Thursday, November 8, 2018

Truthful Living: The First Writings of Napoleon Hill

It’s hard to have missed Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, which has sold more than 100 million copies since it was published in 1937 and helped spawn the self-improvement marketplace, currently valued at $10 billion in the United States alone. A few years ago material was unearthed in the Napoleon Hill Archives that predated Think and Grow Rich by 20 years, during the time that Hill taught courses in advertising and sales at the George Washington Institute in Chicago. Jeffrey Gitomer compiled, edited, and annotated these writings. The result is Truthful Living: The First Writings of Napoleon Hill (Amazon Publishing, 2018).

Why the title “Truthful Living”? Because Hill believed that all living had to be built upon the foundation of truth. “Without this firm foundation, no person or business can hope to permanently succeed in this day of progressive policies.”

Hill also maintained that “the chief reason that ninety-five percent of the people are working for the other five percent is that ninety-five percent do not know how to think.” The beginning of all successful undertakings—he cites Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, James J. Hill, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Andrew Graham Bell, and Guglielmo Marconi—is thought, “scientific, accurate thought!”

In order to become an accurate thinker, you must “concentrate the forces of your mind and direct them upon one subject until that subject has been mastered. The power to concentrate presupposes the ability to finish all that you start—to stick to everything you undertake with a grim persistence that knows no defeat!”

Hill suggested that “writing out our thoughts not only aids concentration, but this bodily, physical action helps us make the first step toward the crystallization of thought into reality. Thought without persistent, concentrated bodily action would be useless.”

These snippets from Hill’s first writings illustrate the thrust of his own thinking. There’s of course much more in this volume: for instance, dealing with adversity, happiness, and the principle of service. Here and there Hill’s work is dated because in some ways the world has become a darker place (hard to imagine, since 1917 wasn’t exactly an idyllic time), but for the most part it teaches the same kinds of principles that modern self-improvement writers advocate. That authors are churning out these books in record numbers shows that people feel a need for them and yet few readers ever really learn from them.

No comments:

Post a Comment