The Traits of Successful Students
Laws of Success by Napoleon Hill (The Law of Success in 16 Lessons)
Teaching Students the Secrets to A Successful Life
The Master Mind
Lesson One introduces the concept of The Master Mind, which Dr. Hill defines "as a mind that is developed through the harmonious cooperation of two or more people who ally themselves for the purpose of accomplishing any given task." Hill uses ideas from physics to illustrate the synergy that occurs between like-minded individuals. He also warns of the danger to the master mind group of any single member who thinks negatively. Another key insight from Hill is that knowledge is not power – it is only potential power. He defines power as "...organized knowledge, expressed through intelligent efforts." The master mind group makes this happen.
A Definite Chief Aim
Lesson Two, titled A Definite Chief Aim, urges the reader to discover his or her natural talents, then organize, coordinate and put into use the knowledge gained from experience. According to Hill, the main cause of failure is having no definitive chief aim in life — or failure to set clear and attainable goals — and plans to accomplish these goals. The keynote of this lesson is having a definite objective toward which to strive — never drift aimlessly. Having this definite chief aim will affect the subconscious mind, thus leading toward the attainment of the objective. Hill also emphasizes the importance of writing down your definite chief aim and goals to achieve it in a clear, concise way.
Self-ConfidenceLesson Three is Self-Confidence: "You can do it if you believe you can." Hill states that fear is the chief reason for poverty and failure. Therefore, the person who masters fear will succeed. The development of self-confidence begins with the elimination of fear. Hill discusses the origins of fear in great detail and lists the six basic fears: poverty, old age, criticism, loss of love, ill health, and death.
Hill teaches that the most effective way to fight these fears is organized knowledge. Ignorance and fear are twins that are found together. To eliminate fear, eliminate ignorance. Hill provides a formula for developing self-confidence using autosuggestion, along with persistence, the development of good habits and having a clearly stated definite purpose. He provides several unique and original examples from the animal world of how fearful behavior can be passed down quickly.
"Believe in yourself but do not tell the world. Show it!"
The Habit of SavingLesson Four is The Habit of Saving. Hill states that the saving of money is solely a matter of habit. Millions of people go through life in poverty because they have developed bad habits. The habit of saving increases ones' earning capacity, Hill tells us, by the following method: First, through your definite chief aim, define an exact description of what you want — including the amount of money you intend to earn. Then, your subconscious mind takes over, resulting in a blueprint. This molds your thoughts and actions into practical plans for attaining your purpose. As income increases, savings will increase as well. Hill repeatedly emphasizes that we are victims of our habits — under any and all circumstances, good or bad. However, the choice of our habits is totally within our control — and good habits can and will result from sheer determination and willpower. Hill warns of "the slavery of debt" by using examples of how being in debt is like being imprisoned. To sum up: Hill strongly cautions against living beyond your means.
Initiative and LeadershipLesson Five is Initiative and Leadership. Both of these qualities are necessary for the attainment of success. Hill defines initiative as "that exceedingly rare quality which impels a person to do what ought to be done without being told to do it." Once this habit is acquired, leadership develops naturally.
Leaders exercise initiative, have a definite purpose in mind, and possess self-confidence. This emphasizes Hill's main point: successful people make use of all 17 lessons. In this lesson, Hill warns of the dangers of procrastination, and gives a detailed formula for using autosuggestion to overcome this initiative killer.
Hill states that to become a person of initiative, you must form the habit of aggressively and persistently following the objective of your definite chief aim until you achieve it — regardless of how long it takes.
ImaginationLesson Six is Imagination. Hill states that imagination is the key to mastering all of the other lessons in the course (i.e., Definite Chief Aim, Self-confidence, Leadership, etc.). He debunks the notion that daydreaming is useless, and gives several examples of how daydreaming led directly to concrete actions and results.
After reading this lesson, it appears that virtually all great accomplishments began in someone's imagination-imagination can do the impossible. The key idea of this lesson is this-use your imagination to rearrange old ideas into new combinations. For maximum achievement, you must mix effort with imagination. This is an area where your master mind group is especially helpful.
