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Napoleon Hill: The Secrets and Measures of His Success

Updated on January 21, 2018
Cyndi10 profile image

The former executive director of a successful nonprofit agency now content specialist, Cynthia writes about a variety of topics.

Gold is often a measure of wealth and wealth is often a measure of success. Ming Dynasty gold ornament.
Gold is often a measure of wealth and wealth is often a measure of success. Ming Dynasty gold ornament. | Source
Napoleon Hill
Napoleon Hill | Source

Napoleon Hill's Measures of Success

Although he has been dead since 1970, writer and public speaker Napoleon Hill continues to influence the entrepreneur of today with his focus on the belief in the ability of the average man to become extraordinary. His measures of success have become the benchmark for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Napoleon Hill embraced a few precepts that have been demonstrated time and again by self-made, wealthy individuals. He studied over 500 men and women of means, starting with Andrew Carnaigie, and methodically culled and chronicled the secrets and measures of their success. He subsequently shared what he observed with the world in his book, Think and Grow Rich, first published in 1937. To date, 45 million copies of his book have been sold. it's apparent that his writings continue to be as relevant today as when Think and Grow Rich was initially published and is an example of the measure of his success.

It was Napoleon Hill's belief that the same doors that opened for those wealthy individuals he studied could open for anyone if the secrets of success these wealthy individuals subscribed to (which were not, and are not, so secret) and the measures of their success were adopted by the average man. The average man or woman just needed an adjustment in their views of their abilities.

Napoleon Hill was not alone in his thinking. In fact, his writings even spawned other writers whose approach to life and success was much the same as his and since the first publishing of Think and Grow Rich, many more writers have emerged with same underlying principles.

A common theme in his writings - and perhaps the most important - is that a positive attitude about life in general, and the abundance of the universe in particular, is a cornerstone of success. He subscribed to the law of attraction without ever referring to it as such. This belief in no way diminishes the existence of poverty, but Wallace D. Wattles who wrote The Science of Getting Rich in 1910 said when considering global poverty "think of the riches the world is coming into, instead of the poverty it is growing into." History actually proved him to be right if you look at the history of at least the United States. After the struggles of the Depression when huge numbers of Americans were suffering in poverty and lack and since World War II, the economy of the United States was steadily improving, the median income steadily increasing. Could this have happened without embracing optimism? Could this be one of the most important measures of success?

It is unfortunate (and very sad) that the economic improvements have been eroded in recent years. However, oftentimes history repeats itself. If that is the case, and with Napoleon Hill's principles in mind, looking at the measures of success, then the United States along with many other countries, are once again poised to see a tremendous economic upswing with the enterprising and optimistic ready to benefit.

Unfortunately, money and wealth often evoke ambiguous feelings. Most individuals have negative thoughts surrounding wealth and the pursuit of wealth. It almost seems to be coded in our DNA to mistrust money and those who have it.

Napoleon Hill says our thinking should be the opposite. In fact, not enough credence has been given to the freedom and satisfaction gained when there is enough money to meet your needs. Greek philosopher Aristotle puts it this way - "poverty is the parent of revolution and crime." Look at the revolutions throughout history including the French and Russian Revolutions. "Money is [not] the root of all evil," but rather it is the lack of money. According to Napoleon "nothing brings so much suffering and humility as poverty." He went on to say "both poverty and riches are the offspring of thought."

To Napoleon, the most powerful thought of all is to be positive and believe that if one's circumstances fall short of what you desire and think you deserve, then you must change the circumstances, change the way you think. In other words, if life hands you a problem, it also hands you the ability to overcome that problem.

Napoleon's book has lasted and has even resulted in a Foundation dedicated to helping others study affluence. His writings stress that much of what we create of our lives is in our own hands. He acknowledged that there may be external circumstances which seem to point the the extinction of our desires and our will to live the life we imagine. It is Napoleon Hill's contention that tenacity and determination can overcome those obstacles. At the root of our temporary position of failure is the inability to believe in ourselves and believe that we have the right to be successful and happy.

