and I was literally working on my website for 12 or more hours per day. Some days I would roll out of bed, walk a step to the desk and computer that was right next to my bed, and start working. And sometimes, I would work all day until I went to bed, only stopping to eat and go to the bathroom.
And, crazier still, on some days I would suddenly awaken early in the morning (as early as 4AM) with excitement at the prospects of continuing work on my website.
I would spring out of bed and get straight to work. And, often times on those days, I would be up until 1 or 2 in the morning of the next day, literally working until exhaustion.
Those were 20+ hour work days! It definitely wasn’t a healthy way to pursue my goal, but I was driven, and I couldn’t help myself.
Fortunately, meeting my wife helped me find a nice balance that was more sustainable, and ultimately, healthier.
One of the things I told her, though, when we first met and after explaining my website to her and my idea behind it, was that someday it was going to make $20,000 per month.
I’m pretty sure she thought that was a little crazy. I’m also pretty sure that if I would have told that to anyone else who knew me at the time, they would have also thought it was crazy.
But I was convinced. I imagined what it would be like making that much per month. I thought of all the crazy stuff I could buy and the cool trips my new girlfriend and I could go on.
To me, I was so sure of my website, and so sure of the idea that I could make money off of it ($20,000 per month, in fact), that it became a reality to me.
I had Faith!
A little over 2 years after I met my wife, during the 2014 holiday shopping season, my website sold over a million dollars in products and I had my first $20,000 month (in commission).
My wife still laughs about how she met this “crazy guy” who “talked about how his website was going to make all this money” and about how she wasn’t really sure if she believed me at the time.
But it happened. And the weird part is, looking back on it, it only seems amazing to me if I try and view it as someone else.
In reality, I believed it would happen for so long, that when it did, it really wasn’t that shocking. (If that makes sense.)
I expected it to happen, and while it was definitely an amazing moment, it felt somewhat normal.
Ultimately, though, it all started with a single thought. And by adding a burning desire, persistence, and Faith to that thought, it was enough to bring me my first successful online business.
Have You Read Think and Grow Rich?
I realize that while Think and Grow Rich is one of the more popular books on personal development, not everyone will agree with its effectiveness.
I’ve even mentioned multiple times that the reason why Think and Grow Rich was a ‘turning point’ in my life could just be a result of finally understanding success after all of the books I had read prior.
Still, though, there is something to be said for a book that has sold over 70 million copies and that has been attributed by some pretty powerful and successful people as one of the more important books that they have read in their lifetime.
And, for me, the principles discussed in Think and Grow Rich have been instrumental to my success.
Of course, the book covers a lot more important principles that I have listed here, such as the power of the imagination, developing a sound plan, the concept of autosuggestion, and the importance of a mastermind group, among many others.
But for me, the four principles I have discussed above are the most important lessons that I took away from the book.
So, what I want to know now is, for those of you who have read Think and Grow Rich, how has the book impacted you—if at all? And, what key points have you taken away from Napoleon Hill’s classic?
This post is a part of my goal to publish 50 different posts in 100 days. This is post #2 in the series. I’m using The Freedom Journal to track my goal and help me stay focused. To read more about my goal and how I plan to achieve it, click here.