Think and Grow Rich – A Modern Interpretation

This curated post is authored by Sand Farnia, Editor of The Writing Cooperative

Napoleon Hill

(Shown Above: Napolean Hill, Author of the book Think and Grow Rich, Published in 1937)

Whether you have read the book or not, this perspective will give you a better understanding of the core concepts and how to apply them in modern times.

I only recently finished reading it, and it has given me profound insight into who I am and how to become the person I want to be. Writing this synopsis is my first step towards that glory.


The book “Think and Grow Rich” was inspired by Andrew Carnegie, who asked Napoleon Hill to devote a considerable portion of his life to researching and understanding the characteristics of the most successful people alive. In the early 20th century this list included Teddy Roosevelt, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Clarence Darrow.

These are hallmarks of American history, and the author had personal access to them and, as he claims, over 500 of the most successful people on the planet.

Hill’s mission was to identify the common traits and habits of highly successful people and with that data create a formula to get rich. His book is the result of his work.

But the book is more than instructions on how to get rich, it is a comprehensive exploration of the human psyche. It is an ode to the mind.

Chapter 1: Desire — The Starting Point of All Achievement

Desire begins as a psychological phenomenon. It exists first in the mind and only manifests itself into reality if given enough emotion. If desire lacks emotion, it has no chance of success.

When emotion fuels desire, the desire becomes an obsession. It invades the subconscious and dictates fate. It forces the object of the desire into reality.

For example, those who obsess over product launches or concert tickets are experiencing this phenomenon. Their subconscious has long taken over, and nothing will stop them from obtaining their desire. We accept this behavior as human nature, because we all have felt it at one time or another, towards a person, an experience, or even a product.

But we rarely feel this way towards money. Of course, everyone wants to be rich, but obsession with money as an end in itself is often considered a character flaw.

There is a popular belief that money is conceptual. It is an assigned value to a worthless piece of paper, which is supposed to be used to acquire what one really desires. This belief will prevent people from ever becoming rich.

Money is the physical form of freedom.

This means that money is not just means to an end, it is an end in itself because freedom is an end in itself.

To become rich you must realize that money is a real physical OBJECT, like a ticket to a rock concert or a train ride, except this ticket is to your freedom. You must force it to become the object of your obsession. Your subconscious must be conditioned to love money the same way you love freedom.

Hill provides this method for conditioning your subconscious:

1. The amount of money I desire and I deserve in this life is __________ .

2. In return for this money, I will devote myself and my life’s work to __________.

3. I will have the aforementioned amount of money in my possession on this day __________.

4. This is the plan that I am putting into action immediately to acquire this money __________.

5. Make a promise to yourself that combines these statements. This is mine:

I, Sand Farnia, vow that on August 26, 2024 will have a net worth of no less than 10 million dollars. In return I devote the next 10 years of my life to building tools and writing stories that help others reach their goals and live more fulfilling lives. My mission for the first year is to write 39 stories and learn to build my first tool. This is my life’s purpose, and I here and now commit my entire being to its realization.

6. Recite this vow at least twice every single day. Hill is adamant that the money must be a specific number and that you must believe it is already yours, waiting for you to do the work you promised.

As you read [your oath], see and feel and believe yourself already in possession of the money.

Chapter 2: Faith — Visualization and Belief in Attainment of Desire

Faith is the belief that success is imminent and failure is impossible.

Faith is supreme confidence.

Faith is what gives life and power to subconscious thoughts.

Faith acts as fuel when all other energy is exhausted.

The only known way to cultivate faith is through the repetition of positive thoughts and positive vibrations to the self and to the subconscious. Thus, you must constantly reinforce yourself actively by repeating thoughts such as these:

I am strong, I am courageous, and I have no doubt
that I will achieve my definite purpose in life.

I will imagine the person I intend to become every day,
and strive with all my willpower to become that person.

I will not tarnish my soul, my faith, and my purpose
with negative words, emotions, or actions.

Reinforcing your faith gives you the strength necessary to overcome the doubt you are sure to encounter as you strive towards your goal. Actual faith has such power that it can make success a forgone conclusion.

Chapter 3: Auto-Suggestion — The Medium for Influencing the Subconscious Mind

Auto-suggestion is the process of conditioning the subconscious mind through the conscious mind by repetition of thought. No thought can enter the subconscious without the aid of auto-suggestion.

