Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” is full of timeless lessons. “Thoughts are things” is the title and the first words of the first chapter of the book.
When I first read those words, I didn’t really understand what they meant — even when I read the first chapter and the examples offered. It didn’t resonate until I got to the end of the chapter and read, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive, and believe, it can achieve.” Then I started to get it. That was 1972.
By coincidence, it was only a few days later that I heard the late, great Earl Nightingale say, “You become what you think about.” At that moment, I got it. It clicked. And it has clicked ever since.
More reading and studying about thinking and the thought process revealed neither Hill nor Nightingale had the original thought.
From Socrates and Samuel Smiles to Orison Swett Marden, Elbert Hubbard, Dale Carnegie, Hill, Nightingale and Jim Rohn — they had their own way of saying the same thing.
Your thinking becomes your actions. And it’s those dedicated, well-planned and directed actions that lead to your outcomes — your reality. Better stated: your success.
All of these legendary scholars can’t be wrong.
All of them told me in their writings — the same way I’m telling you — positive thought leads to positive actions and positive results, if the aim and the purpose are passionately believed.
Marden’s book “He Who Thinks He Can,” written in 1908, says it in the title. It’s plain as day. It was Marden, by the way, who founded Success Magazine in 1888.
Hill’s title “Think and Grow Rich” tells you first you gotta think. Your thinking will affect your belief, your belief will help you create your major purpose, your major purpose will clarify your directed actions, and your actions, combined with your desire, your dedication and your determination, will determine your wealth.
First think, then grow rich.
Got it? Sure you do. Getting it, that’s the easy part. First you get it, you understand it, then you agree with it. Easy so far. The harder part is you have to believe you can do it. You have to think you can. Finally, the hardest part is you have to be willing to take action. Do it! That’s chapter one. Read it lately?
The rest of “Think and Grow Rich” contains the ideas, the definitions and the clarifications that provide the answers. Hill describes it as the roadmap to riches. I’m telling you, it’s the most important success thinking you’ll ever be exposed to — as long as you repeat it until it becomes your reality.
But I have to stop here and clarify. “Think and Grow Rich” and Hill’s writing is not written in today’s language. There are no references to computers, email, the web, Facebook, social media, credit cards or even television — because none of those things existed when Hill penned this classic self-help book. Yet somehow, the book has managed to sell more than 100 million copies over the past eight decades.
To receive all the wealth in the book, you have to get over the fact “Think and Grow Rich” was written nearly 80 years ago in 1937. As a country, we suffered through the stock market crash of 1929 and were nearing the end of the Great Depression. The mood of the country was nervous, and Hill — and his colleague Carnegie — were screaming, “Make friends, be positive, believe in yourself, be influential, develop a goal and a plan, articulate yourself clearly, dedicate yourself to excellence, take directed action and encourage others to do the same.” Pretty cool, eh?
These books aren’t almost 80 years old; rather they were almost 80 years ahead of their time. Maybe that’s why Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” and Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” have been on bestseller lists for nearly 80 years.
The first chapter ends the same way it began, with one sentence of immortal wisdom: “Whatever the mind of man can conceive, and believe, it can achieve.”
I’m sharing this information today in the hopes you will read, or re-read, this timeless classic. Rededicate yourself to your best thinking (first), so you can do your best for others (second).
That’s the secret! Please tell everyone.
Editor’s note: This column originally appeared in the May 5, 2014, Business Journal.
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of 12 books. His “21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling” is available as a book and an online course at gitomerVT.com. For information about training and seminars, visit gitomer.com or email Jeffrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.