EnthusiasmLesson Seven is Enthusiasm. Hill defines enthusiasm as "a state of mind that inspires and arouses one to put action into the task at hand." According to Hill, enthusiasm is the most important factor in sales and public speaking. Enthusiasm will make work far less difficult and boring. Hill states that enthusiasm is a vital force that can be developed and used. The procedure to develop it is simple – do the kind of work you like and make sure your actions are leading toward the achievement of your definite chief aim.
According to Hill, the main power of enthusiasm is that it is contagious – which magnifies its power. Hill mentions a sales insight: it is not so much what you say as it is the tone and manner in which you say it that makes a lasting impression. In this example, enthusiasm makes all the difference in the world.
To sell others, you must first sell yourself. Quoting Napoleon Hill: "No one can afford to express, through words or acts, anything that is not in harmony with their own belief-and if they do, they must pay by their loss of their ability to influence others."
He illustrates this by describing a lucrative opportunity presented to him by a foreign government to visit their country and write favorable impressions and opinions about their political system. The money offered was more than he could ever hope to spend in his lifetime – yet he refused because he did not believe in the political system of the country. Therefore, he knew his writing would be ineffective.
Hill tells us to write out our definite chief aim, in clear, simple language and read it nightly before retiring. This allows enthusiasm to build. Hill states that "enthusiasm is the mainspring of the mind that urges one to put knowledge into action".
The author continues this lesson with a discussion of the psychology of clothing. Being well-dressed makes a great impression on all current and potential business associates, as well as increasing the wearer's enthusiasm and self-confidence.
Hill concludes this lesson with a discussion of what he calls "the seven deadly horsemen": intolerance, greed, revenge, egotism, suspicion, jealousy and "?". Hill describes the destructive effects of the six "horsemen" listed and challenges the reader to ask how many of these destructive influences affect him or her.
He then asks the reader to take inventory and give the seventh "horseman ("?") a name that fits whatever they find in their own mind (i.e., dishonesty, procrastination, uncontrolled sex drive, etc.). The purpose here is to see yourself as you are-and as others see you-then work on correcting these character flaws.
Self-ControlLesson Eight is Self-Control. Hill states that without self-control, the enthusiasm in the previous lesson "resembles the unharnessed lightning of an electrical storm – it may strike anywhere; it may destroy life and property. Enthusiasm arouses action, and self-control directs that action in a constructive way.
Hill states that the overwhelming percentage of prison inmates are incarcerated because they lacked the necessary self-control to channel their energies constructively. Conversely, the one common quality of successful people is self-control. No one can control others unless they first control themselves. Lack of self-control is the average salesperson's most damaging weakness.
One method the author mentions to prevent a loss of self-control is not forming an opinion before knowing the facts. Too many folks form their opinions based upon what they believe are the facts-not the true facts themselves. Spending beyond one's means is another lack of self-control to be aware of.
The key to this lesson is this: self-control will enable you to control your appetite and the tendency to spend more than you earn... and the habit of "striking back" at those who offend you, as well as other destructive habits which result in a waste of energy through non-productive efforts.
Hill's powerful summation of this lesson is this: "You have the power to control your thoughts and direct them to do your bidding." Self-control is solely a matter of thought control-and we have complete control over our own thoughts. That is Hill's method of mastering self-control. Do not allow outside forces to unduly influence you – think for yourself, but think with rock-solid precision.
All successful people grade high of self-control. All "failures" grade low, generally zero, on this most important law of human conduct.
The Habit Of Doing More Than Paid ForLesson Nine is "The Habit Of Doing More Than Paid For." Hill tells us that some people love their work, but many hate what they do for a living. Therefore, "you are most efficient and will more quickly and easily succeed when engaged in work that you love, or work that you perform on behalf of some person you love." Hill states that if you are doing the type of work you love, it is no hardship to do more and better work than you are paid for.
