In the Autumn of 1908, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie gave the young journalist Napoleon Hill a challenge. He asked him to create a concrete philosophy of success based on the experience of the world’s greatest achievers. A couple of decades and thousands of pages of research later, Think and Grow Rich became an international bestseller.

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What Is Think and Grow Rich About?

Think and Grow Rich is the combined wisdom from more than 500 of America’s most successful individuals. Their insights were then narrowed down into 13 principles and contribute to what Hill refers to as an overall “Philosophy of Achievement.” 

However, refusing to let Think and Grow Rich be defined purely as a method or system for success, Hill stated that the goals of his book were:

  1. To help the reader become self-aware.
  2. To help the reader understand how to become more effective amidst the immutable laws of the universe.

What Are the 13 Principles of Think and Grow Rich?

Napoleon Hill’s 13 principles of success present a philosophy of achievement that is intended to be mulled over. This Think and Grow Rich summary will look at each of the 13 principles in turn. They are as follows:

  1. Desire
  2. Faith
  3. Auto-suggestion
  4. Specialized Knowledge
  5. Imagination
  6. Organized Planning
  7. Decision
  8. Persistence
  9. The Power of the Master Mind
  10. Sex Transmutation
  11. The Subconscious Mind
  12. The Brain
  13. The Sixth Sense

Uniquely philosophical and, at times, veering on spiritual, Think and Grow Rich has become a seminal book for entrepreneurs, CEOs, and individual thinkers alike. By reading the key points from this Think and Grow Rich chapter summary, you’ll learn how to master your subconscious and command your destiny. 

Desire: The Starting Point of All Achievement

Hill states that the key to success is to define a goal and to pour all of your energy, power, and effort into achieving it. It may take many years before you are successful, but if you hold onto your desire, you will eventually attain what you seek. 

Merely wishing for money will get you nowhere. However, to desire riches by way of an obsessive goal, a meticulous plan, and not accepting failure as an option, you’ll become rich. To help you do so, Hill presents the Think and Grow Rich six6 steps:

  1. Decide exactly how much money you wish to make, to the dollar.
  2. Determine what you are willing to give to receive this amount of money.
  3. Choose a date by which you want to have amassed this amount of money.
  4. Create a plan of how to achieve your goal and begin at once, whether you feel ready or not.
  5. Write all of the above down in a clear statement.
  6. Read this written statement aloud, twice a day – first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Visualize your life as if you already own this amount of money.

While being able to visualize yourself as rich may seem challenging at first, it’s only those individuals who are “money conscious” that become successful. To be money conscious is to see yourself in possession of great wealth before you attain it. You will only become rich if you possess a deep desire for money, and you stop at nothing to get it.

Faith: Visualization of and Belief in Attainment of Desire

Faith is a state of mind that you must learn to cultivate. Through repeating affirmations and instructions, a state of faith is created in the subconscious thanks to the process of auto-suggestion. Any impulse of thought that is continuously repeated and entered into the subconscious mind eventually becomes a continuous loop of thought.

However, this can also have negative consequences. In addition to positive thought patterns, we can also enforce negative ones that can result in us believing that we are unworthy, doomed, or a failure. Hill, therefore, argues that it’s our beliefs alone that determine the nature of our subconscious. By repeating affirmations, you can reprogram your mind to visualize and, thus, to feel and believe that your success is guaranteed. 

The mind takes on the nature of the influences that guide it. A positive mind is more fertile to faith, and faith is the starting point for all success. The greatest factor holding you back from success? A lack of self-confidence. Hill suggests this five-fold Think and Grow Rich affirmation exercise to repeat in writing and then learn by memory to increase your self-confidence:

  1. Know that you are capable of achieving your goal, and you must promise to be persistent in pursuit of this endeavor.
  2. The dominating thoughts of your mind will result in physical action and change your reality. You must, therefore, spend 30 minutes each day thinking about the type of person you want to become.
  3. For ten minutes each day, focus on increasing your sense of self-confidence.
  4. Write down a description of your goal, and don’t stop reaching for it until it’s attained.
  5. Come to realize that you cannot have enduring success if you attained it through immoral means. Therefore, make a promise to only engage in a transaction if it benefits all that are involved. A negative attitude towards humanity will never bring you success.

Commit this method to memory, and repeat it aloud once a day to become successful.

Auto-Suggestion: The Medium for Influencing the Subconscious Mind

Auto-suggestion is synonymous with self-suggestion. It’s the bridge between the conscious and the subconscious mind. Merely reading words aloud will have no impact. You have to attach emotion to the words. When reciting your affirmations, as laid out in the previous chapter, you must encourage your desire to consume you. Your subconscious will only act upon thoughts that are felt.

