As anyone committed to self-development has certainly done, I’ve spent some time studying the teachings of Napoleon Hill and would like to share with you a summary of the main principles highlighted in his landmark work, Law of Success, first published in 1928.
Most of you know who Napoleon Hill is. But for the benefit of those who don’t, Mr. Hill is quite arguably the author of the world’s first practical philosophy of human achievement. Commissioned back in 1908 by the great steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie, Hill spent over 25 years researching the lives of over 500 of the most successful people on the planet.
The amazing thing is that most of Hill’s work was not from second-hand research but first-hand knowledge from personal contact with some of the greatest powerbrokers of the day including Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, Charles M. Schwab, Elbert Hubbard, George Eastman, and US Presidents Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt.
While Think and Grow Rich is certainly Hill’s most popular book based on the results of his exhaustive research, Law of Success (which was first published as a set of eight volumes) is Hill’s most comprehensive work of achievement; a genuine collection of success literature that is arguably the world’s first and foremost “success encyclopedia.”
The only modern day equivalents that readily come to mind are Anthony Robbin’s Unlimited Power in the field of applied psychology, Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People on principle-centered leadership, and the success strategies employed in Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles.
Nevertheless, I would rank Napoleon Hill’s Law of Success: The 21st-Century Edition as the foundational book for developing a practical success philosophy that anyone can readily apply. The fully revised and updated 21st-Century Edition, published in 2004, comes in at 1035 pages and contains Hill’s deep analysis of the 17 proven principles of success, many personal examples and stories from his own life experiences, and new commentary from the editors providing modern parallels with contemporary events and the latest management theories.
In this special three part series, I will share with you a brief summary of each of Napoleon Hill’s 17 Principles from Law of Success: The 21st-Century Edition. Master these principles and you will master your destiny!
Principle # 1: The Master Mind
The Master Mind is simply a friendly alliance of two or more minds harmoniously working together in full cooperation towards the achievement of a singular purpose. It’s more than just a brain-trust of accumulated knowledge used for creative problem solving; the Master Mind is a field of accumulated energy created from the combined group’s spirit which can accomplish far more than any individual member could possibly hope to achieve independently.
Hill recommends forming a round table of ideally six to twelve like-minded individuals who will support your chief aim, who are in complete harmony with each other, and who are willing to meet with you regularly to help you accomplish that aim. You must offer each group member something in return that will reward their participation in your Master Mind.
Whether you choose to develop a formal alliance or not, the Master Mind principle will still have a powerful influence over your life – for better or worse. It is said that you are the average of the people you spend the most time with which will either help or hinder you. Choose your friends and associates carefully.
Principle # 2: A Definite Chief Aim
Without a definite purpose backed by a definite plan one is as lost and hopeless as a rudderless ship in the middle of the Atlantic. Good intentions and hard work are not enough. You need a Purpose, a Plan, and Perseverance backed with a burning desire to achieve your definite chief aim in life.
To realize your Chief Aim, Hill suggests writing out your WWWH and reviewing it daily: “know what you want, when you want it, why you want it, and how you intend to get it.” Also include what you plan to give in return for reaching your dream.
By reviewing your manifesto daily, with intense feeling, you will begin attracting the people and circumstances into your life to make your wildest dreams come true.
Principle # 3: Self-Confidence
To be self-confidant you must know – know yourself and know your business. Know your strengths and know your weaknesses, your greatest fears and your deepest desires. Those who do not know these things live in constant fear and anxiety. A leader must know.
Keep a log of all your accomplishments and all the praise you receive and review it frequently. Use auto suggestion or self-talk (affirmations) to tell yourself daily about how you are growing as a leader in your field.
Fill your mind with positive, inspiring thoughts. Surround yourself with people who will empower you. Have faith in others and see the good in people because how you view others is a reflection of yourself.
Principle # 4: The Habit of Saving
Pay yourself first by developing the habit of consistently saving a portion of your income. Hill and many others suggest saving at least 10% of your earnings. (Tip: if you’ve accumulated high-interest debts such as credit card debt, it’s a good policy to allocate 80% of your savings to paying down the debt in order to avoid that debt from growing faster than the rate of return you’re getting on your savings).
Those who have will be given more. Having even a modest savings account will increase your self-confidence and will attract many opportunities that would normally not come your way without that extra cushion.
Successful people will be more willing to back your idea or promote you within their enterprise if they see that you yourself have developed the self-discipline of saving.
Hill recounts several instances in his book where people who had built up a little savings account were able to invest in new business opportunities, attract financing for their ideas, or enter into partnerships that would later result in untold millions.
Principle # 5: Initiative and Leadership
“Do the thing and you shall have the power.” – Emerson
According to Hill, leadership is “doing the right thing without being told.” Leadership is ultimately about taking initiative and getting things done. Bottom line: leaders get paid for results.
By always providing additional service without any expectation for pay, you will build your initiative muscles.
Leadership requires self-sacrifice. Leaders are givers. Inspire and help others and you will be rewarded in direct proportion to your efforts. As American self-help icon, Zig Ziglar, likes to say, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
I hope you enjoyed Part I of this Law of Success series. As we continue our march towards a new year AND a new decade, I’ll continue sharing the remaining 12 Law of Success principles in upcoming weeks. In the meantime, share these principles with your peers, discuss the concepts and teach other people what you’ve learned. There’s no better way to learn than by teaching others. Might I suggest forming a master mind of your own to get the ball rolling?