Napoleon Hill – Think & Grow Rich

History Has Lessons For All Manifestors

Law of Attraction
The young Napoleon Hill, pioneer of writing about manifestation and Law Of Attraction

Many of you will have heard of Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich and the Law Of Success In 16 Lessons.

He was one of the first people in the 20th century to set out the ideas behind manifestation and the Law of Attraction, although he didn’t specifically use those terms.

In fact, Napoleon Hill started his investigation of manifestation an early age. He trained as a lawyer, but never practiced because Andrew Carnegie, one of the greatest industrialists of his age, persuaded him to study the secrets of (financial) success of the 50 wealthiest men in America and then write a book about it.

This was an incredible act of faith, because Carnegie wasn’t going to pay Hill to do this work, so he had to support himself throughout the time it took to write the book – although Carnegie did provide Hill with personal introductions to these successful, wealthy men.

Well, of course, as we now know, Think and Grow Rich has sold tens of millions of copies, and continues to sell hundreds of thousands of copies a year; it’s an inspiration to this day.

If you look at the first book that Hill wrote – The Law of Success in 16 Lessons – you can see how it was distilled down into the contents of Think And Grow Rich.

Perhaps Think And Grow Rich continues to be one of the most read handbooks on manifestation because Hill took so much time to interview so many successful men and was so careful in his research. And it’s also true that the information he presents is of date in many ways, and the language is definitely not of our times. In fact the book is sexist, misogynistic and racist. Fortunately, for some reason – perhaps benevolence – Hill never renewed the copyright in the the 1937 edition, and as a result many people have produced updated versions of this edition. 

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Esoteric Secrets Of Attraction….
or Natural Human Abilities?

Hill was secretive about his “discoveries” in the first edition of Think and Grow Rich, published in 1925, as many writers on Law of Attraction before him had been. It was almost as though there was some mysticism or mystical secret about Law of Attraction which these writers felt they had to keep for themselves – or perhaps they felt that “ordinary” people could only “earn” access to the secrets by showing dedication and hard work.

And that’s an attitude which continues to infiltrate writings on manifestation and Law of Attraction even today, for example where people speak of the need for hard work and effort in the process of getting what you want. (Although it’s fair to say there are also plenty of writers who cater for the attitudes of our times by offering use the secrets of “easy”, “simple”, or “quick” manifestation!)

Indeed you can see a lot of threads coming down from Hill’s work to the current day. This could mean either that he got everything he wrote about manifestation correct, or it could mean that a lot of lazy writers since then have just changed and adapted his ideas to make money from revealing the so-called secrets of manifestation.

There’s a bit of both at work, I think, because there’s no question Hill did get many things spot-on. To start with, he was absolutely right about the conditions under which Law of Attraction will work for you. 

If you read the definition of manifestation and attraction, and the explanations of how the process might work on this site, you’ll know that the energy people put into the process is critical to success.

You’ll also know emotional energy is what’s required to drive the process of manifestation.

Desire, Belief and Expectancy

desire and law of attraction
Desire – the first component of manifestation

But before you even start visualizing your desired outcome, you need to have a clear objective, and you must want to have that objective more than almost anything else in the world. This is the element of desire, of which Hill spoke so eloquently in Think and Grow Rich.

He also emphasized the need for belief: you must absolutely believe that what you are trying to achieve is possible to achieve – which means both possible for you, possible for humanity. (The distinction here is simple. I might believe havig being or doing something is possible for other people, but not for myself; or I might believe that it’s not possible at all; in either case, my lack of belief is going to get in the way of my ability to manifest what I want.)

We have a lot of information on this site about how you can get rid of limiting beliefs – these are the beliefs which get in the way of you accepting that it’s possible for you to have something that you want. (As in “I’ll never be rich / famous / sexy / thin / clever…..” and the like.)

desire belief and expectancy in manifestation
Three of the essential components that make Law of Attraction work for you

And finally Hill emphasized the need for expectancy: this isn’t quite the same as belief, although it’s related. Expectancy is as a sense of waiting to get what you want, knowing that it will come. It’s not hoping or wishing for what you want. It’s more than that it’s about the certainty that you will get what you want when you apply this formula and you’re looking out for its arrival with confidence.

Later authors have refined Hill’s writing – just as I’m going to do – by saying that the fourth component of the process of manifestation is all about taking action.

Hill didn’t use that word – he talked about “persistence” and “a definite plan for the attainment” of what you want. Same thing.

When you distill it down in that way, it seems very simple:

Manifestation =
Desire + Belief  + Expectancy + Action

I suppose in a way that is simple – and it’s true, a lot of people try and make manifestation more complicated than it actually is because they feel there’s something mysterious or esoteric about it .

When you take the view that it’s a natural human ability or talent, the whole thing begins to look a lot simpler!

Where Hill’s work expands on that simple formula is in the background information he provides – and in particular about his idea of forming a mastermind group of people who are in tune with your own intentions and desires. This will add huge amounts of energy to your visualizations and your actions.

Another extremely useful thing he talks about is the imaginary council of advisers which he set up in his imagination.

In reality,  both of these techniques are ways of bringing your mind under your own mental discipline, so that your mind is not doing its own thing, but is instead “obeying” your injunctions and directions.

You may be wondering if you need to read Hill’s work. A lot of people seem to think it’s absolutely essential.

No, you don’t need to read his book (although it’s interesting to do so). It’s useful because it provides background information and a historical context for what we believe about manifestation today. And, in truth, there are some great ideas in it.

One thing I don’t like about Think And Grow Rich is the way Hill suggested manifestation depended on acquired knowledge of certain secrets, which you had to work out for yourself. He wrote in his book that he mentioned “The Secret” in every chapter of the book, and you’d see it when you were ready, but to be honest the secret is in plain sight over and over again: it’s the formula of desire plus belief plus expectancy plus action equals manifestation.

Even so, Rhonda Byrne managed to take that simple expression – “The Secret” – and turn it into a multi-million pound fortune, so perhaps there was something magical about Hill’s work after all!

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