He uses himself as an example. His passion and true calling in life was discovering and sharing the secrets of success, and therefore he had no problem overcoming any obstacles that could have prevented him from doing that. Hill mentions two benefits of doing what you love: happiness (which is priceless) and earning far more money. Hill also states that family and friends may disapprove of following your passion, but you must push on, regardless of the opinions of others.
A Pleasing PersonalityLesson Ten is "A Pleasing Personality." Hill defines a pleasing personality as "a personality that attracts" and devotes this lesson to looking at and creating the causes of attraction. Taking a genuine interest in other people is important in attraction, and he uses an example of a very effective saleswoman who focused her initial meeting with Hill on him – his work and accomplishments – not on her product. This simple idea is all too often forgotten by many salesmen who use the pronoun "I" far more than "you". Hill's point is that forming a relationship with a potential customer should always come before the actual sale. If this is done, there is no need to sale-the customer will insist on buying. Hill warns us that cheap flattery will not replace genuine heart interest.
Another point brought out in this lesson sums up Hill's entire philosophy and purpose: Do not look at successful people with envy. Instead, objectively analyze their methods and appreciate the price they had to pay in their careful and well-organized preparation and efforts.
Hill concludes this lesson with a formula for building character. First, imagine people who have the type of character you wish to possess, then proceed to take on those qualities through autosuggestion. Create in your imagination a meeting with them and write out a detailed statement of the qualities you wish to assume from them with their council. Actually see these figures seated around an imaginary table.
Then keep your thoughts focused in a positive manner as you listen to their advice and guidance, and keep in mind the kind of person you would like to be, relying on the advice and examples of those sitting at that table. Also, never forget to give praise to the genuine good qualities you see in others. Hill promises this will bring the law of attraction into play-almost magically.
To sum this lesson up: the seven key factors of a pleasing personality are:
- Form the habit of interesting yourself in other people, and make it your business to find their good qualities and speak of them in terms of praise.
- Develop the ability to speak with force and conviction, both in your ordinary conversational tones and before public gatherings, where you must use more volume.
- Dress in a style that is becoming to you and appropriate to the work in which you are engaged.
- Develop a positive character, through the aid of the methods outlined in this lesson.
- Learn how to shake hands so that you will express warmth and enthusiasm through this form of greeting.
- Attract other people to you by first "attracting yourself" to them.
- Remember that your only limitation, within reason, is the one that you set up in your own mind.
Accurate ThinkingLesson 11 is Accurate Thinking. According to Hill, this is the most important, the most interesting, and the most difficult-to-present lesson of the entire course. Hill states that Accurate Thinking involves two things: Separating fact from information and separating fact into two classes: important/unimportant or relevant/irrelevant. The ability to make this distinction is so important, Hill tells us, because the accurate thinker will not believe anything he hears. Instead, he will arrive at a conclusion only after careful, thoughtful analysis.
Hill cautions us to beware of any self-interest from the provider of evidence, since this may have a huge impact on what they are saying and seeing. If we don't have hard facts, Hill instructs us to "form your own judgment on the part of the evidence before you that furthers your own interest without working any hardship on others... and is based on facts."
Hill states that the key to accurate thinking is what he calls "creative thought", which allows us to tap into "infinite intelligence." The first step to creative thought is autosuggestion – suggestions you make to yourself. The subconscious mind records the suggestions we send it, and invokes the aid of infinite intelligence to turn these suggestions into action.
Hill reminds us that the subconscious mind accepts any and all suggestions, constructive or destructive – and cautions us to be careful what we suggest – facts only, no slander, for slander is poisonous to the subconscious mind and ruins creative thought.
Hill concludes this lesson by reminding us that the subconscious mind does not question the source from which it receives orders, but will direct the body to carry out any order it receives. Therefore, it is vitally important we are careful about how and from where we receive suggestions.
