Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Book Review #28: Think and grow rich: Author: Napoleon Hill

The book 'Think and grow rich' written by Napoleon Hill is considered to be the 'Grand Daddy of books on Personal Development'. Originally written during the great depression years and published in 1937, the book identifies thirteen rules to becoming rich. Since its publishing in 1937, the book has sold over 80 Million copies till date.

In the prelude to the book, and throughout it, Mr.Hill refers to one secret that will make the reader rich.  The peculiar thing about this secret is that once we start using it, we will be literally swept to success. While the book do not specifically mention the secret anywhere, one could guess the same by author's use of the word 'Ready'  in multiple places in the book. What the author presumably tries to say is that 'The Secret will be revealed only when the reader is 'ready' to receive the same'. This is similar to the approaches of the Indian Philosophy tradition which expects that 'When the student is ready, the teacher will appear'. Towards the end of the prelude, author reveals one half of the secret, which is that 'All achievement, all earned riches, have their beginning in an idea'.

The idea(s) referred above comes from our thoughts. Thoughts are the foundation of riches and success. The great miracle of life is that an intangible impulse of thought can be transmuted into material reward by the application of known principles. Emphasis is on controlling our thoughts. As the book mentions, all the thoughts, both positive and negative, will get converted into their physical equivalents. It is incumbent upon all of us to always think positive and nip the negative thoughts in the bud. We should strive to become success conscious. The thoughts should be followed by intense desire and persistent effort for it to become fruitful.

When we begin to think and grow rich, we will observe that riches begins with a state of mind, with definiteness of purpose and with little or no hard work. The trick is to acquire that state of mind which will attract riches.

The message of the book is eternal. The content and the message is relevant even today as it was during the mid 1900s. The emphasis is on the power of ideas and the single minded focus and determination to see them through. As the book repeatedly mentions, becoming rich is not hard physical labour. The process involves a lot of work in the mind including having an idea, having a strong desire to execute the same, having the persistence and energy to continue going despite setbacks and the power of faith and belief.

The thirteen rules that the book explains in detail are:
  1. Desire
  2. Faith
  3. Autosuggestion
  4. Specialized Knowledge
  5. Imagination
  6. Organized Planning
  7. Decision
  8. Persistence
  9. Mastermind
  10. Sex Transmutation
  11. Subconscious mind
  12. Brain
  13. Sixth Sense
If I am asked to choose the most important 5 out of the above thirteen, I will go with Desire, Faith, Organized Planning, Persistence and Mastermind, not necessarily in that order.

One of the reasons this book is in the list of 50 books that I am reviewing in this list is that the book talks about making money. However, if one looks at the thirteen rules mentioned above, they are applicable in any endeavor, not just making money. Some of the readers may question the focus of the book on making money and complain that this book moves the subject of personal development from the spiritual to the materialistic realm, whereas the transition should have been in the opposite direction.. Author specifically addresses this question. As per him, having enough money in the pocket will create confidence in the person to follow any other goal. In addition, the grueling process of converting ideas to money will instill in people the requisite discipline to take on any other goal. This is more in line with Maslow's hierarchy of needs that talks about  one's need for fulfilling 'Physiological Needs' before moving to the higher level 'Self Actualization' needs.

The last chapter in this book is a discussion on the six basic fears that hold people back from achieving their full potential. The six fears are Fear of Poverty, Fear of Criticism, Fear of Ill-health, Fear of Loss of Love, Fear of Old Age and Fear of Death. All these fears stem from three ingredients, indecision, doubts and finally fear. The chapter discusses the symptoms of each fear so as to help people identify with their set of fears and take corrective steps.

The book rounds off with the following motivational quote. I have appended the same with my thoughts as well.

"Life is a checker board. Your opponent is time. Only thing your opponent won't tolerate is indecision.  So decide today that you are going to be rich and successful. Have a clear goal for riches, have a strong desire to achieve your goals, create concrete plans to reach the goals and execute the plans. Review them regularly and make necessary changes. Move forward. Do not stand still !!"

Best Wishes....

