" FEAR is the tool of a man-made devil.
Self-confident faith in one's self is both the
man-made weapon which defeats this devil
and the man-made tool which builds a
triumphant life. And it is more than that.
It is a link to the irresistible forces of the
universe which stand behind a man who
does not believe in failure and defeat as being
anything but temporary experiences."
Praise/or Napoleon Hill's
OUTWITTING THE DEVIL
"Outwitting the Devil proves once again that the messages and philosophies of Napoleon Hill are timeless. This book contains insights on
how to break free of habits and attitudes that prevent success and
will ultimately lead to happiness and prosperity. If you want to break
through your own roadblocks, read this book!"
New York Times best seller
Secrets ofthe Millionaire Mind
- T. HARV EKER, author of#l
"If you want to own your life, you have to own your money. In
Outwitting the Devil) Napoleon Hill shares what may be holding you
back in your financial life and charts the course for you to take
control and own the life of your dreams."
-JEAN CHATZKY, financial journalist and aurhor of
The Difference: How Anyone Can Prosper in Even the Toughest Times
"I have probably studied Napoleon Hill's work as much as anyone
alive. It was 50 years ago that I picked up Think and Grow Rich. I have
it with me all the time and read it every day. When Sharon Lechter
sent me a copy of Outwitting the Devil I thought Hill has done it
again, another world changer. This book is going to eliminate the
spiritual confusion people worldwide are presendy experiencing,
and it will tear down the wall of ignorance that separates millions of
individuals from the freedom their soul is seeking."
-BOB PROCTOR, founder of Life Success, www.bobproctor.com
"Most people will achieve their greatest success one step beyond what
looked like their greatest failure. While Napoleon Hill's Think and
Grow Rich provided a roadmap to success, Outwitting the Devil will help
you break through the barriers that may be holding you back."
-BRIAN TRACY, author of The Way to Wealth
The Secret to Freedom and Success
with The Napoleon Hill Foundation
Note to Readers by Sharon Lechter ................................................. Xl
Foreword by Mark Victor Hansen ....................................... .
. .. xv
My First Meeting with Andrew Carnegie ................ 1
A New World Is Revealed to Me
A Strange Interview with the Devil.
Drifting with the Devil ...................... .
The Confession Continues........................................... 97
Hypnotic Rhythm ..
Seeds of Fear ....
Definiteness of Purpose.
Education and Religion .............................................. 159
Chapter 10 Self-Discipline ............................................................. 185
Chapter 11 Learning from Adversity.
Chapter 12 Environment, Time, Harmony, and Caution
Afterword by Michael Bernard Beckwith ............................................ 252
In Reflection by Sharon Lechter.................................................... 255
Acknowledgments ............................................................................ 259
About the Authors .............................................................................. 260
Index ........................................................................................................ 262
About The Napoleon Hill Foundation
Share Your Stories .............................................................................. 269
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*. * * * * *,*~* *
The boldest and the most inspiring of the
self-help books by Americats number one
success philosopher who, after thirty
:years of diligent snooping, found the
Devil and wrung from him an astounding
ccm:t:ession disclos1ng mere he lives,
why he- exists, and hotirhe gains control
over the minds of people, _
The boo!. is a generous
course in pqcholog, maldng clear the
wrld.ng princip1.es of the htmIan mind.
lIhen you :f'1n1sh this story of the Dev1ll
you. 'Id.ll know much more about God.
*' * • • * .. *'
H1 1 1
THINK AND GBOW RICH
MAsTER'" f(t;;: 'f
NOTE TO READERS
OUTWITTING THE DEVIL is the most profound book I have
First, I was incredibly honored when Don Green, CEO of
the Napoleon Hill Foundation, trusted me enough to ask me
to become involved in this project. And then I read the manuscript! I couldn't sleep for a week.
Written on a manual typewriter in 1938 by the Master himself, Napoleon Hill, this manuscript had been locked away and
hidden by Hill's family for seventy-two years. Why? Because
they were frightened by the response it would invoke. Hill's
courage in revealing the Devil's work around each of us every
day, in our churches, our schools, and our politics, threatened
the very core of society as it was known at the time.
When asked why the family had hidden the manuscript,
Don Green recites the following inside story:
It was the objections of Hill's wife, Annie Lou. She was
secretary to Dr. William Plumer Jacobs, president of
Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina. Jacobs was
also owner ofJacobs Press and a public counselor to a group
of South Carolina textile firms. Jacobs hired Hill to come to
Clinton to work for him, and Annie Lou did not want the
book published because of the role of the Devil. She feared
the response ftom organized religion (and maybe for Hill's
job). Even though Hill died in 1970, Annie Lou did not
die until 1984. Upon Annie Lou's death, the manuscript
came into the possession of Dr. Charlie Johnson, then
the president of the Napoleon Hill Foundation. Charlie
was the nephew of Annie Lou Hill. Charlie's wife, Frankie,
knew and shared Annie Lou's feelings. Frankie told Charlie
that she did not want the article published while she was
alive either. Charlie's wife passed away a couple of years ago
and Charlie finally gave me the manuscript, bound in red
leather and embossed with the letters Outwitting the Devil in
gold on the cover. The Foundation believes the manuscript
has a powerful message that needs to be shared.
Mter speaking with Don, I was overcome with a powerful
realization. This book, even though written in 1938, was actually meant to be published today ... meant to rock our society
today! It was intended to provide answers during this uncertain economic and spiritual time. It provides the keys for each
of us to outwit the Devil in our own lives. It shows us how
to chart a course for success and to add value to the world
around us through the process.
Just as Think and Grow Rich helped us recover and succeed
after the Great Depression, Outwitting the Devil was written to
help each of us recover and succeed today!
You may ask if Hill believes his conversation with the Devil
was real, or was it merely imaginary? The choice is yours. But
I also asked Don Green about Hill's thoughts in his other
writings to see if we could get another look inside Hill's head.
Don's response was as follows:
The use of imaginary conversations was not new to Hill. In
1953, Hill published How to Raise Your Own Salary, which
was written as a conversation between Hill and Carnegie.
Hill had actually interviewed Carnegie in 1908 and
Carnegie died in 1919, well before its publication.
+ xii +
This was not the first time Hill used imaginary meetings to convey what he was writing about. In Think and
Grow Rich, Hill, writing about the sixth sense, wrote about
his imaginary council meeting with the nine men whose
lifeworks had been the most impressive to Hill. These nine
imaginary council members were Emerson, Paine, Edison,
Darwin, Lincoln, Burbank, Napoleon, Ford, and Carnegie.
Hill wrote in Think and Grow Rich that during his meetings with his "Invisible Counselors" he found his mind
most receptive to ideas, thoughts, and knowledge that
reached him during these times when his sixth sense was
Outwitting the Devil was by no means his first time to
write about religion. In fact, after he published Law of
Success in 1928, he received letters of criticism about his
stance on schools and religion. In Think and Grow Rich, in
the chapter titled "The Six Ghosts of Fear," Hill wrote that
fear of death, in the majority of cases, could be charged to
religious fanaticism. Hill had much to say about religious
leaders in this section of his classic best seller.
Hill had much to say about religion even in his Hill's
Golden Rule Magazine. He wrote an article, "A Suggestion to
Ministers of the Gospel," in which he admonished church
leaders to teach their followers to practice harmony among
So the choice is yours. Did Hill actually talk to the Devil or
is this a parable created to reach and touch your heart? Hill's
unique style will pull you in and move you in ways you never
thought possible. The words in this book are Hill's own. Since
the original manuscript was quite lengthy, I edited with careful
precision to preserve the profound impact of his message.
+ XU! •
I have kept his original language in place even when modern
grammar may have dictated adjustments.
In an effort to highlight certain issues, bring clarity to his
words, and show how his predictions have become realities, I
have added my thoughts throughout the manuscript in a different type style. This allows you to choose to read the book
either with my comments or without.
Please enjoy this powerful book and share it with your
friends and family. The power in Hill's words can and will
change your life.
is arguably the most famous self-help
action writer, thinker, evocateur, and best-selling author of all
time. We ask that you refer quickly to the actual interview with
the Devil. You will thus get the impact in your life of who the
Devil really is and what he does to 98 percent ofliving beings,
according to the Devil himself
As a thought stimulator, Hill quickly starts the book's
journey, taking us through his life and what was meaningful
and life-changing to him. Hill learned the greatest and most
useful and instantly helpful success principles on the planet,
but he did not know how to use and easily apply them. We predict that this is true for many people still today. It is easy to
say the words and sometimes even think the thoughts. It takes
a profound and lasting decision to actually live by the principles daily in every way. Sharon Lechter illuminates what Hill's
words mean when transported into today's dollars, thinking,
Dr. Hill's goal was to communicate clearly a philosophy
and practice of individual achievement that would stimulate
lasting happiness. His inner knower guided him to find his
own life's rainbow.
You are being tested now in the toughest times imaginable, just as Hill was during the Depression. He felt, acted,
and became depressed and despondent, an attitude that was
deleterious to his very beingness, just as it is to you and your
wellness. Reading this inspiring book can help you snap out of
your lethargy and negative-mindedness and get you on a new
and more glorious path to an ever brighter, better, and more
Like Hill, you are here to master your fears and not let
them master you, to live passionately and with purpose, to
decide what you want to be, do, and have, and to make it so.
As you rediscover the marvelous and magical discoveries of
Dr. Hill, you will know and believe that you can match them
and surpass them if you want to, because you are unlimited.
Hill correctly says, "Your only limitations are self-imposed."
This book will help you be aware that you can achieve your
breakthroughs using all that he learned by interviewing the
five hundred greatest living achievers.
You will discover whether the Devil he interviews is real
or imaginary, much like the Devil that you may personally be
dealing with in your life and experience.
-MARK VICTOR HANSEN
New York Times bestselling series Chicken Soup for The Sou[® and co-author of Cracking the
Millionaire Code, The One Minute Millionaire, and Cash in a Flash.
MARK VICTOR HANSEN
is co-creator of the
+ XVI +
Chapter One +
purpose has been that of isolating and organizing into
a philosophy of achievement the causes of both failure
and success, with the object of being helpful to others
who have neither the inclination nor the opportunity to
engage in this form of research.
My labor began in 1908, as the result of an interview that I
had with the late Andrew Carnegie. I frankly told Mr. Carnegie
that I wished to enter law school and that I had conceived the
idea of paying my way through school by interviewing successful men and women, finding out how they came by their
success, and writing stories of my discoveries for magazines. At
the end of our first visit Mr. Carnegie asked whether or not I
possessed enough courage to carry out a suggestion he wished
to offer me. I replied that courage was about all I did have and
that I was prepared to do my best to carry out any suggestion
he cared to offer.
He then said, "Your idea of writing stories about men and
women who are successful is commendable, as far as it goes,
and I have no intention of trying to discourage you from carrying out your purpose, but I must tell you that if you wish
to be of enduring service, not only to those now living, but
to posterity as well, you can do so if you will take the time to
organize all of the causes of failure as well as all of the causes
"There are millions of people in the world who have not
the slightest conception of the causes of success and failure.
The schools and colleges teach practically everything except
the principles of individual achievement. They require young
men and women to spend from four to eight years acquiring
abstract knowledge, but do not teach them what to do with
this knowledge after they get it.
OR MORE THAN A QUARTER OF A CENTURY
"The world is in need of a practical, understandable philosophy of achievement, organized from the factual knowledge gained from the experience of men and women in the
great university of life. In the entire field of philosophy I find
nothing which even remotely resembles the sort of philosophy which I have in mind. We have few philosophers who are
capable of teaching men and women the art ofliving.
"It seems to me that here is an opportunity which should
challenge an ambitious young man of your type; but ambition
alone is not enough for this task which I have suggested. The
one who undertakes it must have courage and tenacity.
"The job will require at least twenty years of continuous
effort, during which the one who undertakes it will have to
earn his living from some other source, because this sort of
research is never profitable at the outset, and generally those
who have contributed to civilization through work of this
nature have had to wait a hundred years or so after their own
funerals to receive recognition for their labor."
NOTE to READERS: Sharon Lechter adds her comments in special sections like this.
Twenty years of labor with no pay and possibly no recognitionl How would you respond to this "offer''? As he discusses
below, Hill accepted Carnegie's challenge and, with a letter of
introduction &om Carnegie, set about interviewing the giants
of that time, induding Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison,
John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell,
King Gillette (founder of the Gillette Safety Razor Company),
and many others. His effort ultimately culminated in the publication of several books, including the eight-volume Law of
Success and Think and Grow Rich after more than twenty-five
years of research. Think and Grow Rich is widely recognized as
the seminal work in self-development, introducing essentially
all the principles that continue to serve as the foundation for
the teachings of the personal development gurus of today. As
reflected in I-lill's own description, the process of developing
and publishing Think and Grow Rich was itself a study in the
principles he revealed. It may be telling that the manuscript of
Outwitting the Devil was written the year after Think and Grow
Rich was published, since this work may reveal the frustration
and revelation of Hill's "other self" and how he conquered
his frustrations and succeeded in using the very principles he
described in Think and Grow Rich. Outwitting the Devil will reveal
Hill's spiritual awakening and how each of us can learn from his
encounter with the Devil.
"If you undertake this job, you should interview not only
the few who have succeeded, but the many who have failed.
You should carefully analyze many thousands of people who
have been classed as 'failures,' and I mean by the term 'failures,'
men and women who come to the closing chapter oflife disappointed because they did not attain the goal which they had
set their hearts upon achieving. As inconsistent as it may seem,
you will learn more about how to succeed from the failures
than you will from the so-called successes. They will teach you
what not to do.
"Along toward the end of your labor, if you carry it
through successfully, you will make a discovery which may be
a great surprise to you. You will discover that the cause of success is not something separate and apart from the man; that
it is a force so intangible in nature that the majority of men
never recognize it; a force which might be properly called the
'other self' Noteworthy is the fact that this 'other self' seldom
exerts its influence or makes itself known excepting at times of
unusual emergency, when men are forced, through adversity
and temporary defeat, to change their habits and to think their
way out of difficulty.
"My experience has taught me that a man is never quite so
near success as when that which he calls 'failure' has overtaken
him, for it is on occasions of this sort that he is forced to think.
If he thinks accurately, and with persistence, he discovers
that so-called failure usually is nothing more than a signal to
re-arm himself with a new plan or purpose. Most real failures
are due to limitations which men set up in their own minds.
If they had the courage to go one step further, they would discover their error."
failures are due to limitations which men
set up in their own minds. "
A negative mind-set and self-doubt can be the primary
obstacle to success. With the current economic downturn,
far too many people who have, all their life, done everything right are now, for the first time, facing severe economic adversity. The greatest barrier to their recovery is
their own fear and self-doubt instilled by their recent experience. Have you allowed the current economic downturn
to overtake you? Have self-doubt and self-sabotage held
you back from reaching your dreams? Are you your own
worst enemy? In Think and Grow Rich, Hill told the story of
R.U. Darby, a gold prospector. Frustrated when a rich vein
of gold apparently ran out, Darby sold his gold claim for
a pittance to the town junkman. The junkman brought in
the right expert advisers and found that Darby would have
rediscovered the vein-had he moved his digging by a mere
three feet. Had Darby persevered he would have made his
fortune, but he gave up and abandoned his dreams-when
he was only three feet from gold. Rather than being crushed
by his error, Darby learned from his experience and went
on to build an insurance empire. Will you abandon your
quest just before reaching great success, when you are only
three feet from gold? (You can read how many of today's
icons persevered through difficult situations in the book
Three Feet (i-om Gold.)
Begin Life Anew
Mr. Carnegie's speech reshaped my entire life and planted in
my mind a burning purpose, which has driven me ceaselessly,
and this despite the fact that I had but a vague idea as to what
he meant by the term "other sel£"
During my labor of research into the causes of failure and
success I have had the privilege of analyzing more than 25,000
men and women who were rated as "failures," and over 500
who were classed as "successful." Many years ago I caught my
first glimpse of that "other self" Mr. Carnegie had mentioned.
The discovery came, as he said it would, as the result of two
major turning-points of my life, which constituted emergencies that forced me to think my way out of difficulties such as I
had never before experienced.
I wish it were possible to describe this discovery without
the use of the personal pronoun, but this is impossible because
it came through personal experiences from which it cannot be
separated. To give you the complete picture I shall have to go
back to the first of these two major turning-points and bring
you up to the discovery step by step.
The research necessary for the accumulation of the data,
from which the seventeen principles of achievement and the
thirty major causes of failure were organized, required years
I had reached the false conclusion that my task of organizing a complete philosophy of personal achievement had
been completed. Far from having been completed, my work
had merely begun. I had erected the skeleton of a philosophy
by organizing the seventeen principles of achievement and the
thirty major causes of failure, but that skeleton had to be covered with the flesh of application and experience. Moreover, it
had to be given a soul through which it might inspire men and
women to meet obstacles without going down under them.
The "soul," which had yet to be added, as I discovered later,
became available only after my "other self" made its appearance, through two major turning-points of my life.
Resolving to turn my attention, and whatever talents
I might possess, into monetary returns through business
and professional channels, I decided to go into the profession of advertising, and I became the advertising manager of
the LaSalle Extension University of Chicago. Everything went
along beautifully for one year, at the end of which I was seized
by a violent dislike for my job and resigned.
I then entered the chain store business, with the former
president of the LaSalle Extension University, and became the
president of the Betsy Ross Candy Company. Unfortunate-or
what seemed to me at the time to be unfortunate-disagreements with business associates disengaged me from that
The lure of advertising still was in my blood, and I tried
again to give expression to it by organizing a school of advertising and salesmanship, as a part of Bryant & Stratton
The enterprise was sailing smoothly and we were making
money rapidly when the United States entered World War 1.
In response to an inner urge which no words can describe,
I walked away from the school and entered the service of
the United States government, under President Woodrow
Wilson's personal direction, leaving a perfectly sound business to disintegrate.
On Armistice Day 1918, I began the publication of The
Golden Rule magazine. Despite the fact that I did not have a
penny of capital, the magazine grew rapidly and soon gained a
nation-wide circulation of nearly half a million, ending its first
year's business with a profit of$3,156.
For a proper perspective, $3,156 in 1918 would represent
$45,000 today based on the Consumer Price Index average
for each year compiled by the u.s. Bureau of Labor Statistics
and $202,000 using the nominal GDP per capita tables.
Not a bad profit for a first year in the magazine business . ..
when 80 to 90 percent of new titles fail and even the successful ones take three to five years to become profitable
Some years later I learned, from an experienced publisher, that
no man experienced in the publication and distribution of
national magazines would think of starting such a magazine
with less than half a million dollars of capital.
The Golden Rule magazine and I were destined to part
company. The more we succeeded the more discontented
I became, until finally, due to an accumulation of petty annoyances caused by business associates, I made them a present of
the magazine and stepped out. Through that move perhaps I
tossed a small fortune over my shoulder.
This was only the beginning of Hill's love for magazines. The
Golden Rule was followed by his publication of The Napoleon
Hill Magazine. Later in life he became the editor of SUCCESS,
a magazine that is still published today.
Next I organized a training school for salesmen. My first
assignment was to train a sales army of3,000 people for a chain
store company, for which I received $10 for each salesman who
went through my classes. Within six months my work had
netted me a little over $30,000. Success, as far as money was
concerned, was crowning my efforts with abundance. Again
I became "fidgety" inside. I was not happy. It became more
obvious every day that no amount of money would ever make
Without the slightest reasonable excuse for my actions,
I stepped out and gave up a business from which I might
easily have earned a healthy salary. My friends and business
associates thought I was crazy, and they were not backward
about saying so.
Frankly, I was inclined to agree with them, but there
seemed nothing I could do about it. I was seeking happiness
and I had not found it. At least that is the only explanation
I could offer for my unusual actions. What man really
"Again I became Cfidgety'inside. I was not happy.
It became more obvious every day that no amount ofmoney
would ever make me happy."
I could have written this about myself a few years ago. But
when I took action by leaving a situation that, although financially rewarding, was no longer aligned with my personal mission, new doors of opportunity opened for me. It turned out
to be the best decision of my professional life. Can you think
of a time in your life when you made a difficult decision . .. but
knew it was the right one even when others questioned you?
That was during the late fall of 1923. I found myself
stranded in Columbus, Ohio, without funds, and worse still,
without a plan by which to work my way out of my difficulty.
It was the first time in my life that I had actually been stranded
because oflack of funds.
Many times previously I had found money to be rather
shy, but never before had I failed to get what I needed for my
personal conveniences. The experience stunned me. I seemed
totally at sea as to what I could or should do.
