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Desire: The Starting Point of All Achievement

Updated on November 6, 2017
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"Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve."

Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich is considered by most self-help gurus as the go-to resource for studying individual achievement. During the Great Depression era, Napoleon Hill managed to jump on Andrew Carnegie’s payroll and dedicate his entire life to studying the principles of success. Must be nice. While most were scratching their heads about the stock market crash, Hill was hanging with Carnegie in his castle sipping on really expensive cognac – and getting paid handsomely to do so. To be fair, Napoleon Hill had one job: to pick the brain of the richest man in the world and share his secrets to the world. That’s a ton of pressure on the young man and truth be told, he crushed it.

"The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat."

After interviewing 500 of the greatest business minds of the early 20th century, including Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Theodore Roosevelt, Wilbur Wright, and W. Howard Taft, Hill published Think and Grow Rich. To date, the self-help manual has now sold more than 70 million copies. Not too shabby for a personal development book published in 1937. Like the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s, Think & Grow Rich is a timeless work of art and a must-read for everyone. Napoleon Hill claims that reading his 238-page book may be worth more in value than most four-year college degrees. When you take into consideration annual tuition rates at $50K for private liberal arts colleges, he may have a point.

"You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be."

So, let’s dive into the first principle of success, according to Napoleon Hill. Success depends entirely on having a focused plan of attack. When Napoleon Hill wrote Think and Grow Rich, he was smack dab in the middle of the Depression and jobs were scarce. If you weren’t a specialist, then his recommendation was simple: work as an apprentice, find your passion, and go for it with reckless abandon. In other words, you have to want it bad enough, dedicate your entire life to it. I’m not talking about going to a 9 to 5 job and “doing your best” to get a raise. This is a burning desire to become the best in your field – an industry influencer. To master every aspect of your job and do work above and beyond what is expected.

"When your desires are strong enough, you will appear to possess superhuman powers to achieve."

Surprisingly, Napoleon Hill frowned upon being a renaissance man stating, “The jack-of-all-trades seldom is good at any.” Sure, he didn’t foresee the explosion of the digital era 75 years later, millennials changing jobs every few years, and pension-paying factory jobs disappearing; but if he had, he still may be sticking to his guns. Case and point:

Legendary Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a prime example of putting the desire principle to work. Not only that, he achieved greatness with the cards stacked against him. Brady was a sixth-round pick (199th overall) in the 2000 NFL draft. At the 2000 NFL Scouting Combine, Tom Brady ran a ridiculously slow 5.28 40-yard dash and only managed a 24.5” vertical leap. Scouts thought he had no chance to start in the NFL. Tom Brady had only one goal: To become the greatest football player for his team. He was only partially right: He also became the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL.

As a five-time SuperBowl Champion (4-time SuperBowl MVP), Tom Brady used the principles of desire to achieve greatness. He didn’t have physical gifts of legendary athletes but he did have one thing: the burning desire to be the best.

“The only thing I ever wanted to be was a professional football player.” – Tom Brady

The desire discussed here is not simply wishing, but is an intense, burning obsession, which must be coupled with both a plan and persistence in sticking to the plan. You follow a burning passion and great things will come your way. Napoleon Hill details a six-part method to ensure that this is the type of desire you are starting with:

1. Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire.

2. Determine exactly what you intend to give for this money.

3. Establish a definite date by which you intend to acquire this money.

4. Create a definite plan to acquire the money, and take the first step immediately.

5. Put the four items above into a clear, concise sentence describing each part.

6. Read the statement aloud twice daily, in the morning and at night.

The principle here is that desire has ways to “transmute” (transform) into its physical equivalent. This is the beginning of the key principle of the book: that the subconscious mind acts beneath the surface to accomplish what it is directed to accomplish. Make no mistake, Tom Brady lives by this principle and it has certainly worked out for him.

Set your mind on a definite goal and observe how quickly the world stands aside to let you pass.

If you found this Think and Grow Rich summary to be useful, click below to purchase a copy on Amazon.

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