‘Think and Grow Rich’ – An Old but still Useful Approach

Ron Irwin on TV in 1981
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 Just imagine how sweet it would be if only all we had to do was to think about growing rich and suddenly we were indeed rich. But there are a few stumbling blocks with that idea starting with just exactly what does “rich” mean to you? And then there is the suggestion that we need to “think” but think about what exactly? And the idea that we can “grow” rich doesn’t really help much either because just how fast will we grow rich? Will I achieve great wealth before I die? Who knows? But what I do absolutely know is the in 1937 Napoleon Hill published one of the most powerful and successful self-help personal-success books ever written and its message has endured. By 2015 over 100 million copies had been sold and more are sold each and every day. So clearly there is indeed something compelling in the book, something that touches everyone with a desire to improve their lives.

Book Cover

The book represents a study of some of the wealthiest people in the world but focuses extensively on the mega-wealthy Andrew Carnegie who by the early 20th century had amassed billions of dollars. What does a man like Carnegie do that is different from what most of the rest of us do? How does a truly wealthy person approach life in ways most of us just don’t? Discover the answer to those questions and maybe, just maybe a far greater number of our population can achieve substantial success, maybe even great wealth.


By examining the unique characteristics of the mega-wealthy of his day Napoleon Hill uncovered 13 Principles that are in his view the basis for a Philosophy of Achievement. This 13 Principles are:


  1. Desire
  2. Faith
  3. Autosuggestion
  4. Specialized Knowledge
  5. Imagination
  6. Organized Planning
  7. Decision
  8. Persistence
  9. Power of the Master Mind
  10. The Mystery of Sex Transmutation
  11. The Subconscious Mind
  12. The Brain
  13. The Sixth Sense.


Some of these seem fairly simple to understand. Most of us have at least some idea about what role desire, faith, specialized knowledge, imagination, organization, decision making and persistence play in our overall success in life. But others such as autosuggestion, power of the master mind and the mystery of sex transmutation don’t immediately strike a familiar chord for most of us.

Napoleon Hill

Now let’s pause for an important reality check. Of the more than 100 million people who have read Napoleon Hill’s powerful book “Think and Grow Rich” very few have achieved great wealth. But then again not every actor wins an Oscar, not every athlete wins an Olympic gold medal and not every world leader wins a Nobel Peace Prize. But I can and will say from personal experience that reading this amazing book can and certainly has for me, helped me to improve my life in many ways. Yep, it’s true I am still working of my first billion dollars but in many important ways what I gained from that book has moved me forward in significant ways. Here is but one example. When I graduated High School in 1963 my Grade Point Average was 1.7 or about what I needed to be hired as a gas station attendant. After reading “Think and Grow Rich” and a few other significant life experiences in 1976 I graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago Kent College of Law and received my Juris Doctor Degree with Honors. A few months later I was sworn into the Illinois Bar. Not yet truly wealth but clearly vastly improved. And I am willing to bet that there are millions of others who can share similar stories of great positive life changes due in part to what they gained from reading “Think and Grow Rich.”

Andrew Carnegie


So my one suggestion to you is that if a greater more successful life is something you truly desire, by all means go out and buy and then read this extraordinary book. No it won’t solve every problem nor does it guarantee that you will achieve great monetary wealth, but every step you take along the path of achieving a positive goal is just one step closer to real success.

Ron flying a B-737

Photos: Courtesy of Ron Irwin

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