I thought of a dozen plans by which I might solve my
problem, but dismissed them all as being either impractical
or impossible of achievement. I felt like one who was lost in a
jungle without a compass. Every attempt I made to work my
way out brought me back to the original starting point.
For nearly two months I suffered with the worst of all
human ailments: indecision. I knew the seventeen principles
of personal achievement, but what I did not know was how
to apply them! Without knowing it I was facing one of those
emergencies of life through which, Mr. Carnegie had told me,
men sometimes discover their "other selves."
My distress was so great that it never occurred to me to sit
down and analyze its cause and seek its cure.
UThe worst ofall human ailments: indecision."
Have you ever felt paralyzed by indecision? This was the
first major turning point in Napoleon Hill's life. His moving
from job to job, seeking contentment and his own ideal professional life, sounds like many people today ... people who
are seeking contentment in their jobs and lives. Hill's predicament was, by his own admission, self-inflicted. However,
he found himself in very much the same circumstances as
someone today who has been negatively affected by the
present economic situation. Hill took advantage of his temporary defeat, using it as a spur to force himself into thought
and analysis-to find his "other self." If you have been dealt a
blow by economic circumstances, you too can use it as a lever
and motivation to find your "other self."
• 11 •
Defeat Is Converted into Victory
One afternoon I reached a decision through which I found the
way out of my difficulty. I had a feeling that I wanted to get
out into the "open spaces" of the country, where I could get a
breath of fresh air and think.
I began to walk, and had gone seven or eight miles when
I felt myself brought suddenly to a standstill. For several
minutes I stood there as if I had been glued to my tracks.
Everything around me went dark. I could hear the loud sound
of some form of energy which was vibrating at a very high rate.
Then my nerves became quiet, my muscles relaxed, and a
great calmness came over me. The atmosphere began to clear,
and as it did so, I received a command from within which came
in the form of a thought, as near as I can describe it.
The command was so clear and distinct that I could
not misunderstand it. In substance it said, "The time has
come for you to complete the philosophy of achievement
which you began at Carnegie's suggestion. Go back home
at once and begin transferring the data you have gathered
from your own mind to written manuscripts." My "other self"
For a few minutes I was frightened. The experience was
unlike any I had ever undergone before. I turned and walked
rapidly until I reached home. As I approached the house, I saw
my three little boys looking out of a window of our house at
our neighbor'S children, who were dressing a Christmas tree in
the house next door.
Then I recalled that it was Christmas Eve. Moreover, I
recalled, with a feeling of deep distress such as I had never
known before, that there would be no Christmas tree at our
house. The look of disappointment on the faces of my children
reminded me painfully of that fact.
I went into the house, sat down at my typewriter, and began
at once to reduce to writing the discoveries I had made concerning the causes of success and failure. As I placed the first
sheet of paper in the typewriter I was interrupted by that same
strange feeling which had come over me out in the country a
few hours before, and this thought flashed into my mind:
"Your mission in life is to complete the world's first philosophy of individual achievement. You have been trying in vain
to escape your task, each effort having brought you failure.
You are seeking happiness. Learn this lesson, once and forever,
that you will find happiness only by helping others to find it!
You have been a stubborn student. You had to be cured of your
stubbornness through disappointment. Within a few years
from now the whole world will start through an experience
which will place millions of people in need of the philosophy
which you have been directed to complete. Your big opportunity to find happiness by rendering useful service will have
come. Go to work, and do not stop until you have completed
and published the manuscripts which you have begun."
I was conscious of having arrived, at last, at the end oflife's
rainbow, and I was happy!
Doubt Makes Its Appearance
The "spell," if the experience may be so called, passed away.
I began to write. Shortly thereafter my "reason" suggested to
me that I was embarking upon a fool's mission. The idea of
a man who was down and almost out presuming to write a
philosophy of personal achievement seemed so ludicrous
that I laughed hilariously, perhaps scornfully.
I squirmed in my chair, ran my fingers through my hair,
and tried to create an alibi that would justify me in my own
mind in taking the sheet of paper out of my typewriter before
I had really begun to write, but the urge to continue was
stronger than the desire to quit. I became reconciled to my task
and went ahead.
UThe urge to continue was stronger than the desire to quit. "
Remember that time when you wanted to quit, but something
drove you to keep going? It may have been your "other self."
Looking backward now, in the light of all that has happened, I can see that those minor experiences of adversity
through which I had passed were among the most fortunate
and profitable of all of my experiences. They were blessings
in disguise because they forced me to continue a work which
finally brought me an opportunity to make myself more useful
to the world than I might have been had I succeeded in any
previous plan or purpose.
For almost three months I worked on those manuscripts, completing them during the early part of 1924. As
soon as they had been completed, I felt myself again being
lured by the desire to get back into the great American game
Succumbing to the lure, I purchased the Metropolitan
Business College in Cleveland, Ohio, and began to lay plans for
increasing its capacity. By the end of 1924 we had developed
and expanded, by adding new courses, until we were doing a
business nearly double the best previous record the school had
Again the germ of discontentment began to make itself
felt in my blood. Again I knew that I could not find happiness in that sort of endeavor. I turned the business over to my
associates and went on the lecture platform, lecturing on the
philosophy of achievement, to the organization of which I had
devoted so many of my previous years.
One night I was booked to lecture in Canton, Ohio. Fate,
or whatever it is that seems sometimes to shape the destiny
of men, no matter how hard they may try to battle against it,
again stepped into the picture and brought me face to face
with a painful experience.
In my Canton audience sat Don R Mellett, publisher of
the Canton Daily News. Mr. Mellett became so thoroughly
interested in the philosophy of individual achievement on
which I lectured that night that he invited me to come to see
him the following day.
That visit resulted in a partnership agreement which was
to have taken place on the first of the following January when
Mr. Mellett planned to resign as publisher of the Daily News, to
take charge of the business and publishing of the philosophy
on which I had been working.
However, in July 1926, Mr. Mellett was murdered by Pat
McDermott, an underworld character, and a Canton, Ohio,
policeman, both of whom were sentenced to life imprisonment. He was murdered because he was exposing in his newspaper a hook-up between the bootleggers and certain members
of the Canton police force. The crime was one of the most
shocking that the prohibition era produced.
• 15 •
The July 1926 murder of crusading journalist Donald Ring
Mellett, the editor of the Canton, Ohio, Daily News, was one
of the most publicized crimes in the 1920s. In 1925 Mellett
had discovered widespread corruption within the Canton
police force and embarked on an anti-vice, anti-corruption
editorial campaign, targeting, among others, the Canton
police chief. Hill was reported to have asked Ohio's governor
to initiate an investigation of the corruption, a detail not
reflected in Hill's account.
Local underworld figures and at least one Canton
police officer hired Patrick McDermott, an ex-con from
Pennsylvania, to silence Mellett. Mellett was gunned down
outside his home. As the story goes, gunmen were also
lying in wait for Hill, but a fortuitous automotive breakdown kept him out of their way. On July 17, the New York
Times reported in an article titled "More Death Threats
Follow the Slaying of Canton Editor" that the citizens of
Canton "are terror-stricken by threats of further killings by
the rulers of the gamblers, bootleggers and other criminals."
As recounted by Hill, after hearing of Mellett's murder and
receiving an anonymous warning to get out of town, he fled
to West Virginia. In large part due to the work of a private
detective hired by the Stark County prosecutor, McDermott,
two local gangsters, and a former police detective were ultimately convicted of Mellett's murder.
Chance (?) Saves My Life
The morning after Mr. Mellett's death I was called on the
telephone and put on notice, by some unknown person, that
I had one hour in which to get out of Canton; that I could go
voluntarily within the hour, but if I waited longer I probably
would go in a pine box. My business association with Mr.
Mellett had apparently been misunderstood. His murderers
evidently believed I was directly connected with the expose he
was making in his newspapers.
I did not wait for the one hour time limit to expire, but
immediately got into my automobile and drove down to the
home of relatives in the mountains of West Virginia, where
I remained until the murderers had been placed in jail.
That experience came well within the category described by
Mr. Carnegie as an "emergency" that forces men to think. For
the first time in my life I knew the pain of constant fear. My
experience of a few years before, in Columbus, had filled my
mind with doubt and temporary indecision, but this one had
filled it with a fear which I seemed unable to remove. During
the time that I was in hiding I seldom left the house at night,
and when I did step out I kept my hand on an automatic pistol
in my coat pocket, with the safety catch unlatched for immediate action. If a strange automobile stopped in front of the
house where I was hiding, I went into the basement and carefully scrutinized its occupants through the basement windows.
After some months of this sort of experience, my nerves
began to crack. My courage had completely left me. The
ambition which had heartened me during the long years of
labor in my search for the causes of failure and success also
Slowly, step by step, I felt myself slipping into a state of
lethargy from which I was afraid I should never be able to
emerge. The feeling must have been closely akin to that experienced by one who suddenly steps into quicksand and realizes that every effort to extricate himself carries him just so
much deeper. Fear is a self-generating morass.
If the seed of insanity had been in my make-up, surely it
would have germinated during those months of living death.
Foolish indecision, irresolute dreams, doubt and fear were my
mind's concern, day and night.
The "emergency" I faced was disastrous in two ways. First,
the very nature of it kept me in a constant state of indecision
and fear. Secondly, the forced concealment kept me in idleness, with its attendant heaviness of time, which I naturally
devoted to worry.
My reasoning faculty had almost been paralyzed. I realized
that I had to work myself out of this state of mind. But how?
The resourcefulness which had helped me to meet all previous
emergencies seemed to have completely taken wing, leaving
Out of my difficulties, which were burdensome enough
up to this point, grew another which seemed more painful
than all the others combined. It was the realization that
I had spent the better portion of my past years in chasing a
rainbow, searching hither and yon for the causes of success,
and finding myself now more helpless than any of the 25,000
people whom I had judged as being "failures."
This thought was almost maddening. Moreover, it was
extremely humiliating, because I had been lecturing allover
the country, in schools and colleges and before business
organizations, presuming to tell other people how to apply
the seventeen principles of success, while here I was, unable to
apply them myself I was sure that I never could again face the
world with a feeling of confidence.
Every time I looked at myself in a mirror I noticed an
expression of self-contempt on my face, and not infrequently
I did say things to the man in the mirror which are not printable. I had begun to place myself in the category of charlatans
who offer others a remedy for failure which they themselves
cannot successfully apply.
The criminals who had murdered Mr. Mellett had been
tried and sent to the penitentiary for life; therefore, it was perfectly safe, as far as they were concerned, for me to come out
of hiding and again take up my work. I could not come out,
however, because now I faced circumstances more frightful
than the criminals who had sent me into hiding.
The experience had destroyed whatever initiative I had
possessed. I felt myself in the clutches of some depressing
influence which seemed like a nightmare. I was alive; I could
move around, but I could not think of a single move by
which I might continue to seek the goal which I had, at Mr.
Carnegie's suggestion, set for myself I was rapidly becoming
indifferent, not only toward myself, but worse still, I was
becoming grouchy and irritable toward those who had given
me shelter during my "emergency."
I faced the greatest emergency of my life. Unless you have
gone through a similar experience, you cannot possibly know
how I felt. Such experiences cannot be described. To be understood they must be felt.
• 19 •
"My reasoning faculty had almost been paralyzed. "
Hill was paralyzed first by fear of physical harm and then by
the shame of having been paralyzed by that fear. Have you
ever been paralyzed by similar emotions? When you are faced
with your own "emergency," fear can either motivate you
or paralyze you. By recognizing that you have a choice and
reacting positively to your fears, you can permanently change
your life for the better. Many people today may be experiencing the same feelings of anger followed by irritability and
the debilitating feeling of indifference. They feel discouraged
and lack self-confidence due to uncertainty in their financial
situation or personal lives. They may be angry and allow that
anger to paralyze them. I had a conversation with just such
a young man. "I am 30 years old," he said, "and have no
marketable skills or prospects." He had a million excuses for
not taking action to change his situation. I pointed out that
unless he took action nothing would change. "Unless you
make an effort to change things," I said, "in a year's time
the only difference will be that you are 31 years old with no
marketable skills or prospects." Does this pattern sound
familiar to you, either for yourself or someone you care
for? How do you break that paralysis? Napoleon Hill now
shares how he overcame his fear and indifference and found
the hope, inspiration, and motivation to recover and create
success in his life.
The Most Dramatic Moment of My Life
The turn came suddenly, in fall 1927, more than a year after
the Canton incident. I left the house one night and walked up
to the public school building, on top of a hill above the town.
I had reached a decision to fight the matter out with myself
before that night ended. I began to walk around the building,
trying to force my befuddled brain to think clearly. I must have
made several hundred trips around the building before anything which even remotely resembled organized thought began
to take place in my mind. As I walked I repeated over and over
to myself, "There is a way out and I am going to find it before
I go back to the house." I must have repeated that sentence a
thousand times. Moreover, I meant exactly what I was saying.
I was thoroughly disgusted with myself, but I entertained a
hope of salvation.
Then like a flash of lightning out of a clear sky, an idea
burst into my mind with such force that the impulse drove my
blood up and down my veins:
"This is your testing time. You have been reduced to poverty and humiliated in order that you might be forced to discover your 'other self.'"
If today's economic times have dealt you a blow, moving you
toward poverty, embarrassing you, or damaging your selfconfidence, consider it a test, just as Napoleon Hill did in the
late 19205 and early 1930s. Force yourself to discover your
"other self." By working through the low points in your life
and persevering, you can gain the insight needed to succeed.
For the first time in years I recalled what Mr. Carnegie
had said about this "other sel£" I recalled now that he said I
would discover it toward the end of my labor of research into
the causes of failure and success, and that the discovery usually came as the result of an emergency, when men are forced
to change their habits and to think their way out of difficulty.
I continued to walk around the school house, but now
I was walking on air. Subconsciously I seemed to know that I
was about to be released from the self-made prison into which
I had cast myself.
I realized that this great emergency had brought me an
opportunity, not merely to discover my "other self," but to test
the soundness of the philosophy of achievement which I had
been teaching others as being workable. Soon I would know
whether it would work or not. I made up my mind that if it
did not work I would bum the manuscripts I had written and
never again be guilty of telling other people that they were "the
masters of their fate, the captains of their souls."
Hill is paraphrasing from the poem "Invictus,»
published in 1888
by William Ernest Henley (1849-1903).
Out ofthe night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
+ 22 +
In the fell clutch ofcircumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonin1} ofchance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror ofthe shade,
And yet the menace ofthe years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master ofmy fate:
I am the captain ofmy soul.
The full moon was just rising over the mountain top. I had
never seen it shine so brightly before. As I stood gazing at it,
another thought flashed into my mind. It was this:
"You have been telling other people how to master fear
and how to surmount the difficulties which arise out of the
emergencies oflife. From now on you can speak with authority
because you are about to rise above your own difficulties with
courage and purpose, resolute and unafraid."
With that thought came a change in the chemistry of my
being which lifted me into a state of exultation I had never
before known. My brain began to clear itself of the state of
lethargy into which it had lapsed. My faculty of reason began
to work once more.
For a brief moment I was happy to have had the privilege
of going through those long months of torment, because the
experience provided an opportunity for me to test the soundness of the principles of achievement which I had so laboriously wrested from my research.
When this thought came to me, I stopped still, drew my
feet closely together, saluted (I did not know what or whom),
and stood rigidly at attention for several minutes. This seemed,
at first, like a foolish thing to do, but while I was standing
there another thought came through in the form of an "order"
that was as brief and snappy as any ever given by a military
commander to a subordinate.
The order said, "Tomorrow get into your automobile and
drive to Philadelphia, where you will receive aid in publishing
your philosophy of achievement."
There was no further explanation and no modification of
the order. As soon as I received it, I walked back to the house,
went to bed, and slept with peace of mind such as I had not
known for over a year.
When I awoke the following morning, I got out of bed and
immediately began to pack my clothes and make ready for the
trip to Philadelphia. My reason told me that I was embarking
upon a fool's mission. Who did I know in Philadelphia to
whom I might apply for financial aid in publishing eight volumes of books at a cost of$25,OOO? I asked mysel£
Instantly the answer to that question flashed into my
mind, as plainly as if it had been uttered in audible words:
"You are following orders now, instead of asking questions.
Your 'other self' will be in charge during this trip."
There was another condition which seemed to make my
preparation to go to Philadelphia absurd. I had no money!
This thought had barely occurred to me when my "other self"
exploded it by giving another sharp order, saying, "Ask your
brother-in-law for fifty dollars and he will lend it to you."
The order seemed definite and final. Without further hesitation I followed instructions. When I asked my brother-in-law
for the money, he said, "Why, certainly you can have fifty dollars, but if you are going to be gone very long you had better
take a hundred dollars." I thanked him and said I thought fifty
dollars would be enough. I knew it was not enough, but that
was the amount my "other self" had commanded me to ask for
and that is the amount I secured.
I was greatly relieved when I found that my brother-inlaw was not going to ask me why I was going to Philadelphia.
If he had known all that had taken place in my mind during
the previous night, he perhaps would have thought I should
go to a psychiatric hospital for treatment instead of going to
Philadelphia on a wild-goose chase.
My "Other Self' Takes Command
I left with my head telling me I was a fool and my "other self"
commanding me to ignore the challenge and carry out my
I drove all night, arriving in Philadelphia the next morning.
My first thought was to look up a modestly priced boarding
house where I could rent a room for about one dollar a day.
Here again my "other self" took charge and gave the command to register at the most exclusive hotel in the city. With
a little more than forty dollars of my remaining capital in my
pocket, it seemed like financial suicide when I marched up to
the desk and asked for a room; or rather I should say I started
to ask for a room when my newly discovered "other self' gave
the order to ask for a suite of rooms, the cost of which would
about consume my remaining capital in two days. I obeyed.
The bell-boy picked up my bags, handed me my claim
check for my automobile, and bowed me toward the elevator
as if I were the Prince of Wales. It was the first time in more
than a year that any human being had shown me such deference. My own relatives, with whom I had been living, far from
having shown me deference, had (so I imagined) felt I was a
burden on their hands, and I am sure that I was, because no
man in the frame of mind that I had been in for the past year
could be anything other than a burden to all with whom he
came into contact.
It was becoming apparent that my "other self" was determined to wean me away from the inferiority complex which I
I tossed the bell-boy a dollar. I started to estimate what my
hotel bill would be by the end of the week when my "other self"
commanded me to get my mind entirely off of all thoughts of
limitation, and to conduct myself, for the time being, just as I
would ifI had all the money I wanted in my pockets.
The experience I was passing through was both new and
strange to me. I had never posed as being anything other than
what I believed myself to be.
For nearly half an hour this "other self" gave orders which
I followed to the letter during the subsequent period of my
stay in Philadelphia. The instructions were given through the
medium of thoughts which presented themselves in my mind
with such force that they were readily distinguishable from my
ordinary self-created thoughts.
+ 26 +
Hill took on the persona of the wealthy man he wanted to
be. We strongly agree that to be wealthy you need to think
wealthy. It is also important to be in the right environment.
Don Green, CEO of the Napoleon Hill Foundation, once told
me, "I first bought my good suits from Sobel's, a custom
clothing store-where Eastman Kodak executives shopped.
The owner had a sign behind the register that said, "If you
want to be a success, you must first dress the part."
However, we recommend moderation in trying to emulate
Mr. Hill in spending money that he did not have.
I Receive Strange" Orders"
from a Strange Source
My instructions began in this fashion:
"You are now completely in charge of your 'other self.' You
are entitled to know that two entities occupy your body, as in
fact two similar entities occupy the body of each living person
"One of these entities is motivated by and responds to the
impulse of fear. The other is motivated by and responds to the
impulse of faith. For more than a year you have been driven,
like a slave, by the fear entity.
"Night before last the faith entity gained control over
your physical body, and you are now motivated by that entity.
For the sake of convenience you may call this faith entity your
'other self.' It knows no limitations, has no fears, and recognizes no such word as 'impossible.'
"You were directed to select this environment ofluxury, in
a good hotel, as a means of discouraging the return to power
of the fear entity. That fear-motivated 'old self' is not dead;
it has merely been dethroned. And it will follow you around
wherever you go, awaiting a favorable opportunity to step in
and take charge of you again. It can gain control of you only
through your thoughts. Remember this, and keep the doors
to your mind tightly closed against all thoughts which seek to
limit you in any manner whatsoever, and you will be safe.
"Do not permit yourself to worry about the money you
will need for your immediate expenses. That will come to you
by the time you must have it.
"Now, let us get down to business. First of all you should
know that the faith entity now in charge ofyour body performs
no miracles, nor does it work in opposition to any of nature's
laws. As long as it is in charge of your body it will guide you
when you calion it, through impulses of thought which it will
place in your mind, in carrying out your plans through the
most logical and convenient natural media available.
