One day when I was a bored college student hunting through the stacks in the library, I stumbled upon a book called, “How to Think and Grow Rich” by someone named Napoleon Hill.
I must have read the title five times, thinking that I had misinterpreted what it said. Little did I know it would lead me to where I am today and to sharing these “Think and Grow Rich in 12 Steps” tips and strategies with you.
My first thought was… “What was this? And was it for real or just a joke?” I remember the librarian’s eyes twinkling when I checked it out. “Are you going to think and grow rich, young lady?”
I smiled politely, took the book home, devoured it and scratched my head. I wasn’t quite sure what I’d just read, so I read it again… and again.
It wasn’t until well into my 40’s when some of the ideas in the book really started to make sense to me. If you haven’t read the book lately, I’d like to offer you my interpretation of Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich in 12 steps.
1. Burning Desire
Unless you are super lucky, like stumbling-upon-a-suitcase-full-of-money lucky, then everything in life starts with your desire and your ability to visualize what you want. Once you’ve got a burning desire to achieve your goal, you are able to persist despite setbacks and challenges along the way, even when it seems like you are making no progress.
It’s your burning desire that drives you to achieve the impossible. Think of Beethoven who, despite being deaf, composed works that are still performed and loved today. Or consider Milton, who become a great author despite being blind. They were able to achieve their dreams despite their challenges because of their passion for their craft.
No matter what you’re doing, see if you can work up a burning desire to see it through. Then as you progress in life, aim to choose only those projects that set your mind and heart on fire with desire. If you can do that, you’ll never work another day in your life.
2. Absolute Faith
Faith is having belief in what you do and trusting your capability to achieve your goal. Seeing your result before it happens, feeling what it’s like to have achieved the result before you even start, knowing that you will indeed accomplish your goal – these are all faith driven and allow you to perform feats that seem like miracles to others.
Faith is KNOWING in advance that what you want will come to pass. Your mind isn’t divided between, “This will happen!” and “What if it doesn’t happen?” because you know for a fact that it will. And, you are able to rest easy knowing it is just a matter of time before you achieve the result you seek.
With faith you can stand firm no matter what the obstacle or challenge and know that it doesn’t matter because success is inevitable. Faith isn’t a frenzied mantra repeated over and over (“I hope it happens I hope it happens I hope it happens”) but rather a calm, confident knowledge that because you can see the end result you seek, it will come to pass.
I believe one of the reasons Betty White stayed in good health and lived to be nearly 100 was because she always found the positive in situations and in people. She didn’t go around talking about how bad things were, but instead chose to focus on the positive and be happy. I’ll bet she knew and practiced the “think and grow rich” concept I’m sharing here.
Our self-talk can determine how happy, healthy and successful we are. Positive self-talk is another great tool that we use to achieve our aim and fulfill our destiny in life.
Whether your words are spoken in your head or aloud, finding good things to say about yourself and your world sets you up for happiness and success. In many cases you’re creating positive prophecies that do indeed come true.
As Napoleon hill said, “We are the prophet of our own life and our visions about our life do come true.” Learn to love yourself in a positive, healthy way. Work on encouraging yourself (“I can do this!”) and telling yourself that you are worthy and capable of achieving your dreams.
4. Become a Specialist
Specialization is an almost required ingredient to success because it gives the universe a clear vision of what you want and desire.
Be specific in naming your goals, career, achievements, relationships or anything that you want to be in your life. Focus on exactly what you want to the exclusion of other things.
People lose their destiny because they don’t define their purpose. We all want to achieve great things, but we can’t all be great at all things. Choose what you want to be known for. Be persistent in working towards that goal and your greatness is certain.
“But what about people like Richard Branson? He’s started all kinds of different businesses and many of them have been successful. He didn’t focus on just one thing.”
And yet, he did. He focused on building a business empire and let others who were more knowledgeable in each business make the day-to-day decisions. For example, his goal wasn’t to start an airline, but to look for business opportunities, find the experts who specialized in each opportunity such as people who knew how to run an airline, and keep building his empire that way.
He also built those businesses one at a time and not all at once. The key is focus. Choose one thing. Make it a success. Then if you want, move on to the next goal and do the same thing.
Your imagination is your power. It is the invisible ability to attract great achievements and prosperity to you, and that’s why Steve Jobs said, “Imagination is everything; it is a preview to life’s coming attractions.”
Imagination is the power you wield to create your future life.
If you imagine bills, loneliness and despair, then that’s what you’ll have. If you imagine that each time you attempt something new, you’re met with resistance, then that’s what you will have.
But if you imagine your life as you wish it to be, then you can create the life you want. See your new achievement in your mind’s eye as though you are viewing it in the present tense. It’s simultaneously already happening (current tense) and it’s already happened (past tense). Yes, you can imagine both at once. Your goal is coming to fruition and it’s already happened. Think of a deposit coming to your bank account. It’s not there yet, and yet it is there. True, you cannot access the funds until tomorrow, and yet it is already yours.
Think of what you want to have, to achieve and to become in the next 6 months, the next year, the next 5 years. Make it clear as can be in your mind. Write it down lest you forget it. Continue to see it simultaneously in your imagination as if it is coming true and is already true.
