The Mind and Money
Just because I’ve noted limits of the mind’s positive powers does not mean that the mind cannot help us win the game of life. It can. In his Think and Grow Rich (1937), the motivational writer Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) provided what I consider the finest modern program of self-development.
Hill’s techniques can be used in pursuit of any valid aim, not just money. Think and Grow Rich should be on the bookshelf of every artist, teacher, intellectual, soldier, and activist—anyone with a passionate sense of purpose in life. Here is a digest of Hill’s program:
1. Definite Chief Aim. Without an absolutely rock solid sense of the one thing you wish to accomplish above all else, nothing is possible. Write down your aim. This is no trifle—this is your life.
2. Master Mind Group. You must form a group of likeminded strivers—as small as two or as large as six or seven—with whom you feel entirely at ease, trustful, and harmonious. (This is not easy, so choose carefully.) Meet either in person or digitally at regular intervals to discuss each member’s plans and ideas and share encouragement and counsel. This will multiply the intellect, drive, and inventiveness of each member. It is easy to neglect this step. Do not.
3. Enthusiasm. This is the force on which all accomplishment depends. You must love something in order to attain it. You must select an aim that instills in you boundless enthusiasm and passion. With those emotive forces at work, you will gain remarkable resilience and power.
4. Golden Rule. This is the simplest and yet subtlest ethical code in human history. Study it. Consider it. Let it inform each step of your life—including your thoughts and your choice of an aim.
5. Action. Hill’s program is not one of “wishing.” You must devise concrete, reasonable plans to carry out your Definite Chief Aim. Educate yourself. Be bold but realistic in your plans. Act on them. Begin!
6. Accurate Thinking. There are two types of information: the useful and the useless. The useful is anything that advances your aim. The useless is rumor, opinion, gossip, hostile criticism, and sarcasm. Restrict your thoughts, conversations, and information intake to the first kind.
7. Failure. Success often arrives after many temporary setbacks. This is a rule. When faced with failure, conceive of it as a temporary setback. Plan anew.
Here is Think and Grow Rich in a nutshell: Emotionalized thought directed toward one passionately held aim—aided by organized planning and the Master Mind—is the root of all accomplishment.
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