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Book review: Think and Grow Rich

Think and Grow Rich Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In this oft-referenced self-help classic, Napoleon Hill promises to share the secret of the wealthiest people of his time (this book was published in 1937). At Andrew Carnegie's bidding, he spent 20 years interviewing and studying over 500 people, including Henry Ford, John Rockefeller, Thomas Edison, Marshall Field, Charles Schwab, and Alexander Graham Bell.

Did I discover the "secret" that will launch me to world-renowned success? Unfortunately, not that I'm aware. Do I have a better understanding of the psychology behind success or failure? Yes. I also realize how important it is to set a high goal, review it daily, and constantly work toward it.

Quick summary: "Anybody can wish for riches, and most people do, but only a few know that a definite plan plus a burning desire for wealth are the only dependable means of accumulating it."

The book contains a lot of practical advice on being successful, but it's mainly focused on the psychological motivation behind it. Although most of it's sound, there are some sections that are of questionable scientific validity, and some pure pseudoscience. For example, Hill believes that all human brains are connected by the "vibrating energy of thought", and that people can connect to the "Infinite Intelligence" - a cosmic force permeating all matter and energy.

Other nonsense presented as fact: telepathy, clairvoyance, ESP, precognition. These parts reminded me of some of the pseudoscience in The Power of Positive Thinking. At first I was concerned about Hill's mental state and ability to separate fact from fantasy when he described his imaginary meetings with a group of notable dead and living men he called his "Invisible Counselors". On second thought, however, I can see how imagining the advice that great people might give could help you make better decisions.

Here are the 13 Steps to Riches presented in the book, supposedly containing the great secret to wealth:

13 Steps to Riches
1. Desire
Have a burning desire for something definite (money, etc.).
Create a plan to obtain a definite amount of money through the sale of specific goods and services by a set date.
"See and feel and believe yourself already in possession of the money."

2. Faith
Believe in your idea.
Your self-confidence will influence your thoughts and actions.

3. Autosuggestion
Concentrate on your desire and faith, and your subconscious will create practical plans for obtaining your desire/money.

4. Specialized knowledge
Use your expertise and imagination to come up with ideas that earn far more than any job.

5. Imagination
Hard work and honesty alone won't make you rich.
Ideas become money through a definite purpose plus a definite plan.
Form definite plans to turn your ideas into money.

6. Organized planning
Create a practical plan for acquiring money.
Provide great service and convince others that you're worth the money you demand.
Follow the QQS Formula for service:
- Quality: be efficient, and increase in efficiency
- Quantity: give all the service you can, and improve through practice and experience
- Spirit: be agreeable and harmonious with others

7. Decision
Make decisions quickly and definitely; change them slowly.
Base decisions on your desire and your own opinions (not others').

8. Persistence
Have the willpower to follow your desire and plans despite obstacles and criticism.

9. Master Mind
Surround yourself with like-minded, intelligent people. This is your brain trust or think tank.
With your Master Mind group, coordinate your knowledge and effort to attain your desire.

10. Sex transmutation
Channel your sexual energy into creative energy.
Limit yourself to a moderate amount of sex and use your remaining energy to drive creativity and enthusiasm.

11. Subconscious mind
Plant your desires in your subconscious for it to work toward 24/7.
Fill your mind with positive emotions so that negative ones can't enter.

12. The brain
Send thoughts with your subconscious, receive thoughts with your creative imagination, and use autosuggestion.

13. Sixth Sense
Meditate to become attuned to inspiration and creative imagination.

Other notes
Don't expect poverty; demand riches.
The only thing you can absolutely control in life is your thoughts. Control your mind through self-discipline and habit.
Don't use the basic fears as excuses; overcome them through positive thinking - fears of poverty, criticism, illness, loss of love, old age, and death. Don't worry and don't be susceptible to negative influences.

My favorite part of the book was the poem in the Desire chapter: "My Wage" by Jessie Belle Rittenhouse:

I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store;

For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.

I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have willingly paid.

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