This is a great book that gives a lot of practical suggestions on getting rich. However, there are some points about the book that could have been different.

One, almost the entire book is focused on men. The key experts are men, the target audience is man and all the suggestions are given from the perspective of man. Where women are mentioned, they are an appendage that can help man achieve riches. Their role is limited to being good wives who understand the power of a combination of love, romance and sex in making their husbands successful. It is almost like women are held responsible for their men not being successful, because they (women) do not understand how to use the combination of love, sex and romance. That is a very narrow perspective in my opinion. Considering that 50% of global population is women, we are missing a lot of perspectives out there. Probably someone can add a sequel to this book from a different perspective.

Another complaint that I have is about excessive repetition of some points and the relevance of some chapters (I am talking specifically about you, the chapter on 'Brain'..). The concepts of Desire and mastermind seem to be repeating a lot in the book. Of course they are the most important concepts of the book, but still....

Third aspect that I did not like is the chapter on 'Sexual Transmutation'. Don't get me wrong, I understand that it is important to channelize your energy in the right direction rather than spreading it thin. The author talks about all the successful people being men of great sex drive. That is a very limiting view to take. The implicit group is the normal male. This takes me back to the point that I made earlier about focus on men. What about successful women? Can we extend the logic to them? Do they also have high and transmuted sex drive? What about other successful people who are physically challenged? The chapter on Sex Transmutation is too generic and elaborated too much. By the same logic, since many successful business people are White American Men, can we say that you have to be in that group to become rich and successful?

Excuse me, I am nitpicking here. This is a great book is filled with practical set of ideas which any individual can put into practice, almost immediately from the word go. As per John Maxwell, this is one of the 'Life time must read books'.

And finally, the secret that the author do not mention? I think it is that 'The starting point of all the wealth ever created in the world is someone having an idea and who had the desire and the persistence to make that idea happen'.

The chapter wise summary of points is given below.

First step to riches: Desire:
Having a strong desire is the first step to riches. Desire do not accept failure. It does not consider alternatives. There are six steps to becoming rich.They are:
  1. Identify the exact amount of money that you desire
  2. Determine exactly what you intend to given in return for the money you desire
  3. Establish a definite date by which you intend to possess the money you desire
  4. Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and immediately ("Right Now") start executing the plan
  5. Write out a concise statement of the amount of money you intend to acquire, the time limit for its acquisition, what intend to give in return for the money, describing clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it.
  6. Read it aloud twice a day, seeing and believing yourself in possession of the goal.
Note that the six step do not call for hard work. However, the successful application of the six steps require sufficient imagination to realize that accumulation of money cannot be left to chance or luck. One must realize that all who acquired great fortunes first did a certain amount of dreaming, hoping, wishing, desiring and planning before they acquired money.  To fructify, desire must be accompanied by faith and belief. Belief is the mental readiness, the mental preparedness to receive the object of your desire. 

Second step to riches: Faith
Faith is the second step to riches. It deals with the visualization and belief in the attainment of riches. It is the starting point of accumulation of all riches and the only antidote to failure. Faith coupled with prayer gives one access to the 'infinite intelligence'. Faith is a state of mind which can be created by affirmation to the subconscious mind through auto suggestion. These affirmations must be accompanied by emotions and feelings. Emotions give vitality, life and action to the thoughts. Faith is neutral. Negative thoughts accompanied by negative emotions (of failure) has the same chance of yielding as much as a positive thought couples with positive action. It is very important to think positive. One should always link their desire with positive expectations that the desire will be fulfilled.

Third step to riches: Autosuggestion
Autosuggestion is an agency through which on may reach and influence the subconscious mind. It applies to all stimuli that reaches human mind through five senses. Through this one ma feed one's mind with creative thoughts. If neglected, mind will be filled with negative thoughts. Autosuggestion must always be accompanied with emotions to be effective. Visualization is a key ingredient of autosuggestion. If you want to be rich by providing a service, visualize yourself being rich by providing the service. Author recommends reading this chapter again and again on a regular basis.