"Above everything else, get this fact clearly fixed in your
mind, that your 'other self' will not do your work for you; it
will only guide you intelligently in achieving for yourself the
objects of your desires.
Will you be guided by faith?
Or will you allow fear to overtake you?
"This 'other self' will aid you in translating your plans
into reality. Moreover, you should know that it begins, always,
with your major, or most pronounced desire. At this time your
major desire-the one which brought you here-is to publish
and distribute the results of your research into the causes of
success and failure. You estimate that you will need approximately $25,000.
"Among your acquaintances there is a man who will supply
you with this needed capital. Begin, at once, to call into your
mind the names of all persons of your acquaintance whom you
have reason to believe might be induced to furnish the financial aid you require.
"When the name of the logical person comes into your
mind, you will recognize it immediately. Communicate
with that person and the aid you seek will be given. In your
approach, however, present your request in terminology such
as you would use in the usual course of business transactions.
Make no reference whatsoever to this introduction you have
had to your 'other sel£' If you violate these instructions, you
will meet with temporary defeat.
"Your 'other self' will remain in charge and continue to
direct you as long as you rely upon it. Keep doubt and fear and
worry, and all thoughts oflimitation, entirely out of your mind.
"That will be all for the present. You will now begin to
move of your own free will, precisely as you did before you discovered your 'other self.' Physically you are the same as you
have always been; therefore, no one will recognize that any
change has taken place in you."
I looked around the room, blinked my eyes, and to make
sure that I was not dreaming, I got up and walked over to a
mirror and looked at myself closely. The expression on my face
had changed from one of doubt to one of courage and faith.
There was no longer any doubt in my mind that my physical
body was in charge of an influence far different from the one
which had been dethroned two nights before, as I walked
around that school house in West Virginia.
Here, in editing the manuscript, I have ended the chapter at
one of the great turning points in the author's life. Have you
ever undergone a life change such as the one Hill describes
above? It can also be described, in religious terms, as a conversion experience. Others may simply refer to it as "a wakeup call" or "a tap on the shoulder" or more vehemently as
"a slap in the facel"
I HAD UNDERGONE A NEW BIRTH by which
I had been separated from all forms of fear. I now
had courage such as I never before had experienced.
Despite the fact that I had not as yet been shown
how, or from what source, I would be able to secure the necessary funds which I was seeking, I had such absolute faith that
the money would be forthcoming that I could see it already in
On but few occasions in my entire life have I experienced
such faith. It was a feeling which one person cannot describe
to another. There are no words in the English language suitable for such a description-a fact that all who have had similar
experiences can easily verify.
I proceeded immediately to carry out the instructions I
had received. All feeling that I had embarked upon an impossible mission had now left me. One by one I began to call
into my mind the names of all my acquaintances I knew to be
financially able to supply me with the $25,000 which I needed,
starting with the name of Henry Ford, and going over the
entire list of more than three hundred people. My "other self"
plainly said, "Keep on searching."
The Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn
But I had come to the end of my rope. My entire list of
acquaintances had been exhausted, and with it my physical
endurance as well. I had been at work, concentrating my
mind upon that list of names, for the better part of two days
and nights, having stopped only long enough to sleep for a
I leaned back in my chair, shut my eyes, and went into a
sort of doze for a few minutes. I was aroused by what seemed
to be an explosion in the room. As I regained consciousness
the name of Albert L. Pelton came into my mind ... and with
it a plan which I knew instantly to be the plan through which
I would succeed in getting Mr. Pelton to publish my books. I
remembered Mr. Pelton only as an advertiser in The Golden
Rule magazine, which I had formerly published.
Hill's subconscious mind identified an acquaintance, remembered only as an advertiser in Hill's magazine, as a potential source of funding. You make an impression on everyone
you meet, just as everyone you meet makes an impression on
you. You never know when an acquaintance may become a
business associate. There is great power in your network.
I sent for a typewriter, addressed a letter to Mr. Pelton at
Meriden, Connecticut, and described the plan just as it had
been handed over to me. He answered by telegram, saying that
he would be in Philadelphia to see me the following day.
When he came I showed him the original manuscripts of
my philosophy, and briefly explained what I believed its mission to be. He turned through the pages of the manuscripts
for a few minutes, then stopped suddenly and fixed his eyes
on the wall for a few seconds and said, "1 will publish your
books for you."
The contract was drawn; a substantial advance payment
on royalties was given me, the manuscripts were turned over to
him, and he took them back to Meriden.
I did not ask him at the time what caused him to reach
a decision to publish my books before he had read the
manuscripts, but I do know that he supplied the necessary
capital, printed the books, and assisted me in selling many
thousands of sets of them to his own clientele of book buyers,
who were located in practically every English-speaking country
in the world.
My "Other Self' Makes Good
Three months from the day that Mr. Pelton called on me in
Philadelphia, a completed set of my books was placed on the
table in front of me, and my income from the sale of the books
began to run high enough for all my needs. These books are
now in the hands of my students all over the world.
My first royalty check from the sale of my books was for
$850. As I opened the envelope in which it carne, my "other
self" said, "Your only limitation is the one which you set up in
your own mind!"
"Your only limitation is the one which
you set up in your own mind/"
Does this statement ring as true for you as it does for me?
So many times I have been my own worst enemy and needlessly held myself back through a lack of self-confidence. Hill
wants us all to discover our "other self" so we can each reach
our maximum potential.
I am not sure that I understand just what this "other self"
is, but I do know that there can be no permanent defeat for the
man or the woman who discovers it and relies upon it.
The day after Mr. Pelton came to see me in Philadelphia,
my "other self" presented me with an idea which solved my
immediate financial problem. The idea flashed into my mind
that automobile merchandising methods had to undergo a
drastic change and that future salesmen in this field would
have to learn to sell automobiles instead of merely serving as
buyers of used car trade-ins, as most of them were doing at
It also occurred to me that young men who had just finished college and who, therefore, knew nothing of the old
"tricks" of automobile merchandising would be the material out of which this new brand of salesmen could best
The idea was so distinct and impressive that I immediately called the sales manager of the General Motors Company
on long-distance telephone and briefly explained my plan to
him. He too was impressed by it and referred me to the West
Philadelphia branch of the Buick Automobile Company, which
was then owned and managed by Earl Powell. I went to see Mr.
Powell, explained my plan to him, and he retained me at once
to train fifteen carefully selected young college men through
whom the plan was put into operation.
My income from that retainer was more than enough to
take care of all of my expenses for the following three months,
until the returns from the sale of my books began to come in,
including the cost of that expensive suite of rooms, over which
I had at first been so concerned.
My "other self" had not disappointed me. The money I
needed was in my hands at the proper time, just as I had been
assured the money would be. By this time I had been convinced that my trip to Philadelphia was by no means a fool's
mission, as my reason had indicated it would be before I left
From that time right up to this very minute everything I
have needed has come to me, and this despite the fact that the
whole world has recently passed through a period of economic
depression, when the bare necessities of life have not always
been available to all people. Sometimes the arrival of the material things I needed has been a little late, but I can tmthfully say
that my "other self" has always met me at the cross-roads when
I have come to them, and indicated which path I should follow.
The "other self" follows no precedents, recognizes no limitations, and always finds a way to accomplish desired ends!
It may meet with temporary defeat, but not with permanent
failure. I am as sure of the soundness of this statement as I am
of the fact of being engaged in writing these lines.
The "other self" may "meet with temporary defeat, but
not with permanent fa.ilure." How many times do we allow
a temporary defeat to affect us as if it were a permanent
failure instead of learning from it and moving on? As Hill
describes, he himself faced many setbacks along his journey,
but each time he was able to find the seed of greater benefit
and move on to greater successes.
Meanwhile, I earnestly hope that some of the millions
of men and women who have been wounded by the business
depression and other unpleasant experiences will discover
within themselves this strange entity which I have called my
"other self," and that the discovery will lead them, as it has led
me, into a closer relationship with that source of power which
surmounts obstacles and masters difficulties, instead of being
mastered by them. There is a great power to be discovered in
your "other self"! Search sincerely and you will find it.
Hill's work was published during the Great Depression
and indeed helped millions of people find hope and courage
to live in faith that they would find their own paths to success.
I believe we can find many parallels between his time and
our own. It is during periods of great stress that we find
our will and our inner strength. With the current economic
uncertainties, people are choosing-or being forced-to find
new paths to provide for themselves and their families, and
many will find great success. They will be the great stories of
success we will be reading about a few years from now.
Will you be among those success stories or still watching
from the sidelines?
"Failure": A Blessing in Disguise
I have made another discovery as the result of this
introduction to my "other self," namely, that there is a
solution for every legitimate problem, no matter how difficult
the problem may seem.
"There is a solution for every legitimate problem,
no matter how difficult the problem may seem. "
While this concept may be difficult to acknowledge
when you are in the midst of the storm,
hindsight generally proves it true.
I have also discovered that there comes with every experience of temporary defeat, and every failure and every form of
adversity, the seed of an equivalent benefit.
Mind you, I did not say the full-blown flower of success,
but the seed from which that flower may be made to germinate and grow. I know of no exception to this rule. The seed of
which I speak may not always be observed, but you may be sure
it is there, in one form or another.
I do not pretend to understand all about this strange force
which reduced me to poverty and want, and filled me with fear,
and then gave me a new birth of faith thtough which I have
been privileged to extend help to tens of thousands who found
themselves slipping. But I do know that such a force has come
into my life and that I am doing all I can to place others in
communication with it.
During my quarter-century of research into the causes of
success and failure I have discovered many principles of truth
which have been helpful to me and to others, but nothing
I have observed has impressed me more than the discovery
that every great leader of the past, whose record I have examined, was beset by difficulties and met with temporary defeat
• 38 •
((Every great leader of the past, whose record I have examined,
was beset by difficulties and met with temporary defeat
before 'arriving. ",
Failure and temporary defeat are part
of the journey to finding true success.
From Christ on down to Edison, the men who have
achieved most have been those who met with the most stubborn forms of temporary defeat. This would seem to justify
the conclusion that Infinite Intelligence has a plan, or a law, by
which it hurdles men over many obstacles before giving them
the privilege of leadership or the opportunity to render useful
service in a noteworthy fashion.
I would not wish to be again subjected to the experiences
through which I passed during that fateful Christmas Eve
in 1923, and since, on that eventful evening when I walked
around the school house in West Virginia and fought that
terrible battle with fear, but all the wealth in the world would
not induce me to divest myself of the knowledge I have gained
from those experiences.
Faith Has a New Meaning to Me
I repeat that I do not know exactly what this "other self" is, but
I know enough about it to lean upon it in a spirit of absolute
faith in times of difficulty, when the ordinary reasoning faculty
of my mind seems to be inadequate for my needs.
The economic depression which started in 1929 brought
misery to millions of people, but let us not forget that the
experience also brought many blessings, not the least of these
being the knowledge that there is something infinitely worse
than being forced to work. It is being forced not to work.
In the main, that depression was more of a blessing than it
was a curse, if analyzed in the light of the changes it brought
to the minds of those who were wounded by it. The same is
true of every experience which changes men's habits and
forces them to turn to the great "within" for the solution of
CCThere is something infinitely worse than being forced to work.
It is being forced not to work. In the main, that depression was
more ofa blessing than it was a curse, if analyzed in the light
of the changes it brought. "
Is Hill being harsh here, or is he looking beyond the immediate cause and effect of economic disaster to the underlying
spiritual result that comes from a true crisis? Can our present
economic travails be more of a blessing than a curse? Can
economic hardship, such as the loss of a job, be a blessing
in disguise? Perhaps yes, if the result is the awakening of an
entrepreneurial spirit and the creation of a new business.
The time which I spent in seclusion in West Virginia was,
by great odds, the most severe punishment of my life, but the
experience brought blessings in the form of needed knowledge
which more than offset the suffering which it cost me.
These two results-the suffering and the knowledge gained
from it-were inevitable. The law of compensation, which
Emerson so clearly defined, made this result both natural
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) explained the law of
compensation in very clear terms: "For everything you have
missed, you have gained something else; and for everything you gain, you lose something else." In his journal
dated January 8, 1826, he also wrote, ''The whole of what
we know is a system of compensations. Every defect in one
manner is made up in another. Every suffering is rewarded;
every sacrifice is made up; every debt is paid."
What the future may hold for me in the way of disappointment, through temporary defeat, I of course have no way of
knowing. I do know, however, that no experience of the future
can possibly wound me as deeply as have some of those of the
past, because I am now on speaking terms at least with my
Since this "other self" took charge of me, I have come by
useful knowledge which I am sure I never would have discovered while myoid fear entity was on the throne. For one thing I
have learned that those who meet with difficulties which seem
insurmountable may, if they will do so, best overcome these
difficulties by forgetting them for a time and helping others
who have greater problems.
The Value of Giving
Before Trying to Get
I am sure that no effort which we extend to those who are in
distress can go without some form of adequate reward. Not
always does the reward come from those to whom the service
is rendered, but it will come from one source or another.
I seriously doubt that any man can avail himself of the
benefits of his "other self" as long as he is steeped in greed
and avarice, envy and fear, but if I am wrong in this conclusion then I still have the unusual honor of being one who has
found peace of mind and happiness through a viewpoint that
was not sound. I would prefer being thus wrong and happy, to
being right and unhappy! But this viewpoint is not wrong!
As long as I remain on good terms with my "other self"
I shall be able to acquire every material thing that I need.
Moreover, I shall be able to find happiness and peace of mind.
What more could anyone else accomplish?
The sole motive which inspired me to write this book was
a sincere desire to be helpful to others by sharing with them as
much as they may be prepared to accept of the stupendous fortune which became mine the moment I discovered my "other
sel£" This fortune, happily, is one that cannot be measured
in material or financial terms alone, because it is greater than
everything which such things represent.
Material and financial fortunes, when reduced to their most
liquid terms, are measurable in terms of bank balances. Bank
balances are no stronger than banks. This other fortune of
which I speak is measurable, not only in terms of peace of mind
and contentment but as manifested in those adept at prayer.
My "other self" has taught me to concentrate upon my
purpose and to forget about the plan by which it is to be
attained when I go to prayer. I am not suggesting that material objects may be acquired without plans. What I am saying is
that the power which translates one's thoughts or desires into
realities has its source in an Infinite Intelligence which knows
more about plans than the one doing the praying.
Stating the case in another way, may it not be wise, when
praying, to trust to the Universal Mind to hand over the plan
best suited for the attainment of the object of that prayer? My
experience with prayer has taught me that so often all which
results from prayer is a plan (if the prayer is answered at all),
a plan that is suited for the attainment of the object of the
prayer through natural and material media. The plan must be
transmuted, through self-effort action.
I know nothing about any form of prayer which can be
induced to work favorably in a mind that is colored, in the
slightest degree, by fear.
Is prayer a part of your life? Do you trust God to "hand over
the plan best suited for the attainment of the object" of your
prayer? Do you acknowledge that in order for your plan to
be successful you must take action?
A New Way to Pray
Since becoming better acquainted with my "other self," my
way of praying is different from what it was before. I used to
go to prayer only when facing difficulty. Now I go to prayer
before difficulty overtakes me, when possible. I now pray, not
for more of this world's goods and greater blessings, but to
be worthy of that which I already have. I find that this plan is
better than the old one.
Infinite Intelligence seems not at all offended when I give
thanks and show that I am grateful for the blessings which
have crowned my efforts. I was astounded, when I first tried
this plan of offering a prayer of thanks for what I already possessed, to discover what a vast fortune I had owned without
being appreciative of it.
For example, I discovered that I possessed a sound body
which had never been seriously damaged by illness. I had a
mind which was reasonably well balanced. I had a creative
imagination through which I could render useful service to
great numbers of people. I was blessed with all the freedom I
desired, in both body and mind. I possessed an imperishable
desire to help others who were less fortunate.
I discovered that happiness, the highest aim of mankind,
was mine for the taking, business depression or no business
Last, but by no means least, I discovered that I had the
privilege of approaching Infinite Intelligence, either for the
purpose of offering thanks for what I already possessed, or to
ask for more, and for guidance.
It may be helpful for every reader of this book to take
inventory of his or her intangible assets. Such an inventory
may disclose possessions of priceless value.
May we all make an inventory of our blessings in life. And
give thanks for every gift that we have been given. I know
that when I am at a low point in my life, I force myself to
think of my family and friends and the blessings they have
brought to my life. It is the quickest path up and puts my
temporary setbacks into perspective.
Some Signs We Have Overlooked
The whole world is undergoing a change of such stupendous
proportions that millions of people have become panicstricken with worry, doubt, indecision, and fear! It seems to
me that now is a splendid time for those who have come to the
cross-roads of doubt to endeavor to become acquainted with
their "other selves."
All who wish to do so will find it helpful if they take a
lesson from nature. Observation will show that the eternal
stars shine nightly in their accustomed places; that the sun
continues to send down its rays of warmth, causing Mother
Earth to yield an over-abundance of food and clothing; that
water continues to flow down hill; that the birds of the air
and the wild animals of the forest receive their accustomed
requirements of food; that useful day follows restful night;
that busy summer follows the inactive winter; that the seasons
come and go precisely as they did before the 1929 depression
began; that, in reality, only men's minds have ceased to function normally, and this, because men have filled their minds
with fear. Observation of these simple facts of everyday life
may be helpful as a starting point for those who wish to supplant fear by faith.
I am not a prophet, but I can, with all due modesty, predict that every individual has the power to change his or her
material or financial status by first changing the nature of his
or her beliefs.
CCEvery individual has the power to change his or her
material or financial status by first changing the nature
ofhis or her beliefs. "
It was right after publication of Think and Grow Rich in 1937
that Napoleon Hill began this manuscript for Outwitting the
Devil. Through his interview with the Devil, Hill discovers and
reveals how the Devil may be "having his way" with you and
how you can ignite your "other self" to not only conquer the
Devil in your own life but to also empower your "other self"
to achieve your greatest success! Throughout his work is
the recurring theme of the importance of transforming your
thoughts from fear to faith.
Do not confuse the word "belief" with the word "wish."
The two are not the same. Everyone is capable of "wishing" for
• 46 •
financial, material, or spiritual advantages, but the element of
faith is the only sure power by which a wish may be translated
into a belief, and a belief into reality.
And right here is an appropriate place at which to call
attention to a real benefit which anyone may experience by
deliberately using faith in focusing attention upon any form of
constructive desire. The mind acts upon one's dominating, or
most pronounced desires. There is no escape from this fact. It
is a fact indeed. "Be careful what you set your heart upon, for it
surely shall be yours."
Faith Is the Beginning
of All Great Achievement
If Edison had stopped by merely wishing for the secret
with which electric energy might be harnessed and made to
serve through the incandescent lamp, that convenience to
civilization would have remained among nature's multifarious
secrets. He met with temporary defeat more than 10,000 times
before wresting this secret from nature. It was finally yielded
up to him because he believed it would be, and he kept on
trying until he had the answer.
Edison uncovered more of nature's secrets (they might
have been called "miracles" at an earlier period) in the realm
of physics than did any other man who ever lived, and
this because he became acquainted with his "other sel£" I
have his own word for this, but even if I did not have it, his
achievements of themselves have disclosed the secret in their
Nothing within reason is impossible to the man who
knows and relies upon his "other sel£" Whatever man believes
to be true has a way of becoming true.
A prayer is a released thought, sometimes expressed in
audible words and at other times expressed silently. I have
observed by experience that a silent prayer is as efficacious as
the one which is expressed in words. I have observed also that
one's state of mind is the determining factor when prayer
works, as well as when it does not.
My conception of the "other self" which I have tried
to describe is that it merely symbolizes a newly discovered
approach to Infinite Intelligence, an approach which one may
control and direct through the simple process of mixing faith
with one's thoughts. This is only another way of saying that I
now have greater faith in the power of prayer.
The state of mind known as faith apparently opens to one
the medium of a sixth sense through which one may communicate with sources of power and information far surpassing
any available through the five physical senses. There comes to
your aid, and to do your bidding, with the development of the
sixth sense, a strange power which, let us assume, is a guardian
angel who can open to you at all times the door to the Temple
of Wisdom. The "sixth sense" comes as near to being a miracle
as anything I have ever experienced, and it appears so perhaps
because I do not understand the method by which this principle is operated.
This much I do know-that there is a power or a first cause,
or an Intelligence which permeates every atom of matter, and
embraces every unit of energy perceptible to man; that this
Infinite Intelligence converts acorns into oak trees, causes
water to flow downhill in response to the law of gravity, follows
night with day, and winter with summer, each maintaining its
proper place and relationship to the other. This Intelligence
may aid in transmuting one's desires into concrete or material
form. I have this knowledge because I have experimented with
it and have experienced it.
