Napoleon Hill is one of the founding fathers of commercial personal development. Such is his impact on the world of self development and positive thinking, many – if not most – of today’s motivational gurus would be nobody’s. If it was not for the book Think And Grow Rich, I would personally not be where I am today, so I find it suitable to start off the series of Influential People with the man himself: Napoleon Hill.
Tribute To Napoleon Hill
Regular visitors to this blog are no strangers to Napoleon Hill. He is, as many of you know, the author of the book that is at the heart of our Mindset Mastery series, Think and Grow Rich. He is one of the pioneers of wealth creation and one of the original motivational authors—the man and the work, in fact, who has served as the foundation of some of the most proven and prolific self-help and prosperity gurus of today.
Considering the many gifts that Napoleon Hill has given us, I thought it only right to pay homage back to the man, and take the time out in what will be a two-part series to highlight and celebrate the accomplishments and the work of this man who has been so integral to the life success of so many for literally generations now.
The Humble Beginnings of Napoleon Hill
Napoleon Hill was not born into wealth; this one simple fact, when considering where his life led him, served as even more proof that the man knew of what he spoke, wrote, and taught.
Hill was born in 1883 in Pound, Virginia, an Appalachian mountain town in the US state of Virginia. The home he was born into is described as an “impoverished, one-room cabin” and Hill’s family struggled financially throughout his childhood and early adulthood.
Hill’s mother passed away when he was only nine years old, and his father remarried two years later. Not long after that, at the very early age of thirteen, Napoleon Hill went to work for several small-town newspapers, working as a “mountain reporter”. This was the very humble beginning of the writing career that would give birth to one of the world’s all-time best sellers, Think and Grow Rich.
Early on the intention of Hill’s fledgling writing career was to help him fund his way through college. He used what he earned as a teenage newspaper reporter to pay for law school, but was forced to withdraw when he did not have the funds to continue his law degree. In the end, the financial struggles of Napoleon Hill proved to be to the distinct advantage of him and every other person who has gone on to achieve wealth thanks to Hill’s work.
A Serendipitous Return
After leaving law school, Napoleon Hill returned to journalism as a means of support. It was a serendipitous move that not only paved the way for the rest of Hill’s life, but also for millions of others who came to be influenced by Hill’s later works.
In the early 1900’s one of Napoleon Hill’s assignments was to interview selected persons of fame and fortune and to feature each in a series of newspaper articles. In 1908, this assignment led him to the door of Mr. Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-born billionaire-steel magnate and philanthropist.
The Mentor: Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie, who like Napoleon Hill was born into virtual poverty, saw great potential in Hill, and encouraged him to do more than simply finish his series of articles. Carnegie encouraged Hill to carefully study the persons whom he was writing about, and to take on the very large task of interviewing as many as 500 people of wealth and success with the end-goal being to decipher what it is that the rich and successful have in common, and deducing this down into a simple formula for success that any person could follow—man or woman, born to wealth, poverty, or average means. The only financial support that he offered Hill for the endeavour was a modest reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses that Napoleon Hill would incur in travel and interviewing the selected subjects.
Hill, of course, accepted Carnegie’s challenge and rose to it and beyond. In the course of researching the formula for success that any man or woman could follow, he interviewed no less than 500 of the most successful and wealthiest people in the world at the time. His research put him into contact with many hugely famous names in a wide variety of professions, including the political arena (where Napoleon Hill would also later serve, going on to become the advisor to two American Presidents).
Deducing The Formula
For all time Andrew Carnegie believed strongly that any person could become wealthy and successful. He also strongly believed in a formula for success and wealth; he believed that formula, once discovered, would prove to be a basic, timeless strategy based on a core set of principles. He believed that those core principles would become readily apparent after interviewing, researching, and analysing the lives, beliefs, and actions of those whom he considered to be true successes. Proving this and deducing the formula was the task that he set Napoleon Hill to.
This formula, in simple terms, was to Think And Grow Rich. Readers of Napoleon Hill’s books know this to be the common thread of the super successful. The nay-sayers, who deny this formula to work – are predominantly not wealthy people. That surely says something in itself!
Napoleon Hill – In His Own Words
Napoleon Hill speaks of his meeting with Andrew Carnegie and of, possibly his most famous saying: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve”
Think and Grow Rich
It took Napoleon Hill some twenty years before the first fruits of his labor were produced. The first introduction to Hill and Carnegie’s formula did not come in Think and Grow Rich, but in a home-study course called “The Law of Success“. The research and information that he gathered in the formation of that course did, however, serve as the foundation for Think And Grow Rich, the book that is known as the “cornerstone” of financial success literature and which has launched numerous careers, and countless numbers on to success and wealth.
In the next part, I will conclude my series in honor of Napoleon Hill
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