|A Twenty First Century
Christian Review of Napoleon Hills Think & Grow Rich Part One
this article I will cover the biblical admonitions regarding the obtaining of wealth, a
brief biological sketch of Napoleon Hill, followed by a survey of his ideas on business
success. The reader will be amazed at some of Hills brilliant and at the same time
common sense ideas of obtaining wealth. This section will focus on the positive
contribution Hill made. Part two (separate article) I will cover the negative and out
right dangers in Hills philosophy of success.
To begin this
review, I would be negligent as a Christian not to mention the Biblical admonitions
against the deceitfulness of riches Matt. 13:22 and our Lords warning
that you cannot serve God and Mammon Luke 16:13. As Christians we are
instructed to seek first the Kingdom of God Matt. 6:33. In case there is any
confusion at this point I do not equate money as being evil. The distinction I see is
stated by the apostle Paul when he tells us that For the Love of Money is the root
of all evil 1st Tim 6:10.
If the reader is
to take anything away from this review, it should be how to approach the topic of gaining
wealth and success and excellence in business by being fully aware of the personal motives
behind this desire. Have you been influenced by the ways of this world? Consider this:
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his
soul? Mark 8:36.
As Christians we
should desire success and excellence in our endeavors not only to be a witness for Christ
but also to bring glory to God. The Bible gives us instructions on life if followed will
not lead to poverty. Negatively, we are neither to be a sluggard Prov. 20:4
nor to love sleep Prov. 20:13. Positively:
diligent hands bring
wealth Prov. 10:4 The plans of the diligent lead to profit
21:5. And finally, from Prov. 31:10-31; is the praise given to the noble or virtuous
To begin this
review, let me state up front that I see some positive guidelines for achieving success
and excellence in business in Napoleon Hills book. Conversely, there are sections
and material in Hills book that are antithetical to Christian beliefs and practice
that the reader should be aware of. First I will offer the briefest biographical sketch
and then a survey of some of the positive material in the book. In the concluding section
I will point out some of the Biblically speaking problematic areas of Hills
theories. This review is limited to Hills book Think & Grow Rich and
not to his work in future years, although I will comment on it.
was born on Oct. 26th, 1883 and died Nov. 8th 1970. Hill is best known as the author of one of the best
selling books of all time called Think & Grow Rich. Napoleon Hill is the
father of what can be described as personal success or motivational literature. Hills
J. Ritt, Jr., tells us that he was
born in poverty in a one-room cabin in the town of Pound Virginia, a rural area. At the
age of 13, he began writing for small town newspapers. He used his earnings as a reporter
to enter law school, but had to drop out for monetary reasons.
The turning point in his career happened
with his assignment, to write a series of articles about famous men and to interview the
wealthy industrialist Andrew Carnegie. Hill learned that Carnegie believed the process of
success could be explained in a simple formula that could be learned and put into practice
by the average person. Carnegie was impressed with Hill and subsequently commissioned him
and provided him with letters of reference so that he could interview over 500 successful
men and women to discover and publish this formula for success. This project went on for 20 years and culminated in
Hill becoming an advisor to Carnegie and the publication of Think & Grow
Rich. The knowledge obtained from the interviews with the leaders of industry is
where you find the value of Hills book.
is amazing on how many of Hills ideas are used as quotes for practical
encouragement. Some of the more common quotations of Napoleon Hill are:
and grow rich
is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating
desire which transcends everything
big opportunity may be right where you are now
you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way
goal is a dream with a deadline
of loyalty is one of the major causes of failure in every walk in life
The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new
plans to take the place of those that fail
adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit
mixed with definiteness of purpose, persistence, and burning desires are powerful things
majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new
plans to take the place of those which fail
comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then
transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your
you're not learning while you're earning, you're cheating yourself out of the better
portion of your compensation
- It is literally true that you can succeed best
and quickest by helping others to succeed
We find that much of Hills book is an analysis of the capitalist system in
America and how it works. Hill believed that he had
discovered a principle that allows the regular every day people to achieve success. Hill called his success teachings The
Philosophy of Achievement and he considered freedom, democracy and capitalism, to be
important causative factors in his discovery. Hills ideas would not work in a
Marxist or a centralized planned economy because the tyrannical regulation and taxation
would destroy anyones ability to strive for success since the fruits of success
would be given to others who would squander it, since it had no intrinsic value to them.
Hill believed in personal honesty and in not cheating your fellow man or employees. The cheat or dishonest person would eventually be seen
for what he is. A leader has to be one of moral and ethical integrity.
Hill believed that you achieve success by doing superior quality work, treating your
customers as number one at all times and how anyone can become successful if they overcome
their personal shortcomings. Hill also incorporates a lot of good, practical business
advice like finding new opportunities created by what we would call today as disruptive
technologies. Also key according to Hill, is having a written business plan and not
deviating from it, along with not being afraid to make mistakes as long as you grow and
learn from the mistakes. If you find your strategy to be in error you must be able to
reformulate your plans. Hill believed that most people never succeed simply because a lack of ambition or self discipline.