ConcentrationLesson 12 is Concentration of Attention. Hill defines concentration as "the act of focusing the mind on a given desire until ways and means for its realization have been worked out and successfully put into operation." Two important laws enter into this principal: The Law of Autosuggestion (covered extensively in previous lessons) and The Law of Habit. Hill states that habit grows out of environment, and out of doing the same thing the same way, over and over again, out of repetition – and thinking the same thoughts. Therefore, Hill reminds us of the importance of selecting our environment with great care.
Hill states that bad habits can be turned into good ones. Habits are created by repetition, and the best way to break old bad habits is to replace them by forming new good ones. Form new mental paths, and the old ones will become weaker.
Hill tells us to out enthusiasm into forming a new habit, concentrate on it and travel the new path as often as possible. Also, resist the temptation to go down the old path. According to Hill, the first step in creating a good environment is to consider your Definite Chief Aim, and design your environment to best help you achieve it. This begins with your close associates-make sure they support your goals.
Concentration is the ability to keep your mind focused on one subject until you have mastered it. Also, the ability to control your attention, and solve any problem, the ability to throw off bad habits and attain self-mastery are also included in the definition of concentration. These abilities are helped by constantly keeping your Definite Chief Aim in mind.
The most important part of this lesson is this: When two or more people ally themselves for the purpose of attaining a goal, their power is greatly increased. Hill calls this the power of organized effort. Hill describes several examples of powerful and successful alliances.
Hill describes a third subject relating to concentration: memory. Hill provides a detailed formula to retain, recall and recognize information (using association), and using it effectively. Hill then provides fascinating examples of crowd psychology, which serve to further illustrate the power of the master group.
Hill concludes this lesson by saying it is possible for anyone to develop the ability to "tune in" and understand the thoughts of others through what he calls "the universal mind," which is very similar to what psychologist Carl Jung called "the collective unconscious". The author then uses more examples to emphasize the important idea of the master mind – cooperation between like-minded individuals.
CooperationLesson 13 is Cooperation. Hill defines cooperation as "the beginning of all organized effort." He discussed two forms of cooperation. The first is cooperation between people who group themselves together or form alliances for the purpose of attaining a given end (the mastermind group). The second form of cooperation he discusses is between the conscious and the subconscious minds of an individual, or what he calls Infinite Intelligence.
Hill describes how the conscious and subconscious minds work together, and gives suggestion on how to direct this process to help us attain the goals of our Definite Chief Aim. Next, Hill discusses group cooperation. He mentions that nearly all successful businesses are conducted under some form of cooperation, and cooperation is the foundation of all successful leadership. The key point Hill emphasizes here is this: It is vitally important for individuals to surround themselves with people who have the talents and skills which they themselves lack. No one succeeds alone. Hill finishes this lesson with a discussion of the importance of taking action, and gives a detailed plan on how to become active.
Profiting by FailureLesson 14 is Profiting by Failure. Hill gives a different slant on the word failure. He states that failure is normally a negative word, but he distinguishes failure from temporary defeat, and temporary defeat can be a blessing in disguise. Hill also tells us that sound character is often the product of reversals and setbacks, and temporary defeat should be looked upon as a teacher of some needed lesson.
Hill lists several examples from his personal life about succeeding then experiencing setbacks-and describes the correct mindset for overcoming these setbacks. In retrospect, he was thankful for experiencing so much defeat, since it had the effect of giving him the courage to attempt things he wouldn't have tried if his early life would have been easier. Quoting Hill: "Defeat is a destructive force only when it is accepted as failure. When accepted as teaching some needed lesson, it is always a blessing."
The message of this lesson can be summed up as follows: There ultimately is no failure. What appears to be failure is usually a minor setback in disguise. Ensure you do not accept it as permanent!
ToleranceLesson 15 is Tolerance. Hill begins by describing the destructive effects of intolerance. According to Hill, intolerance clouds the mind of the individual and stops his moral, mental and spiritual development. He urges us to question the foundation of our beliefs – make sure the foundation is sound, and based on reality and truth.
