Posts Tagged ‘Napoleon Hill’

“Chinook and sockeye salmon from central Idaho…travel over 900 miles (1,400 km) and climb nearly 7,000 feet (2,100 m) from the Pacific ocean as they return to spawn.” Wikipedia

The above photo is as close as any to capturing where I feel like I am right now. Over the last several years, I have spent time preparing myself for a journey back to my first love: inspiring people to greater heights through speaking and training. Just as the salmon know when it is time to return, I decided it was time to go.

When I embarked on this journey, I began to map out my path to reach the goal. The first stretch of the journey was fairly easy to navigate. The farther I travel, the stronger the current becomes. Although I am making progress, it is slowing down as I push against the force flowing toward the ocean.

Now I am finding myself fighting a strong current along with a wall that I need to jump. Not only is the current swift, there is a bear at the top of the wall creating a sense of fear for all those pushing forward. The odds of my making it seem to be stacking up against me.

This is the very place that I am right now. The goal is much farther up the river. Once I reach that place, I will have established the beginning of my legacy and can then relax as I follow the stream back to the ocean and enjoy the rewards of having battled the upstream journey.

The biggest temptation at this point in the journey is to see the bear, turn back, and return empty to the ocean. The story Napoleon Hill shares, “Three Feet From Gold,” rings in my subconscious mind and reminds me to keep pushing forward. (If you are not familiar with this story, Paul Hutchings upload an audio recording of this section of “Think and Grow Rich.” Start it at the 8:00 minute mark for the story.) Intellectually, I know that I am only 3 feet away from the gold. Emotionally, I feel like it is miles and miles away.

The hardest part of this process is to transfer what I know in my head to my heart and inner being to calm the inner turmoil that resides within me.  Therein lies the struggle of an entrepreneur.  I share my thoughts to bear witness to the struggles one faces when we pursue our dreams.  This is only one of many obstacles that are sure to come. Those who persevere and press on will be the ones who LIVE their dreams.


“Not all people are so constituted that they wish to know the truth about all matters vitally affecting life. One of the great surprises the author of this course has met with, in connection with his research activities, is that so few people are willing to hear the truth when it shows up their own weaknesses.

We prefer illusions to realities!”

Napoleon Hill, Laws of Success

Click on the picture to see the illusion.

A few years ago, I applied for a sales position with a company who was expanding in our area. They asked me a question during the interview that went something like this: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate yourself as a salesperson?” They were a little taken back by my answer as I replied that I was an 8 or 9. My answer prompted the question, “Why an 8 or 9 and not a 10?” They were looking for someone who had the illusion that they were a 10. Who can really say they have no room for improvement?

Too often, we hide behind the illusions we create to hide what we really know to be true. We grow comfortable  hiding behind a mask and not dealing with reality. To acknowledge our weaknesses induces fear, a fear that is based on an inherent idea that the only the strong survive. So we create these facades to keep us from being devoured by those who appear to be stronger.

Only when we choose to dismantle the illusions do we really free ourselves to succeed. Once we know our weaknesses, we can then create plans to strengthen those areas. While I believe you should play to your strengths, you also need to take steps to improve upon your weaknesses. This may be done in a variety of ways including accountability, delegation, coaching, creating a well-rounded team, to name a few.

Be willing to listen and acknowledge the truth when it shows up. Stop hiding behind the illusions and create a reality of success.

“Successful men, in all callings, never stop acquiring specialized knowledge related to their major purpose, business, or profession.”

Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

Whenever you watch a baseball game or football game, one thing you will notice: No one player plays all the positions on the team. You won’t find the catcher pitching or playing shortstop. You will also not find, in football, the kicker playing center. Players learn how to play specific positions and become the best they can be in that position. You may have a few players that can play a couple of different positions, but generally speaking most learn to play one position really well.

This concept holds true in the business world as well. Those who learn how to specialize will capitalize on their efforts faster and with more success than those who try to learn how to do everything. When you are able to focus on your specialty, you can bring others along to take care of things that are not.

