Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill: Summary

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Think and Grow Rich uses more than 20 years research into the lives and philosophies of over 500 of the most successful people in America and aims to provide a systematic process anyone looking to improve their life can follow. If you’re looking to be make positive changes going forwards then this book will definitely help!

Get the book here: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Have a definite, burning desire for what you seek

The story starts with the great inventor Thomas Edison and his associate Edwin C. Barnes. After seeing the great progress and changes Edison was making, Barnes – originally unknown to Edison – fixated his mind on one dream: to work for Edison and become his business partner. After making his way to Edison’s workshop and pitching his proposal, it wasn’t very surprising that Edison refused the offer Barnes made.

However, for Barnes this was just the beginning. His eagerness to work for Edison was evident and as a result, managed to secure a role at Edison’s organization – albeit sweeping the floors. However, to Barnes delight this was the first opportunity to gain exposure to the great inventor and learn from the best.

After a few years of being surrounded by Edison’s inventions, Barnes grew fond of the “Ediphone” and devised a plan to sell them which he later successfully proposed to Edison. This eventually led to the “Edwin C. Barnes and Bros” partnership and Barnes fulfilling his desires.

The story of Barnes and Edison is a great example of not only planning for the future, but being tenacious in pursuing those plans, regardless of what comes your way.

Many of us will have hopes and wishes for what we want to achieve. You may want to become a better business person or improve your sporting ability, however, if you want to get anywhere with it, that hope must be developed into a definite plan which you pursue with a burning desire. Barnes recognized that working with Edison would provide many more opportunities than alternative roles available at that time, and because of that, he put his ego aside and was willing to do whatever it takes, even if in the beginning it was unrelated to his final goal.

When you truly understand what you are looking to achieve, you can begin to see the puzzle being put together. To an outside observer Barnes was just sweeping floors, however, to Barnes he was observing Edison’s new products and devising plans on how he could help sell them and eventually become a partner to the great inventor.


If you are just starting out in the world of work, or even changing roles; don’t be disheartened by the menial work which may be given to you. Recognize that it is just a stepping stone to greater and higher heights. Instead, try to learn as much as possible in whatever role you are given so you can move onto the next stepping stone stronger and more knowledgeable than others following the same path.

Furthermore, having wishes and dreams are good, but they need to be developed. Firstly, ask yourself: what are you looking to achieve? You should then think about it until it becomes an obsession. Once this has happened, you can begin to create definite plans which will help you acquire what you are looking for.

When you have a spare second, do the following things…

What is the exact thing you want?

It can’t be something generic like “I want to be rich”. It must be exact. How rich? Doing What? Where will you be working? How will you work?

Determine what you’re willing to give up

The bigger the desire the more you’ll have to give up. As Milton Friedman would say “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”

Establish deadlines

A good way to ensure things get done is to set deadlines. They will provide milestones to work towards and help you see where you are currently at.

Create a definite plan

How will you achieve and obtain the things you desire? This should be like a detailed roadmap for you to follow and adjust religiously!

Have a clear and concise statement you will tell yourself and others

You should also repeat it enough until you believe it … you’ll see why later. Bind yourself to this statement, judge each day’s success on how much closer you have got to achieving this statement and also communicate it to others who think could help you.

Have faith and tell yourself you can

Our minds are like fertile gardens in which weeds will grow in abundance if the seeds of more desirable crops are not sown therein. No thought, whether positive or negative can enter the subconscious mind without the aid of something called “auto-suggestion”.

Auto-suggestion is also known as “the law of attraction” or simply having a positive mental attitude. It’s that voice in the back of your head which likes to tell you that you will fail. Regardless of what is true, if you repeat something enough times, you will eventually believe it.

If you can first convince yourself that you will receive whatever you wish for, you can put yourself into a position where the subconscious mind will act upon that belief and you will start to make small changes to everything you do. You’ll act like the person you want to be and make the right decisions because your subconscious will think you are them already.

It’s paramount that we use this phenomenon to our advantage before our negative mind does. We can’t say for certain what will happen, however, we can make sure that we face each day like the person we want to be would.


Use the power of auto-suggestion to help you feel more competent and confident in pursuing your goals. Read aloud the statement you’ve written above; see and feel yourself in possession of the desire already and allow your subconscious mind to begin acting and making the decisions someone who has what you have already would do. This has to be more than just words, however. Unless you mix emotion and feeling into this, it’s unlikely to work. You need to have that burning desire. Words alone don’t convince the subconscious, emotions are needed too!

Gain specialized knowledge

There are two kinds of knowledge: General and specialized. General knowledge, no matter how great in quantity will never be as useful as specialized knowledge when it comes to pursuing your desires.