Imagine your plan for achieving what you want. See yourself executing that plan, and then get busy making it come true. The better you can see the end result in your mind, the easier it will be to achieve.
Spoiler alert, I already mentioned the need for a plan in the previous paragraph, but hey, you knew you needed one, right? You don’t get to the moon or to Mars without a plan, and you don’t (usually) achieve your highest goals without one, either.
If you plan to start a business, part of that plan is to choose your business and then take the steps necessary to start and run that business. Your plan is your roadmap on how to get from where you are to where you want to go.
Planning is the act of strategizing and creating a formula on how to execute and work towards the achievement of a goal. With no plan you will fail.
One note: Plans get you started and guide you along the way, but they’re not written in stone. As you progress towards your goal, you may need to make revisions to your plan. That doesn’t mean you don’t need a plan to start with, or that your plan was wrong. It’s simply how planning vs real life works, and that’s okay.
You can have a plan and be flexible. The plan will get you started, and the process will show you where to update your plans for a better outcome.
There’s an old joke that goes something like this:
“God, I pray to you every day to win the lottery. I’ve been praying for 30 years, without fail. I pray and pray and pray and you still have not come through for me.”
God: “Could you meet me halfway and go buy a @#$% lottery ticket??!”
If you plan to win the lottery, part of that plan is to buy a ticket, and the next step is to take action, follow the plan and purchase your ticket.
7. Take Massive Action
Once you’ve used your imagination to see what you want to do and you’ve planned out how to do it, then it’s time for action on a massive scale.
This is where so many people fail, and understandably so. “Massive Action” sounds like a full frontal assault made by an army. Not so. Massive action for you might simply be setting aside one hour per day – every day – to work on your goal.
If you can’t sustain your action, then you’ll fail. That obese and out of breath person who begins the new year thinking they will exercise vigorously for an hour a day is doomed to fail because the action they’ve chosen is not sustainable.
For someone who hasn’t exercised in 20 years, massive action this week might simply be stepping out the front door every morning at 8 to walk around the block. Next week maybe they walk two blocks, and next month maybe they’re doing a mile a day. For them, that is massive and sustainable action.
There will be times when very little action is necessary. You see yourself getting raise. You know it’s going to happen. Your contributions to the company are well known. The next week the boss calls you into the office to say you’ve got the raise. These things happen all the time. Our thoughts direct our world.
But in many cases massive, sustained action will be needed. Think of your action-taking as a marathon rather than a short burst of activity. Plan to invest a certain amount of effort each day to reaching your goal.
8. Be Persistent
Persistency means working when you don’t feel like it or when you’d rather do something else. When you’ve had a bad day and the last thing you want to do is anything but veg out in front of the television, and yet you still work on your goal – that’s when you’re being persistent and consistent.
Challenges will happen. Enthusiasm might wane before you get back on track. But if you expect from the very start that not every day will bring a busload of motivation, then you’ll be ready for those days when you just sorta kinda don’t want to bother but you do the work anyway.
I suspect it’s the lack of consistency and persistency that causes the most regret in life. If only you had kept going. If only you had acted on your idea. If only you had gone after your dream.
If we only get one shot at life, then maybe we better get moving and make the most of it. Take a step every day to get where you’re going. Don’t quit, don’t give up, and don’t take a break longer than two days, even if you get sick if you want to live the “think and grow rich” lifestyle.
Everyone has challenges. But only those people who work to be consistent and persistent in their efforts will overcome the challenges to succeed. Sorry if I sound like motivational mouthpiece, but you know everything I just said is true. The question is, are you living it?
9. Rebound from Failure
Failing doesn’t make you a failure, but quitting does. Every time something goes wrong, ask yourself, “What’s good about this?” Keep asking that until you find the answer. Since I began this practice, I have found something good or even great in nearly every bad thing that’s happened.
Remember you only have to get up one more time than you fall down.
And yet so many people quit after their first set back. “Oh no, I feel so stupid, this isn’t for me.”
Expect there will be bumps in the road along the way. Just let go of your ego and enjoy the ride. Your ability to rebound from failure can bring out your best because every failure comes with an equivalent or greater success if you will simply keep moving forward.
Collaboration is like magic. Just think about how powerful it can be to utilize the skills and knowledge of other people to reach your goals. I promise, you’ll think and grow rich in record time this way.
The great steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie, self-admittedly didn’t know all that much about his own business, but he didn’t need to. He went out and found the best and brightest minds in the steel industry and hired them. Carnegie not only wasn’t afraid to hire people who were more knowledgeable and smarter than himself; he bragged about it! And because of his skill at collaborating with others, he became one of the richest people in the world in his time.
If you can’t work with people then you’re going to have a difficult time achieving your dreams, no matter what your goals are. Your ability to collaborate and work with others can be your greatest power, one that brings all of your dreams to fulfillment.
If you make a list of everything you need to do in order to achieve your dreams, you will likely find there are a LOT of different skills you’re going to need. You could spend several months mastering each of these many skills, and in a few months or years you might be ready to proceed. Of course by then, some of what you learned will be outdated and you’ll need to go back and learn some more.