One of the things that my company has started doing already is delegating out the tasks that others specialize. For example, I could have found out how to submit all our necessary paperwork for forming our corporation and saved a small amount of money. Rather than spend hours trying to make sure I was doing everything right, I hired an attorney to do that work who specializes in business startups. We will continue to do this with other areas as the company grows.

Once you have your specialty defined, you can then pursue excellence in that specific area. Then as your reputation builds as a resource or an expert in that arena, you can begin to expand and broaden your reach as it fits your core purpose.

Identify the area in which you will continue to acquire specialized knowledge, and put into place a plan to increase your knowledge. You will begin to shine as you let your specialty rise to the top.

“Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and, perhaps, some failure. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to QUIT. That is exactly what the majority of men do.

“More than five hundred of the most successful men this country has ever known, told the author their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them. Failure is a trickster with a keen sense of irony and cunning. It takes great delight in tripping one when success is almost within reach.”

Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

We continue our series covering the 30 major causes of failure that Napoleon Hill discovered in his research and interviews of thousands of people. We are not only sharing the causes, we are sharing how to correct these causes so you can be back on the road to success.

21. THE HABIT OF INDISCRIMINATE SPENDING – Those who have the habit of spending everything they get, cannot succeed. Only when you develop a habit of systematic savings do you begin to create a safety net to pursue your goals without the fear of poverty taking hold. Knowing you have a significant amount of savings allows you to act with courage, not with desperate need to take anything offered.

A couple of things you can do to correct this problem. One, begin to set aside a certain percentage of your income for savings (not investments). Do this regardless. Make it a habit because there is always something else to buy or an expense that comes along. Two, track your spending for a month, I mean everything. Be sure to include the money you drop into the vending machines at work and the extra items you pick up at the gas station. You might be surprised how much you could cut back and put into savings.

22. LACK OF ENTHUSIASM – Are you more likely to buy a product from someone who displays an enthusiastic demeanor or the person who appears to be uninterested? A person’s enthusiasm is what generates a sense of convincing.  Enthusiasm is a contagious attitude that when it is under control, lights up a room.

If you are a sports fan, you will notice that the teams who are winning will have the most enthusiastic fans. Those fans exude an energy that is felt by the players. Go to a stadium where a team has been on a losing streak, and the level of enthusiasm is so low, it drains any positive energy. It leaves you feeling dejected.

Be enthused about your goals, your purpose, your company, your products, or in whatever you are doing to create success for yourself. Your enthusiasm will overflow into the lives of others who will help you succeed.

23. INTOLERANCE – Those who go through life with a closed mind about anything seldom find success. The most damaging aspect of intolerance is when it relates to people’s race, religious beliefs, gender, political differences, age, or sexual preferences.

Unfortunately, this is one of those issues you may not realize how intolerant you are to others. You may need some close, trusted friends to be brutally honest with you about this one. This one takes an effort to begin opening up to new ideas, new thought processes, and accepting people for who they are. Here’s a challenge for you if you are intolerant of others: Make it a point to engage in meaningful conversation with a person whom you have shown intolerance and get to know the person. You just may be surprised what you learn.

24. INTEMPERANCE – People who overindulge in their base appetites (food, alcohol, and sexual activity) often find themselves struggling to reach success. Moderation and self-control of our desires is key to success.

Think about how much energy that is stolen from your body by overindulging in food. You know the feeling. You ate so much that your body is using so much energy to digest the food, you want to take a nap. Anytime we are intemperant, we will find it hindering our ability to reach success.

25. INABILITY TO COOPERATE WITH OTHERS -No one cares about your success more than you. However, to achieve great success, you need the cooperation of others. There is no such thing as lone ranger success. You need to learn how to cooperate with others.

I have found a couple of great resources that will help you learn how to better cooperate with others. The first is a classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. The second, Winning Without Intimidation, by Bob Burg. This would be an excellent resource to study. You can learn new skill sets to help you become a more cooperative person.