I have for many years followed the habit of taking personal
inventory of myself once a year, for the purpose of determining
how many of my weaknesses I have bridged or eliminated, and
to ascertain what progress, if any, I had made during the year.
This section on faith is worth rereading a few times because
it contains Hill's core teachings on prayer. Faith, in his view,
is a "sixth sense" or spiritual power that enables one to succeed if one is in step with the first cause of all things-one of
his descriptions of God. His is a practical or "scientific" faith
that emphasizes tangible results.
In the book Three Feet from Gold my co-author and I discuss the Personal Success Equation that clearly reveals the
importance of faith:
((P + T) x A x A) + F = Your Personal Success Equation
Combining your Passion with your Talent and then
seeking the right Association and taking the right Action are
very important components for Success . . . but it is when
you combine all those components with a strong Faith in
yourself and your mission that you truly have Your Personal
Devil, you will recognize from the brief description I
have given you of the history of my life what a desperate effort the Devil made to muzzle me before
I gained public recognition. You will understand also, after
reading the interview with the Devil, why the interview had to
be preceded by this personal history of my background.
Before you begin to read the interview, I want you to have
a clear picture of the final fling the Devil had at me, and be
it remembered with profit that it was this final fling which
gave mercy a chance to turn and twist the Devil's tail until he
squealed out his confession.
The Devil's undoing began with the depression in 1929.
Through that fortunate turn of the Wheel of Life, I lost my
600-acre estate in the Catskill Mountains; my income was
entirely cut off; the Harriman National Bank, in which all my
funds were deposited, folded up and was wiped out. Before I
realized what was happening, I found myself caught up in a
spiritual and economic hurricane which evolved into a worldwide catastrophe of such force that no individual or group of
individuals could withstand it.
While waiting for the storm to cease and the stampede
of human fear to stop, I moved to Washington, D.C., the
city from which I made my start after my first meeting with
Andrew Carnegie, nearly a quarter of a century previously.
There seemed nothing for me to do except sit down
and wait. All I had was time. After three years of waiting
without tangible results, my restless soul began to push me
back into service.
There was little opportunity for me to teach a philosophy
HILE YOU ARE READING THE INTERVIEW
of success when the world around me was in the midst of abject
failure, and men's minds were filled with the fear of poverty.
This thought came to me one evening while I was sitting
in my automobile, in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the
Potomac River, within the shadow of the Capitol. With it came
another thought: The world had staged an unprecedented
depression over which no human being had control. With that
depression had come to me an opportunity to test the philosophy of self-determination, to the organization of which I had
devoted the better portion of my adult life. Once more I had
the opportunity to learn whether my philosophy was practical
or mere theory.
I realized too the opportunity had come to test a claim I
had made hundreds of times that "every adversity brings with
it the seed of an equivalent advantage." What, if any, I asked
myself, were the advantages to me of a world depression?
When I began to look for a direction in which I might
move to test my philosophy, I made the most shocking discovery of my life. I discovered that through some strange power
which I did not understand, I had lost my courage; my initiative had been demoralized; my enthusiasm had been weakened. Worst of all, I was sorely ashamed to acknowledge that I
was the author of a philosophy of self-determination, because
down deep in my heart I knew, or thought I knew, that I could
not make my philosophy pull me out of the hole of despair in
which I found myself
While I floundered in a state of mental bewilderment,
the Devil must have been dancing a jig of rejoicing. At last
he had "the author of the world's first philosophy of individual achievement" pinned under his thumb and paralyzed
But the Devit>s opposition must have been at work too!
+ + + + + + + + + +
As I sat there in front of the Lincoln Memorial, reviewing
m retrospect the circumstances which had so many times
previously lifted me to great heights of achievement, only to
let me drop to equal depths of despair, a happy thought was
handed over to me in the form of a definite plan of action by
which I believed I could throw off that hypnotic feeling of
indifference with which I had been bound.
In the interview with the Devil, the exact nature of the
power by which I had been deprived of my initiative and
courage has been described. It is the same power with which
millions of others were bound during the Great Depression. It
is the chief weapon with which the Devil ensnares and controls
The sum and substance of this thought which came to
me was this: Despite the fact that I had learned from Andrew
Carnegie and more than five hundred others of equal business
and professional achievements that noteworthy achievements
in all walks oflife come through the application of the Master
Mind (the harmonious coordination of two or more minds
working to a definite end), I had failed to make such an alliance for the purpose of carrying out my plan to take the philosophy of individual achievement to the world.
Despite the fact I had understood the power of the Master
Mind, I had neglected to apptopriate and use this power. I had
been laboring as a "lone wolf" instead of allying myself with
other and superior minds.
The interview with the Devil may have occurred as Hill sat at
the foot of the Lincoln Memorial. Was it real? It was real to
Hill and created the framework for how he lived his life and
shared his revelations with us: his students. To reiterate Hill's
earlier words, he had discovered that "every great leader of
the past, whose record I have examined, was beset by difficulties and met with temporary defeat before 'arriving.'"
Hill also describes in his works how these great leaders surrounded themselves with Master Minds. They conquered
their inner struggles with adversity and then used the power
of the Master Mind to propel their successes. Conside~ how
you could form a Master Mind group-a team-to help you
overcome adversity and propel you to success.
Let us now briefly analyze the strange interview you are about
to begin. Some who read will want to ask, after they finish it,
"Did you really interview the Devil, or did you merely interview
an imaginary Devil?" Some may wish the answer to this
question before they begin the interview.
I will answer in the only truthful way I could answer ... by
saying that the Devil I interviewed may have been real, just as
he claimed to be, or he may have been the creation of my own
imagination. Whichever he was, whether real or imaginary, is
of little importance compared with the nature of the information conveyed through the interview.
The important question is this: Does the interview convey
dependable information which may be helpful to people who
are trying to find their places in the world? If it conveys that
sort of information, no matter whether it is conveyed in the
form of fact or fiction, then it is worthy of serious analysis
through careful reading. I am not concerned in the least as
to the real source of the information or as to the real nature
of the Devil whose astounding story you are about to read. I
am concerned only with the fact that the Devil's confession
squares perfectly with what I have seen oflife.
I believe the interview does convey information of practical benefit to all who have not found life to be friendly, and
the reason I believe so is the fact that I have made the central
theme of this book yield to me all the happiness I need, in the
form best suited to my nature.
I have had experience with enough of the principles mentioned by the Devil to assure me that they will do exactly what
he says they will. That is enough for me. So I pass the story of
the interview on to you for whatever you may be able to make
it pay in useful dividends.
Perhaps you will get the greatest values if you accept the
Devil as being what he claims himself to be, relying upon his
message for whatever it may bring you that you can use, and
not worrying as to who the Devil is or whether he exists.
If you want my honest personal opinion, I believe the
Devil is exactly who he claims to be. Now let us analyze his
After forcing his way into the consciousness of the Devil,
"Mr. Earthbound" began the unwilling interview with questions which could not be evaded ...
Hill, "Mr. Earthbound," interrogates the Devil in an almost
courtroom atmosphere. Somehow, the Devil is obligated to
give complete and accurate answers. How was this done?
Perhaps Hill forced the Devil's confession by forming a
Master Mind, possibly with his wife, "the harmonious coordination of two or more minds working to a definite end"
to exert the power of God-"the great storehouse of Infinite
Intelligence wherein is stored all that is, all that ever was,
and all that can ever be." Perhaps Hill won the right to accurate responses by being a thinker in control of his own mind,
who mastered all his fears. Thanks to this mastery and control, Hill could demand true and accurate responses from
the Devil. In any event, Hill forces the Devil to expose his
tricks and wiles-so that we may counter them and avoid the
pitfalls in our lives.
Here Begins the
Interview with the Devil
Q I have uncovered the secret code by which I can pick up
your thoughts. I have come to ask you some very plain questions. I demand that you give me direct and truthful answers.
Are you ready for the interview, Mr. Devil?
A Yes, I am ready, but you must address me with more
respect. During this interview you will address me as
Q By what right do you demand such royal respect?
A You should know I control 98 percent of the people of your
world. Do you not think that entides me to rate as royalty?
I had an extremely adverse reaction to hearing the Devil
referred to as "Your Majesty" when I first read this interview. Then I realized that Hill probably intended to create
just that reaction ... and I read on. And, of course, the text
does not reflect whether Hill might have used an ironic or
sarcastic tone when so addressing the Devil.
Q Have you proof of your claim?
A Yes, plenty of it.
Q Of what does your proof consist?
A Of many things. If you want answers, you will address me
as "Your Majesty." Some things you will understand; some
you will not. In order that you may get my viewpoint, I shall
describe myself and correct the false notions people have of me
and my place of abode.
Q That is a fine idea, Your Majesty. Start by telling me where
you live. Then describe your physical appearance.
A My physical appearance? Why, my dear Mr. Earthbound,
I have no physical body. I would be handicapped by such an
encumbrance as those in which you earthbound creatures live.
I consist of negative energy, and I live in the minds of people
who fear me. I also occupy one-half of every atom of physical
matter and every unit of mental and physical energy. Perhaps
you will better understand my nature if! tell you I am the negative portion of the atom.
Q Oh, I see what you are preparing to claim. You are laying
the foundation to say that if it were not for you, there would be
no world, no stars, no electrons, no atoms, no human beings,
nothing. Is that correct?
A True! Absolutely true.
Q Well, if you only occupy one-half of energy and matter,
who occupies the other half?
A The other half is occupied by my opposition.
• S9 •
Q Opposition? What do you mean?
A The opposition is what you earthbound call God.
Q So you have the universe divided up with God. Is that
A Not my claim, but the actual fact. Before this interview is
finished you will understand why my claim is true. You will also
understand why it has to be true, or there could be no world
such as yours, no earthbound creatures such as you. I am no
beast with a forked tongue and a spiked tail.
Q But you do control the minds of 98 out of every 100
people. You said so yourselE Who causes all the misery in this
98 percent Devil-controlled world, if you do not?
A I have not said that I do not cause all the misery of the
world. On the other hand, I boast of it. It is my business to
represent the negative side of everything, including the
thoughts of you earthbound people. How else could I control
people? My opposition controls positive thought. I control negative thought.
Q How do you gain control of the minds of people?
A Oh, that is easy: I merely move in and occupy the unused
space of the human brain. I sow the seeds of negative thought
in the minds of people so I can occupy and control the space!
Q You must have many tricks and devices by which you gain
and hold control of the human mind.
A To be sure, I employ tricks and devices to control human
thought. My devices are clever ones too.
Q Go ahead and describe your clever tricks, Your Majesty.
A One of my cleverest devices for mind control is fear. I plant
the seed of fear in the minds of people, and as these seeds germinate and grow, through use, I control the space they occupy.
The six most effective fears are the fear of poverty, criticism, ill
health, loss oflove, old age, and death.
Says the Devil: "One ofmy cleverest devices for mind control
is fear ••• the fear ofpoverty, criticism, ill health, loss oflove,
old age, and death. JJ
Q Which of these six fears serves you most often, Your
A The first and the last-poverty and death! At one time or
another during life I tighten my grip on all people through one
or both of these. I plant these fears in the minds of people so
deftly that they believe them to be their own creation. I accomplish this end by making people believe I am standing just
beyond the entrance gate of the next life, waiting to claim them
after death for eternal punishment. Of course I cannot punish
anyone, except in that person's own mind, through some form
of fear-but fear of the thing which does not exist is just as
useful to me as fear of that which does exist. All forms of fear
extend the space I occupy in the human mind.
Q Your Majesty, will you explain how you gained this control
over human beings?
A The story is too long to be told in a few words. It began
over a million years ago, when the first man began to think.
Up to that time I had control over all mankind, but enemies of
mine discovered the power of positive thought, placed it in the
minds of men, and then began a battle on my part to remain
in control. So far, I have done quite well by myself, having lost
only 2 percent of the people to the opposition.
Q I take it from your answer that men who think are your
enemies. Is that right?
A It is not right, but it is correct.
Q Tell me something more about the world in which you live.
A I live wherever I choose. Time and space do not exist for
me. I am a force best described to you as energy. My favorite
physical dwelling place, as I have told you, is the minds of the
earthbound. I control a part of the brain space of every human
being. The amount of space I occupy in each individual's mind
depends upon how little and what sort of thinking that person
does. As I have told you, I cannot entirely control any person
Q You speak of your opposition. What do you mean by that?
A My opponent controls all the positive forces of the world,
such as love, faith, hope, and optimism. My opponent also controls the positive factors of all natural law throughout the universe, the forces which keep the earth and the planets and all
the stars balanced in their courses, but these forces are meek
in comparison with those which operate in the human mind
under my control. You see, I do not seek to control stars and
planets. I prefer the control of human minds.
Q Where did you acquire your power, and by what means do
you add to it?
A I add to my power by appropriating the mind-power of the
earthbound, as they come through the gate at the time of death.
Ninety-eight out of every 100 who come back to my plane from
the earth plane are taken over by me and their mind-power is
added to my being. I get all who come over with any form of
fear. You see I am constantly at work, preparing the minds of
people before death, so I can appropriate them when they come
back to my plane.
Q Will you tell me how you go about your job of preparing
human minds so you can control them?
A I have countless ways of gaining control of human minds
while they are still on the earth plane. My greatest weapon
is poverty. I deliberately discourage people from accumulating material wealth because poverty discourages men from
thinking and makes them easy prey for me. My next best friend
is ill health. An unhealthy body discourages thinking. Then
I have countless thousands of workers on earth who aid me in
gaining control of human minds. I have these agents placed in
every calling. They represent every race and creed, every religion.
Who are your greatest enemies on earth, Your Majesty?
A All who inspire people to think and act on their own initiative are my enemies. Such men as Socrates, Confucius, Voltaire,
Emerson, Thomas Paine, and Abraham Lincoln. And you are
not doing me any good either.
Q Is it true that you use men who have great wealth?
A As I have already told you, poverty is always my friend
because it discourages independence of thought and encourages fear in the minds of men. Some wealthy men serve my
cause while others do me great damage, depending upon how
the wealth is used. The great Rockefeller fortune, for example,
is one of my worst enemies.
Q That is interesting, Your Majesty; will you tell me why you
fear the Rockefeller fortune more than others?
A The Rockefeller money is being used to isolate and conquer
diseases of the physical body, in all parts of the world. Disease
has always been one of my most effective weapons. The fear of
ill health is second only to the fear of poverty. The Rockefeller
money is uncovering new secrets of nature in a hundred different directions, all of which are designed to help men take
and keep possession of their own minds. It is encouraging new
and better methods of feeding, clothing, and housing people. It
is wiping out the slums in the large cities, the places where my
favorite allies are found. It is financing campaigns for better
government and helping to wipe out dishonesty in politics.
It is helping to set higher standards in business practice and
encouraging business men to conduct business by the Golden
Rule; and that is not doing my cause any good.
Q What about these boys and girls who are said to be on the
road to hell? Are you in control of them?
A Well, I can answer that question only with "yes and no."
I have corrupted the minds of the young by teaching them to
drink and smoke, but they have me baffled through their tendency to think for themselves.
Hill ranges back and forth across the Devil's field of battle.
His earlier point about Rockefeller's philanthropy is followed
by an explanation of why young people are "on the road
to hell." I believe the author is challenging us to hold several ideas in mind at once as he lets the Devil do his dirty
work with the hope of confusing us. look for other examples
throughout the book-you'll find them!
Q You say you have corrupted the minds of the young people
with liquor and cigarettes. I can understand how liquor might
destroy the power ofindependent thought but do not see what
cigarettes have to do with helping your cause.
A You may not know it, but cigarettes break down the power
of persistence; they destroy the power of endurance; they
destroy the ability to concentrate; they deaden and undermine
the imaginative faculty, and help in other ways to keep people
from using their minds most effectively.
Do you know I have millions of people, young and old, of
both sexes, who smoke two packages of cigarettes a day? That
means I have millions of people who are gradually destroying
their power of resistance.
One day I shall add to their habit of cigarette smoking
other thought-destroying habits, until I shall have gained control of their minds.
Habits come in pairs, triplets, and quadruplets. Any habit
which weakens one's will power invites a flock of its relatives to
move in and take possession of the mind. The cigarette habit
not only lowers the power of resistance and discourages persistence, but it invites looseness in other human relationships.
• 65 •
Q I never thought that cigarettes were a tool of destruction, Your Majesty, but your explanation throws a different
light on the subject. How many converts to the habit do you
A I am proud of my record. Millions are now victims, and the
number is increasing daily. Soon I shall have most of the world
indulging in the habit. In thousands of families I now have followers of the habit, including every member of the family. Very
young boys and girls are beginning to take up the habit. They
are learning how to smoke by observing their parents and older
brothers and sisters.
Q Which do you consider to be your greater tool for gaining
control of human minds-cigarettes or liquor?
A Without hesitation I would say cigarettes. Once I get a
young person to join my two-package-a-day club, I have no
trouble in inducing that person to take on the habit of liquor,
over-indulgence of sex, and all other related habits which
destroy independence of thought and action.
Remember, this was written in 1938-long before the addictive nature of tobacco was discovered. Here, as elsewhere,
Napoleon Hill is far ahead of his time in some of his medical
and sociological opinions.
Q Your Majesty, when I began this interview I had you all
wrong. I thought you were a fraud and a fake, but I see now
that you are quite real and very powerful.
A Your apology is accepted, but you need not have bothered.
Millions of people have questioned my power, and I got most
of them at the gate as they came over.
I ask no person to believe in me. I prefer that people fear
me. I am no beggar! I take what I want by cleverness and force.
Begging people to believe is the business of my oppositionnot mine.
Q Your Majesty will please pardon my rudeness, but I would
not be able to look myself in the face again ifI did not tell you,
here and now, that you are the damnedest fiend ever to be
turned loose on innocent people.
I always had the wrong conception of you. I thought you
were kind enough to let people alone while they were living,
that you merely tortured their souls after death. Now I learn,
from your own brazen confession, that you destroy their right
to freedom of thought and cause them to go through a living
hell on earth. What do you have to say to that?
A I get what I want by exercising self-control. It is not
so good for my own business, but I suggest you emulate me
instead of criticizing me. You call yourself a thinker, and
you are. Otherwise you would never have forced this interview
on me. But you will never be the sort of thinker that frightens
me unless you gain and exercise greater control over your
Q Let us get away from personalities. I came here to learn
more about you, not to discuss myself. Please go ahead and
tell me of the many tricks you have devised for gaining control of the human mind. What is your most powerful weapon
A That is a difficult question to answer. I have so many
devices for entering human minds and controlling them that
it is difficult to say which are the most powerful. Right at the
moment I am trying to bring about another world war. My
friends here in Washington are helping me to involve America
in the war. If I can start the world to killing on a wholesale
basis, I shall be able to put into operation my favorite device
for mind control. It is what you may call mass fear. I used this
device to bring about the other World War in 1914. I used it to
bring about the economic depression in 1929, and if my opposition had not double-crossed me I would now be in possession of every man, woman, and child in the world. You can see
for yourself how near I came to world domination-the thing I
have been struggling to attain for thousands of years.
Here the Devil claims to be working with both sides to instigate war, based on his sowing the seeds of fear throughout
the world. This is the essence of what has come to be known
in our time as terrorism-and the response to it. Through
Hill's work the Devil takes credit for not only both World
Wars but also the Great Depression ... it is easy to add the
current economic collapse to his list of credits. Both war and
economic collapse breed fear in people's minds and are certainly the work of the Devil.
Q Yes, I see your point. Who wouldn't? You are a very ingenious manipulator of the minds of people. Is your devilish
business carried on only through people of high position and
• 68 •
A Oh, no! I use the minds of people in all walks of life. As a
matter of fact, I prefer the type of person who makes no pretense of thinking; I can manipulate that sort of person without
difficulty. I could not control 98 percent of the people of the
world if all people were skilled in thinking for themselves.
I am interested in the welfare of those people whom you
claim to control. Therefore, I wish you to tell me all of the
tricks by which you enter and control their minds. I want
a complete confession from you, so begin with your cleverest trick.
A This is suicide you are forcing on me, but I am helpless! So
settle down and I will place in your hands the weapon by which
millions of your fellow-earthbound will defend themselves
Q TELL ME FIRST ABOUT YOUR MOST CLEVER TRICK-the
one you use to ensnare the greatest number of people.
A If you force me to give away this secret, it will mean my loss
of millions of people now living and still greater numbers of
millions as yet unborn. I beg of you, permit me to pass this one
Q So His Majesty the Devil fears a mere humble earthbound
creature! Is that right?