Therefore, Hill recommends adding the following to the Think and Grow Rich six steps previously laid out in the chapter on desire:

  1. Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, and repeat aloud your written statement. As you do so, visualize having that money.
  2. Repeat this morning and night until you have a clear image in your mind of all the money you wish to make.
  3. Place this written statement where you can see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Read it until you have committed it to memory. 

Specialized Knowledge: Personal Experiences or Observations

There are two types of knowledge: Specialized and general. General knowledge is of little use when attempting to accumulate wealth. Knowledge only generates money when organized and specifically directed to a definite end. To become successful, you must require specific knowledge in the area in which you intend to make your fortune. 

If the amount of knowledge required exceeds your capacities, Hill recommends creating a “Master Mind” group. This group should consist of individuals who have the knowledge you seek and who you can manage to help attain your goal.

Imagination: The Workshop of the Mind

Within your imagination is where all plans are created and formed. The only limitation you face depends on how much you develop your imagination. According to Hill, there are two types of imagination: synthetic and creative.

Through synthetic imagination, you reformulate existing concepts, ideas, and plans into new forms. Nothing is created in this form of imagination because it works with existing mental material. Creative imagination is what springs forth from hunches and inspiration. Within it, new ideas are formed. This type of imagination can only be reached when your conscious mind is being stimulated through desire. It’s a muscle that must be trained.

Ideas are the starting point for all fortunes, and they are the product of the imagination. It can be useful to look at some of the most successful companies of all time, such as Coca-Cola, and remind yourself that it once began as a single idea. Indeed, a truly wise salesperson will know that ideas can be traded where tangible merchandise cannot. Nearly all considerable fortunes begin when an individual with a great idea meets an individual who sells ideas. When matched with desire, ideas are unstoppable forces. They are more powerful than the brains that created them. Thus, you must listen, cultivate, and develop a desire to see them through.

Organized Planning: The Crystallization of Desire Into Action

To put your plan into action, Hill recommends following these four Think and Grow Rich steps:

  1. Ally yourself with a Master Mind group that consists of people who will help you carry out your plan. 
  2. However, before assembling the group, be sure to ascertain what it is you can offer each of the members in return for their work.
  3. Meet with the group at least twice a week, or more if possible, until a solid plan has been created.
  4. Maintain good relations between you and the group at all times.

To obtain your fortune, you will need to collaborate with others. No individual can make it entirely on their own. If your plans fail, go back to the drawing board and keep trying until a plan works. Thomas Edison made 10,000 failed plans before he perfected the incandescent light bulb. His key to success was that he never gave up and kept formulating new plans when the previous ones had failed. To plan intelligently is the key to securing your fortune.

Decision: The Mastery of Procrastination

After analyzing the data accrued from interviewing more than 25,000 men and women, Hill came to the conclusion that a lack of decision, e.g., procrastination, was one of the leading causes for failure. The most successful people make decisions quickly and definitely. Those who struggle to make a decision are often easily persuaded by the opinions of others. 

However, Hill states that to be easily persuadable means that you lack desire and, therefore, will not reach your goals. Learn to trust yourself, and if you need information, only get it from trusted sources. Those who make decisions quickly know what they want and how to get it. The world bends to those whose actions and words indicate that they know where they are going. To decide requires courage. It’s only the bold who go on to achieve great fortunes.

Persistence: The Sustained Effort Necessary to Induce Faith

Persistence is built upon strength of will. When desire is combined with willpower, little can stop you from reaching your goals. Most give up the minute things get too challenging. To persist in the face of adversity is the only way to advance. 

If you find yourself struggling with a lack of persistence, by putting in some concerted effort, you can overcome this hurdle. How easily you’ll be able to persist depends exclusively on how intense your desire to reach your goals is. Here, Hill suggests reminding yourself of your daily affirmations. Further, if you have carefully assembled your Master Mind group, they can prove beneficial in encouraging you to stay on track. 

Hill puts forward an eight-stage Think and Grow Rich action plan to cultivate persistence. It goes as follows:

  1. Definiteness of purpose: Knowing exactly what you want.
  2. Desire: Becoming obsessed with amassing your monetary fortune.
  3. Self-reliance: Belief that you can follow your plan increases your persistence.
  4. Definiteness of plans: Organized, thorough plans guide you forward.
  5. Accurate knowledge: Ensuring that your plans are based on fact.
  6. Co-operation: Members of your Master Mind can encourage you to persist.
  7. Willpower: Concentrating your attention on seeing your plans through to completion.
  8. Habit: Persistence is the direct result of habit. What you do daily becomes who you are. By repeatedly acting courageously, fear can be overcome.