An example of auto-suggestion is the ability to drive. Driving requires using arms, legs, hands, eyes, and ears. It requires meticulous awareness of surroundings. Learning to drive is a painstaking process that takes lots of practice. But eventually driving becomes automatic to the brain. Because of the repetition of the thought impulses, the brain eventually automatically executes the actions of driving, without the aid of voluntary thought. This is what we call the subconscious.

With this knowledge, we can use auto-suggestion to influence our subconscious for the purpose of accumulating money.

You must believe in your subconscious that the money is already yours, that you are already worth the amount. The money is merely waiting to be delivered to you upon the completion of the tasks that you promised for it.

The only way possible for your subconscious mind to believe
is for your conscious mind to believe and repeat it daily.

Once the subconscious mind believes it to be true, it will influence every single decision and action towards the money. The tasks you promised will seemingly begin to complete themselves without the resistance of the conscious mind.

This is an awesome power that can be used to form any long-term habit, such that not taking the action becomes an emotional liability to the conscious mind. A feeling of emptiness and guilt is sent from the subconscious, beckoning the mind to complete the task.

Chapter 4: Specialized Knowledge — Personal Experience or Observations

Contrary to popular opinion, knowledge is not power. Knowledge is only the potential for power.

Knowledge will not attract money unless it is organized and intelligently directed, through practical plans of action, to the definite end of accumulation of money.

In order for knowledge to yield any results, it must be used actively. Moreover, it must be applied with a plan that, in the end, ensures the accumulation of money.

Planning requires that you know your own passions and that you are able to choose the path of least resistance towards the money. Passion towards a specific profession will help you to speed the learning process and to apply that knowledge.

It pays to know how to purchase knowledge.

Today, in the age of information, the internet provides access to specialized knowledge with very little financial cost. Since most often the cost is time, the most efficient classes are the best. The world’s education system is in the midst of a massive transformation which will award resourcefulness. Efficient learning and knowing how to learn will become enormous advantages, because the price paid for knowledge will no longer be money, it will be time.

Nonetheless, there are universal attributes that help to advance specialized knowledge. Hill stresses that learning “promptness of decision, action, and the habit of finishing what one begins” are essential to success in any field of specialized knowledge.

Chapter 5: Imagination — The Workshop of the Mind

All plans are created inside the imagination. Innovation is fostered through imagination. But imagination must be used and practiced to reach its full potential.

Hill describes two kinds of imagination:

  • Synthetic Imagination —Using the imagination to combine existing ideas into new forms.
  • Creative Imagination — Exploring the imagination for “Hunches” and “Inspirations” of completely new ideas.

It is possible for the imagination to become weak through inactivity. If it does, synthetic imagination can help to bring it to its full potential, thus allowing creative imagination to flourish.

The imagination not only produces ideas, but also creates a plan to carry out those ideas. It is only through the execution of that plan that success can be found.

New plans must be constructed for old plans that led to failure.

Once a plan has been constructed, in must be written down. Writing a plan gives physical form to the intangible desire.

Chapter 6: Organized Planning — The Crystallization of Desire into Action

It is much harder for a single person to carry out a plan of action than it is for a team to do the same. It is therefore crucial to ally yourself with the people who can best help you carry out your plan.

But before approaching them, you must know exactly what it is you will offer in return. Are you hiring them as an independent consultant? Are they a partner? An employee? What role do they play on the team and on the mission?

It is important that you maintain long term harmony throughout your organization, which Hill labels “The Master Mind”. Long term harmony is maintained through effective leadership.

The man who cannot follow a leader intelligently cannot become an efficient leader.

Hill goes on to explain what he believes are the major attributes of successful leadership.

The Major Attributes of Leadership:
1) Unwavering Courage
2) Self Control
3) Keen Sense of Justice
4) Definiteness of Decision
5) Definiteness of Plans
6) Habit of Doing More than Paid for
7) A Pleasing Personality
8) Sympathy and Understanding
9) Mastery of Detail
10) Willingness to Assume Full Responsibility
11) Cooperation

In the new era of human collaboration, only leadership by consent can possibly be successful. Leadership by fear or by force is doomed to fail due to the freedom of the followers to find better leaders.

In this chapter, Hill explores the jobs and careers available at the time, and paths of introduction to those fields. He advises of tactics similar to Tristan Walker’s in order to guarantee yourself the correct job in the correct field.