A It is not right, but it is true. You have no right to rob me
of my most necessary tool of trade. For millions of years I
have dominated earthbound creatures through fear and ignorance. Now you come along and would destroy my use of these
weapons by forcing me to tell how I use them. Do you not
realize that you will break my grip on every person who heeds
this confession you are forcing from me? Have you no mercy?
Have you no sense of humor? Have you no sportsmanship?
Q Stop stalling, and start confessing. Who are you
mercy of one whom you would destroy if you could? Who are
you to talk of sportsmanship and a sense of humor? You, who
by your own confession have set up a living hell on earth, where
you punish innocent people through their fears and ignorance. As for minding my own business, that is just what I am
doing when I force you to tell how you control people through
their own minds. My business, if it can be called a business, is
helping to unlock the doors of the self-made prisons in which
men and women are confined because of the fears you have
planted in their minds.
Mr. Earthbound has the power to force the Devil to answer
his questions. His own knowledge of independent thought
and lack of fear are his weapons to force this confession.
A My greatest weapon over human beings consists of two secret
principles by which I gain control of their minds. I will speak
first of the principle of habit, through which I silently enter the
minds of people. By operating through this principle, I establish
(I wish I could avoid using this word) the habit of drifting. When
a person begins to drift on any subject, he is headed straight
toward the gates of what you earthbound call hell.
Q Describe all the ways in which you induce people
Define the word and tell us exactly what you mean by it.
A I can best define the word "drift" by saying that people who
think for themselves never drift, while those who do little or no
thinking for themselves are drifters. A drifter is one who permits himself to be influenced and controlled by circumstances
outside of his own mind. He would rather let me occupy his
mind and do his thinking than go to the trouble of thinking
for himself A drifter is one who accepts whatever life throws
in his way without making a protest or putting up a fight. He
doesn't know what he wants from life and spends all of his
time getting just that. A drifter has lots of opinions, but they
are not his own. Most of them are supplied by me.
A drifter is one who is too lazy mentally to use his own
brain. That is the reason I can take control of people's thinking
and plant my own ideas in their minds.
"Those who do little or no thinking for themselves are drifters.
A drifter is one who permits himself
to be influenced and controlled by circumstances outside
ofhis own mind."
Q I think I understand what a drifter is. Tell me the exact
habits of people by which you induce them to drift through
life. Start by telling me when and how you first gain control of
a person's mind.
A My conttol over the mind of a human being is obtained
while the person is young. Sometimes I lay the foundation for
my control of a mind before the owner of it is born, by manipulating the minds of that person's parents. Sometimes I go further back than this and prepare people for my control through
what you earthbound call "physical heredity." You see, therefore, I have two approaches to the mind of a person.
Q Yes. Go on and describe these two doors by which you
enter and control the minds of human beings.
A As I have stated, I help to bring people into your world with
weak brains by giving to them, before birth, as many as possible
of the weaknesses of their ancestors. You call this principle
"physical heredity." After people are born I make use of what
you earthbound call "environment" as a means of controlling
them. This is where the principle of habit enters. The mind is
nothing more than the sum total of one's habits I One by one
I enter the mind and establish habits, which lead finally to my
absolute domination of the mind.
Q Tell me of the most common habits by which you control
the minds of people.
A That is one of my cleverest tricks: I enter the minds of
people through thoughts which they believe to be their own.
Those most useful to me are fear, superstition, avarice, greed,
lust, revenge, anger, vanity, and plain laziness. Through one or
more of these I can enter any mind, at any age, but I get my best
results when I take charge of a mind while it is young, before its
owner has learned how to close any of these nine doors. Then I
can set up habits which keep the doors ajar forever.
Q I am catching on to your methods. Now let us go back to
the habit of drifting. Tell us all about that habit since you say
it is your cleverest trick in controlling the minds of people.
A As I said before, I start people drifting during their youth.
I induce them to drift through school without knowing what
occupation they wish to follow in life. Here I catch the majority
of people. Habits are related. Drift in one direction and soon
you will be drifting in all directions. I also use environmental
habits to give me a definite grip on my victims.
Q I see. You make it your business to train children in the
habit of drifting by inducing them to go through school
without aim or purpose. Now tell me of some of your other
tricks with which you cause people to become drifters.
A Well, my second best trick in developing the habit of
drifting is one that I put into operation with the aid of parents
and public schoolteachers and religious instructors.
I warn you not to force me to mention this trick. Do
not disclose this trick. If you do so, you will be hated by my
co-workers who help me use this trick. If you publish this confession in book form, your book will be barred from the public
schools. It will be blacklisted by most of the religious leaders. It
will be hidden from children by many parents. The newspapers
will not dare to give reviews of your book. Millions of people
will hate you for writing the book.
In fact, no one will like you or your book except those
who think, and you know how very few there are of this sort!
My advice to you is to let me skip the description of my second
The author knew this opinion would be one of the most controversial aspects of his book. In fact, his wife was so concerned about how it would be received that she made him
promise that he would not publish it. In fact, it is only now,
well after her death, that the family has agreed to share it
with the world. I would encourage you to follow Hill's argument about the public education system and religious
teachers and then decide for yourself.
Q So for my own good you wish to withhold the description of your second best trick. No one will like my book except
those who think, eh? Very well, go ahead and answer.
A You'll regret this, Mr. Earthbound, but the joke is on you.
By this mistake of yours you will divert attention from me to
yoursel£ My co-workers, of whom there are millions, will forget
about me and hate you for uncovering my methods.
Q Never mind about me. Tell me all about this second best
trick of yours with which you induce people
drift with you
A My second best trick is not second at all. It is first! It is first
because without it I never could gain control of the minds of
the youths. Parents, schoolteachers, religious instructors, and
many other adults unknowingly serve my purpose by helping
me to destroy in children the habit of thinking for themselves.
They go about their work in various ways, never suspecting
what they are doing to the minds of children or the real cause
of the children's mistakes.
Have you ever heard a parent finish a child's sentence? Or
seen a parent complete a child's homework? Remember
those science fairs at school where it was obvious the kids
had a lot of outside "help" with their science projects? Mom
and Dad may have "helped" a little too much, but deep
down they know that their child appreciates the help and
recognizes what great parents they are. Right? Actually, the
child may be thinking, "Mom and Dad don't think I can do
it on my own ... so why botherl" Eventually this parental
"help" will destroy the child's self-confidence. By allowing
children to be truly in charge, parents will help their kids
develop the habit of thinking for themselves I
Q I can hardly believe you, Your Majesty. I have always
believed that children's best friends were those closest to
them, their parents, their school teachers, and their religious
instructors. Where would children go for dependable guidance
if not to those who have charge of them?
A That is where my cleverness comes in. There is the exact
explanation of how I control 98 percent of the people of the
world. I take possession of people during their youth, before
they come into possession of their own minds, by using those
who are in charge of them. I especially need the help of those
who give children their religious instruction, because it is here
that I break down independent thought and start people on
the habit of drifting, by confusing their minds with unprovable ideas concerning a world of which they know nothing. It is
here also that I plant in the minds of children the greatest of all
fears-the fear of hell!
Q I understand that it is easy for you to frighten children
with threats of hell, but how do you continue to make them
fear you and your hell after they grow up and learn to think for
A Children grow up, but they do not always learn to think for
themselves! Once I capture the mind of a child, through fear, I
weaken that child's ability to reason and to think for himself,
and that weakness goes with the child all through life.
Q Is that not taking unfair advantage of a human being by
contaminating his mind before he comes into full possession
A Everything is fair that I can use to further my ends. I have
no foolish limitations of right and wrong. Might is right with
me. I use every known human weakness to gain and keep control of the human mind.
Q I understand your devilish nature! Now let us get back to
further discussion of your methods of inducing people to drift
to hell here on earth. From your confession I see that you take
charge of children while their minds are young and pliable.
Tell me more of how you use parents, teachers, and religious
leaders to ensnare people into drifting.
A One of my favorite tricks is to coordinate the efforts of parents and religious instructors so they work together in helping
me to destroy the children's power to think for themselves. I
use many religious instructors to undermine the courage and
power of independent thought of children, by teaching them
to fear me; but I use parents to aid the religious leaders in this
great work of mine.
Q How do parents help religious leaders destroy their children's power to think for themselves? I never heard of such a
A I accomplish this through a very clever trick. I cause the
parents to teach their children to believe as the parents do
in connection with religion, politics, marriage, and other
important subjects. In this way, as you can see, when I gain control of the mind of a person I can easily perpetuate the control
by causing that person to help me fasten it upon the minds of
Q In what other ways do you use parents to convert children
A I cause children to become drifters by following the
example of their parents, most of whom I have already taken
over and bound eternally to my cause. In some parts of the
world I gain mastery over children's minds and subdue their
will power in exactly the same way that men break and subdue
animals oflower intelligence. It makes no difference to me how
a child's will is subdued, as long as it fears something. I will
enter its mind through that fear and limit the child's power to
The Devil will enter a child's mind through fear and then limit
the child's power to think independently. I can remember the
many religious leaders I have known in the past and instantly
divide them between fear-based instructors and faith-based
instructors. In fact, I still get a chill from reliving the "fire and
brimstone" of some of the fear-based sermons I heard as a
child. In contrast, I remember the uplifted feeling of hope
and courage from the faith-based sermons. Hill's words of
wisdom certainly ring true for me. Does fear then paralyze
It seems that you go out of your way to keep people
A Yes. Accurate thought is death to me. I cannot exist in the
minds of those who think accurately. I do not mind people
thinking as long as they think in terms of fear, discouragement,
hopelessness, and destructiveness. When they begin to think in
constructive terms of faith, courage, hope, and definiteness of
purpose, they immediately become allies of my opposition and
are therefore lost to me.
Q I am beginning to understand how you gain control of the
minds of children through the help of their parents and religious instructors, but I do not see how the schoolteachers help
you in this damnable work.
A Schoolteachers help me gain control of the minds of children not so much by what they teach the children as because of
what they do not teach them. The entire public school system
is so administered that it helps my cause by teaching children
almost everything except how to use their own minds and
think independently. I live in fear that someday some courageous person will reverse the present system of school teaching
and deal my cause a death blow by allowing the students to
become the instructors, using those who now serve as teachers
only as guides to help the children establish ways and means
of developing their own minds from within. When that time
comes, the schoolteachers will no longer belong to my staff.
Here is the essence of Hill's critique of public education,
written in 1938. Do you agree with him? Think of young children during kindergarten and first grade. They are enthusiastic and volunteer for everything, raising their hands and
excited to learn. Now fast-forward ten years, and think
about those same children as high school students-the ones
sitting in the back of the class, never making eye contact
with adults, and absolutely never volunteering or asking a
question. They have disengaged from the learning process.
What happened to these children? Ten years of schooling.
They perceive that to make an error will subject them to
ridicule and scorn. So they cease to participate in order to
protect themselves. They are taught that the solutions to all
• 81 •
problems and conflicts lie not in their own hands and minds,
but in the hands and mind of the teacher-the representative
of the authorities. To act independently in the face of conflict brings swift rebuke and reprisal from the teacher. The
children are thus discouraged from independent thought
and indoctrinated with the concept that they are incapable
of resolving their own problems. While there are many excellent teachers, Hill's critique seems validated by the state of
education today. If you agree with Hill, what do you think we
can do about it? One thing we should do is to seek out those
teachers and schools who encourage independent thought in
their students and applaud them for their courage!
Q I was under the impression that the purpose of all
schooling was to help children to think.
A That may be the purpose of schooling, but the system in
most of the schools of the world does not carry out the purpose. School children are taught not to develop and use their
own minds, but to adopt and use the thoughts of others.
This sort of schooling destroys the capacity for independent
thought, except in a few rare cases where children rely so definitely upon their own will power that they refuse to allow
others to do their thinking. Accurate thought is the business of
my opposition, not mine!
Q What relationship, if any, has your opposition with the
homes, the churches, and the schools? Your reply to this question should be interesting.
A Here is where I make use of some more of my clever tricks.
I cause it to appear that everything done by the parents, the
schoolteachers, and the religious instructors is being done by
This diverts attention from me while I manipulate the
minds of the young. When religious instructors try to teach
children the virtues of my opposition, they generally do so
by frightening them with my name. That is all I ask of them.
I kindle the flame of fear into proportions which destroy the
child's power to think accurately. In the public schools the
teachers further my cause by keeping the children so busy
cramming non-essential information into their minds they
have no opportunity to think accurately or to analyze correctly
the things their instructors teach them.
Q Do you claim, for your cause, all those who are bound by
the habit of drifting?
A No. Drifting is only one of my tricks through which I
take over the power of independent thought. Before a drifter
becomes my permanent property, I must lead him on and
ensnare him with another trick. I will tell you about this other
trick after I finish describing my methods of converting people
Q Do you mean you have a method by which you can cause
people to drift so far away from self-determination that they
can never save themselves?
A Yes, a definite method: And it is so effective it never fails.
Q Do I understand you to claim your method is so powerful
your opposition cannot reclaim those whom you have permanently ensnared through drifting?
A I claim just that! Do you think I would control so many
people if my opposition could prevent me? Nothing can stop
me from controlling people except people themselves.
Nothing can stop me except the power of accurate thought.
People who think accurately do not drift on any subject. They
recognize the power of their own minds. Moreover, they take
over that power and yield it to no person or influence.
Q Go ahead and tell me more of the methods by which you
cause people to drift to hell with you!
A I cause people to drift on every subject through which I
can control independent thought and action. Take the subject
of health, for example. I cause most people to eat too much
food and the wrong sort of food. This leads to indigestion and
destroys the power of accurate thought. If the public schools
and the churches taught children more about proper eating,
they would do my cause irreparable damage.
Marriage: I cause men and women to drift into marriage
without plan or purpose designed to convert the relationship
into harmony. Here is one of my most effective methods of
converting people into the habit of drifting. I cause married
people to bicker and nag one another over money matters. I
cause them to quarrel over the bringing up of their children.
I engage them in unpleasant controversies over their intimate
relationships and in disagreements over friends and social
activities. I keep them so busy finding fault with one another
that they never have time to do anything else long enough to
break the habit of drifting.
Occupation: I teach people to become drifters by causing them
to drift out of school into the first job they can find, with no
definite aim or purpose except to make a living. Through this
trick I keep millions of people in fear of poverty all their lives.
Through this fear I lead them slowly but surely onward until
they reach the point beyond which no individual ever has
broken the drifting habit.
Savings: I cause people to spend freely and to save sparingly or
not at all, until I take complete control of them through their
fear of poverty.
Environment: I cause people to drift into inharmonious and
unpleasant environments in the home, in their places of occupation, in their relationship with relatives and acquaintances, and
to remain there until I claim them through the habit of drifting.
Dominating Thoughts: I cause people to drift into the habit of
thinking negative thoughts. This leads to negative acts and
involves people in controversies and fills their minds with
fears, thus paving the way for me to enter and control their
minds. When I move in, I do so by appealing to people through
negative thoughts which they believe to be their own. I plant
the seeds of negative thought in the minds of people through
the pulpit, the newspapers, the moving pictures, the radio,
and all other popular methods of appeal to the mind. I cause
people to allow me to do their thinking for them because they
are too lazy and too indifferent to think for themselves.
Q I conclude from what you say that drifting and procrastination are the same. Is that true?
A Yes, that is correct. Any habit which causes one to procrastinate-to put off reaching a definite decision-leads to the
habit of drifting.
Says the Devil: "I cause people to allow me to do their thinking
for them because they are too lazy and too indifferent
to think for themselves. "
+ + + + + + + + + +
Laziness + Indifference
Procrastination = Drifting.
This describes a true drifter as defined by Hill. Since I have
been a true procrastinator for most of my life, this hits a
little too close to home for me. I like to use the excuse that
I work best under pressure-but that is all it is: an excuse for
why I procrastinate. Can you think of examples in your own
life when laziness and indifference led you off your path to
success? When an opportunity slipped through your fingers
because you were too slow to seize it in time?
Q Is man the only creature who drifts?
A Yes. All other creatures move in response to definite laws of
nature. Man alone defies nature's laws and drifts when he wills.
Everything outside the minds of men is controlled by my
opposition, by laws so definite that drifting is impossible. I control the minds of men solely because of their habit of drifting,
which is only another way of saying that I control the minds
of men only because they neglect or refuse to control and use
their own minds.
Q This is getting to be pretty deep stuff for a mere human
being. Let us get back to the discussion of something less
abstract. Please tell me how this drifting habit affects people
in the everyday walks of life and tell me in terms the average
person can understand.
A I would prefer to keep this interview up among the stars!
Q No doubt you would. That would save you from being
exposed. But let us come back to earth. Tell me now what
drifting is doing to us as a nation here in the United States.
A Frankly, I may as well tell you that I hate the United States
as only the Devil can hate.
Q That is interesting. What is the cause of this hatred?
A The cause was born on July 4, 1776, when fifty-six men
signed a document which destroyed my chances of controlling the nation. You know that document as the Declaration
of Independence. Had it not been for the influence of that
damnable document, I would now have a dictator running the
country and I would stop this right to free speech and independent thought that is threatening my rule on earth.
Am I to understand from what you say that nations controlled by self-appointed dictators belong in your camp?
A There are no self-appointed dictators. I appoint them all.
Moreover, I manipulate them and direct them in their work.
Nations run by my dictators know what they want and take it
by force. Look what I have done through Mussolini in Italy!
Look what I am doing through Hider in Germany. Look what
I am doing through Stalin in Russia. My dictators run those
nations for me because the people have been subdued through
the habit of drifting. My dictators do no drifting. That is why
they rule for me the millions of people under their control.
Q What would happen ifMussolini, Stalin, and Hitler turned
traitors and disavowed you and your rule?
A That will not happen because I have them too well bribed.
I am paying each of them with the sop of his own vanity, by
making him believe he is acting on his own account. That is
another trick of mine.
Q Let us come back to the United States and learn something of what you are doing to convert people into the habit of
A Right now I am paving the way for a dictatorship by sowing
the seeds of fear and uncertainty in the minds of the people.
Q Through whom are you carrying on your work?
A Mainly through the President. I am destroying his influence with the people by causing him to drift on the question of
a working agreement between employers and their employees.
IfI can induce him to drift for another year, he will be so thoroughly discredited I can hand over the country to a dictator.
If the President continues to drift, I will paralyze personal
freedom in the United States just as I destroyed it in Spain,
Italy, Germany, and England.
In 1938 when Hill was writing this manuscript, the president
was Franklin D. Roosevelt. Are the Devil's comments applicable today? Do you think Hill might write the same words
today as he wrote seventy years ago?
Q What you say leads me to the conclusion that drifting is
a weakness which inevitably ends in failure, whether among
individuals or nations. Is that your claim?
A Drifting is the most common cause of failure in every
walk of life. I can control anyone whom I can induce to form
the habit of drifting on any subject. The reason for this is twofold. First, the drifter is just so much putty in my hands, to
be molded into whatever pattern I choose, because drifting
destroys the power of individual initiative. Second, the drifter
cannot get help from my opposition, because the opposition is
not attracted to anything so soft and useless.
Q Is that why a few people are wealthy while the majority of
people are poor?
A That is exactly the reason. Poverty, like physical illness, is a
contagious disease. You find it always among the drifters, never
among those who know what they want and are determined to
get just thatl It may mean something to you when I call your
attention to the fact that the non-drifters, whom I do not control, and those who possess most of the wealth of the world,
happen to be the same people.
Q I have always understood that money was the root of all
evil, that the poor and the meek would inherit heaven, while
the wealthy would pass into your hands. What have you to say
of that claim?
A Men who know how to get the material things of life generally know how to keep out of the hands of the Devil as well.
The ability to acquire things is contagious. Drifters acquire
nothing except that which no one else wants. If more people
had definite aims and stronger desires for material and spiritual riches, I would have fewer victims.
The actual verse of the Bible talks about the
"love of money," not money itself:
CCFor the love ofmoney ;s the root ofaillcinds ofevil. "
1 Timothy 6:10
Q I assume, from what you say, that you do not claim fellowship with the industrial leaders. Evidently they are not friends
A Friends of mine? I'll tell you what sort of friends of mine
they are. They have belted the entire country with good roads,
thus bringing into close communion the people of both city
and country. They have converted ores into steel, with which
they have built the skeletons of great skyscrapers. They have
harnessed electrical power and converted it into a thousand
uses, all designed to give man time to think. They have provided through the automobile personal transportation to
the humblest citizen, thus giving to everyone the freedom of
travel. They have provided every home with instantaneous
news of what is happening in all parts of the world through
the aid of the radio .