Don’t let these causes keep you from reaching success. Do what it takes to correct these, and you will be much closer to LIVING your dream.

“It is one thing to WANT money–everyone wants more–but it is something entirely different to be WORTH MORE! Many people mistake their WANTS for their JUST DUES. Your financial requirements or wants have nothing whatever to do with your WORTH. Your value is established entirely by your ability to render useful services or your capacity to induce others to render such service.”

Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

Successful people have learned how to bring value to the marketplace and to others. They know it isn’t all about the money, it is about WORTH. 

As we continue to look at the next 5 causes of failure that Napoleon Hill shares in his book, Think and Grow Rich, keep in mind, these can be corrected. You can increase your worth and it will increase your level of success as you have defined success.

16. OVER-CAUTION – There is a certain amount of risk you need to take in order to achieve higher levels of success. People who are over-cautious fall into the same category as those who are under-cautious. Both extremes will leave you in the wakes of failure or limited success. There comes a point in time where you have to step forward and risk something to gain.

In the financial world, there are investments that are riskier than others. Safer investments, like a CD at a bank, are low risk resulting in smaller returns. Commodities and options trading are high risk investments with a chance for huge returns but also susceptible to huge losses. The key is finding the middle ground where there is still risk with the chance of making a great return on your investment.

Be willing to step out and take a chance. That next step may be the one that catalyzes your success.

17. WRONG SELECTION OF ASSOCIATES IN BUSINESS – Whether you are building your own business or looking to advance your career in a company, be wise in who you choose to work with or for. If we are the composite of the five people with whom we spend the most time, make sure those people are worth emulating. If you are in a position where your manager or supervisor is holding you back, begin to plan how you can change departments or companies to work with people who will help you succeed.

I have worked in environments where negativity was abundant and it wears you out quickly. I prefer to have the choice of who I will working alongside. For that reason, I have chosen an entrepreneurial path to accommodate this choice. I will be highly selective in who I hire and who I partner with. This is a vital part of success.

18. SUPERSTITION AND PREJUDICE – I have been around people who are highly superstitious and rarely do they succeed. There is always a fear of something and that fear holds them back. Superstitions create failure mindsets that are triggered by some action or event. Once those triggers are activated, the mind begins to play out the upcoming failure. You need to remove superstitions from your life.

Prejudice will also hold you back as you make judgments prior to having the facts. Acting in ignorance is a sure cause of failure. Be willing to withhold judgment until you obtain more facts and information about an issue, a person, or a group of people.

19. WRONG SELECTION OF A VOCATION – Andre Aggassi, a great tennis player, admitted in his autobiography that he hated tennis. The really striking thing about that is he was still able to accomplish great things playing tennis. Not many people become great doing something that don’t like. Imagine if he took all that energy and discipline and applied it to something he truly loved.

Are you doing something you love? Are you able to give a wholehearted effort into your job, your career, or your business? Be sure you are pouring yourself into something you have a burning desire to achieve. Only then, will you truly find yourself on the path of success.

20. LACK OF CONCENTRATION OF EFFORT – At times, I feel like I have become a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. Here is a partial list of all the things I have done:

  • Carpentry work
  • Dairy farming
  • Landscaping
  • Youth Ministry
  • Sorter at UPS
  • Management
  • Direct Sales
  • Retail Sales
  • Event planning
  • Medical Technician
  • Auto Sales
  • Financial Services

Those are highlights out of my job experiences. Each experience taught me something about myself, and I have learned valuable lessons that I am able to apply to my life and career. What I have come to realize is I have common threads that run through each of my previous jobs that point out where I need to concentrate my efforts.

The key to remember is rather than trying to be everything to everybody, concentrate your effort on one “definite chief aim.” Then you will become a resource and an expert for others in that particular area. This concentrated effort will keep you on the path of success.

If you find any of these causes of failure holding you back, begin to make the corrections necessary so that you can LIVE your dream.

