'Think and Grow Rich'
by Napoleon Hill
Foreword by Melvin Powers
Facsimile Edition Published by Wilshire Book Co, 1999 (1937)
On the face of it, this is not my kind of book at all. But that just goes to show that you should never judge a book by its cover! I was sent the book by someone who felt I might need a bit of re-motivation. It's ironic really, because I am not of the capitalistic persuasion at all, being a long-haired, slightly balding and dishevelled type with a left-leaning political persuasion. But I thought I'd give the book a go, just the same. See how the other half (or rather, 1%) live, that kind of thing.
What I found in this book was a mixture of capitalist entrepreneurialism and New Age metaphysics. Perhaps such an odd admixture would not be too unusual to find these days; the New Age crowd generally being reasonably well-off WASPs living in the USA. But this book was written in 1937, and was way ahead of its time. It is a wonderful piece of motivational literature, set against the the long and arduous backdrop of the economic Depression.
According to Mr Hill, who was a journalist moving is heady circles amongst America's foremost industrialists and inventors, many (well, actually, ALL) successful businessMEN (he's not up to speed with modern political correctness, it must be said) have a faith and desire for wealth which becomes transcendent. These people follow a common, unwritten formula in their lives which then allows them to tap into a metaphysical flow of energy and spiritual force. Mr Hill never quite defines what lies behind this flow of energy (although I suspect his philosophy contains overtones of Freemasonry), whether it be in the form of spirits, or Godhead or whatever, but regardless of where it comes from there is a definite way of getting it to work for you.
In this book, Napoleon Hill sets out this formula in a straightforward manner. It is uplifting, and realistic. It is certainly very American in character, and one can see why his theories of motivation and wealth creation were widely endorsed by some of the great names of that era.
The media often portrays people with whacky ideas as being out of touch with reality. If a Hollywood star shows sighs of being interested in an unusual belief system (the Kabbalah in Madonna's case, Scientology in the case of numerous others), then this is regarded by the hacks as being on the fringe, and is ridiculed. What has become clear to me over the years is that the hacks are actually the people out of touch. There has always been an intense interest in the occult, UFOs, ghosts and New Age beliefs amongst those who occupy the higher echelons of our society. This stands completely contrary to what is portrayed by the media, who tend to think the arcane is somehow the territory of anorak-wearing losers. Not so...
This book is evidence that people who really make it big give credit for that to forces beyond themselves. What matters is not what breaks you might get as you go through life, but what mindset you have, and the means by which you appeal directly to those outside forces. Perhaps this might come across to some as the Faustian concept of the pact with the devil. Maybe it is. I know that this route is not for me, but not because I think it is on some kind of 'Dark Side' of spirituality. Rather, one must become consumed with the overpowering desire for vast wealth. There seem to me to be other things in life, as much as I would like to achieve material independence in life to pursue my art and writing. But maybe I will change, and one of the things I've taken away is the fact that successful people generally get into gear in the forties and fifties, so there's time yet! Maybe there is for you too.
The book really does offer wonderful motivation. It presents means by which we can analyse our own efforts; where we are going wrong, what we can do to change ourselves. How we can ride the current towards incredible levels of success. Surely worth a read by anyone.
Book review by Andy Lloyd, 17th April 2006, with thanks to Monika Myers
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