Finally, Hill also expounds on the 30 major causes of failure. They are important for self diagnosis. You can find your strengths and weaknesses in this list:

The 30 Major Causes of Failure
1) An unfavorable hereditary background.
2) Lack of a well defined purpose in life.
3) Lack of ambition to aim above mediocrity.
4) Insufficient education.
5) Lack of self discipline.
6) Ill health.
7) Unfavorable environment during childhood.
8) Procrastination.
9) Lack of persistence.
10) A negative personality.
11) Lack of control of sexual urges.
12) Uncontrolled gambling.
13) Lack of a well defined power of decision.
14) One or more of the 6 basic fears.
15) Wrong selection of a mate in marriage.
16) Over-caution.
17) Wrong selection of business associates.
18) Superstition and prejudice.
19) Wrong selection of vocation.
20) Lack of concentrated effort.
21) Habit of indiscriminate spending.
22) Lack of enthusiasm.
23) Intolerance.
24) Impertinence and addictions.
25) Inability to cooperate with others.
26) Possession of power that was not acquired through effort.
27) Intentional dishonesty.
28) Egotism and vanity.
29) Guessing instead of thinking, not data driven.
30) Lack of capital.

Organized planning demands that you take inventory of yourself so that you can organize your planning according to the most crucial goals or their obstacles.

Chapter 7: Decision — The Mastery of Procrastination

Every person must conquer procrastination. We are lazy by nature because evolution taught us to save our energy for life threatening situations.

Procrastination is in our nature. It is the opposite of decisiveness.

A decisive person makes decisions quickly and sticks to those decisions.

Changing your mind is indecision. It means a decision was never made. You have not decided something if your actions contradict the decision you artificially made. Decision is a promise to the self, supported by love of the self. A contrary action to a decision is akin to low self esteem, which is a fertile breeding ground for indecision.

Don’t tell the world what you intend to do, show the world the result of your intentions in their finished and full glory. Follow through on decisions with action and make no room for doubt or regret.

Definiteness of decision exhibits definiteness of purpose.

Chapter 8: Persistence — The Sustained Effort Necessary to Induce Faith

The basis of persistence is willpower. Willpower is the promptness of decision, or the speed and intensity at which decisions are executed.

Persistence reflects the intensity of your desires. Persistence is defined as the repetition of the execution of plans, despite failures along the way, to the definite end of accumulating money.

Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage.

Willpower is the ability to get back up and fight after a failure, but persistence is the desire to do it, again and again, until success is reached. Lack of persistence shows lack of willpower.

There is no substitute for persistence.
Remember this and it will hearten you in the beginning,
when the going may seem difficult and slow.

Symptoms of lack of persistence:
1) Failure to recognize and to clearly define exactly what one wants.
2) Procrastination (with or without cause).
3) Lack of interest in acquiring special knowledge.
4) Indecision by habit, inability to face issues squarely.
5) The habit of relying on excuses instead of creating plans to solve problems.
6) Self-satisfaction. The habit of indulging in hedonism.
7) Indifference, high willingness to compromise instead of fight.
8) The habit of blaming others.
9) Weakness of desire.
10) Willingness or eagerness to quit at the first sign of defeat.
11) Lack of organized plans.
12) Inability to recognize or grasp opportunity when it presents itself.
13) Wishing instead of Willing.
14) Absence of ambition, willingness to compromise with poverty.
15) Searching for get rich quick shortcuts, driving hard bargains, excessive gambling.
16) Fear of criticism.

Riches do not respond to wishes.

Persistence is a state of mind which means it can be developed and cultivated. These 4 steps are essential to success in all walks of life. The entire purpose of the book is to teach you to make a habit out of these 4 steps.

Step 1) Establish a definite purpose backed by a burning desire for its fulfillment.
Step 2) Follow a definite plan expressed in continuous action, such that it becomes habit.
Step 3) Close your mind against all negative influences.
Step 4) Create a friendly alliance with a few people who encourage or even work towards mutual success.

Chapter 9: The Power of the Master Mind — The Driving Force

Power is essential to the success of the accumulation of money. Plans are inert and useless without sufficient power to translate them into action. Power is defined as organized and intelligently directed knowledge.

Certain economic advantages present themselves when a person surrounds herself with a group of investors and advisers. They become a support network that a person can rely on for help in times of trouble.