. . . and now television, smart phone,
satellite, and Internet!
They have reared libraries in every city, town, and hamlet
and have filled them with books giving to all who read a complete outline of the most useful knowledge mankind has gathered from his experiences. They have given the humblest citizen
the right to express his own opinion on any subject, anytime,
anywhere, without fear of molestation, and they have seen to
it that every citizen may help make his own laws, levy his own
taxes, and manage his own country through the ballot. These
are but some of the things the industrial leaders have done
to give every citizen the privilege of becoming a non-drifter.
Do you think these men have helped my cause?
Q Who are some of the present-day non-drifters over whom
you have no control?
A I have control over no non-drifter, present or past. I control
the weak, not those who think for themselves.
Q Go ahead and describe a typical drifter. Give your description point by point so I can recognize a drifter when I see him.
A The first thing you will notice about a drifter is his total
lack of a major purpose in life.
He will be conspicuous by his lack of self-confidence.
He will never accomplish anything requiring thought
He spends all he earns and more too, ifhe can get credit.
He will be sick or ailing from some real or imaginary cause,
and calling to high heaven ifhe suffers the least physical pain.
He will have little or no imagination.
He will lack enthusiasm and initiative to begin anything he
is not forced to undertake, and he will plainly express his
weakness by taking the line ofleast resistance whenever he
can do so.
He will be ill-tempered and lacking in control over
His personality will be without magnetism and it will not
attract other people.
He will have opinions on everything but accurate knowledge
He may be jack of all trades but good at none.
He will neglect to cooperate with those around him, even
those on whom he must depend for food and shelter.
He will make the same mistake over and over again, never
profiting by failure.
He will be narrow-minded and intolerant on all subjects,
ready to crucify those who may disagree with him.
He will expect everything of others but be willing to give little
or nothing in return.
He may begin many things but he will complete nothing.
He will be loud in his condemnation of his government, but
he will never tell you definitely how it can be improved.
He will never reach decisions on anything ifhe can avoid it,
and ifhe is forced to decide he will reverse himself at the first
He will eat too much and exercise too little.
He will take a drink ofliquor if someone else will pay for it.
He will gamble ifhe can do it "on the cuf£"
He will criticize others who are succeeding in their
In brief, the drifter will work harder to get out of thinking
than most others work in earning a good living.
He will tell a lie rather than admit his ignorance on
Ifhe works for others, he will criticize them to their backs
and flatter them to their faces.
Q You have given me a graphic description of the drifter.
Please now describe the non-drifter so that I may recognize
him on sight.
A The first sign of a non-drifter is this: He is always engaged
in doing something definite, through some well-organized
plan which is definite. He has a major goal in life toward which
he is always working, and many minor goals, all of which lead
toward his central scheme.
The tone of his voice, the quickness of his step, the sparkle in
his eyes, the quickness of his decisions clearly mark him as a
person who knows exacdy what he wants and is determined
to get it, no matter how long it may take or what price he
If you ask him questions, he gives you direct answers and
never falls back on evasions or resorts to subterfuge.
He extends many favors to others, but accepts favors
sparingly or not at all.
He will be found up front whether he is playing a game or
fighting a war.
Ifhe does not know the answers he will say so frankly.
He has a good memory; never offers an alibi for his
He never blames others for his mistakes no matter if they
deserve the blame.
He used to be known as a go-getter, but in modem times he
is called a go-giver. You will find him running the biggest
business in town, living on the best street, driving the best
automobile, and making his presence felt wherever he
happens to be.
He is an inspiration to all who come into contact with
The major distinguishing feature of the non-drifter is this:
He has a mind of his own and uses it for all purposes.
cChas a mind ofhis own and uses it for all purposes."
+ + + + + + + + + +
Can you think of someone you know who fits this
description? Is that person a non-drifter?
Q Is the non-drifter born with some mental, physical, or spiritual advantage not available to the drifter?
A No. The major difference between the drifter and the
non-drifter is something equally available to both. It is simply
the prerogative right of each to use his own mind and think
Q What brief message would you send to the typical drifter if
you wished to cure him of this evil habit?
A I would admonish him to wake up and give!
Q Give what?
A Some form of service useful to as many people as possible.
Q So the non-drifter is supposed to give, is he?
A Yes, ifhe expects to get! And he must give before he gets!
Q Some people doubt that you exist.
A I wouldn't worry about that if I were you. Those who
are ready to be converted from the habit of drifting will recognize the authenticity of this interview by its soundness of
counsel. The others are not worth the trouble it would take to
Q Why do you not try to stop me from publishing this confession I am wringing from you?
A Because that would be the surest of all ways to guarantee
you will publish it. I have a better plan than trying to suppress publication of my confession. I will urge you to go ahead
with the publication, then sit back and watch you suffer when
some of my faithful drifters begin to make things hot for you.
I will not need to deny your story. My followers will do that for
me-see if they don't.
Knowing that indeed this book was not published for
more than seventy years after Hill wrote these words, I am
intrigued and anxious to learn what else he will reveal! There
are plenty of fireworks still ahead ...
right here your
statement would be sound, but fortunately for millions of your
victims who will gain their release because of your confession,
this interview will continue until you have supplied me with
the weapon by which you will eventually be restrained from
domination of people through their fears and superstitions.
Remember, Your Majesty, your confession has just begun.
After I wring from you a description of the methods by which
you control people, I will force you also to give the formula by
which your control can be broken at will.
It is true I shall not remain here long enough to defeat
you, but the published word I leave behind me will be deathless because it will consist of truth! You fear the opposition
of no individual because you know it will be short, but you
do fear truth. You fear truth and nothing else, for the reason
it is slowly but definitely giving human beings freedom from
all manner of fear. Without the weapon of fear you would be
helpless and entirely unable to control any human being! Is
that true or false?
IF THIS CONFESSION OF YOURS STOPPED
CClt is true I shall not remain here long enough to defeat you,
but the published word I leave behind me will be deathless
because it will consist oftruthl"
Indeed, Napoleon Hill passed away in 1970, and this work
being published in 2011 becomes deathless.
A I have no alternative but to admit that what you say is true.
Q Now that we understand each other, let us go ahead with
your confession. But before we continue, I may as well take
time out to do a little boasting on my own account, now that
you have had your fling at it. I will confine myself to one question, the answer to which will give me all the satisfaction I
want. Is it not true that you control only the minds of those
who have allowed the drifting habit to be fixed upon them?
A Yes, that is true. I have already admitted this truth in a
dozen or more different ways. Why do you tantalize me by
repeating the question?
Q There is power in repetition. I am forcing you to repeat the
highlights of your confession in as many different ways as possible so your victims may check this interview and determine
its soundness by their own experiences with you. That is one of
my little tricks. Do you approve of my method?
A You couldn't be setting a trap for me for the purpose of
doing some more boasting, could you?
Q I am asking the questions and you are doing the
answering! Go ahead now and confess why you are powerless to stop me from forcing this confession from you. I want
your confession for aid and comfort to victims of yours whom
I intend to release from your control the moment they read
A I am powerless to influence or control you because you
have found the secret approach to my kingdom. You know that
I exist only in the minds of people who have fears. You know
that I control only the drifters who neglect to use their own
minds. You know that my hell is here on earth and not in the
world that comes after death. And you know also that drifters
supply all the fire I use in my hell. You know that I am a principle or form of energy which expresses the negative side of
matter and energy, and that I am not a person with a forked
tongue and a spiked tail. You have become my master because
you have mastered all your fears. Lasdy, you know that you can
release all of my earthbound victims whom you contact, and
this definite knowledge is the blow with which you will deal me
the greatest damage.
I cannot control you because you have discovered your
own mind and you have taken charge of it. There now, Mr.
Earthbound, that confession should feed your vanity to the
Says the Devil: "I cannot control you because you have
discovered your own mind and you have taken charge ofit.
This definite knowledge is the blow with which you will deal me
the greatest damage."
Q That last dart was unnecessary. Knowledge of the sort
I have used to master you does not contaminate itself with
vulgar indulgence in vanity. Truth is the one, and only, thing
in the world that can stand ridicule. Now let us continue with
your confession. What is wrong with the principle of flattery?
You use it, do you not?
A Do I use it? Man alive! Flattery is one of my most useful
weapons. With this deadly instrument I slay the big ones and
the little ones.
Q Your admission interests me. Go ahead now and tell me
how you make use of flattery.
A I make use of it in so many ways it is difficult to know
where to begin. I warn you, before I answer in detail, that publishing my answers will bring down an avalanche of ridicule on
your head for bringing up the question.
Q I'll take the responsibility. Proceed.
A Well, I may as well here admit that you have stumbled
onto the major secret of how I convert people to the habit
Q That is a startling admission. Go ahead with your confession, and stick strictly to this subject of flattery. No more side
remarks and no more facetiousness for the present. Tell me all
about your use of flattery in gaining control over people.
A Flattery is a bait of incomparable value to all who wish
to gain control over others. It has powerful pulling qualities
because it operates through two of the most common human
weaknesses: vanity and egotism. There is a certain amount of
vanity and egotism in everyone. In some people these qualities
are so pronounced they literally serve as a rope by which one
may be bound. The best of all ropes is flattery.
Flattery is the chief bait through which men seduce women.
Sometimes-in fact, frequently-women use the same bait to
gain control of men, especially men who cannot be mastered
through sex appeal. I teach its use to both men and women.
Flattery is the chief bait with which my agents weave their way
into the confidence of people from whom they procure information needed to carry on warfare.
Wherever anyone stops to feed his vanity on flattery, I move
in and begin to build another drifter. Non-drifters are not
easily flattered. I inspire people to use flattery in every human
relationship where its use is possible because those who are
influenced by it become easy victims of the drifting habit.
Says the Devil: "Flattery is the chiefbait
through which men seduce women. "
Q Can you control anyone who is amenable to flattery?
A Very easily. As I have already told you, flattery is of major
importance in alluring people into the habit of drifting.
Q At what age are people most susceptible to flattery?
A Age has nothing to do with one's susceptibility to flattery.
People respond to it, in one way or another, from the time they
become conscious of their own existence until they die.
Q Through what motive can women be most easily flattered?
A Their vanity. Tell a woman she is pretty or that she wears
Q What motive is most effective in harpooning men?
A Egotism, with a capital E! Tell a man he has a strong
Herculean body or that he is a great business tycoon, and he
will purr like a cat and smile like an opossum! After that you
know what happens.
Q Are all men like that?
A Oh, no. Two out of every hundred have their egotism so
thoroughly under control that even an expert flatterer couldn't
get under their skins with a double-edged butcher knife.
How does a cunning woman apply her art of flattery in
A Great heavens, man, do I have to draw a picture of her
method for you? Have you no imagination?
Oh, yes, I have imagination enough, Your Majesty, but I am
thinking of the poor dupes of the world who need to understand the exact technique with which they may be flattered
into the habit of drifting. Go on and tell us how a woman can
harpoon rich and presumably smart men.
A This is a devilish trick to play on women, but since you
demand the information I am helpless to withhold it. Women
influence men through a technique consisting, first, of ability
to inject soft, cooing baby tones into their voices, and, second,
by closing their eyes into a half-closed position which registers
hypnotism in connection with the flattery of men.
I am sure there are a few women agitated by this;
in fact, I was at first. Roll your eyes, and keep going ...
there is truth here!
Q Is that all there is to the business of flattery?
A No, that is only the technique. Then comes the motive a
woman uses as a lure. The type of woman you perhaps have in
mind never sells a man herself or anything she can give him.
Instead she sells him his own egotism!
Q Is that all that women use when they wish to flatter men?
A That is the most effective thing they use. It works when sex
Q So I am
to believe that big, strong, smart men can be
wound up and manipulated through flattery, just as if they
were so much putty? Is that possible?
A Is it possible? It is happening every minute of the day.
Moreover, unless they are non-drifters, the bigger they come,
the harder they fall when the expert flatterer moves in on them.
Q Tell me of some of your other tricks with which you cause
people to drift in life.
A One of my most effective devices is failure! The majority of
people begin to drift as soon as they meet with opposition, and
not one out of ten thousand will keep on trying after failing
two or three times.
Q So it is your business to induce people to fail whenever you
can. Is that correct?
A You have it right. Failure breaks down one's morale,
destroys self-confidence, subdues enthusiasm, dulls imagination, and drives away definiteness of purpose.
Without these qualities no one can permanendy succeed in any undertaking. The world has produced thousands
of inventors with ability superior to that of the late Thomas
A. Edison. But these men have never been heard of, while the
name of Edison will go marching on because Edison converted
failure into a stepping stone to achievement while the others
used it as an alibi for not producing results.
Q Is the capacity to surmount failure without being discouraged one of Henry Ford's chief assets?
A Yes, and this same quality is the chief asset of every man
who attains outstanding success in any calling.
The "capacity to surmount failure without being discouraged"
is "the chiefasset ofevery man who attains outstanding
success in any calling. "
In the book Three Feet from Gold my co-author and I interviewed more than thirty-five of todays top leaders, not about
their successes but about their toughest moments and how
they persevered to achieve great success. For example, Julie
Krone, the first woman ever inducted into the Thoroughbred
Hall of Fame, with 3,704 victories under her reins, described
her struggles at the beginning of her career as a jockey. Many
of the horse owners simply would not hire a woman jockey.
She said her motto of perseverance was, "Keep showing
up!" She said, "I discovered if I showed up every day and
did my best, eventually they'd put me on a horse just to get
rid of me." The rest is history. Julie was named as one of the
toughest athletes of all time by USA Today.
• 105 •
Q That statement covers lots of territory, Your Majesty.
Do you not wish to modify it or tone it down a bit for the sake
A No modification is necessary because the claim is none too
broad. Search accurately into the lives of men and women who
achieve enduring success and you will find, without exception,
that their success has been in exact proportion to the extent
that they surmounted failure.
The life of every successful person loudly acclaims that
which every true philosopher knows: "Every failure brings with
it the seed of an equivalent success."
But the seed will not germinate and grow under the influence of a drifter. It springs to life only when it is in the hands
of one who recognizes that most failures are only temporary
defeat, and who never, under any circumstances, accepts defeat
as an excuse for drifting.
Q If I understand you correctly, you claim there is virtue in
failure. That does not seem reasonable. Why do you try to
induce people to fail if there is virtue in failure?
A There is no inconsistency in my claims. The appearance of
inconsistency is due to your lack of understanding. Failure is a
virtue only when it does not lead one to quit trying and begin
drifting. I induce as many people as I can to fail as often as
possible for the reason that not one out of ten thousand will
keep on trying after failing two or three times. I am not concerned about the few who convert failures into stepping stones
because they belong to my opposition anyway. They are the
non-drifters and therefore they are beyond my reach.
Q Your explanation clears up the matter. Now go ahead and
tell me of some of your other tricks with which you allure
people into drifting.
"Edison converted failure into a stepping stone
to achievement while the others used it as an alibi for not
producing results. "
How are you dealing with failure in your life?
A One of my most effective tricks is known to you as propaganda. This is the instrument of greatest value to me in setting
people to murdering one another under the guise of war.
The cleverness of this trick consists mainly of the subtlety
with which I use it.
I mix propaganda with the news of the world. I have it
taught in public and private schools. I see that it finds its way
into the pulpit. I color moving pictures with it. I see that it
enters every home where there is a radio. I inject it into billboard, newspaper, and radio advertising. I spread it in every
place of business where people work. I use it to fill the divorce
courts and I make it serve to destroy business and industry.
It is my chief instrument for starting runs on banks. My
propagandists cover the world so thoroughly that I can start
epidemics of disease, tum loose the dogs of war, or throw business into a panic at will.
Q If you can do all that you claim with propaganda, it is little
wonder that we have wars and business depressions. Give me
a simple description of what you mean by the term "propaganda." Just what is it and how does it work? I wish to know
particularly how you cause people to drift through the use of
this devilish device.
A Propaganda is any device, plan, or method by which people
can be influenced without knowing that they are being influenced, or the source of the influence.
Propaganda is used in business for the purpose of discouraging competition. Employers use it to gain advantage over
their employees. The employees retaliate by using it to gain
advantage over their employers. In fact, it is used so universally
and through such a smooth and beautiful streamlined technique that it looks harmless even when it is detected.
Q I suppose some of your boys are now engaged in preparing
the minds of the American people to drift into some form of
dictatorship. Tell me how they work.
A Yes! Millions of my boys are preparing Americans to
become Hiderized. My best boys are working through politics and labor organization. We intend to take over the country
with ballots instead of bullets. Americans are so sensitive they
would never stand the shock of seeing their form of government changed with the aid of machine guns and tank cars.
So our propaganda boys are serving them a diet they will
swallow, by stirring up strife between employers and employees
and turning the government against business and industry.
When propaganda has done its work thoroughly, one of my boys
will move in as dictator and the Nine Old Men on your Supreme
Court with their silly notions of the Constitution will move out!
Everyone will be given a job or fed from the government treasury.
When men's bellies are filled, they drift freely with one who does
the filling. Hungry men get out from under control.
In 1938, one of the Devil's tools for "Hitlerizing" America
was "turning the government against business and industry"
and feeding the populace from the government treasury.
Is that still the case today? Is the Devil succeeding? Were
Napoleon Hill to interview the Devil today, the Devil might
well gloat over the so-called "entitlement" programs now in
place or proposed and crow over the government's increasing
involvement in independent businesses, such as the automotive and financial industries.
Q I have often wondered who invented the clever trick which
you call propaganda. From what you tell me of its source and
nature I understand why it is so deadly. Only one as clever as
Your Majesty could have invented such a device with which to
dull the reason, dethrone the will, and lure men into drifting.
Why do you not use your powerful propaganda to gain
control of your victims instead of subduing them through fear
and annihilating them through warfare?
A What is fear of the Devil except propaganda? You have not
observed my technique very carefully or you would have seen
that I am the world's greatest propagandist! I never attain an
end by direct, open means which I can achieve through subterfuge and subdety.What do you suppose I am using, when I plant
negative ideas in the minds of men and gain control of them
through what they believe to be their own ideas? What would
you call that except the cleverest of all forms of propaganda?
Q Surely you are not going to tell me that you destroy people
through their own help without their realizing what you
A That is exactly what I wish you to understand. Moreover,
I will show you exactly how the trick is performed.
Q Now we are getting somewhere. Exactly how do you convert human beings into propagandists and lure them into
self-imprisonment? Give me the story with all its lurid details.
This is the most important part of your confession and I am
consumed with eagerness to gain control of your secret. I can
hardly blame you for stalling about answering my question
because you know so well that your answer will snatch millions of innocent victims from your controL You also know
that your answer will protect other countless millions of yet
unborn people from being victimized by you. It is little wonder
you are hedging about answering.
A Your deductions are correct. This part of my confession
will do me more damage than all the remainder of it.
Q Stating your headache in a better way, this part of your
confession will save more millions of people from your control
than all the remainder of it.
A All I can say is that you have me in a hell of a situation!
Q Now you shall know how the millions of your victims feeL
Let's have it.
• 110 •
A I make my first entry into an individual's mind by bribing
Q What do you use as a bribe?
A I use many things, all of them pleasant things the individual covets. I use the same sort of bribes that individuals use
when they bribe one another. That is, I use for bribes the things
people most want. My best bribes are these:
The thirst for sex expression
Covetousness for money
The obsessive desire to gain something for
Vanity in women, egotism in men
In today's environment, clearly both women and men
can fall victim to both vanity and egotism.
Desire to be the master of others
Desire for intoxicants and narcotics
Desire for self-expression through words and deeds
Desire to imitate others
Desire for perpetuation of life after death
Desire to be a hero or heroine
Desire for physical food
• 111 •
Q That is an imposing list of bribes, Your Majesty. Do you
A Yes, plenty of them, but these are my favorites. Through
some combination of them I can enter the mind of any human
being at will at any age from birth until death.
Q You mean that these bribes are the keys with which you
can silently unlock the door to any mind you choose?
A That is exactly what I mean and I can do it too.
Q What happens when you enter the mind of a person who
is not yet in the habit of drifting, but belongs in the 98 percent
class as a potential drifter?
A I go to work immediately to occupy as much of that person's mind as I can master. If the individual's greatest weakness is the desire for money, I begin to dangle coins before him,
figuratively speaking. I intensify his desire and induce him
to go after money. Then when he gets near it I snatch it away
This is an old trick of mine. Mter the trick has been
repeated a few times, the poor fellow gives in and quits. Then I
take over a little more space in his mind and fill it with the fear
of poverty. That is one of my best mind-fillers.
Q Yes, I admit your method is very clever, but what happens
if the victim fools you and gets his hands on a lot of money?
You don't fill his mind with fear of poverty then, do you?
