If you have never read “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill I highly recommend it. It’s an oldie, but a goodie. It is as relevant for management today as it was when it was first written in 1937 and really should be on the ‘must read’ list for anyone in a managerial or leadership position.
The premise of the book is simple. Whether your interpretation of riches is monetary wealth, happiness, healthy relationships or a peaceful existence, whatever it may be, the key to getting there is to think yourself rich. Riches begin with a state of mind; you need to embrace the concept that thoughts become things. And then you need to follow Hill’s techniques in making your desires a reality. Leaders who can embody and inspire this philosophy in others will create healthy, thriving work cultures. As Hill states up front, “Success comes to those who become success conscious. Failure comes to those who indifferently allow themselves to become failure conscious. The object of this book is to help all who seek to learn the art of changing their minds from failure consciousness to success consciousness”.
The first step to accomplishing your riches as outlined in the book, is to learn to control your thoughts. As Hill states “thought, backed by strong desire, has a tendency to transmute itself into its physical equivalent”. In fact, he goes so far as to suggest that we can never be successful if we don’t control our thoughts. The next step, and the step to help you to actually control your thoughts (because our thoughts are so powerful) is to occupy your mind with a burning desire to accomplish your major definite purpose. What exactly is a major definite purpose? Put simply, it’s your major goal, and it needs to be specific. If your goal is to improve your leadership skills, define exactly what that looks like. If it’s to increase your sales figures, define exactly how much you need to sell and in what time frame. Hill recommends you only need one of these; to focus on one definite goal you want to achieve in a specific area of your life. If you have several goals, for context let’s say these are goals in your career, you lose focus. If you have just the one goal, you can concentrate all your efforts and energy on achieving this one goal, so you stand a better chance of getting a promotion (assuming this is your definite purpose) if it is single-minded, than if you are focussing on a bunch of other goals. You can spend 100% of your energy on up-skilling, putting in the extra hours to get your work done, doing all the things you need to do whilst you are at work to ensure you are well on your way to earning that promotion. If you have other goals your efforts are spread thin and your chances are therefore diminished.
Once you have established your definite purpose, of course you need to make a plan, outlining exactly how you intend on achieving it. “Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.” Hill recommends some resilience here, and some flexibility. Life is an experiment as they say so you need to be able to change your plan if you hit some road blocks along the way; in other words; “plan your work and work your plan”. And of course, your burning desire is the essential ingredient that ensures you will do whatever it takes to achieve your goal because it should be dominating your thoughts; it will be the driver to make you work hard, make sacrifices, be disciplined, and change your plans to reach your goal. You also you need faith that you can achieve your purpose. You must believe that it’s going to happen.
Last but not least you need to create a Master Mind; a group of people who help you achieve your major definite purpose. Having a group of people who are behind you, supporting and coaching you helps a great deal in maintaining your faith and belief in yourself to achieve your goal. A leader who knows the definite purposes of the individuals in their team can work with them to help them maintain their faith, help create and tweak their plan, motivate and support and help troubleshoot challenges along the way.
There you have it, a quick summary of the principles of Think & Grow Rich. Anyone in a leadership role would benefit from having a good understanding of the philosophy and techniques outlined in this classic. If you have the opportunity, add it to your summer reading list.
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