Every adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent advantage.Napoleon Hill
Napoleon Hill is the author of the uber-popular book called Think and Grow Rich. It was one of the first books I read when I finally began putting my financial life in order in my mid-twenties, and I found in tremendously helpful. (It’s worth mentioning, though, that Hill may have been somewhat of a charlatan. He claims to have worked with hundreds of successful men in his time like Thomas Edison and, most notably, Andrew Carnegie. He even claims to have taught Hitler, yikes. But historians say that there is no record of these meetings. Like, anywhere. 🤷 REGARDLESS, I still think his books are worth reading.)
Success Habits is basically a very short version of Think and Grow Rich. It’s a collection of radio addresses given in Paris, Missouri in the 1950s, and it hits the high points of his philosophies on finance, mental attitude, spiritual growth, and, of course, success.
The book is divided into 16 sections, but Hill actually covers only 8 topics: definiteness of purpose (i.e., finding your master life purpose), accurate thinking, applied faith, fifteen major causes of failure, persistence and decisiveness, self-discipline, pleasing personality, and cosmic habit force.
Before you begin reading this book, you have to mentally prepare yourself for some old-timey writing. Hill can be long-winded and repetitive. He also tends to over-explain his points, and he talks about women in, well, the same way everyone talked about women in his time: as housewives and secretaries, barely worthy of being addressed (which is why he never bothers to use a “she” pronoun when addressing his audience, boo).
But if you can see beyond these small annoyances, you’ll find a lot of concrete and helpful suggestions for getting your mental life in order. The gist of his philosophy is that you need to focus the power of your mind on the things you want in order to achieve them. It’s very similar to the philosophy of Tony Robbins.
Whatever you can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.Napoleon Hill
What I like best about this book is its emphasis on grit, perseverance, and hard work. I also like how Hill encourages people to focus on the things they want and not on the things they fear. As someone with a phobia list a mile long, I can appreciate this point. I also really enjoyed reading Hill’s various lists—sometimes if only for their enormous entertainment value. (I’m looking at you, “Twenty-five Traits of a Pleasing Personality”). For example:
- Nine basic human motives are love, sex, material wealth, self-preservation, freedom, personal expression and recognition, immortality or life after death, revenge, and fear.
- Fifteen major causes of failure are purposelessness, physical deformities at birth, meddlesome curiosity in other people’s affairs, lack of major life purpose, inadequate schooling, lack of self-discipline, lack of ambition, ill health, unfavorable environmental influences during childhood, lack of persistence, negative mental attitude, lack of emotional control, the desire for something for nothing (gambling), procrastination, and giving in to fear.
- Seven basic fears are poverty, criticism, bad health, loss of love, old age, loss of liberty, and death.
- Twenty-five traits of a pleasing personality are a positive mental attitude, flexibility, a pleasing voice, a pleasing facial expression, tolerance, a sense of humor, common courtesy, the habit of going the extra mile, gracefulness, temperance, sexual magnetism (yass, queen), and the list goes on.
I found a lot to love about Success Habits. Think and Grow Rich is definitely more comprehensive and better organized, but this is still a nice introduction to Hill’s philosophies. It’s worth a look.
Big thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Net Galley for the ARC!