A No, I don't. I take over the space by filling it with something
which serves my purpose just as well. If my victim converts his
desire for money into large sums, I start over-feeding him with
the things he can buy with it. For example, I cause him to stuff
himself with rich foods. This slows down his thinking capacity,
endangers his heart, and starts him on the road to drifting.
Then I pester him with intestinal poisoning through the
surplus food he eats. That also slows down his thinking and
gives him a nasty disposition.
Q What if the victim is not a glutton? What other follies can
you induce him to pick up that lead to drifting?
A If the victim is a male I can usually snare him through his
sex appetite. Over-indulgence in sex starts more men to drifting
toward failure than all other causes combined.
Q So food and sex are two of your sure-fire baits! Is that
A Yes. With these two lures I can take over a majority of my
victims, and then there is the desire for money.
Q I am beginning to think that wealth is more dangerous
than poverty, if your story is to be believed.
A That altogether depends upon who has the wealth and how
it was acquired.
Q What has the manner in which money is acquired to do
with its being a blessing or a curse?
A Everything. If you don't believe me, take a look at those
who acquire a large amount of money quickly, without time to
get wisdom along with it, and observe how they use it.
• 113 •
Why, do you suppose, rich men's sons seldom equal the
achievements of their fathers? I'll tell you why. It is because
they have been deprived of the self-discipline which comes
from being forced to work.
Look into the records of moving picture stars or athletes
who suddenly find themselves in possession of big money and
hero worship and praise from the public. Observe how quickly
I move in and take them over in many cases, mainly through
sex, gambling, food, and liquor. With these I catch and control the biggest and the best of people as soon as they get their
hands on big money.
Think of the countless athletes who have become megacelebrities only to crash and bum from their fast money and
fame ... and then think of the millions of young people who
looked up to them I Think of lottery winners who end up
losing all their money within just a few years after they win
the lottery ... could it be from drifting ... a fall-out from gambling? Could these cycles be orchestrated by the Devil?
Q What about those who acquire money slowly, by rendering
some form of useful service? Are they easily snared too?
A Oh, I get them all right, but I generally have to change
my bait. Some of them want one thing and others want something else.
Where my purpose is best served I see to it that they get
what they want most, but I manage to wrap in the package
something they don't want. The thing I give them is the
definite thing that makes them drifters. Do you see how
Q And very clever work it is. You lure people on through their
natural desires, but you slip your deadly poison into the object
of those desires wherever you can.
A Now you are catching on. You see, I play both ends against
the middle, so to speak.
Q From all you say I infer that you cannot induce a nondrifter to help you gain control of his mind by baiting him
with your bribes. Is that correct?
A That is exacdy correct. I can-and I do-interest nondrifters in my bribes, because I use for the purpose of bribery
the things all people naturally desire, but the non-drifter
resembles a fish that steals the bait from your hook but refuses
to take the hook.
The non-drifter takes from life whatever he wants, but he
takes it on his own terms. The drifter takes whatever he can get,
but he takes what he gets on my terms.
Stating the matter in another way, the non-drifter borrows
money from a legitimate banker, ifhe wants it, and pays a legitimate rate of interest. The drifter goes to the pawn shop, hocks
his watch, and pays a suicidal rate of interest for his loan.
Q So I draw from your claims the conclusion that your hand
is mixed up somehow in all of people's troubles and miseries,
even though your presence may not be visible?
A My unwilling workers are often my best workers. You see,
my unwilling workers are those whom I cannot control with
some combination of bribes, people whom I have to master by
fear or through some form of misfortune. They do not wish
to serve me, but they cannot avoid it because they are eternally
bound to me by the habit of drifting.
Q Now I am beginning to better understand your technique.
You bribe your victims through their natural desires and lead
them astray while you induce them to become drifters if they
respond to your lure. If they refuse to respond, you plant the
seed of fear in their minds or trap them through some form
of misfortune, and hog-tie them while they are down. Is that
A That is exacdy the way I work. Clever, don't you think?
Q Which do you prefer to serve as your propagandists-the
young or the old?
A The young, of coursel They can be influenced by most
bribes more easily than people of mature judgment. Moreover,
they have longer to remain in my service.
Q Your Majesty has given me a clear description of drifting.
Tell me what must be done to insure against the habit of
drifting. I want a complete formula that anyone can use.
A Protection against drifting lies within easy reach of every
human being who has a normal body and a sound mind. The
self-defense can be applied through these simple methods:
1. Do your own thinking on all occasions. The fact that
human beings are given complete control over nothing
save the power to think their own thoughts is laden with
2. Decide definitely what you want from life; then create
a plan for attaining it and be willing to sacrifice everything
else, if necessary, rather than accept permanent defeat.
3. Analyze temporary defeat, no matter of what nature
or cause, and extract from it the seed of an equivalent
4. Be willing to render useful service equivalent to the value
of all material things you demand of life, and render the service first.
5. Recognize that your brain is a receiving set that can be
attuned to receive communications from the universal storehouse ofInfinite Intelligence, to help you transmute your
desires into their physical equivalent.
6. Recognize that your greatest asset is time, the only thing
except the power of thought which you own outright, and
the one thing which can be shaped into whatever material
things you want. Budget your time so none of it is wasted.
7. Recognize the truth that fear generally is a filler with
which the Devil occupies the unused portion of your mind.
It is only a state of mind which you can control by filling the
space it occupies with faith in your ability to make life provide you with whatever you demand of it.
8. When you pray, do not beg! Demand what you want and
insist upon getting exactly that, with no substitutes.
9. Recognize that life is a cruel taskmaster and that either
you master it or it masters you. There is no half-way or compromising point. Never accept from life anything you do not
want. If that which you do not want is temporarily forced
upon you, you can refuse, in your own mind, to accept it and
it will make way for the thing you do want.
10. Lastly, remember that your dominating thoughts attract,
through a definite law of nature, by the shortest and most
convenient route, their physical counterpart. Be careful what
your thoughts dwell upon.
Q That list looks imposing. Give me a simple formula, combining all the ten points. If you had to combine all ten in one,
what would it be?
A Be definite in everything you do and never leave unfinished
thoughts in the mind. Form the habit of reaching definite decisions on all subjects.
Q Can the habit of drifting be broken, or does it become permanent once it has been formed?
A The habit can be broken if the victim has enough will
power, providing it is done in time. There is a point beyond
which the habit can never be broken. Beyond that point the
victim is mine. He resembles a fly that has been caught in a spider's web. He may struggle, but he cannot get out. Each move
he makes entangles him more securely. The web in which I
entangle my victims permanently is a law of nature not yet isolated by, or understood by, men of science.
+ 118 +
through which you take
permanent control of people's bodies even before you take over
their souls? The whole world will want to know more about
this law and how it operates.
WHAT IS THIS MYSTERIOUS LAW
A It will be hard to describe the law so you will understand
it, but you may call it "hypnotic rhythm." It is the same law
through which people can be hypnotized.
Q So you have the power to use the laws of nature as a
web in which you bind your victims in eternal control. Is that
A That is not only my claim. It is the truth! I take over their
minds and bodies even before they die whenever I can lure
them or frighten them into hypnotic rhythm.
Q What is hypnotic rhythm? How do you use it to gain permanent mastery over human beings?
A I will have to go back into time and space and give you
a brief elementary description of how nature uses hypnotic rhythm. Otherwise you will not be able to understand
my description of how I use this universal law to control
Q Go ahead, but keep your story confined to simple illustrations which come within the range of my own experience and
knowledge of natural laws.
A Very well, I shall do my best. You, of course, know that
nature maintains a perfect balance between all the elements
and all the energy in the universe. You can see that the stars
and the planets move with perfect precision, each one keeping
its own place in time and space. You can see that the seasons of
the year corne and go with perfect regularity. You can see that
an oak tree grows from an acorn and a pine grows from the
seed of its ancestor. An acorn never produces a pine and a pine
seed never produces an oak.
These are simple things which anyone can understand;
what one cannot see is the universal law through which nature
maintains perfect balance throughout the myriad of universes.
You earthbound caught a fragmentary glimpse of this great
universal law when Newton discovered that it holds your earth
in its position and causes all material objects to be attracted
toward the center of the earth. He called the law gravitation.
But he did not go far enough in his study of the law. If he
had, he would have discovered that the same law which holds
your earth in position and helps nature to maintain a perfect
balance over the four dimensions-in which all matter and
energy are contained-is the web in which I entangle and control the minds of human beings.
Q Tell me more of this astounding law of hypnotic rhythm.
A As I have already stated, there is a universal form of
energy with which nature keeps a perfect balance between all
matter and energy. She makes specialized use of this universal
building material by breaking it up into different wavelengths.
The breaking-up process is carried on through habit.
You will better understand what I am trying to convey if!
compare it with the method by which one learns to play music.
At first the notes are memorized in the mind. Then they are
related to one another through melody and rhythm. By repetition the melody and rhythm become fixed in the mind. Observe
how relentlessly the musician must repeat a tune before he
• 121 •
masters it. Through repetition the musical notes blend and
then you have music.
Any impulse of thought that the mind repeats over and
over through habit forms an organized rhythm. Undesirable
habits can be broken. They must be broken before they assume
the proportions of rhythm. Are you following me?
A Well, to continue, rhythm is the last stage of habit! Any
thought or physical movement which is repeated over and over
through the principle of habit finally reaches the proportion
Then the habit cannot be broken because nature takes it
over and makes it permanent. It is something like a whirlpool
in water. An object may keep floating indefinitely unless it is
caught in a whirlpool. Then it is carried round and round but
it cannot escape. The energy with which people think may be
compared with water in a river.
Q So this is the way in which you take control of the minds
of people, is it?
A Yes. All I have to do to gain control over any mind is to
induce its owner to drift.
Q Am I to understand that the habit of drifting is the major
danger through which people lose their prerogative or privilege
of thinking their own thoughts and shaping their own earthly
A That and much more. Drifting is also the habit through
which I take over their souls after they give up their physical bodies.
Q Then the only way a human being can be saved from
eternal annihilation is by maintaining control over his own
mind while he is on this earth. Is that true?
A You have stated the truth perfectly! Those who control and
use their own minds escape my web. I get all the others as naturally as the sun sets in the west.
Says the Devil: "Those who control and use their own minds
escape my web. "
Q Is that all there is
to the business of being saved from
eternal annihilation? Doesn't what you call your opposition
have anything to do with saving people?
A I can see that you do think very deeply. My oppositionthe power you earthbound call God-has everything to do with
the salvation of pe.ople from eternal annihilation, and for that
reason it is my opposition who provides every human being
with the privilege of using his own mind.
If you use that power by maintaining control over your own
mind, you become a part of it when you give up your physical
body. If you neglect to use it, then I have the privilege of taking
advantage of the neglect through the law of hypnotic rhythm.
Q How much of a person do you take over when you gain
control of him?
A Everything that is left after he ceases to control and use his
• 123 •
Q In other words, when you gain control of a person you take
over all there is of his individuality up to the time that he quits
using his own mind? Is that correct?
A That is how I operate.
Q What do you do with people whom you control before
death? Of what good are they to you while they live?
A I use them, or what is left of than after I take charge, as propagandists to help me prepare the minds of others to drift.
Q You not only fool people into destroying their power
to control their own minds, but you use them to help you
A Yes, I let no opportunity get away from me.
Q Let us come back
the subject of hypnotic rhythm. Tell
me more of how this law works. Show me how you use individuals to help you gain control over others. I want to know
something of the most effective way you use hypnotic rhythm.
A Oh, that is easy! The thing I like best is to fill the minds of
people with fear. Once I fill one's mind with fear I have little
trouble causing him to drift until I have entangled him in the
web of hypnotic rhythm.
Q What human fear best serves your purpose?
A The fear of death.
Q Why is the fear of death your favorite weapon?
A Because no one knows, and by the very nature of the laws
of the universe, no one can prove definitely what happens after
death. This uncertainty frightens people out of their wits.
People who give over their minds to fear-any sort of fearneglect to use their minds and begin to drift. Eventually they
drift into the whirlpool of hypnotic rhythm from which they
may never escape.
Q Then you do not mind what religious leaders think or say
of you when they speak of death?
A Not as long as they say something! If the churches should
stop talking about me, my cause would receive a severe setback.
Every attack made against me fixes the fear of me in the minds
of all who are influenced by it. You see, opposition is the thing
that keeps some people from driftingl Providing they do not
yield to it.
Q Since you claim the churches help instead of hindering
your cause, tell me what would give you cause to worry?
A My only worry is that someday a real thinker may appear
Q What would happen if a thinker did appear?
A You ask me what would happen? I'll tell you what would
happen. People would learn the greatest of all truths-that the
time they spend in fearing something would, if reversed, give
them all they want in the material world and save them from
me after death. Isn't that worth thinking about?
Says the Devil: «The time they [people] spend in fearing
something would, ifreversed, give them all they want in the
material world and save them from me after death. "
Q What is keeping such a thinker from appeanng in
A Fear of criticism! It may interest you to know that the fear
of criticism is the only effective weapon I have with which to
whip you. If you were not afraid to publish this confession
after you wring it from me, I would lose my earthly kingdom.
Q And if! did surprise you and publish it, how long would it
be until you lost your kingdom?
A Just long enough for one generation of children to grow
into understanding. You cannot take the adults from me. I
have them too securely sewed up. But if you published this
confession, it would be sufficient to keep me from gaining control of the yet unborn and those who have not yet reached the
age of reason. You wouldn't dare publish what I have told you
about the religious leaders. They would crucify you!
Q I thought the savage practice of crucifixion went out of
style two thousand years ago.
A I don't mean crucifixion on a cross. I mean social and
financial crucifixion. Your income would be shut of£ You
would become a social outcast. Religious leaders and their followers alike would treat you with scorn.
Q Suppose I should choose to throw in my lot with the select
few who make a pretense of using their own minds rather than
fear the masses who do not-the masses of whom you claim 98
A If you have courage enough to do this, you will crimp
A chill ran down my spine when I first read this ... since circumstances did indeed prevent this manuscript, written in
1938, from being published until now, well after Hill's death
in 1970. Was the delayed publication of the work truly
caused by his wife's "fear of criticism" and concern over the
reaction of religious leaders and public school advocates ...
or was it due to the work of the Devil himself? And now, the
family and the Foundation have decided it is time to share
the manuscript with the world. Shall we heed Hill's wisdom,
discover our "other selves," and take control of our own
minds, reclaiming our destiny?
Q Why do you lay claim to no scientist? Don't you like
A Oh yes, I like all people well enough, but true scientists are
out of my reach.
A Because they think for themselves and spend their time
studying natural laws. They deal with cause and effect. They
deal with facts wherever they find them. But do not make the
mistake of believing scientists have no religion. They have a
very definite religion.
Q What is their religion?
A The religion of truth! The religion of natural law! If the
world ever produces an accurate thinker with ability to fathom
the deeply buried secret of life and death, you can be sure that
science will be responsible for the catastrophe.
Q Catastrophe to whom?
A To me, of course!
Q Let's get back to the subject of hypnotic rhythm. I want to
know more about it. Is it something like the principle through
which people can hypnotize one another?
A It is precisely the same thing. I have already told you so.
Why do you repeat your questions?
Q That is an old worldly custom of mine, Your Majesty. For
your enlightenment I will tell you I am forcing you to repeat
many of your statements for the sake of emphasis. I am also
trying to see if I can catch you in a lie! Don't dodge the issue.
Get back to hypnotic rhythm and tell me all you know about
it. Am I a victim of it?
A Not now, but you barely missed falling into my web. You
drifted toward the whirlpool of hypnotic rhythm, until you discovered how to force me into making this confession. Then I
lost control of you!
Q How interesting. You are not trying to recapture me
through flattery, are you?
A That would be the best bribe I could offer you. It is the bribe
I used on you effectively before you got the upper hand of me.
Q With what did you flatter me?
A With many things, chief among them sex and the desire for
Q What effect did your bribes have on me?
A They caused you to neglect your major purpose in life and
started you to drifting.
Q Was that all you did to me through your bribes?
A That was plenty.
Q But I am back on the track and out of your reach now, am
A Yes, you are temporarily out of my reach because you are
Q What broke your spell over me and released me from the
habit of drifting?
A My answer may humiliate you. Do you want to hear it?
Q Go ahead and give it to me, Your Majesty. I wish to learn
how much truth I can stand.
A When you found a great love in the woman of your choice,
I lost my grip on you.
Q So you are going to accuse me of hiding behind a woman's
skirts, are you?
A No, not hiding. I wouldn't put it that way. I would say you
have learned how to give yourself a solid background with the
embellishment of a woman's mind.
Q The woman's skirt has nothing to do with it then?
A No, but her brain does. When you and your wife began
to combine your two brains, through your habit of "Master
Minding" every day, you stumbled upon the secret power with
which you forced me into this confession.
Q Is that the truth, or are you trying to flatter me again?
A I could flatter you if I had you alone, but I cannot flatter
you while you have the use of your wife's mind.
Q I am beginning to catch on to something important. I am
beginning to understand what was meant by the writer of that
passage in the Bible which says substantially, "When two or
more meet together and ask for anything in My name, it shall
be granted." It is true, then, that two minds are better than one.
A It is not only true, it is necessary before anyone can continuously contact the great storehouse of Infinite Intelligence
wherein is stored all that is, all that ever was, and all that can
Q Is there such a storehouse?
A If there had not been, you would not-could not-now be
humiliating me with this silly forced confession.
Q Isn't it dangerous to give this sort of information to the
A Sure, it is dangerous to me. If I were you, I would not give
Q Let us get back, now, to the technique through which you
fasten on your victims the habit of drifting. What is the very
first step a drifter must take to break the habit?
A A burning desire to break itl You of course know that no
one can be hypnotized by another person without his willingness to be hypnotized. The willingness may assume the form of
indifference toward life generally, lack of ambition, fear, lack
of definiteness of purpose, and many other forms. Nature does
not need one's consent in order to place him under the spell of
hypnotic rhythm. It needs only to find him off guard, through
any form of neglect to use his own mind. Remember this: whatever you have, you use it or you lose itl
All successful attempts to break the habit of drifting must
be done before nature makes the habit permanent, through
Q As I understand you, hypnotic rhythm is a natural law
through which nature fixes the vibration of all environments.
Is that true?
A Yes, nature uses hypnotic rhythm to make one's dominating thoughts and one's thought-habits permanent. That
is why poverty is disease. Nature makes it so by fixing permanently the thought-habits of all who accept poverty as an
Through this same law of hypnotic rhythm, nature will also
fix permanently positive thoughts of opulence and prosperity.
Perhaps you will better understand the working principle
of hypnotic rhythm ifI tell you its nature is to fix permanently
all habits whether they are mental or physical. If your mind
fears poverty, your mind will attract poverty. If your mind
demands opulence and expects it, your mind will attract the
physical and financial equivalents of opulence. This is in accordance with an immutable law of nature.
Hill first wrote about the Law of Attraction in the March
1919 issue of his Golden Rule magazine. Within the last
decade, this immutable law of nature has been popularized
around the world by the resounding success of the book
and movie The Secret.
Q Did the writer of that sentence in the Bible, "Whatsoever
a man soweth, that shall he also reap," have in mind this law
A He could have nothing else in mind. The statement is true.
You can see evidence ofits truth in all human relationships.
Q And that is why the man who forms the habit of drifting
through life must accept whatever life hands him. Is that
A That is absolutely correct. Life pays the drifter its own
price, on its own terms. The non-drifter makes life pay on his
Q Doesn't the question of morals enter into what one gets
A To be sure, but only for the reason that one's morals have
an influence on one's thoughts. No one can collect what he
wants from life merely by being good, if that is what you want
Q No, I guess not. I see what you mean. We are all where we
are and what we are because of our own deeds.
A No, not exactly. You are where you are and what you are
because of your thoughts and your deeds.
Q Then there is no such reality as luck, is there?
A Emphatically no. Circumstances which people do not
understand are classified under the heading of luck. Back of
every reality is a cause. Often the cause is so far removed from
the effect that the circumstance can be explained only by attributing it to the operation ofluck. Nature knows no such law as
luck. It is a man-made hypothesis with which he explains away
things he does not understand. The terms "luck" and "miracle"
are twin sisters. Neither of them has any real existence except in
the imaginations of people. Both are used to explain that which
people do not understand. Remember this: everything having a
real existence is capable of proo£ Keep this one truth in mind
and you will become a sounder thinker.
Q Which is more important, one's thoughts or one's deeds?
