It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review on that blog. In fact, it’s been a long time since I’ve read a personal finance or investing book. But two weeks ago I saw that Think and Grow Rich, from Napoleon Hill, was at only 0.58$ on Amazon for Kindle. You can read my tips about finding cheap Kindle ebooks. I often saw it mentioned in best of lists on several blogs. So I thought it was a good bargain. So I bought it and read it and here is my review :)
This book is about self-improvement and personal development. It’s a very old book. It was written in 1937 by Napoleon Hill. It was written after the great depression. It’s based on the secret recipe for success by Andrew Carnegie. All this book is based on explaining this secret recipe through a series of steps.
As you will discover, Think and Grow Rich is a very special book. It’s different form most of the books I usually read. It can teach you a lot of things, but you may have to figure out many things yourself.
Think and Grow Rich Book
This book is really special. It’s not at all like any of the other investing or personal finance books I’ve read. They are not going to give any specific advice such as invest in low-fees Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). The entire book is based in mastering your feelings to make sure your road to riches will be paved with success.
Once you get a burning desire of reaching your goal, you need an idea. From that idea you can grow a plan. And all along the road, you need only use positive emotions and shield yourself from negative emotions. You really need a very strong mind to achieve this.
Be obsessed about your success
According to this book, the most important thing to reach success to have a burning desire for your goal. You need to know exactly what you want. You may want to have a million dollar or you may want to be the greatest salesmen in your company. In each case, it’s important to set a clear goal.
There is no such thing as something for nothing
You’ll need to work out hard to achieve your goal. You’ll need an idea on how to achieve it. And you’ll need to translate that idea into a plan.
One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat
And very importantly, you need to be determined and persistent about reaching your goals. If you quit too early, you’ll never reach your goal. You need to persuade yourself that you are able to reach your goal. You need to know it! It’s not something easy, but that is what this book advocates. And the book explains several ideas on how to improve on the way to this goal.
Master your emotions
Once you have your burning desire and your plan to achieve it, you need to place yourself in a strong state of mind. You need to focus on your positive emotions.
The emotions of faith, love and sex are the most powerful of all the major positive emotions
You need to use these emotions to improve your state of mind and thus improve your path to success. Even after reading this book once, it remains quite abstract how to do it. But I agree that shielding oneself from negative emotions is very powerful. It’s interesting that an entire chapter is about sex. The author mentions that many very successful men had a very developed libido. And they were motivated by women in their way to success. Also, as everything, indulging in sex without the right state of mind is not useful and could slow down your progress.
Master your fears
The second part of Think and Grow Rich is about the contrary. It’s about what can cause failure. And the most important part of that second teaching is fears. Fears are the biggest drivers of failure. The author identifies many fears and their result on your chances of success.
For instance, the fear of failure (of fear of poverty) will completely slow you down on your way to riches. If you are too afraid of failure, you won’t be able to succeed. That is not to say that you will not experience failure of course. Everybody does. It took Edison more than one thousand failures to invent the incandescent bulb. A failure should only be a temporary event in your way to success. And you should be ready for them. Being always afraid of failure will make you over cautious and always waiting for the right time. This can also make some people procrastinate.
The fear is criticism is also a very important fear. It can take many forms, often petty. If you think too much about how people perceive you, you’ll be not yourself, but you’ll what they want you to be. You’ll want to have a big house, new clothes every year, a new car every car every few years. You’ll want to follow the crow
Another fear that the author mentions in the book is the fear of death. It’s logical to be a bit afraid of death. But when you are fearing death too strongly, you are not living your life to the fullest. People should focus on their current life and not their coming death.
Fears are nothing more than state of mind
In essence, fears are just emotions or states of mind indeed. But, it’s really not easy to get rid of fears. Some fear are highly irrational and you can often deal with them with logic. But some fears are highly rooted in one’s mind and it is difficult get rid of these fears.
Why people spend so much time deliberately fooling themselves by creating alibis to cover their weaknesses. If used differently, this same time would be sufficient to cure the weakness, the no alibis would be needed
This a very important point. Most of the time, reasons for failure are just alibis that we invent. Who never used an alibi to explain why he didn’t achieve what he wanted. I’m sure all of you already did it. And I sure did it. But we need to recognize these reasons for what they, alibis that we invent.