Relating to discipline, Hill said: If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self.
Today there is a course on business success called Personal
Mastery which is influenced by Hills research.
The beginning of Hills philosophy began first with a
thought, hence the title Think & Grow Rich. First you formulate a plan
mentally. It involves desire, belief and passion, (absolutely essential for success)
auto-suggestion (a controversial area of his research) obtaining specialized knowledge,
(very helpful) using the imagination, (portions of this are very controversial) organized
planning, (very helpful) decision making, persistence, the master mind group, (portions of
this section is very helpful) the last three areas transmutation, the subconscious mind
and finally the brain are also quite controversial and unproven. One thing is certain;
ideas most certainly do have consequences. In this respect, business success beginning
first with an idea cannot be questioned.
As said, there are many positive ideas in Think & Grow
Rich such as organized planning, and finding a group of people who think like you,
and then turning those plans into reality. Hill was a believer in the fact that all
successful people were successful because they are able to find like minded people who
think as they do and who could be recruited into a business venture with them. Then their
abilities, talents and passion could be utilized for benefit of the business venture. Hill
is basically saying: dont hang around with people who dont think like
you do. Stay away from negative people since their negativity will affect you. Our
parents were correct in warning us against hanging around with the wrong crowd.
Hills business success ideas focused on goal setting and making sure that decisions
are carried through with consistency. In the area of responsibility, it means that you are
responsible for your own outcomes, and it is important that failures are not something to
fixate on. Everyone has failures, and we should learn from them, including figuring out
what caused them to happen. Most failures involve a breakdown of vision, or a failure to
plan to take advantage of a new situation that may have arisen. An individual that is
focused on success should not fixate on failure. We can learn from mistakes and grow.
Mistakes can be turned into successes.
Hills ideas on leadership are well thought out. His eleven
points on the attributes of leadership are excellent and exactly the traits you would hope
any business leader would have. Likewise, the ten major causes in failure of leadership
are also very perceptive. His 31 major causes of failure are points that are surprisingly
accurate reasons for every person who tries and fails in business. His 28 questions for
self analysis are helpful to avoid self-deception. However his teaching on transmutation
of sexual energy has probably offended or shocked many as sounding sexist. It is accurate
according to Hill that sexual energy can be turned into creative energy and not simply
wasted in vain physical affairs. It is also accurate to acknowledge that behind every
great man one usually finds a great woman.
Some of the many positive things that can be learned from Think
& Grow Rich can be summarized by citing several of his ideas relevant to
business, such as Failing to plan is planning
to fail, Perseverance: The
majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new
plans to take the place of those that fail, A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits,
It is literally true that you can
succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed and The man who does
more than he is paid for will soon be paid for more than he does.
Hills philosophy of success was grounded in the real world to a large extent as can
be seen by his statement that: Riches do not
respond to wishes. They respond only to definite plans, backed by definite desires,
through constant persistence, and Great achievement is
usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness.
As the reader works their way through the
book, they will see that much of Hills work boils down to setting goals, and
making sure that important decisions are acted upon thus
insuring your success. Hill is saying that you must put your plans into action. Hill was a
believer that a group of people on the same wave-length and positively focused is
substantially greater than a group of disorganized individuals. Of all the successful
leaders Hill interviewed, all of them attributed their success to being able to see
opportunities, and most importantly, in finding people who can be delegated to help
achieve success. It is not enough to work hard, one must also find like minded people, and
inspire them to work hard as a team on getting things done.
This idea of recruiting and inspiring
individuals so that they be delegated various responsibilities reminds me of what J. Paul
Getty once wrote, I would much rather receive
1% of the efforts of 100 men than 100% of my own. Much of the material in
Hills book has been tremendously helpful for those individuals involved with network
marketing. To illustrate this Hill said: It is
literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.
Those involved in the Network Marketing industry will understand appreciate this concept.
See part two of this article at the following link:
A Twenty First Century Christian Review of Napoleon
Hills Think & Grow Rich Part Two
Mr. Kettler is an ordained
Presbyterian Elder and the owner of Undergroundnotes.com where his theological,
philosophical and political articles can be read. He has worked in corporate America for
over 25 years and is now realizing his dreams as a successful home business entrepreneur.
Mr. Kettler can be reached through his business site at: http://www.Undergroundnotes.com.
Permission is hereby granted to reprint this article as long as my web site is retained in
the biographical information.
Capitalism or entrepreneurialism is an economic system based on free market
competition, involving individual ownership of the means of production. Capitalism
encourages individual and business ventures, contrasted with a state or government
is the center of capitalist enterprise. The genius of capitalism is that it allows
individuals to come together and engage in commerce without government interference or
control. Network marketing is one of the last bastions of true capitalism. It is people
doing business with people in an exchange of ideas, goods and services. Network marketing
energizes the entrepreneurial spirit that allows you to dream your dreams and provides
hope that your dreams can be realized. Jack
Top 20 Global Business Builder Award Winner!
Curious, for an automatic e-mail reply go to: Jack@KettlerWellness.com