Dennis Kimbro, an author inspired by Napoleon Hill, wrote in his book Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice in 1991, that even someone born into slavery can change the circumstances of their lives. He pointed to the example of Alonzo F. Herndon who was born a slave, but died a millionaire. What a supreme testament to becoming and manifesting your dreams and desires. Kimbro went on to call it "an attitude of confident expectation."

It would not be accurate to say that Napoleon Hill's writing and beliefs were entirely novel. Many of his comtemporaries had the same beliefs that he held about wealth creation and success. The difference was that he did a more thorough job of learning what it took to succeed from those who attained wealth. In fact, his contemporaries did not have totally novel ideas either. Writing in the 1890s David Thoreau had similar thoughts. In ancient times, even Plato and Aristotle spoke of man's abilities to chart his own course. It seems that the Universe continues to send the same message through the ages. Apparently, some are more open to receive the message than others.

Napolieon Hill theorized that the values and beliefs he observed led to the creation of millionaires. As it turns out, though the ideas were not novel, he expressed them so well that his book has not only survived it has given other authors the the ability to think of wealth creation and poverty in different terms. He gave permission to measure success in financial terms and not be ashamed of the necessity and desire for success.

Napoleon's philosophy and measures of success can be summed up in the following:

  • Change your belief about money. It is merely a tool to be used to give you the lifestyle you want.
  • We each decide what wealth and success is. No one else can define it for us.
  • We all have the means within us in the form of imagination, determination, tenacity, enthusiasm and daring.
  • The mind is the "ruler." As we think we manifest and become.
  • Faith and positive belief are paramount to achieving your dreams; believe in abundance and success and you will attract the same.
  • Be clear about what those dreams and desires are.
  • Don't be afraid to express what those dreams and desires are; the Universe aligns with the way you think - "identify with the spirit of opulence."
  • Your character is your most treasured possession - never let it be tarnished.
  • There are some measures of success that have nothing to do with money - your health and character - take care of both.
  • Allow your mind to develop to the highest degree while embracing spirituality.

Napoleon Hill fully believed that if you did not let discouragement get in the way and really followed the path you chose for success, then success would be yours. He believed that you should always surround yourself with others who believe in your success as much as their own success. If others are not in "harmony" with your thinking, then they should be "left behind."

Napoleon Hill chose to study men with tangible wealth - money. But in truth wealth comes in many forms. Applying the same success principles to what you desire and what you define as success, should yield the same positive results. You decide - you hold the secrets, you are the architect of your fate, you orchestrate the measures of your success.

© 2011 Cynthia B Turner


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    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Hello Lemmy, Thanks for leaving a comment. Napoleon Hill's books are still read by so many people. The principles are simple ones but they can make a difference in the way you approach prosperity.

    • lemmyC profile image


      8 years ago from UK

      Great hub. Well written, Thanks

    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      I will take a look at the books you suggested. Having faith in God to ultimately take care of all your needs is the ultimate solution. We have to be open to using the tools he provides and not listening to the negative thoughts that might go through your mind. Thanks so much for leaving an insightful comment that I will spend some time reviewing in my mind.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      8 years ago from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA

      Good hub, well written and presented. Consider adding an embedded link to one of the many YouTube Napoleon Hill videos.

      Here are some follow-up books with good tips on getting past glitches in applying the law of attraction: YOUR HEART'S DESIRE by Sonia Choquette; WHAT'S YOUR SABOTAGE? THE LAST WORD IN OVERCOMING SELF-SABOTAGE by Alyce Cornyn-Selby, and books by Esther and Jerry Hicks. Choquette has tips on getting the cooperation of your subconscious mind, about getting disciplined about time management, etc. The Cornyn-Selby book shows that we often sabotage our own efforts to reach a goal because some aspect of ourselves has a very good reason to oppose the goal. For instance, a person's Inner Healthy Living Director might be saying to lose weight while another part of that person is saying, "Keep big and heavy so you won't be a pushover." The solution is to have imaginary meetings in which each aspect of oneself that has an opinion on the question at hand gets a say, following which a compromise consensus solution is negotiated. A book by the Hicks that I read a few years ago had good advice on the factor of emotions and how step by step to shift to a relatively more positive outlook.

