By Dr. Ari Bernstein

So, what makes someone successful? That is a question I set out to find an answer to in my own professional journey. Over a century ago, this was the same question that Napoleon Hill sought to answer in his book Think and Grow Rich. Published in 1937, Hill’s book was a culmination of his dedication to 25 years of studying and interviewing who he considered to be the most successful businessmen, including Andrew Carnegie and many others. You must remember that back in 1937, America was going through some very turbulent times between the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and the threat of yet another World War was looming.

Today, as one of the top-selling books of all time, Think and Grow Rich has gone on to sell nearly 100 million copies and has since been updated. Many successful millionaires and even billionaires can point to Hill’s book and its philosophy of “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” The book lays out the 13 principles to be mastered to achieve personal success that still apply over 80 years later. This book has also been a starting point in my quest for my own personal development, and I would like to share some of the lessons I have learned from Napoleon Hill.

If You Can Think It, You Can Make It Happen

This statement comes down to the crux of Think and Grow Rich. We are in control of our own destinies. If we can think it, we can make it happen. The critical thing to remember is to remain clear about our goals. However, we must be willing to do the work and accept that when we fail, it is just part of the learning process and makes us all that more determined to achieve our goals.

You Always Need to Keep the Faith

There are times, especially when you come up against what seems like an impossible challenge that you may question whether your goals are achievable. It is in times like that you need to refocus your energy on positivity and avoid negative thinking. While it might seem a little silly, Hill tells us how important it is to write your goals down on paper, let them be your mantra, and repeat them to yourself every day for 30 minutes, and wholeheartedly believe you will accomplish those goals. And if that weren’t enough, put a copy of your goals in a place where you will see them every day and let them be the first thing and last thing you read every day.

There is Always Something More to Learn

According to Hill, there are two types of knowledge: general, which we pretty much learn in school and from books and also specialized, which is needed to be successful in any endeavor. Hill explicitly says that the concept of “knowledge is power” doesn’t exist. Instead, it is “potential power” that only empowers us when it is intelligently directed with a well-defined purpose and specific plan of action. There is always something more to learn, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Procrastination is the Killer of Dreams

There are talkers, and then there are doers. What good is talking about your goals, if you aren’t doing anything toward reaching them because of procrastination? Often it is self-doubt and worrying what others think about you and your goals. When procrastination is taking over, you need to turn it around and become a decision-maker and go after what you need to make your dream a reality. Sometimes it is adopting more powerful habits and routines or associating yourself with others with the same mindset. But whatever you do, don’t allow procrastination to kill your dream.

We Must Overcome Seven Fears to Achieve Success

Fear is what stops many people from ever reaching the finish line. Hill talks about what he considers the seven worst fears that prevent people from achieving success in their lives and careers:

  • Fear of poverty
  • Fear of criticism
  • Fear of ill health
  • Fear of loss of love
  • Fear of loss of freedom
  • Fear of old age
  • Fear of death

If we genuinely want to achieve success, we must not let our fears stop us.

Back in 1937, when Hill first published Think and Grow Rich, it certainly was a time where optimism and a new way of thinking were in order. This is not unlike what many people need today with some of the unchartered waters we are facing with the economy, our businesses, and life in general. It is certainly something you should also read if you haven’t already and keep on your bookshelf.