Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill – Dealing With An Ugly Truth

Some time ago I read the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and hot damn did it really hit me. It’s loaded with so many fascinating nuggets of wisdom. For example, the idea of a ‘Master Mind Alliance’ as a ‘coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose’ really stuck with me. This was cool because I felt I already understood the concept on an intuitive level; I’d just never seen it conceptualized on paper. Words on paper have a certain pop to them, with the ability to jump off the page and grab you. Like receiving a letter or card from someone saying, “I love you” for the first time. You’ve heard the words a thousand times, but reading it like that just hits different. That was how I felt reading this book, with impactful quotes such as: Our only limitations are those we set up in our own minds.” That one smacked me right in the face when I read it. 

The book’s core philosophy is to manifest personal desires by putting your thoughts into action. This suddenly became more than just enjoying a good book – it evolved into a call to action. I began writing down goals and set a plan in motion that I am still executing to this day. It’s become the ultimate litmus test. I wanted to know if the limitations I had set up in my own mind were nothing more than a script someone else had written.

Last week, a buddy of mine referenced a book he’s currently reading. Lo and behold, it’s by Napoleon Hill, titled The Laws Of Success. There’s a section in the book where Hill goes into describing leadership traits, drawing parallels to the military and how officers are expected to treat their enlisted soldiers. Being curious and actively listening, I wonder if Hill ever served in the military, since he seems to know a lot about military leadership. My buddy finds himself at the bottom a fucking massive Google rabbit hole – bless his heart. But, he ends up finding this lengthy article (probably could have been a book due to the length and depth of it) that absolutely trashes Napoleon Hill. I mean short of calling him Satan himself, this writer legit unleashed his literary wrath onto the keyboard.

The entire tone of the article was negative, with phrases such as, “If this self help stuff helps you then ok but…” I was about to stop reading but felt a small voice inside me saying, “read on you coward.” Now, we didn’t fact check the guy, but he did seem to have some dirt on the author. From first glance, it appears that old Hill may have been a bit of a huckster – opening shady businesses, lying about business contacts whom he repeatedly affirms in Think and Grow Rich, exaggerating his wealth, stealing ideas for his books from other sources, and a host of other indiscretions. You get the idea. The general theme of the article was This guy is a fraud and everything he wrote is con artist bullshit. Now, the author of this article seemed to have a personal vendetta against the self-help community but – there was some truth in it. Rather than be reactive, I thought long and hard about the complexity and dynamic of learning an ugly truth.

An ugly truth is hard to swallow because it goes against an ego investment you have in that truth. It’s like a husband or wife finding out their spouse has been having an affair for 10 years behind their back. Despite all of their friends and family telling them, they refuse to even believe it. The pain of that truth is too much to bear because they have invested so many years with that person. They’ve made so many decisions based on that truth. In those moments when we learn an ugly truth that we simply can’t ignore or that hurts us deeply, we first have to ride the wave of emotions that inevitably follow. We need time to process the bombshell before we come to any rash conclusions about our ultimate reality based on the investment we had in that truth. And usually, when the dust settles, we’re still able to salvage some positive gifts from the experience that hold themselves to be true no matter how dishonest the person or their intentions may have been.

In the case of Think And Grow Rich, it is immaterial whether Napoleon Hill was full of shit because the truths in that book helped me. They continue to help me. The only limitations we have ARE those we set up in our own minds. We ARE the sum total of our thoughts. We DO need to write down our goals, take action, and ALWAYS dream big. Your value IS established by your ability to provide a valuable service. Is some of the book bullshit? Absolutely. But what book doesn’t have a little bit of bullshit in it? 

One of my biggest hurdles in my real estate career sometimes is that in the middle of a goal, I will allow the tiniest bit of doubt to creep in, and it clouds my vision just enough to trip me up. Doubt – not fear. Big difference. Fear is healthy. Panic (doubt) is deadly. Yet, I am always able to anchor and reset myself by re-reading my real estate goals. I re-read my motivational real estate mission statement. I get back on track and focus on what I can influence, not on those things I can’t. I know that despite my feelings, I’m not going to quit or give up until I’ve seen it through. I’m not backing down. When I set a goal it is because I know without a shadow of a doubt that my skill matches the challenge I have set for myself. Therefore I am not ashamed of my goals because they are well within my abilities to attain. Setting goals isn’t a magic trick, a secret sauce, or a pipe dream. I’ve seen my competition, I’ve sat with the best, and I know that I belong at that table. I’ve always known that. It’s my table just the same as it is theirs. And it’s yours too, if you choose it to be.


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