Hill outlines a plan for the abolition of war. In hindsight, Hill was overly idealistic. However, these ideas lead him into a discussion of the principal of organized effort. Simply put, regardless of the business one is engaged in, cooperation and tolerance can be of tremendous help in achieving one's Definite Chief Aim.
The Golden RuleLesson 16 is The Golden Rule. Hill begins this lesson by stating that this principal is "the guiding star that will enable you to profitably and constructively use the knowledge assembled in the previous lessons". Hill states that following this law is the only way to apply the power that the preceding lessons provide.
The Golden Rule essentially means to do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you if your positions were reversed. Hill stresses the fact that all of your actions and thoughts will come back to you, for better or worse. Hill tells us that it is not enough to merely believe in the philosophy of the Golden Rule; one must apply it. The key to this lesson is this: the Golden Rule, when understood and applied, makes dishonesty, selfishness, greed, envy, hatred and malice impossible. One must be scrupulously honest, and realize you are punishing yourself by every wrong you commit, and rewarding yourself by every act of constructive conduct.
Hill further states that we benefit by applying the Golden Rule, even if it is not reciprocated. How? Because of the positive effect on our subconscious mind, and the development of stronger, more positive character.
Hill concludes this lesson by stating that labor and capital have a mutual and common interest. Neither can permanently prosper without the prosperity of the other. They are parts of one body. If labor is the arm, capital is the blood – and each must care for the other – by using the Golden Rule as a guide.
The Universal law of Cosmic HabitforceLesson 17 is The Universal law of Cosmic Habitforce, which may be interpreted as an early conceptualization of the Law of Attraction. A somewhat obtuse concept to modern readers, Dr. Hill defines Cosmic Habitforce as "the universal law through which nature affixes all habits so that they may carry on automatically once they have been put into motion". Hill states that Cosmic Habitforce is the reason why success attracts success, and failure attracts failure. The law of Cosmic Habitforce transmits the "success consciousness" from the mind of the successful person to the mind of the unsuccessful one when they are closely associated in daily life.
The key to this lesson is this: Whenever two minds connect, a third mind is created, patterned after the stronger of the two – for better or for worse. Many successful people can trace their success directly to the time they began a close association with someone who possessed the positive mental attitude that they were able to copy.
Even though Cosmic Habitforce is silent and unseen, it is the basis of everything tangible and concrete. As with all of Hill's preceding lessons, Cosmic Habitforce begins with thoughts, which become habits. A fascinating example of Cosmic Habitforce is this: most successful people have usually experienced severe challenges and failures, which forced them to change their habits. Habits that led them to failure are replaced with habits that led them to success.
Hill concludes this lesson with a review of the previous lessons, and reminds us that these lessons constitute an army – and if any one "soldier" is removed or one lesson underdeveloped, the entire army is weakened.
- You must watch for every opportunity to apply and empower the law of the Master Mind.
- Before you can have power, you must have a Definite Chief Aim-a definite purpose.
- You must have self-confidence with which to back up your purpose.
- You must have initiative and leadership with which to exercise your self-confidence.
- You must have imagination in creating your definite purpose and in building the plans with which to transform that purpose into reality and put your plans into action.
- You must mix enthusiasm with your action or it will be bland and weak.
- You must exercise firm self-control.
- You must form the habit of doing more than paid for.
- You must cultivate a pleasing personality.
- You must acquire the habit of saving.
- You must use accurate thinking, remembering, as you develop this quality, that accurate thought is based upon identifiable facts and not upon hearsay evidence or mere information.
- You must form the habit of concentration by giving your undivided attention to but one task at a time.
- You must acquire the habit of cooperation and practice it in all your plans.
- You must profit by failure, your own and that of others.
- You must cultivate the habit of tolerance.
- You must make the Golden rule the foundation of all you do that affects other people.
- You must make use of The Universal law of Cosmic Habitforce, through which all of these principals can be applied to transform not only your thoughts but also your habits.