The master mind is defined as a group of people who act towards the same goal, such as a think tank. When a group functions this way, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, such that each individual member benefits from it.

Gandhi came by power through inducing over two hundred million people to coordinate, with mind and body, in a spirit of harmony, for a definite purpose.

If your purpose is to accumulate money, it is wise to surround yourself with those who have already done so, and are in a position to help you.

Remember that poverty is swift and does not discriminate. Riches are slow and must be earned. It is through a definite plan and a burning desire for wealth that riches are accumulated.

Chapter 10: The Mystery of Sex — Transmutation

Our sexual behavior has dramatically changed since 1937. The sexual revolution, pornography, the decriminalization of prostitution, and our moral acceptance of sexual preference have changed the public perception of sex.

I am curious if Hill’s perception of sex, or his theory of the transmutation of sexual energy would be different if he had the benefit of our belabored causes of equality.

In this respect, it is not surprising that he labels the chapter with the word “mystery”, showing a remarkable aptitude for knowing that he did not know. Nonetheless, there is much to take away from what he did know.

Altering the sex glands of creatures alters them psychologically. They become docile. It is obvious that energy is lost. Such energy can be transmuted into creativity, changing the mediocre into genius. This is because sexual energy begets enthusiasm.

Men seldom succeed before the age of 40 because of the wrong use of the intense sexual energy they encounter. They indulge in sex instead of harnessing the desire and transmuting it into an action other than physical expression.

Attributes of highly “sexed” people:
1) The hand-shake — The touch of the hand instantly reveals magnestism.
2) The tone of voice — The voice can be made charming and musical, pleasant to the ear.
3) The posture — They move gracefully and with ease.
4) The vibrations— They are highly flirtatious and can mix sexual energy with other emotions.
5) The body — They adorn their body and are very careful about appearance. They choose clothing that matches their personality and physique.

Finally, overindulgence in alcohol, narcotics, sex, and masturbation is destructive and detrimental to creative effort.

Chapter 11: The Subconscious Mind — The Connecting Link

The subconscious mind contains the secret process by which physical mental impulses are modified and changed into their spiritual equivalent.

The subconscious mind will act with or without conscious influence. Because positive and negative emotions cannot occupy the mind at the same time, it is up to you to actively flush out negative emotions out of your mind so that they do not invade the subconscious.

Voluntary use of the subconscious requires all of the principles outlined in the book. Planting thoughts in the subconscious is tantamount to success, and to plant those thoughts successfully you must employ burning desire, faith backed by emotion, auto-suggestion, knowledge, the imagination, and persistence.

You must repeat the thoughts consciously, with emotion, until they become infused into your subconscious, and it acts on them, without conscious effort.

Hill lists what he considers the 7 major positive and negative emotions that help to influence the subconscious (note: although sex is not considered an emotion in modern times, it could be interpreted as lust).

The 7 major positive emotions:
1) Desire
2) Faith
3) Love
4) Sex
5) Enthusiasm
6) Romance
7) Hope

The 7 major negative emotions:
1) Fear
2) Jealousy
3) Hatred
4) Revenge
5) Greed
6) Superstition
7) Anger

It is important to realize that the subconscious will act, with or without conscious influence, according to the emotions that dominate the mind. Allowing negative emotions to dominate the mind is forfeiting any chance at success.

Chapter 12: The Brain — A Broadcasting and Receiving Station for Thought

Thought is energy. It is an intangible force. Intangible forces are the most powerful forces known to man. Consider gravity, electricity, nuclear fission and fusion, nutrition (turning food into energy), and thoughts.

Because so little is known about thought energy, it is underestimated, but it may well be the most powerful force.

Emotions are how thoughts are valued. They determine the intensity of thought energy, and whether that energy is positive or negative.

The brain acts as a port that imports and exports thoughts.

Communication allows thoughts to travel through time and space to and from one brain to another. Speech, writing, body language, even telepathy are modes of thought communication.

The imagination is where thoughts originate.

The subconscious is where the most valuable thoughts are stored. Auto-suggestion is how they are stored.

The idea of thought as energy opens the door to the possibility of telepathy, clairvoyance, other extra sensory modes of perception, and maybe even immortality.

Thoughts can be made more powerful when combined with or compared to other thoughts. This is why working in teams produces better results than working alone. The thoughts can feed on each other and develop stronger and faster.