“The oldest of admonitions is ‘Man, know thyself!’ If you market merchandise successfully, you must know the merchandise. The same is true in marketing personal services. You should know all of your weaknesses in order that you may either bridge them or eliminate them entirely. You should know your strength in order that you may call attention to it when selling your services. You can know yourself only through accurate analysis.”

Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

This is the third set of common causes to failure. When you know what causes are particular issues for you, you can begin to take corrective action. You may need to enlist the help of a close friend who will be honest with you about your weaknesses. We often ignore or look past our own failures, and having an objective input may bring to light areas you are overlooking.

Here are the next 5 causes of failure and how you can overcome them.

11. “LACK OF CONTROLLED SEXUAL URGE” – Napoleon considers sexual energy as “the most powerful of all stimuli which move people into action.” When this energy is not directed or channeled in the right direction, it leads to failure. In a day and age where pornography is readily available and sexuality is glorified in music, television, marketing, and movies, this remains a distraction from success. How many “news” (and I use that word loosely) stories do we hear in a given week about some famous person caught up in a web of sexual entanglement?

Self-control is the key to channeling this powerful energy into constructive outlets. Once you begin to control the energy, you can begin to transmute it to accomplish the goals you have set. This powerful energy source could lead you to the next level of success.

12. “UNCONTROLLED DESIRE FOR ‘SOMETHING FOR NOTHING'” – Just this past week, there was a frenzy to buy lottery tickets because the jackpot got to be over $500 million. This notion of getting rich by just purchasing lottery tickets is a sign of this desire getting something for nothing. Gambling is still a success stealer for many people, be it in a casino or even in the stock market.

My personal opinion of why most people don’t make any money in MLM companies is they see it as a get-rich-quick scheme without putting in a lot of effort. They are sold on the idea of starting it part-time and then the money will start to roll in fast. What they don’t realize is the amount of hard work required to build a successful business. Those who are successful at a MLM business put in the hours and the hard work so they can enjoy the income stream later.

Beware of this desire creeping in and causing failure in your journey toward success.

13. “LACK OF A WELL DEFINED POWER OF DECISION” – Indecision is usually the twin to procrastination. Strong leaders and those who succeed have the ability to make decisions promptly and rarely change those decisions. Those who fail to make quick decisions are missing a key element: a well-defined purpose. The reason great leaders can make more rapid decisions is they know where they are going. They know instinctively if something is going to aid them in reaching their goal or not. Know your purpose, and you can start making quicker decisions and stand behind them.

14. “ONE OR MORE OF THE SIX BASIC FEARS” – In a later post, I will share the six basic fears in more detail. The six basic fears he identifies are:

  1. The fear of POVERTY
  2. The fear of CRITICISM
  3. The fear of ILL HEALTH
  4. The fear of LOSS OF LOVE OF SOMEONE
  5. The fear of OLD AGE
  6. The fear of DEATH

The first three are usually the lesser of the worries compared to the last three. All six of these fears, when allowed to get a foothold in our lives, keep success far from us. They are the root of some of the other causes of failure as well.  We must learn to identify if these fears are causing us to fail and begin to take steps to overcome these fears.

15. “WRONG SELECTION OF A MATE IN MARRIAGE” – Marriage is the one relationship that should be the most intimate of all relationships. When this relationship is not in harmony, it will hinder success and become a cause of failure. If you are unhappy and stressed at home, this will follow you wherever you go.

The good news is this is a fixable issue, although not painless. Depending on the situation, it may just be a heart to heart talk for an uninterrupted amount of time. You many need to seek the help of a marriage coach or counselor. If both parties are committed to seeing each other succeed in life, this issue should be able to be corrected without having to end in divorce, even though that is a last resort option.

Make the most of your marriage or be very selective in who you choose to marry. This relationship holds a significant amount of leverage on your success or failure. Make it a priority to do your best to make the relationship as strong, supportive, and encouraging as possible.