Fourth step to riches: Specialized knowledge
Knowledge is potential power. In order for knowledge to earn money it has to be organized and intelligently directed through plan of action. There are to types of knowledge. General and Specialized. Only specialized knowledge can be encashed. Even for that to happen, the specialized knowledge has to be organized to find solution to the problem of the customer. There are many ways to acquire specialized knowledge. One values specialized knowledge acquired by paying some fees.

Fifth step to riches: Imagination
Imagination is the workshop where plans are made to make money. Two types of imagination are Synthetic Imagination- which combines existing idea to form a new idea and Creative Imagination -  which forms a totally new idea. Imagination is a skill and like all skills it require regular practise. Riches do not come just by hard work but in response to definite demands based on application of definite principles. Imagination help convert a definite idea into definite plan of action.

Sixth step to riches: Organized planning
It is important to have detailed planning before one undertakes an endeavor. The plan has to be as detailed as possible and the same has to be vetted by the master mind group. One should not give up if the first plan fails. If that happens one must move to the next plan and if that fails move to the next. Keep moving till you hit the right plan. Some of the attributes of leadership include courage, self control, keen sense of justice etc. Some of the causes of leadership failure are inability to organize details, lack of imagination, lack of trust, intemperance etc. Author points out that men get more pay for their ability to get others to perform. This chapter also has a section on hot to prepare a CV and how to apply for a position. Author talks about the new paradigm in selling services. Instead of the employer, employee and customer working at cross-purposes, they have to work as partners to find solution to common problems. Author introduces the concept of QQS Rating for services. QQS stands for Quality, Quantity and Spirit of providing the service. The most important aspect is the Spirit of providing the service. The chapter ends by listing 31 major causes of personal failure. In addition, the book advise the reader do regular self-analysis and review to see if you are spending time and effort in line with your goals for the period. This can be done by honestly answering  a personal inventory questionnaire.
The focus of this chapter is on providing you with the tools and wisdom required to deliver excellent personal services. While the section on leadership attributes, major causes of leadership failure, main causes of personal failure provide the necessary wisdom, the personal inventory questionnaire give one the tool to meet the goal.
The universe provide all sorts of opportunities for the enterprising and this book provides the tools and wisdom required to capitalize on those opportunities. Bring them together and collect your rewards !!!

Seventh step to riches: Decision
Decision as against procrastination denotes definiteness of purpose. Great leaders take quick decision and are slow to change. Followers take decision slowly and are quick to change them. Every decision is a statement of courage. You should always take your own decision and stick to it. Only group that you should take advice from is your master mind group.

Eighth step to riches: Persistence
Once a decision is taken, the persistence to continue with the path is critical to the attainment of wealth. The intensity of persistence and hence the magnitude of reward will depend on the intensity of desire. There are 8 ways in which one can train to be persistent. They are:
  1. Definiteness of purpose
  2. Desire
  3. Self-reliance: Belief in one's ability to carry out a plan encourages one to follow up on the plan
  4. Definiteness of plans
  5. Accurate knowledge: 'Guessing' instead of 'Knowing' destroys persistence
  6. Cooperation: Harmonious cooperation with like minded people
  7. Will-power: Focus on the goal
  8. Habit: Persistence is the direct outcome of habit. Habit can be learned
There are 16 weaknesses that impede persistence. One has to master these weaknesses in order to become persistent. The weaknesses are:
  1. Failure to recognize and to define clearly exactly what one wants
  2. Procrastination
  3. Lack of interest in acquiring specialized knowledge
  4. Indecision, the habit of 'passing the buck'
  5. Habit of relying on alibis
  6. Self-satisfaction, lack of ambition
  7. Indifference, represented by one's readiness to compromise
  8. Habit of blaming others
  9. Weakness of desire
  10. Willingness to quit at the first sign of defeat
  11. Lack of organized plans
  12. Habit of neglecting to move on ideas, or to grasp opportunity when it presents itself
  13. Wishing instead of willing
  14. The habit of compromising with poverty instead of aiming at riches. General absence of ambition to be, to do, to own.
  15. Searching for all shortcuts to riches, trying to get without giving a fair equivalent, usually reflected in the habit of gambling
  16. Fear of criticism, failure to create plans and put them into action, because of what others will think
There are four ways to develop persistence. These are:
  1. A definite purpose backed by burning desire to its fulfillment
  2. A definite plan, expressed in continuous action
  3. A mind closed tightly against all negative and discouraging influences, including negative suggestions of relatives, friends and acquaintances
  4. A friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage on to follow through with both plan and purpose.
Ninth step to riches: Power of the master mind.
One needs power to translate ideas and plans into action. Power is defined as organized and intelligently directed knowledge. It refers to organized effort. The three sources of knowledge are Infinite Intelligence, Accumulated Experience and Experiment & Research. Two ways to attain power are mastermind group and positive thinking (prosperity consciousness)

