836 Think & Grow Rich; or not

A previous blog 829 “Why The Secret Is Wrong” has elicited - what one of my readers referred to as - “the longest response to a Facebook post he’s ever seen.” I’m not a huge Facebook user, so I wouldn’t have a yardstick, but long it was.

The response was chiefly based on a pdf that is available on the Napoleon Hill website, spruiking the ideas contained in the book Think & Grow Rich: “this book could be worth a million dollars to you”. I never read the book, though I had heard about it some 25 years ago in the “Born Rich” seminar, based on Bob Proctor's teachings (he of The Secret fame). I now have (speed-)read the pdf.

Just quickly, in case you are not aware of  The Secret  and the industry it has spurred ... The Secret employs the Law of Attraction (LoA) (Like Attracts Like) for the purpose of instilling in followers the belief that if they Think Rich they eventually Will Become Rich. The truth is, The Secret is a brilliant marketing exercise of home truths (think positive and you will attract positivity into your life, etc.) re-invented. The LoA and the concepts behind the promise of wealth creation laid out in the book and the video have worked extremely well for the various authors, they are millionaires. Ultimately, where The Secret (and Napoleon Hill) promise: "What the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve" it is simplistic, delusional and on one level outright dangerous.


Let me say two things: 1): I do have some experience with personal development ... a workshop with Barry Long comes to mind, as well as Bob Proctor's "Born Rich" seminar (you were born rich ... you just don't know it), I've read Robert Kiyosaki and I listen to Brendon Burchard … I also read Seth Godin daily. Not to mention the Buddhist Self-Transformation principles and my studies with Krishnamurti

I have learnt (and I am still learning) a lot from them.

But here is 2): Think & Grow Rich seems like a great idea, no wonder the book has sold squillions. But what does the title mean? 2.1) Does it mean when you THINK about becoming rich, then you WILL become rich? That is the premise of The Secret, and largely of the Law of Attraction (LoA). 

Or does it mean, 2.2) Think. And Grow Rich. 

Two different things … probably unrelated.

I'm sceptical about the first concept 2.1), very sceptical … but 2.2) makes an awful lot of sense. Think, man! And if you have time left over, grow rich. I never was able to grow rich, but I don't believe it's because of not thinking. I enjoy thinking, my motto is: I read, watch & listen ... then think ... then write. But when I read and think, I'm drawn to Jiddu Krishnamurti and not to Napoleon Hill.

In my previous blog I made a reference to an article on Gizmodo "Napoleon Hill  … The Greatest Self-Help Scammer of All Time.” Now I came across this webpage: eventualmillionaire.com (Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich book changed my life, but was he a fraud?) that's where I downloaded the pdf. Somebody named Jamie "interviews the best and brightest millionaires and discovers what it takes to follow in their tracks". Good luck, Jamie; once you found out what it takes, and you do follow those tracks, let us know where it has lead you (are you a millionaire yet?).

Anyway, here's what she says about "the greatest scammer of all time" ... "Is it true? I don't know, but I don't care ..."

So, is it True? And Does it Matter?

"I have no idea whether any of that’s true. I was surprised when I read the article, to say the least. My friends were surprised, too. None of them had heard any of this before either.

"At the end of the day, Think and Grow Rich changed the lives of a lot of people. Whether the principles came from actual interviews, relationships, study, or theory, they worked, even if the author wasn’t the best example of putting the thirteen steps to riches to good use.

"And if Napoleon Hill’s claims about his connections weren’t true, something like that doesn’t always have to “be true” in order for the message to hold truth, and a person can be a poor example of something and still be correct in his assertions regarding it …"

Oh boy, come again: "... something doesn't have to "be true" ... to hold truth." Mental gymnastics of the extraordinary kind. The point is, Napoleon Hill has never met Carnegie, in fact he's never met any of the "successful people" he talks about (the Thomas Edison story is telling) … this makes him a name-dropper and scammer. He's sold his book to millions and it's considered the classic motivational book in the business; which means: Truth and sincerity are not writ large in the motivational business (not to mention originality).

Now, of course there is truth in saying, "if I get motivated, I don't care where that motivation comes from, by whom it is dispensed", I mean, we have Trump getting motivated by Putin! It just depends on what level of importance you assign to truth and sincerity. I do have my own take on that issue ... I like this joke, "in business sincerity is everything; if you can fake that, you've got it made" ... but I thought that was a joke! Not so, it turns out ... at least not as far as Napoleon Hill is concerned.

So where does that leave us? I believe The Secret is one of the most insincere and delusional endeavours in history, on level with religions and astrology, nothing less. How about the LoA? The LoA is dualistic: On the one hand Napoleon Hill makes the penultimate statement: "What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." Regular readers know this statement makes me want to puke (you see, I think).

On the other hand though, the LoA is about motivation, of having a goal to work toward, of having a vision. And that goal, that vision can be achieved with the help of good, relevant education, with hard and smart work, with being persistent and tenacious ... one may want to add, with being entrepreneurial. I second all of that. 

One may also want to add: Be yourself and as you follow your dream, be real (not to mention truthful, sincere, original), be clear of what it is you really want; you, yourself. (Maybe it's not what the self-help gurus wish to push on you.)

Here is a conundrum ... you may find it pertinent for yourself or not, but I think it's worth pondering: If a book like Think & Grow Rich or a concept like The Secret have attracted many millions of people, does that in itself qualify it and give it gravitas? The Secret is like a religion and Think & Grow Rich is its bible. The Bible is full of falsehoods; religions are delusional ... yet, half the population are followers. Think.

At the end of the day you have to decide ... what energy do you want in your life? One of sincerity, built on truth and the notion of being real. Or are you happy to follow a path laid out by a shyster and opportunist?

So, I urge anyone who is interested in the Hill book to also read the Gizmodo article. However, this is a truism we all know: Everybody reads what they want to read, namely what confirms that which they believe.

I have as opening and closing statements these words in my book en.light.en.ment