In the coming weeks, I will be offering an introductory coaching course on the principles of success that we are exploring in Napoleon Hill’s book, Think and Grow Rich. If you want to make progress toward living a successful life, sign up here to receive updates when we release the details of this course.

“Life’s greatest tragedy consists of men and women who earnestly try, and fail! The tragedy lies in the overwhelmingly large majority of people who fail, as compared to the few who succeed.”

Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

This is our second post as we look at the next five causes of failure that Napoleon Hill lists in his book. Each of these causes can be corrected if they are holding you back from reaching success in your life.

6. “ILL HEALTH” – Poor choices in food, overeating, lack of exercise, all contribute to poor health. Poor health has an impact on your creative thinking process, your energy levels, your self-image, time spent recovering from illnesses, money spent on health care, and ultimately affecting your success.

We live in a time where the opportunity to live a healthy lifestyle is abundant. There are health clubs, nutritional products, healthy food options, programs designed to help you eat right, fitness coaching, and information galore to help make great healthy choices. Unfortunately, fast, easy choices paired with eating more food (often unhealthy) than is needed has created a crisis where the leading causes of death today are health related.

Fortunately, you can change your diet, add more physical activity, and create a lifestyle that promotes optimum health. You can create a diet that stimulates your creative energy and keeps you healthy. You can choose to be healthy and rule out one more cause for failure.

7. “UNFAVORABLE ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES DURING CHILDHOOD” – There is a proverb that says, “As the twig is bent, so shall the tree grow.” The choices we saw our parents and influential adults make growing up have a huge impact on our attitudes, choices, and character. Children who grow up in homes where criminal behavior is a norm will have a tendency to follow that same pattern in their lives. We see this epidemic when it comes to people who grew up in abusive homes. The same pattern of abuse tends to show up generation after generation.

Although an unfavorable environment may have been present during childhood, you can choose to change the negative elements for a positive constructive environment. This may take a lot of effort and outside support to accomplish but it can be changed. We love to hear the stories of those who overcome this obstacle and reach success. If this is one of the causes of your failure, choose to be one who overcomes and lives an epic journey through life that is one for the storybooks.

8. “PROCRASTINATION” – This is a common cause for failure. People who wait for “just the right time” just keep postponing the opportunity to achieve success. If you find yourself waiting for something else to happen to make the time just right, take action immediately. It may only be a small step. That small step will get the snowball started.

What are you waiting for? GO! Do something now!

9. “LACK OF PERSISTENCE” – There is a tendency for some people to give up when there is resistance to their forward motion. They throw in the towel when the going gets tough. There is no persistence in moving toward success.

The lack of persistence is also found in “starters” or what I have come to know as “Quick Starts.”* The energy when starting something new is phenomenal with starters. Once things are in motion, however, the starter has a tendency more times than not to not continue on with the goal. The luster wears off once things are in motion and the need for persistent, steady work sets in and so the starter usually quits.

A couple of ideas to correct this cause of failure. One, you can surround yourself with people who are great with follow-through and will keep you on task. Two, you can develop persistence by facing each and every obstacle with determination to succeed. Three, create a goal or objective that resonates so deep within you that you would do anything to see this goal completed. A burning desire will motivate you to continue moving forward regardless of what comes your way.

10. “NEGATIVE PERSONALITY” – If you are prone to having a negative personality, success will not come. Success doesn’t come to an individual by themselves. Success is achieved through the efforts of multiple people. A negative personality will repel others from wanting to cooperate with you to achieve your goals.

Although this may seem like an impossible barrier to change, a person can develop a more positive personality. The process may take time and will require the mind to be trained to think in a different direction. The mind needs to begin to see things as they could be in a positive light. People love to be around positive people. Change a negative to a positive and it will start attracting more success.


*Quick Start is one of four instinct-driven behaviors we possess. You can find yours by taking a Kolbe test. I recommend a session with my coach, Dixie Gillaspie, a Kolbe specialist who will help you understand how you can apply your results to achieve the success you want.