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The Secret of Success – 17 Success Principles

The Secret of Success – 17 Success Principles

“Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and, perhaps, some failure. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit.That is exactly what the majority of men do. More than five hundred of the most successful men this country has ever known told the author their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them.”
Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

Napoleon Hill is considered one of the greatest writers on success. His ideas are as helpful today as they were 100 years ago. His 17 Principles of Personal Achievementare examples of his belief that “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.”

  • Develop Definiteness of Purpose
  • Establish a Mastermind Alliance
  • Use Applied Faith
  • Go the Extra Mile
  • Assemble an Attractive Personality
  • Create Personal Intiative
  • Build a Positive Mental Attitude
  • Burning Desire & Enthusiasm
  • Enforce Self-Discipline
  • Think Accurately
  • Control Your Attention
  • Inspire Teamwork
  • Learn from Adversity & Defeat
  • Cultivate Creative Vision
  • Maintain Sound Health
  • Budget Your Time & Money
  • Develop Positive Habits

Napolean Hill refused to accept that success was the domain of luck or background or the gods, and wanted to provide a concrete plan for success that depended entirely on us. Think and Grow Richis a distillation of the success secrets of hundreds of America's most successful men (not many female tycoons in the 1930s), beginning with his patron, steel baron Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie had given Hill letters of introduction to the likes of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and FW Woolworth, and he would spend 20 years synthesizing their experience and insights.

Money and the spirit

Near the end of Think and Grow Rich, Hill admits that the main reason he wrote it was “the fact that millions of men and women are paralyzed by the fear of poverty." This was in the America of the 1930s, still scarred by the Depression, when most people were focused on avoiding poverty rather than getting rich. That Hill's book did not stop at poverty avoidance, but dared to be about becoming fabulously rich, may have forever classified it in some minds as a greed manual, but this is precisely what gave it its huge attraction.

The link between spiritual values and making money is something non-Americans may find difficult to take seriously or even comprehend, yet it is the very expression of American morality. Wealth creation is a product of mind, combining reasoning, imagination and tenacity. Hill understood that uniqueness, expressed in a refined idea or product, would always eventually meet with monetary reward.

The concept that all earned riches and achievement comes from the mind is commonplace now - it is the basis of the knowledge society/information age. Yet in 1937 Hill was already talking about 'brain capital' and the marketing of one's self as a provider of non-physical services. The sage-like qualities of the book are encapsulated in its title: 'Think and grow rich' is effectively the motto, not of Hill's, but of our era.


Hill relates the story of Edwin C Barnes, who arrived on Thomas Edison's doorstep one day and announced that he was going to be the inventor's business partner. He was given a minor job, but chose not to see himself as just another cog in the Edison business wheel, imagining himself as the inventor's silent partner. This he eventually did become. Barnes intuitively knew the success secret of willingness to burn all bridges, ensuring there is no retreat to a former, mediocre life. Definiteness of purpose always yields results, and Hill includes a six-step method, developed by Andrew Carnegie, for turning 'white-hot desires' into reality.

Hill counsels never to worry if others think your ideas are crazy. Marconi's friends took him to a mental hospital for believing that he could send `messages through the air' (he invented radio). Hill's famous statement is: 'What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve', but his great insight is that no more effort is required to aim high in life than to accept an existence of misery and lack.

Infinite intelligence

A defining feature of this classic is its respect for the ineffable, being possibly the first of this century's prosperity classics to suggest that mental attunement with `Infinite Intelligence' (the Universe, or God) is the source of wealth. Hill realized that consciousness was not confined to the brain; rather, the brain was an element of the great unified Mind. Therefore, to be open to this larger mind was to have access to all knowledge, power and creativity.

He mentions Edison's retreats to his basement where, in the absence of sound and light, he would simply 'receive' his ideas. A person receptive to this realm is likened to a pilot flying high above where normal people work and play. Such vision allows them to see beyond the strictures of regular space and time.

The subconscious and our connection to Infinite Intelligence

Hill illustrates the concept of Infinite Intelligence through analogy to a radio receiver. Just as we can receive important messages if we are tuned in, thoughts we hold about ourselves are effectively beamed out to the world through the subconscious, boomeranging back as our 'circumstances'. By understanding that our experiences matter only because of how we perceive them, and becoming the master of our own thoughts, we can control what filters into our subconscious. It becomes a better reflection of what we actually desire, and 'broadcasts' to the infinite realm clear messages of those desires.

Since all thought tends to find its physical equivalent, we create the right conditions for manifesting our desires. This is why it is important to write down the exact figure of how much money we want to possess. This amount, once entrenched in our subconscious, is removed from the conscious mind and its doubts, and helps to shape our actions and decisions towards its realization.

The concept extends to prayer. Most people give up on prayer because it doesn't work for them, but Hill believed this to be essentially a failure of method. Whatever we seek through prayer has slim chances of eventuating if it is just a heartfelt wish, muttered through the conscious mind. What we desire cannot remain at this level - it must become part of our unconscious being, almost existing outside of us, for it to really have effect.


Think  and Grow Richcovers faith, persistence, decision, procrastination and creating a mastermind of people around you. The book goes beyond money. He makes an effort at the outset to define 'rich' in terms of quality friendships, family harmony, good work relationships and spiritual peace. Further, he warns us not to rely on position or force of authority, remarking that most great leaders began as excellent followers and that we have to learn how to serve before we can achieve.

Hill's central idea, that the source of wealth is non-material, is yet to be fully appreciated - we still tend to worry about our level of education or amount of capital more than about intangible assets such as persistence, vision, and the ability to tap into the Infinite and shape the subconscious.Successful people are shy of attributing their wealth or influence to such 'spiritual' abilities, but Hill knew their importance.


Read more about each principle at Pick one or two principles to work and act on each month.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
- Steve Jobs US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Are you working in a company where executive coaches provide leadership development to grow emotionally intelligent leaders? Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders who need to inspire a collaborative vision? Sustainable leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more fulfilling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Do I believe that I can achieve what the mind conceives?" Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching as part of their transformational peak performance leadership development program.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help you achieve success. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

Working Resources is a San Francisco Bay Area Executive Coaching Firm Helping  Innovative Companies Assess, Select, Coach and Retain Emotionally Intelligent Leaders; Strategic Talent Management; Leadership Development; Competency Modeling; Succession Management; and Leadership & Team Building Retreats

About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist, executive coach and trusted advisor to senior leadership teams. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies and law firms assess, select, coach, and retain emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

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