Don’t get too caught up on your level of schooling. It should not be a deterrent to letting you pursue what you wish to pursue. The root of the word education comes from the Latin “Educo” which means to draw out or develop within. Being educated isn’t just about having the right qualifications, it’s about developing the faculties of the mind which allow you to recognize what you need to do to help you acquire anything you wish. If this involves gaining a qualification then put a plan together to acquire it, however, if one isn’t required then go out and and get it!


Try to fully understand how you will acquire what you are seeking and identify the knowledge that is required. You should first understand the basics and then invest your time into learning the niche intricacies others may overlook; that’s where the untapped value lies. Most importantly, recognize that no matter how knowledgeable you are, if you do not have a plan or purpose behind how you will your knowledge, any effort put into learning anything is likely to be futile. Finally, never stop learning. If you’ve just left college or finished a course at work then keep learning! Knowledge is compounding, every new thing you learn adds additional value. In the words of Warren Buffett “The more you learn the more you earn”.

Use your imagination

The imagination is the workshop wherein all plans that are created are fashioned. Every great concept, piece of music or book had its humble beginnings within someone’s imagination, therefore if you are looking to create something new, using your creativeness and imagination is paramount.

There are generally two types of imagination we can use:


This involves arranging old concepts, ideas or plans into new combinations. This effectively creates nothing new, however, is just an extension and improvisation of ideas and thoughts already established.


When you’re thinking of those new breakthrough ideas then this is where they come from. This is the faculty by which newer, uncommon ideas emerge. These are the ideas which nobody saw coming and are the gamechangers for which future work is based off.


When you’re looking to make something new, understand what type of imagination is required. If you want to start a new business which provides similar products or services but in a new location, then copying other successful businesses and applying it to your area is probably enough. However, what if you’re looking to create something new, something which hasn’t been done before. Then you’ll need to use your creative mind. You need to try and remove limitations from your ideas and instead experiment! It may take weeks, months or even years to get something to work, however, if you’re looking to create something which is 10x better than anything before it, you need to get the answer from within yourself instead.

There’s power in numbers – find a group of close associates

When you’re looking to build something new or work towards that new goal; having a small group of likeminded people can help. Napolean Hill calls this your “Mastermind group”.

We cannot be an expert at everything, therefore we must rely on the knowledge and experience of others.

Before forming this alliance, decide what advantages and benefits everyone of the group can bring – nobody will want to work for free, so make sure there is full disclosure about what everyone gets out of it.

Meet with this group at least twice a week and use these meetings as a place to share ideas, inspirations, worries or proposals.


Reach out and find a group of likeminded people who you can discuss ideas with and ask for open, honest advice. Try to work with others when starting anything like a project, sharing the workload will help you get things done quicker and to a higher quality. It’s better to have a decent share of a quality pie than full share of nothing at all.

Get on with it!

We sometimes fail because we make the wrong decisions, but the more inconspicuous problem is that we fail because we don’t make any decisions at all.

Napoleon Hill found that from the analysis of several hundred people who accumulated fortunes well beyond the million-dollar mark, the successful individuals had a common habit of reaching decisions promptly and changing them slowly.

This is interesting, because it was also noted that people who fail to accumulate anything tend to have the opposite traits – they have the habit of reaching decisions slowly and indecivively but when something goes wrong they will pivot and change their mind very quickly.

Apart from your mastermind alliance, you should also try to limit how much consideration goes into the opinion of others. It can be easy to permit others to gossip and think on our behalf, after all, opinions are the cheapest commodity on earth, everyone has them and they are willing to flock them to whomever is willing to listen.


Take feedback from others but don’t let it get to you. Have your mission and plans laid out and only change them when it is clear that you should. You will make mistakes, however, use these as learning opportunities and press-on!

You only fail if you quit…

Another interesting story from Napoleon Hill is based during the Gold Rush days in America and how quitting too early can be disastrous. It involves an uncle of R U Darby who caught gold-fever and decided to stake a claim on a plot in Colorado. From their initial drilling they thought they had uncovered a massive gold-mine, however, upon returning with the correct equipment found that the mine had disappeared!

Upset and fed-up they sold their machinery and took the train home. It wasn’t that long until a local junkman purchased the machinery and called in a specialised engineer who did a bit of calculating and found out that the reason the project failed is because Darby’s uncle was not familiar with the “fault-lines”. The vein of gold which Darby’s uncle seeked was only 3 feet from where they stopped drilling!

The huge gold payout was within arms reach, however, because they gave-up and quit they never managed to enjoy the fruits of their labor, the local junkman and his assistant did instead. In the end, Darby’s project was a failure, not because they didn’t try hard enough, but because they quit.


It’s not the set-backs and problems which make us fail. It’s quitting and giving up because of them which make us fail. If you’re certain on what you want to do – keep going and never quit!

Thanks so much for reading, I wish you all the best for the future and make you sure you check out The Herston Projects podcast on all major streaming platforms in the next few days!

Get the book here: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

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