Chapter 13: The Sixth Sense — The Door to the Temple of Wisdom

The sixth sense is hard to describe. It is a combination of imagination and instinct that constitutes the soul. Through it you can avoid danger and embrace opportunity.

Man labels phenomena that he does not understand to be miracles. The sixth sense is a miracle because it is not yet understood.

The author created a thought exercise of “hero worship” where he would be the chairman of the board that consisted of his 9 heroes. They were Emerson, Paine, Edison, Darwin, Lincoln, Burbank, Napoleon, Ford, and Carnegie. He had studied each painstakingly for two decades.

He conducted an imaginary board meeting every night where he would ask someone in his cabinet of geniuses a specific question like “Mr. Ford, how can I gain your spirit of persistence, determination, poise, and confidence?”

He imagined the responses and tried to emulate them, but to his surprise, the advisers in his imagination took on realistic personalities. He had caught a glimpse of multiple personality disorder. After some months, the meetings became so realistic that the author discontinued them fearful of the consequences.

Some months later, Lincoln appeared to him in a dream so vivid he remembered every word Lincoln said:

“The world will soon need your services. It is about to undergo a period of chaos which will cause men and women to lose faith, and become panic stricken. Go ahead with your work and complete your philosophy. That is your mission in life. If you neglect it for any cause whatsoever, you will be reduced to a primal state, and be compelled to retrace the cycles through which you have passed for thousands of years.”

The author immediately resumed the nightly board meetings and added more members. Although the entire exercise was purely fictional, it led to better thought processes, creativity, adventure, and eventually greatness. They cultivated his sixth sense such that he was able to get through life threatening situations.

The sixth sense is a combination of experience and a gut feeling or instinct. It is not voluntary. It takes years to develop and cultivate and is rare, according to Hill, among people below the age of 40.

It could be said that at that time it was limited because of the scarcity of information and experience, and now during the age of information, and the bombardment of experiences at younger ages, the sixth sense can be developed more thoroughly and much earlier in life.

Chapter 14: How to Outwit the Six Ghosts of Fear

Most people when asked what they fear would reply “I fear nothing”, but they would be wrong. With self analysis, you can discover your fears and learn to conquer them.

Symptoms of fear of poverty: indifference, worry, over-caution, procrastination. Poverty destroys the spirit, and becomes physically apparent through appearance and body language.

Do you fear going backwards in life financially?

Symptoms of the fear of criticism: self consciousness, lack of poise, indecisiveness, inferiority complex, extravagance, lack of ambition.

Do you fear what others will say about you?

Symptoms of the fear of illness: hypochondria, lack of exercise, susceptibility to disease, asking for pity, using drugs to treat symptoms instead of trying to eliminate the cause.

Do you treat the symptoms or change the cause?

Symptoms of the fear of the loss of love: Jealousy, fault finding, gambling cheating or stealing to provide for loved ones, domestic violence.

Do you fear losing the love you have?

Symptoms of the fear of old age: High religiosity and preparation for the afterlife, using age as an excuse (senior moments), the belief that you are too old to do something, and the habit of adopting youthful appearances and mannerisms.

Do you have “senior moments”?

Symptoms of the fear of death: Constant grumpiness, religious fanaticism, actual poverty, actual illness, or actual loss of love.

Fear is so strong that animals can sense it, even insects. Fear manifests itself through worry. Kill the feeling of worry by deciding that nothing in life is worth the negative energy of worry. By killing all worries, you kill all fears. This will give you peace of mind, which is mandatory for both happiness and success.

The seventh evil — Gullibility and over-exposure to negative influences, environments, and states of mind. The mind is easily susceptible to negative people, impoverished places, and drug addictions. If these states of mind must be eradicated in order for these principles to work. One method of eradication is accelerating serendipity.

I hope this interpretation has brought you as much value as it has for me. If so, please recommend it so it can reach more people. Thanks!

Disclaimer: This is a curated post. The statements, opinions and data contained in this column are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of iamwire or its editor(s). This article in its original form was published here.

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One comment

  1. 1

    Great job on this narrative, seriously! I have read Mr Hill’s book three times over the years and each time get different perspectives on the lessons outlined. You did a fantastic job of summarizing each chapter and each corresponding lesson! Thank you for your work 🙂

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