Napoleon Hill set out to determine how to get rich. He interviewed more than 500 financially independent people before releasing Think and Grow Rich in 1937. Today it is one of the best-selling wealth building books of all time. Not for the get rich quick, Hill presents a get rich slowly approach to achieving financial independence by mastering your mind.

Think and Grow Rich was one of the first personal finance books I ever read, and it still holds special importance for me. Every now and then, I pick it up and re-read the passages I had marked or highlighted during previous reads. Sometimes they’re still personally relevant to me, but not always. And sometimes I find things that I didn’t catch the first time around.

I recently purchased the new revised edition. Although some of the wording has changed and the examples have been updated, the principles outlined in Think and Grow Rich remain the same. And remarkably, they are the same wealth-building principles used in dozens of personal finance books today.


If you’re looking for a step by step guide that tells you exactly how to get rich, then you’ll need to pick up this 1937 classic. The 13 principles outlined in Think and Grow Rich include:

  • The First Step to Riches: Desire (the starting point of all achievement)
  • The Second Step to Riches: Visualizing and believing in the attainment of desire
  • The Third Step to Riches: Autosuggestion (the medium for influencing the subconscious mind)
  • The Fourth Step to Riches: Specialized knowledge (personal experiences or observations)
  • The Fifth Step to Riches: Imagination
  • The Sixth Step to Riches: Organized planning
  • The Seventh Step to Riches: Decision (mastering procrastination)
  • The Eighth Step to Riches: Persistence (sustained effort necessary to induce faith)
  • The Ninth Step to Riches: Power of the master mind – the driving force
  • The Tenth Step to Riches: The mystery of sex transmutation
  • The Eleventh Step to Riches: The subconscious mind – the connecting link
  • The Twelfth Step to Riches: The Brain – A broadcasting and receiving station for thought
  • The Thirteenth Step to Riches: The sixth sense – the door to the temple of wisdom


Through his extensive research, Napoleon Hill also identified the “major causes of failure” that keep many of us from getting rich.

Not having a well-defined purpose. “There is no hope of success for the person who does not have a central purpose, or definite goal, at which to aim,” Napoleon Hill writes.

Lack of Ambition. “We offer no hope for the person who is so indifferent as not to want to get ahead in life, and who is not willing to pay the price.”

Not properly applying your education. According to Hill, “Education consists not so much of knowledge, but of knowledge effectively and persistently applied. Men are paid not merely for what they know, but more particularly for what they do with that which they know.”

Lack of self-discipline. “Discipline comes through self-control,” Hill writes. “This means that one must control all negative qualities. Before you can control conditions, you must first control yourself … If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self.”

Not taking care of your body. “No person may enjoy outstanding success without good health,” according to Napoleon Hill.

Procrastinating. “Most of us go through life as failures, because we are waiting for the ‘time to be right’ to start doing something worthwhile. Do not wait. The time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.”

Lack of persistence. “Most of us are good ‘starters’ but poor ‘finishers’ of everything we begin,” Hill writes. “People are prone to give up at the first signs of defeat.”

Negativity. “There is no hope of success for the person who repels people through a negative personality,” Hill writes. “Success comes through the application of power, and power is attained through the cooperative efforts of other people. A negative personality will not induce cooperation.”

Lack of Decisiveness. “Analysis of several hundred people who had accumulated fortunes well beyond the million-dollar mark disclosed the fact that every one of them had the habit of reaching decisions promptly,” Hill writes. On the flip side, “People who fail to accumulate money, without exception, have the habit of reaching decisions, if at all, very slowlyand of changing these decisions quickly and often.”

Not Taking Risks. “The person who takes no chances generally has to take whatever is left when others are through choosing,” Hill says. “Over-caution is as bad as under-caution. Both are extremes to be guarded against. Life itself is filled with the element of chance.”

Hanging out with the wrong crowd. We become like those we associate with. Surround yourself with talented and highly motivated people outside your work. Hill refers to this as creating a “Master Mind” group.

Sticking with a job you hate. “No man can succeed in a line of endeavor which he does not like,” Hill writes. “The most essential step in the marketing of personal services is that of selecting an occupation into which you can throw yourself wholeheartedly.”

Not narrowing your focus. “Concentrate all of your efforts on one definite chief aim.” “The ‘jack-of-all-trades’ seldom is good at any,” Hill writes.

Lack of passion. “Without enthusiasm one cannot be convincing,” Hill writes. “Moreover, enthusiasm is contagious, and the person who has it, under control, is generally welcome in any group of people.”

Being closed-minded. “The person with a closed mind on any subject seldom gets ahead,” according to Hill.

Lack of soft skills and inability to cooperate with others. “Most people lose their positions and their big opportunities in life because of this fault than for all other reasons combined,” warns Hill.

Choosing the wrong spouse. “Unless this relationship is harmonious, failure is likely to follow,” he writes. “Moreover, it will be a form of failure that is marked by misery and unhappiness, destroying all signs of ambition.”

Think and Grow Rich is a reminder that the only way to achieve real wealth is to overcome the things that are keeping us from realizing it in the first place — our attitudes and beliefs, our emotions and our own mindset.

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