Power of the Master Mind: The Driving Force

To accumulate money, you must have power. Without power, you cannot put your plans into action. Hill states there are three ways of accumulating power, and they are:

  1. Infinite intelligence
  2. Accumulated experience
  3. Experiment and research

Knowledge is converted into power by organizing it into definite plans. However, knowledge cannot be acquired alone. If your plans are thorough, then they will require the knowledge of others. By using the knowledge of the members of your Master Mind group, you can generate power. Cooperative alliances underpin nearly every great fortune ever amassed. A collection of minds produces results far greater than the sum of their parts. 

The Mystery of Sex Transmutation: The Tenth Step Towards Riches

The word to “transmute” means to transform one element or form of energy into another. Hill argues that sex is our most primal and powerful drive. So strong is this desire that individuals often put their life and reputation on the line to indulge in it. However, Hill argues that, when this sexual energy is redirected into other pursuits, it can have a far more potent effect. While this takes a significant amount of willpower, he maintains that the effort is worth it.

Nonetheless, Hill is quick to point out that he isn’t advocating that the sexual drive be repressed, it should simply be given alternative outlets that can enrich the mind, body, and soul. A transmuted sexual drive results in phenomenal creative ability. Creative imagination, Hill states, is humankind’s sixth sense. Creativity originates within us, but it isn’t guided by us. All of the best artists become great because they are adept at listening to the “still small voice” that speaks from within. The same can be said of all successful people, artists, and CEOs alike.

The Subconscious Mind: The Connecting Link

While you cannot control your subconscious mind, you can suggest it mulls over specific plans, desires, or goals that you wish to achieve. However, the subconscious can only be voluntarily directed through the process of habit. As your subconscious functions 24/7, you must be wary of the types of negative thought patterns and unproductive habits you are feeding into it. You must act to move away from such negative influences and move towards cultivating more positive, desire-driven states of mind.

The subconscious is more receptive to thoughts that come accompanied by an emotion. Hill states that it’s only emotionalized thoughts that translate into action. It is, therefore, worthwhile familiarizing yourself with what constitutes as a negative or a positive emotion. Hill uses the metaphor that emotions attached to thought are like yeast in a loaf of bread; they encourage action, e.g., they make the bread rise. Depending on whether the emotion is positive or negative will result in either a remarkable or disastrous loaf of bread.

The Brain: A Broadcasting and Receiving Station for Thought

Hill firmly believed that the brain was capable of picking up the thought vibrations of other brains. However, he put forward that it’s only thoughts that have been “stepped up” to an exceedingly high rate of vibration that carry between minds. Hill argues that if one is engaging in sex transmutation, then their thoughts will vibrate with a greater frequency. 

To operate your mental “broadcasting” abilities to the optimum, Hill suggests that you focus on cultivating your subconscious and your creative imagination thanks to the art of auto-suggestion.

The Sixth Sense: The Door to the Temple of Wisdom

Hill believed in an “Infinite Intelligence” that could be tapped into when the subconscious was vibrating at a particularly high, positive frequency. However, he also states that it is possible for the Infinite Intelligence to communicate to an individual without them having cultivated a suitable mental state beforehand. Hill refers to the creative imagination as the sixth sense. What people call “flashes of inspiration,” or “hunches,” Hill believed were messages from the Infinite Intelligence. The sixth sense is, therefore, a combination of the mental and the spiritual.

When you learn to listen to the messages of your sixth sense, you will know when to avoid dangers and when to seize opportunities. It acts as a guardian angel of sorts. Hill argues that if you have accepted the previous chapters of his book, you will now be ready to accept this notion of the sixth sense without skepticism. The ability to listen to this power happens gradually while the other principles are being realized.

How to Outwit the Six Ghosts of Fear

Before you are ready to integrate the philosophy laid out in this book, Hill states that you must ensure that you aren’t being held back by any of what he refers to as “the six basic fears.” The six fears are as follows:

  1. The fear of poverty, embodied by indifference, indecision, doubt, worry, over-caution, and procrastination.
  2. The fear of criticism, embodied by self-consciousness, lack of poise, an inferiority complex, extravagance, lack of initiative, and lack of ambition.
  3. The fear of ill health, embodied by hypochondria, poor exercise, susceptibility, self-coddling, and intemperance.
  4. The fear of the loss of someone’s love, embodied by jealousy, fault finding, and gambling.
  5. The fear of old age, embodied by slowing down and developing an inferiority complex around the age of 40, referring to oneself apologetically as “being old,” and killing off the habits of initiative, imagination, and self-reliance.
  6. The fear of death, embodied by focusing on dying rather than living, lack of purpose, and lack of suitable occupation.

Hill states that all fears can be grouped into one of these headings. As all emotionalized thoughts translate into physical action, all thoughts attached to fear can never result in acts of significant financial gain. However, fear is nothing but a state of mind, and the mind can be directed. Therefore, you can control your fate by controlling your mind and, thus, overcome fear and accumulate all of your desired riches.

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