Tenth step to riches: Sex Transmutation
Sex transmutation is the act of converting the sexual energy into positive, wealth creating thoughts and actions. The desire for sexual expression should not be suppressed.. Instead it should be given outlet in the form of expression that enrich body mind and spirit of man.
A genius is one who can freely communicate with sources of knowledge not available through ordinary thought. Sixth sense, or creative imagination is one of the ways of communicating with such sources of knowledge. Many people do not use this potential in their life time. Another source of infinite knowledge are the 'hunches', those flashes of solution that appear in your mind. Anyone can strengthen this potential. One way to use creative imagination to solve any issues is to have a clarity on the known factors an on the expected ultimate outcome. If you have that, creative imagination will fill the gap.
Mere possession of sexual energy will not lift a person to great heights. The sexual energy has to be transmuted from physical expression to other forms of positive expression and action for one to achieve creative imagination Sexual energy can be reflected in 'Personal Magnetism' as evidenced by firm handshake, tone and tenor of voice, postures and carriage of body, vibration of thought and in dressing and personal grooming.
Transmutation of sex require will power.

Eleventh step to riches: Subconscious mind
Subconscious mind is the connecting link between conscious mind and infinite intelligence. It responds to thoughts coupled with emotion. There are seven positive emotions, desire, faith, love, sex, enthusiasm, romance and hope. The seven negative emotions, (Which are the default state) are fear, jealousy, hatred, revenge, greed, superstition and anger. At any time, either positive or negative emotions will dominate.your subconscious. Prayer is an excellent way to pass instructions to subconscious. However, it should be made a regular habit. Most people pray only when they are worried or afraid and the dominating emotion is fear. Such a prayer will not be useful to attain riches.

Twelfth step to riches: Brain
Brain is the radio station of the mind. it receives the thought of others through the faculty of creative imagination which is the agency of communication between one's consciousness and the reasoning mind with the sources of thought stimuli.
Subconscious is the 'sending ' part of radio through which our thoughts are broadcast to the universe. Autosuggestion is the medium which links the subconscious and creative imagination.

Thirteenth step to riches: Sixth sense
The sixth sense is the portion of subconscious mind referred to as creative imagination and the 'receiving set' through which ideas, plans and thoughts flash into the mind. These flashes are sometimes called hunches or inspirations. Through the aid of sixth sense one will be warned of the impending danger in time to avoid them and notified of the opportunities in time to embrace them. Sixth sense comes int existence when the mind is under the influence of extra ordinary stimulation. This stimulation can be brought about by intense desire to achieve your goal.

Six Ghosts of Fear
There are three enemies that will hamper your progress towards your goals. They are indecision, doubts and fear. Fear is the outcome of indecision that leads to doubts and both of them lead to fear. There are six basic fears that hold people from achieving their full potential and receive as much riches as they deserve. The six fears are, fear of poverty, fear of criticism, fear of ill health, fear of loss of love, fear of old age and fear of death. The chapter discusses the symptoms of each of the fear to enable people to be aware of their fears and take corrective steps.

That is it. This is the end of this review. It took a long time, but finally I am done. Hope you enjoy reading this review.

1 comment:

  1. Do one thing every day that scares you. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
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