How to Achieve Greatness in Anything


In Napoleon Hill's classic Think and Grow Rich, he shares his research on studying some of the most successful people of his time and observing the philosophies that drove them to achieve massive success. Here, we go over some of Hill's key takeaways.

According to Hill, there are 11 steps towards massive success and riches, but first, he argues that riches begin with a state of mind - with definiteness of purpose. In other words, success comes to those who become success conscious, and failure comes to those who indefinitely allow themselves to become failure conscious. Now, Hill's 11 steps:

Step 1: Having a burning desire to acquire or reach something.

  • People succeed because they choose a definite goal, place all of their energy, all of their willpower, all of their effort, and everything behind their goal.

  • You must create a plan to attain your purpose, and must stand behind your desire until it becomes the dominating obsession of your life.

  • After becoming obsessed, you must plan definite ways and means to acquire your goals, and back those plans with persistence which does not recognize failure.

  • Remember that there is a difference between wishing for a thing and being ready to receive it. As Hill argues, no one is ready for anything until he believes he can acquire it. Your state of mind must be belief, not mere hope or wishing. Open-mindedness is essential for belief. Closed minds do not inspire faith, courage, and belief.

Step 2: Faith. Visualize and Believe the Attainment of Your Desire.

  • Faith is a state of mind which may be induced, or created, by affirmation or repeated instructions to the subconscious mind, through the principle of auto-suggestion.

  • Write out a statement of your major purpose, or Definite Chief Aim, commit it to memory, and repeat it, in audible words, day after day, until these vibrations of sound have reached your subconscious mind.

Step 3: Auto-Suggestion. The Medium for Influencing the Subconscious Mind.

  • When you begin to carry out the first of the six steps, which instructs you to “fix in your own mind the exact goal you desire,” hold your thoughts on that goal by concentration, or fixation of attention, with your eyes closed, until you can actually see the physical appearance of achieving that goal.

  • When visualizing the goal you intend to achieve, (with closed eyes), see yourself rendering the service, or completing the steps towards achieving this goal.

Step 4: Acquire Specialized Knowledge.

  • You must decide what field and what sort of specialized knowledge you wish to acquire or are required to have. Hill argues that successful people never stop acquiring specialized knowledge related to their major purpose, business, or profession.

  • As he puts it, people who schedule their spare time to learn seldom remain at the bottom very long.

  • The way of success is the way of continuous pursuit of knowledge, although the outlook from the bottom is not very bright or encouraging, as it has a tendency to kill off ambition. We often call this “getting into a rut,” which means that we accept our fate because we form the habit of daily routine, a habit that finally becomes so strong we cease to try to throw it off.

Step 5: Imagination.

  • Put your imagination to work on building a plan for transforming your desires and goals into realities.

  • Definiteness of purpose takes on animation, life, and power when backed by a burning desire to translate that purpose into its material equivalent.

  • Ideas can be transmuted through the power of definite purpose, plus definite plans.

Step 6: Organized Planning; The Crystallization of Desire into Action.

  • Create the team, or group of necessary people, you will need to accomplish your goals. This often comes from associating with the correct people.

  • Take advantage of the experience, education, abilities, and imagination of each person on your team. Everything has something to offer.

  • Remember that when your plans fail, temporary defeat is NOT permanent failure... build other plans and start over again.

  • A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits!

Step 7: The Mastery of Procrastination.

  • If you are influenced by the opinions of others, you will have no desire of your own. You have a brain and mind of your own. Use it, and reach your own decisions.

  • Keep in mind the fact that every person with whom you associate is, like yourself, seeking the opportunity to accumulate money and achieve big goals. If you talk about your plans too freely, you may be surprised when you learn that some other person has beaten you to your goal by putting the plans of which you talked about into action ahead of you.

Step 8: Persistence: The Sustained Effort Necessary to Induce Faith.

  • The majority of people are ready to throw their aims and purposes overboard, and give up at the first sign of opposition or misfortune.

  • A few carry on despite all opposition, until they attain their goal. These few are the Fords, Carnegies, Rockefellers, and Edisons. Lack of persistence is one of the major causes of failure.

  • Persistence is based upon definite causes, among them these:

  • Definiteness of purpose. Knowing what one wants is the first and, perhaps, the most important step toward the development of persistence. A strong motive forces one to surmount many difficulties.

  • Desire. It is comparatively easy to acquire and to maintain persistence in pursuing the object of intense desire.

  • Self-reliance. Belief in one’s ability to carry out a plan encourages one to follow the plan through with persistence.

  • Definiteness of plans. Organized plans, even though they may be weak and entirely impractical, encourage persistence.

  • Accurate knowledge. Knowing that one’s plans are sound, based upon experience or observation, encourages persistence; “guessing” instead of “knowing” destroys persistence.

  • Co-operation. Sympathy, understanding, and harmonious cooperation with others tend to develop persistence.

  • Will-Power. The habit of concentrating one’s thoughts upon the building of plans for the attainment of a definite purpose, leads to persistence.

  • Habit. Persistence is the direct result of habit. The mind absorbs and becomes a part of the daily experiences upon which it feeds. Fear, the worst of all enemies, can be effectively cured by forced repetition of acts of courage.

  • Measure yourself courageously, point by point, and see how many of the eight factors of persistence you lack.

Step 9: Mastering Your Mind.

  • Economic advantages may be created by any person who surrounds himself with the advice, counsel, and personal cooperation of a group of men who are willing to lend him wholehearted aid, in a spirit of perfect harmony. This form of cooperative alliance has been the basis of nearly every great fortune.​

Step 10: Understanding the Subconscious Mind - Connecting the Link.

The mind is a creature of habit. It thrives upon the dominating thoughts fed it. Your subconscious mind functions voluntarily, whether you make any effort to influence it or not. Thoughts of fear and poverty, and all negative thoughts serve as stimuli to your subconscious mind, unless, you master these impulses and give it more desirable food upon which it may feed.

  • The imagination, when under control, may be used for the creation of plans or purposes that lead to success in one’s chosen occupation.• The subconscious mind is more susceptible to influence by impulses of thought mixed with “feeling” or emotion, than by those originating solely in the reasoning portion of the mind

Step 11: Controlling the Brain.

  • You either control your mind or it controls you. There is no hall-way compromise.

  • The most practical of all methods for controlling the mind is the habit of keeping it busy with a definite purpose, backed by a definite plan.


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