Another giant of the “success” book genre, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is one of the most influential tomes in the wealth development sphere. I vaguely remember reading it when I was much younger, but this time I read the updated 21st century addition and it makes a whale of a difference. So, without further ado should you read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich: The 21st Century Edition?
Can you really think and get rich?
Well, yes and no. The core of the book is that success in any area of your life is based predominantly on your mindset, so over the books 368 pages Hill and the Editor share tips and tricks to developing the “correct” mindset. However, the mindset you develop is all about practically pursuing the goal. You need the thoughts to work to the goal, you need to work to the goal to have the thoughts, chicken and egg.
The first few chapters teach you how to become obsessed with your goal, how to make it all consuming, and how to make that goal your primary reason for living, and his methods for doing so are logically sound.
Similarly, Hill offers great advice about finding the motivation to slog through the hard times and offers numerous examples of successful people and explains how they did it. And, every single claim he makes about the power of the mind is backed up by some sort of study or breakthrough.
One of my favourite aspects of the book is Hill’s strangely trippy concept of “infinite intelligence” which is the idea that we can tap into every idea ever to find inspiration. He reasons that because everything is made up of matter and energy, then thoughts must be energy and our brains can access this energy and turn it into matter…maaan.
It’s strange to see Buddist, and Hindu ideals in a book written by a white American business man in the 1930’s and it adds a fun level of mysticism to a usually dry subject.
There are two real problems with the book; the first is the pseudo-academic way Hill writes, and the second is the nigh-religious way he suggests people achieve success. I’ll give you some examples.
Often Hill will make a bold claim about the power of the mind and will then offer a study that proves his view. However, he rarely cites exactly which journal he gets his information from, instead he use non-academic sources to illustrate his points on psychology.
Obviously his claims about how to use your mind to shape your perceptions of the world are, to some extent, accurate. But, to suggest that his ideas are facts without stating where he got his information feels a little dangerous considering much of his advice is essentially how to brainwash yourself.
Which brings me to the religious element of the book. Hill frequently states that unless you do exactly as he has written you will likely fail, which reminds me of the fire and brimstone minister in the pulpit casting shame and doom on the heathens. Like many religious leaders he uses the argument of “how do you know if I’m right if you don’t do exactly as I say?” Which is a false dichotomy and emotionally manipulative.
The differences between the original and the 21st century edition are night and day, with the updated version providing modern examples of Hill’s points and updating some of the more uncomfortable aspects of a book written in 1938. It’s really nice to look back on many of the ideas that have been built upon by the “success” community, and after reading this book it’s impossible to not take away anything from it.
I couldn’t find an Amazon UK link of the updated version, you may need to look further afield to find a copy.