      I admire the example of Jesus and a number of others in the Gospels. Rather than going for getting rich, they went for being self-supporting, with time to spare for spiritual practices like praying, meditating, and reading the Prophets and time for public discourse and organizing. Jesus and Joseph worked at carpentry, Paul worked at tent making, and several disciples were working owners of fishing boats. Jesus's attitude seemed to be that he didn't need to get hung up on accumulating and storing wealth because he could trust God, like a father, to provide as needed. There is nothing wrong with riches honestly obtained and honestly invested, with due regard for employees, for customers, for civic responsibilities, and for the environment, but personally I don't see having more than enough as being a worthwhile goal. I'd just like to support myself in a debt-free, simple, frugal lifestyle with my writing.

    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Hello Alocsin, I go back to his book periodically for inspiration and focus. Even though we are writers, we still want success and "nudges" from every corner help.Thank you so much for reading and for taking the time to comment.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      9 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I remember reading his book -- your summary of his basic tenets is great, and still quite true today. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Hello James, You're right, he does. Never noticed before. Thanks so much for reading and leaving feedback. I appreciate that.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      Gosh, he looks like Harry Truman!

      Your article is most excellent. I agree with you and Mr. Hill. Well done!

    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Definitely a legend. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

    • poshcoffeeco profile image

      Steve Mitchell 

      9 years ago from Cambridgeshire

      Think and grow rich and the richest man in babylon are some of my favourites. I regularly delve back into TAGR for inspiration. Napoleon Hill was a legend.

    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Hello Molometer, I like the way you put that "a lot of common sense and a little gumption..." Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

    • molometer profile image


      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Very thought provoking read. A lot of common sense and a little gumption can move mountains.

      Voted up

    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Hello, I hope I did Napoleon Hill justice. You are so right, he was a revolutionary in the way wealth creation was thought of. His theories are found in so many successive books and articles. Thank you for reading and voting up.

    • jeyaramd profile image


      9 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

      Thank you for sharing this hub about Napolean Hill. He revolutionized the concept of success. The book is awesome. I enjoyed the newer version that he wrote for Think and Grow Rich which includes real world examples of success. His concepts were shown to be timeless. This is the single most productive book on success that I have read for a very long time. A must read. Thank you for sharing this hub. You rock. Voted up.

    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you for reading and commenting Dee. You're so right. The solutions and answers we seek do usually "fall out of the sky" when we need them most.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 

      9 years ago

      There is a saying "when the student is ready the teacher will appear". I'd read Think and Grow Rich some years back, but recently (about 4 months ago) it kinda fell off the shelve at me and I read it again and recommended it to a couple of people because, this time when I read it the meaning of everything was much deeper and clearer. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Voted up and useful.

    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Mary, I appreciate you reading my Hub. Napoleon is worth a reread anytime, but especially if you want to reclaim your focus.

    • Mary Merriment profile image

      Mary Roark 

      9 years ago from Boise area, Idaho

      Very nice. I was just thinking this morning that I need to read that book again!

    • profile image

      lucia nagy 

      10 years ago

      I have never heard of Napoleon Hill. You have inspired me to go and rearch more on this author. I might become sort of rich.

    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you so much for the comment. I'm going to put The Richest Man... on my reading list.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I agree, wealth starts from within. We have to retrain our minds and take all the negativity out.

      I just bought the book The Richest Man Who Ever Lived, King Solomon's Secrets to Success, Wealth and Happiness by Steven K. Scott. All the secrets are in Proverbs.


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