If I had a good education…
If I lived in a better city…
What if people weren’t so dumb…
There are so many possible examples. These are all alibis. If you want to have a better education, just educate yourself. Go back to school. If you want to live in a better city, just do it. You can’t do anything about other people being dumb, but you can use it and recognize that you may be as dumb as they are. In most of the cases, if you recognize that they are only alibis, you can fix them. Work out a plan to have a better education or live in a better city. And once you achieve your plan, you won’t need alibis. It’s a good exercise to recognize your alibis
Teaching great values
The book make many great points that are related to success and we can make some easy parallels to investing and financial independence:
- Persistence is incredibly important. You should not stop investing in the stock market because you lost one single day. It takes persistence and determination
- You need to know what you want.
- You need to really want it. This is very important. Some person want to be rich but don’t do anything about it. They just wish it but don’t want to any work. You need to be ready to work for your goal. And your desire for it should be strong.
- You need to have a plan. It’s not enough to know what you want, you should also work out a plan to achieve what you want.
- Being afraid will hinder your success. If you are constantly afraid, you’ll never take risk and will never progress fast enough towards your goals. You should trust in your success.
- Many more…
These facts are really important. Whether you try for financial riches or for financial independence or even for a totally different kind of goal, these values will help you towards success.
Think and Grow Rich has many examples of successful men. From these examples, we can draw many conclusions, supporting the claims of the book. For instance, the author mentions the story of Thomas Edison many times throughout the book. The most important example relates the invention of the incandescent light. For this, Edison failed more than one thousand times before he succeeded. This is an excellent example of persistence. There are also many examples about Henry Ford. He was really successful especially due to his strong persistence.
The story of Barnes is also quite interesting. He wanted to work with Edison and not for Edison. His burning desire was very clear in his mind and he was determined to achieve his goal. He was able to convince Edison to let him work for him at first. And then, once he saw the opportunity with the invention of Ediphone (a kind of dictaphone) where none of the other sellers wanted to do anything about it. He was able to sell it and work with Edison. He successfully reached his goal!
Some teachings are old
On the other side, Think and Grow Rich feel quite old. It’s already more than 80 years old. Of course, this is not the fault of the author ;) But many things changed in society and finances in these years.
Most of the principles taught in this book are still valid of course. But some examples would need refreshing. Warren Buffet would be an excellent example of persistence. And what about Bill Gates. And the book talks many time of the great depression, but there were many recession since that point. Some were quite different and some were the same. But the great depression is not as relevant today as it was 80 years ago.
Finally, the book has a quite sexist view on women. This is quite inherent of the time of this book. But it’s weird to read this now. First of all, there are almost no example about successful women. And there is chapter about women as the wife. Basically, they area only the wife of someone. And they should be supportive.
Almost mythical teaching
In its essence Think and Grow Rich is not practical, but almost mystic. For instance, it’s full of phrases like this:
Whether your receive the sign in the first or the last chapter, stop for a moment when it presents itself, and turn down a glass, for that occasion will mark the most important turning-point of your life.
And the author mentions himself the sign as a mystic sign by the author. It feels more like the teachings of a sect and not an self-improvement book. But I’m maybe a bit too much close-minded ;)
Desire can be transmuted into gold
I agree that having a strong desire for something and doing everything to satisfy that desire will definitely help in your way to success. However, the idea of transmutation of feelings into something physical is not something I would have put that way. There is no such things as transmutation of feelings into gold. Again, we have almost on the limit of the mystic again.
And when you hear things such as “Higher level of thought” or “Exalted plane of Thought” or that telepathy and clairvoyance are real things, you are starting to wonder about the book seriousness. Another thing is that the author insists upon the existence of the ether. This would transmits things from one person to another and carry emotions. There is no such as the ether… But again, I may be too square minded for such things ;)
My personal point of the view on Think and Grow Rich is not totally set. Overall, it was not a good reading. I didn’t enjoy reading this book. However, the book makes some really good point. I didn’t cover all of the points made in the book. It’s really filled with important facts. Maybe it’s even too dense of information for most people. And I don’t doubt that mastering your emotions is an extremely important thing to do. The part about mastering your fear was more interesting than the first part about mastering your desire. For me, this book is not concrete enough, it’s almost mystical. And I don’t enjoy this kind of read. But I’m able to enjoy the values taught in the book that are very important.
Think and Grow Rich is not a bad book, but don’t read this book to enjoy it. Or don’t read it to get very specific advice. After reading entirely once, it remains quite abstract for me what I should do to improve myself. If you want to master the principles from this book, you’ll have to practice hard.
You can find this book on Amazon: Think And Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill
I’ve bought four new books recently very cheap on Kindle, so you should expect new book reviews coming soon :)
Did you read Think And Grow Rich ? Did you like it ?