Or you can simply find people who are already masters at the skills you need and allow them to help you. Yes, this does mean compensating other people. But imagine you’re building a business. Your goal is to grow it into a six-figure income within six months.
If you have to take time to learn how to build the perfect website, write the perfect sales copy and blog posts, become a pro at social media, spend time creating a great product and recruiting affiliates, then you could be looking at months of trial and error while learning from your many mistakes. It might be a year or two before you ever get your business off the ground and profitable, if it even happens then.
But if you pay professionals to help you, then you can probably launch your business in just a month or two. You’ll stand a much greater chance of hitting your goal of six figures in six months. You will have saved immeasurable frustration, not to mention time.
And, if going alone means you earn six figures 3 years from now and collaborating means you earn six figures starting in 6 months, that’s a minimum of $250,000 you’ve lost by doing everything yourself.
“But I don’t need help.” If you truly don’t, then great! Go for it. But if that’s your ego talking, you might want to ask your ego to sit on the bench while you recruit your star line-up to help you win the game.
Why I just launched into a sports metaphor, I’ll never know. But you get the point. Amateurs think that outsourcing and collaboration costs money. But professionals know it’s the fastest, easiest and smartest way to get where you want to go in life.
11. Take Calculated Risks
I hope you’ll take note of that word, “Calculated.” If you want to change anything in life, there is a risk you’ll need to assume, however slight it might be. And sometimes the risk simply feels too great, not because the consequences could be dire, but because as humans we tend to be incredibly risk adverse.
Let’s get something out of the way here: If you want to make major changes in our life, then you’ve got to be ready to look like a darn fool. Anytime anyone takes on a new task, they are probably going to look silly. They’re going to make dumb mistakes. Everything about them might scream, “AMATEUR!” So what? It’s all part of the process.
When you learned to walk, I guarantee you were terrible at it. You fell down all the time. You clung to furniture to stay even a little bit upright. You wobbled around like a tiny drunk and had trouble going in the right direction. Sometimes you were so tired of falling, you went back to crawling because you already knew how to do that.
Now just imagine if you had given up because you didn’t want to look foolish. You’d still be crawling today.
That’s why you got up one more time than you fell down, and this is the attitude to take when starting on your new ventures. You might be somewhat clueless now, but you will learn as you go and you’ll get better and better.
Feeling embarrassed and foolish is risk number one, and it’s simply the ego worried about what others think. Who cares what they think? You’re following your dream and that’s all that matters.
Now there’s another kind of risk, and it can assume all sorts of shapes and forms. Do you choose this person or that person to do your writing? Is paying for advertising going to bring in business or waste your money? Is this the right niche or is it too saturated? Is your persona too over the top and going to frighten away prospects?
Everything is a risk, including not getting out of bed in the morning. Succeeding with a “think and grow rich” mindset depends on this.
And sometimes you’ll have to make big decisions about what to do next. You’ll feel like you’re taking a big risk. Others will tell you NOT to do it. Pay close attention to whether or not these ‘others’ have experience in this. If not, and you want some counsel, find someone who’s already done what you are attempting to do.
There is a reason people use guides and sherpas to help them climb mountains. These experts know the best paths, the places that are too dangerous, and all the little tricks to use and pitfalls to avoid.
Life is risk. Make friends with risk, enjoy risk, but not too much. Your business and your life aren’t gambling tables in Las Vegas. They’re much more important and deserve your thoughtful calculation before making any big decisions.
Voracious readers have a definite advantage in business because they naturally get more ideas. Finding out what’s working for others can cut your own time to success dramatically. For example, in business what works in one niche might be used in an entirely different selling arena. Or someone who has the same personal challenge as you do may have found a way to turn that problem into a real asset.
Improving your own skills can work wonders, too. Some folks think that the moment they graduate school they never need to crack a book again. Those people are stagnant, stuck in whatever
year they graduated, and they quickly become obsolete.
But the person who is always interested and curious about what’s new, what’s working for others and keeps up with changes and innovations will be well ahead of these folks who think reading is a plague set upon them by disgruntled teachers. This is a top “Think and Grow Rich” strategy!
Stay curious, keep learning and take notes. Have you ever read a book, and six months later you have no idea what you read? Here’s a great little trick for always remembering the very best of what you read: Whether it’s an article or a book, write down the 3 most important ideas or lessons you’ve read. This is the information you can use in your own life and business. Write it down and then reread it every morning for several days, and the information can be yours for life.
Also, if possible, implement at least one of those ideas as soon as possible to start reaping the benefits of your reading.
And there have it… my take on “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. While the book itself is dated, the concepts still work as well today as they did all those years ago. And while most of us are familiar with these steps, it’s also true that nearly all of us can improve on at least one or more.
We’ve only got one shot – let’s make it a good one as we strive to think and grow rich with these 12 steps!
I’m bestselling Wall Street Journal and USA Today author, marketing strategist, and entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and I would love to connect further with you to help you to achieve your goals. If you are interested in learning how to optimize the syndication of your content, please take a look at my popular Syndication Optimization training course and consider coming aboard to increase your visibility, credibility, and profitability.