A All deeds follow thoughts. There can be no deeds without
their having first been patterned in thought. Moreover, all
thoughts have a tendency to clothe themselves in their physical counterpart. One's dominating thoughts, that is, the
thoughts one mixes with the emotions, desire, hope, faith,
fear, hate, greed, enthusiasm, not only have a tendency to
clothe themselves in their physical equivalent, but they are
bound to do so.
Q That reminds me to ask you to tell me more about yoursel£ Where, in addition to the minds of people, do you dwell
A I operate wherever there is something I can control and
appropriate. I have already told you I am the negative portion
of the electron of matter.
I am the explosion in lightning.
I am the pain in disease and physical suffering.
I am the unseen general in warfare.
I am the unknown commissioner of poverty and famine.
I am the executioner extraordinaire at death.
I am the inspirer oElust after the flesh.
I am the creator of jealousy and envy and greed.
I am the instigator of fear.
I am the genius who converts the achievements of men
of science into instruments of death.
I am the destroyer of harmony in all manner of human
I am the antithesis of justice.
I am the driving force in all immorality.
I am the stalemate of all good.
I am anxiety, suspense, superstition, and insanity.
I am the destroyer of hope and faith.
I am the inspirer of destructive gossip and scandal.
I am the discourager of free and independent thought.
In brief, I am the creator of all forms of human
misery, the instigator of discouragement and
Q And you do not call that cold and cruel?
A I call that definite and dependable.
The world depression broke up the habits of men everywhere and redistributed the sources of opportunity in all walks
of life on an unprecedented scale.
The drifter's pet alibi, with which he tries to explain away
his undesirable position, is his cry that the world has run dry
Non-drifters do not wait for opportunity to be placed
in their way. They create opportunity to fit their desires and
Hill speaks of the great opportunities that arose during the
Great Depression and the fortunes that were made by those
who seized those opportunities. I believe that Hill would say
the same thing in our own day ... many opportunities exist
today because of the economic turmoil. Will you seize one
and create your own opportunity to fit your desires and
demands of life?
Q Are non-drifters smart enough to avoid the influence of
A No one is smart enough to dodge the influence of hypnotic
rhythm. One could just as easily avoid the influence of the
law of gravity. The law of hypnotic rhythm fixes permanendy
the dominating thoughts of men, whether they be drifters or
There is no reason why a non-drifter would want to avoid
the influence of hypnotic rhythm, because that law is favorable to him. It helps him convert his dominating aims, plans,
and purposes into their physical replicas. It fixes his habits of
thought and makes them permanent.
Only the drifter would wish to dodge the influence of hypnotic rhythm.
Q For the better portion of my adult life I have been a drifter.
How did I manage to escape being swept into the whirlpool of
A You haven't escaped. The major portion of your dominating thoughts and desires, since you reached adulthood, has
been a well-defined, definite desire to understand all the potentialities of the mind.
You may have drifted on thoughts oflesser importance, but
you did not drift in connection with this desire. Because you
did not drift, you are now recording a document which gives
you exactly what your dominating thoughts demanded of life.
Q Why doesn't your opposition use hypnotic rhythm to
make permanent one's higher thoughts and nobler deeds?
Why does your opposition permit you to use this stupendous
force as a means of entangling people in a web of evil spun by
their own thoughts and deeds? Why does your opposition not
outwit you by binding people with thoughts which build and
lift them above your influence?
A The law of hypnotic rhythm is available to all who will use
it. I make use of it more effectively than does my opposition
because I offer people more attractive bribes to think my sort
of thoughts and indulge in my sort of deeds.
Q In other words, you control people by making negative thinking and destructive deeds pleasing to them. Is that
A That is the idea, exactly!
we earthbound call God-does not annihilate you? Can you tell
A Because the power is as much mine as his. It is as available
to me as to him. That is what I have been trying to get over to
you. The highest power in the universe can be used for constructive purposes, through what you call God, or it can be
used for negative purposes, through what you call the Devil.
And something more important still, it can be used by any
human being just as effectively as by God or the Devil.
Q You make a far-reaching claim. Can you prove your claim?
A Yes, but it would be better if you proved it for yoursel£ The
Devil's word is not worth much among you earthbound sinners. Neither is God's word. You fear the Devil and refuse to
trust your God; therefore you have but one source available
through which you may appropriate the benefit of universal
power, and that is by trusting and using your own power of
thought. This is the direct road to the universal storehouse of
Infinite Intelligence. There is no other road available to any
Q Why have we earthbound not found the road to Infinite
A Because I have intercepted you and led you off the path by
planting in your minds thoughts which destroy your power to
use your minds constructively. I have made it attractive to you
to use the Power ofInfinite Intelligence to attain negative ends,
through greed, avarice, lust, envy, and hatred. Remember, your
mind attracts that which your mind dwells upon. To divert you
away from my opposition, I had only to feed you on thoughts
helpful to my cause.
Q If! understand what you are saying, you are admitting that
no human being need fear the Devil or worry about how to
A That is it precisely. This admission may put a crimp in my
style, but I have this satisfaction of knowing it may also slow
down my opposition by sending people direct to the source of
Here, as in some other points during the dialogue, Hill
gets explicidy theological. Using the Devil as a foil and letting words come out of the mouth of the symbol of evil,
Napoleon Hill can layout his thoughts and feelings about
God-Infinite Intelligence-as the ultimate source for his
overall philosophy of success.
Q In other words, if you cannot control people through negative bribes or fear, then you wish to kick over the entire apple
cart and show people how to go directly to God? Are you, by
any chance, in politics too? Your technique seems frightfully
A Am I in politics? IfI am not in politics, who do you believe
starts depressions and forces people into wars? Surely you
would not lay this at the door of my opposition? As I have
already told you, I have allies in all walks of life, to help me in
connection with all human relationships.
Q Why don't you take over the churches and use them outright in your cause?
A Do you think I am a fool? Who would keep alive the fear
of the Devil if I subdued the churches? Who would serve as a
decoy to attract the attention of people while I manipulate
their minds if I did not have some agency through which to
sow the seeds of fear and doubt? The cleverest thing I do is to
use the allies of my opposition to keep the fear ofhelI burning
in the minds of people. As long as people fear something, no
matter what, I will keep a grip on them.
Q I am beginning to see your scheme. You use the churches
to plant the seed of fear and uncertainty and indefiniteness
in the minds of people. These negative states of mind cause
people to form the habit of drifting. This habit crystallizes
into permanency through the law of hypnotic rhythm; then
the victim is helpless to help himself, is that right? Hypnotic
rhythm, then, is something to be watched and respected?
A A better way of stating the truth is that hypnotic rhythm is
something to be studied, understood, and voluntarily applied
to attain definite desired ends.
Q If the force of hypnotic rhythm is not voluntarily applied
to attain definite ends, may it be a great danger?
A Yes, and for the reason that it operates automatically. If it
is not consciously applied to attain a desired end, it can, and it
will, operate to attain undesired ends.
Take the simple illustration of climate, for example.
Anyone can see and understand that nature forces every
living thing and every element of matter to adjust itself to her
climates. In the tropics she creates trees which bear fruit and
reproduce themselves. She forces the trees to adjust themselves
to her scorching sunl She forces them to put out leaves suitable for protection against the rays of the sun. These same trees
could not survive if removed to the arctic regions where nature
has established an entirely different climate.
In the colder climate she creates trees which are adjusted
to survive and to reproduce themselves, but they could not
survive if transplanted in the tropical regions. In the same
manner, nature clothes her animals, giving to those in each different climate a covering suited to their comfort and survival
in that climate.
In a similar manner, nature forces upon the minds of men
the influences of their environment, which are stronger than
the individual's own thoughts. Children are forced to take on
the nature of all influences of those around them unless their
own thoughts are stronger than the influences.
Nature sets up a definite rhythm for every environment,
and everything within the range of that rhythm is forced to
conform to it. Man, alone, has the power to establish his own
rhythm of thought providing he exercises this privilege before
hypnotic rhythm has forced upon him the influences of his
Every home, every place of business, every town and village
and every street and community center has its own definite, discernible rhythm. If you wish to know what a difference there is
in the rhythms of streets, take a walk up Fifth Avenue, in New
York, and then down a street in the slumsl All forms of rhythm
become permanent with time.
Q Does each individual have his own rhythm of thought?
A Yes. That is precisely the major difference between individuals. The person who thinks in terms of power, success,
opulence, sets up a rhythm which attracts these desirable possessions. The person who thinks in terms of misery, failure,
defeat, discouragement, and poverty attracts these undesirable
influences. This explains why both success and failure are the
result of habit. Habit establishes one's rhythm of thought, and
that rhythm attracts the object of one's dominating thoughts.
Q Hypnotic rhythm is something resembling a magnet which
attracts things for which it has a magnetic affinity. Is that
A Yes, that is correct. That is why the poverty-stricken herd
themselves into the same communities. It explains that old
saying, "Misery loves company." It also explains why people
who begin to succeed in any undertaking find that success multiplies, with less effort, as time goes on.
Ail successful people use hypnotic rhythm, either consciously or unconsciously, by expecting and demanding success. The demand becomes a habit, hypnotic rhythm takes over
the habit, and the law of harmonious attraction translates it
into its physical equivalent.
Q In other words, if I know what I want from life, demand
it and back my demand by a willingness to pay life's price for
what I want, and refuse to accept any substitutes, the law of
hypnotic rhythm takes over my desire and helps, by natural
and logical means, to transmute it into its physical counterpart. Is that true?
A That describes the way the law works.
Q Science has established irrefutable evidence that people
are what they are because of heredity and environment. They
bring over with them at birth a combination of all the physical qualities of all their numberless ancestors. After they arrive
here, they reach the age of self-consciousness and from there
on they shape their own personalities and more or less fix their
own earthly destinations as the result of the environmental
influences to which they are subjected, especially the influences
which control them during early childhood. These two facts
have been so well established there is no room for any intelligent person to question them. How can hypnotic rhythm
change the nature of a physical body which is a combination of
thousands of ancestors who have lived and died before one is
born? How can hypnotic rhythm change the influence of one's
environment? People who are born in poverty and ignorance
have a strong tendency to remain poverty-stricken and ignorant all through life. What, if anything, can hypnotic rhythm
do about this?
A Hypnotic rhythm cannot change the nature of the physical
body one inherits at birth, but it can and it does modifY, change,
control, and make permanent one's environmental influences.
Q If I understand what you mean, a human being is forced
by nature to take on and become a part of the environment he
chooses or the environment that may be forced upon him?
A That is correct, but there are ways and means by which an
individual may resist the influences of an environment he does
not wish to accept, and also a method of procedure by which
one may reverse the application of hypnotic rhythm from negative to positive ends.
Do you mean that there is a definite method by which hypnotic rhythm can be made to serve instead of destroy one?
A I mean just that.
Q Tell me how this astounding end may be attained.
A For my description to be of any practical value, it will be
necessarily lengthy because it will have to cover seven principles of psychology which must be understood and applied by
all who use hypnotic rhythm to aid them in forcing life to yield
that which they want.
Q Then break your description into seven parts, each giving
a detailed analysis of one of the seven principles, with simple
instructions for its practical application.
I have always been fascinated with how Hill's mind works.
After building a case for impending doom, he now reveals
the lifeline for anyone seeking success. This is a critical
turning point. As you read further, will his "seven principles"
capture your imagination, as they did mine?
to unfold the secrets
of the seven principles through which human beings may
force life to provide them with spiritual, mental, and physical freedom.
YOUR MAJESTY WILL NOW PROCEED
In the rest of the book, Hill discusses these seven principles
to attain spiritual, mental, and physical freedom:
Definiteness of purpose
Mastery over self
Learning from adversity
Controlling environmental influence (associations)
Time (giving permanency to positive, rather than
negative thought-habits and developing wisdom)
6. Harmony (acting with definiteness of purpose to
become the dominating influence in your own mental,
spiritual, and physical environment)
7. Caution (thinking through your plan before you act)
Do not be sparing in your description of these principles.
I want a complete illustration of how the principles may be
used by anyone who chooses to use them. Tell us all you know
about the principle of definiteness ofpurpose.
The interrogator gains some momentum here and goes for
the jugular. Do we have the courage, at moments of opportunity, to act as aggressively and with definiteness of purpose?
A If you go through with this mad idea of publishing my confession, you will open the gates of hell and tum loose all the
precious souls I have collected back down through the ages.
You will deprive me of souls yet unborn. You will release from
my bondage millions now living. Stop, I beg of you.
Q Open up. Let's hear what you have to say about the principle of definiteness of purpose.
A You are pouring water on the fires of hell, but the responsibility is yours, not mine. I may as well tell you that any human
being who can be definite in his aims and plans can make life
hand over whatever is wanted.
Q That is a broad claim, Your Majesty. Do you wish to tone it
down a bit?
A Tone it down? No, I wish to tone it up. When you hear what
I now have to say, you will understand why the principle of definiteness is so important. My opposition uses a clever little trick
to cheat me of my control over people. The opposition knows
that definiteness of purpose closes the door of one's mind so
tightly against me that I cannot break through unless I can
induce one to form the habit of drifting.
Q Why doesn't your opposition give your secret to all people
by telling them to avoid you through definiteness of purpose?
You have already admitted that two out of every hundred
people belong to your opposition.
A Because I am more clever than my opposition. I draw
people away from definiteness with my promises. You see,
I control more people than my opposition because I am a
• 149 •
better salesman and a better showman. I attract people by
feeding them liberally of the thought-habits in which they like
Q Is definiteness of purpose something with which one must
be born or may it be acquired?
A Everyone, as I have told you before, is born with the privilege of being definite, but 98 out of every 100 people lose this
privilege by sleeping on it. The privilege of definiteness can
be maintained only by adopting it as a policy by which one is
guided in all the affairs of life.
Q Oh, I see! One takes advantage of the principle of definiteness just as one may build a strong physical body-through
constant, systematic use. Is that it?
A You have stated the truth clearly and accurately.
Q Now I think we are getting somewhere, Your Majesty. We
have at long last found the starting point from which all who
become self-determining in life must take off
We have discovered, from your astounding confession,
that your greatest asset is man's lack of caution, which enables
you to lead him into the jungle of indefiniteness through
We have learned, beyond the question of doubt, that
anyone who adopts definiteness of purpose as a policy and uses
it in all of his daily experiences cannot be induced to form the
habit of drifting. Without the aid of the drifting habit you are
powerless to attract people through promises. Is this correct?
A I couldn't have stated the truth more clearly myself
Q Go ahead, now, and describe how people neglect their privilege of being free and self-determining through indefiniteness
A I have already made brief reference to this principle, but I will
now go into more minute details as to how the principle works.
I shall have to begin at the time of birth. When a child is
born, it brings with it nothing but a physical body representing
the evolutionary results of millions of years of ancestry.
Its mind is a total blank. When the child reaches the age
of consciousness and begins to recognize the objects of its surroundings, it begins, also, to imitate others.
Imitation becomes a fixed habit. Naturally the child imitates, first of all, its parents! Then it begins to imitate its other
relatives and daily associates, including its religious instructors
The imitation extends not merely to physical expression,
but also to thought expression. If a child's parents fear me and
express that fear within range of the child's hearing, the child
picks up the fear through the habit of imitation and stores it
away as a part of its subconscious stock of beliefs.
If the child's religious instructor expresses any form of
fear of me (and they all do, in one form or another), that fear is
added to the similar fear passed to the child by its parents, and
the two forms of negative limitation are stored away in the subconscious mind to be drawn upon and used by me later in life.
In a similar way the child learns, by imitation, to limit its
power of thought by filling its mind with envy, hatred, greed,
lust, revenge, and all the other negative impulses of thought
which destroy all possibility of definiteness.
Meanwhile I move in and induce the child to drift until I
bind its mind through hypnotic rhythm.
• 151 •
Q Am I to understand from your remarks that you have to
gain control of people while they are very young or lose your
opportunity at them altogether?
A I prefer to claim them before they come into possession
of their own minds. Once any person learns the power of his
own thoughts, he becomes positive and difficult to subdue. As
a matter of fact, I cannot control any human being who discovers and uses the principle of definiteness.
Q Is the habit of definiteness a permanent protection against
A No, not by any means. Definiteness closes the door of one's
mind to me only as long as that person follows the principle as
a matter of policy. Once any person hesitates, procrastinates, or
becomes indefinite about anything, he is just one step removed
from my control.
Says the Devil: ((Once any person hesitates, procrastinates,
or becomes indefinite about anything, he is just one step
removed from my control."
+ + + + + + + + + +
The metaphysical and spiritual aspects of the author's philosophy are on display in these responses by the Devil. What
he calls "definiteness" is today often called "intention" or
being "goal-driven" or "purpose-driven."
Q What has definiteness to do with one's material circumstances? I want to know if one may acquire power through definiteness of purpose without inviting destruction through the
law of compensation.
A Your question limits my illustrations because there are so
few people in the world who understand, and there have been
so few in the past who understood, how to use definiteness of
purpose without attracting to themselves the negative application of the law of compensation.
Here you are forcing me to disclose one of my most prized
tricks. I am bound to tell you that I eventually reclaim for my
cause all who escape me temporarily through definiteness of
purpose. The reclamation is made by filling the mind with greed
for power and the love of egotistical expression, until the individual falls into the habit of violating the rights of others. Then
I step in with the law of compensation and reclaim my victim.
Q So I see from your admission that definiteness of purpose
may be dangerous in proportion to its possibility as a power. Is
A Yes, and what is more important, every principle of good
carries with it the seed of an equivalent danger.
Q That is hard to believe. What danger, for example, can
there be in the habit oflove of truth?
A The danger lies in the word "habit." All habits, save only
that of the love of definiteness of purpose, may lead to the
habit of drifting. Love for truth, unless it assumes the proportion of definite pursuit of truth, may become similar to all
other good intentions. You know, of course, what I do with
"All habits, save only that of the love ofdefiniteness of purpose,
may lead to the habit ofdrifting. "
Q Is love for one's relatives also dangerous?
A The love for anything or anyone, save only the love of definiteness of purpose, may become dangerous. Love is a state of
mind which beclouds reason, saps will power, and blinds one
to facts and truth.
Everyone who becomes self-determining and gains spiritual freedom to think his own thoughts must examine carefully every emotion that seems even remotely related to love.
You may be surprised to know that love is one of my most
effective baits. With it I lead into the habit of drifting those
whom I could attract with nothing else.
That is why I have placed it at the head of my list of bribes.
Show me what any person loves most and I will have my cue
as to how that person can be induced to drift until I bind him
with hypnotic rhythm.
Love and fear, combined, give me the most effective
weapons with which I induce people to drift. One is as helpful
to me as the other. Both have the effect of causing people to
neglect to develop definiteness in the use of their own minds.
Give me control over a person's fears and tell me what he
loves most and you may as well mark that person down as my
slave. Both love and fear are emotional forces of such stupendous potency that either may completely set aside the power of
will and the power of reason. Without will and reason there is
nothing left to support definiteness of purpose.
Q But, Your Majesty, life would not be worth living if people
never felt the emotion oflove.
A Ah! You are right as far as your reasoning goes, but you
neglected to add that love should be under one's definite control at all times.
Of course, love is a desirable state of mind, but it also is a
palliative which may be used to limit or destroy reason and will
power, both of which rate above love in importance to human
beings who want freedom and self-determination.
Q I understand from what you say that people who gam
power must harden their emotions, master fear, and subdue
love. Is that correct?
A People who gain and maintain power must become definite
in all their thoughts and all their deeds. If that is what you call
hard, then they must become hard.
Q Let us look into the sources of advantage of definiteness
in the everyday affairs of life. Which is more apt to succeed, a
weak plan applied with definiteness, or a sound strong plan
A Weak plans have a way of becoming strong if definitely
Q You mean that any plan definitely put into continuous
action in pursuit of a definite purpose may be successful even
if it is not the best plan?
A Yes, I mean just that. Definiteness of purpose plus definiteness of plan by which the purpose is to be achieved generally succeeds, no matter how weak the plan may be. The major
• 155 •
difference between a sound and an unsound plan is that the
sound plan, if definitely applied, may be carried out more
quickly than an unsound plan.
Q In other words, if one cannot be always right one can and
should be always definite? Is that what you are trying to get
across to me?
A That is the idea. People who are definite in both their
plans and their purposes never accept temporary defeat as
being more than an urge to greater effort. You can see for
yourself that this sort of policy is bound to win if it is followed with definiteness.
Q Can a person who moves with definiteness of both plan
and purpose be always sure of success?
A No. The best of plans sometimes misfire, but the person
who moves with definiteness recognizes the difference between
temporary defeat and failure. When plans fail he substitutes
others but he does not change his purpose. He perseveres.
Eventually he finds a plan that succeeds.
"The person who moves with definiteness recognizes the
difference between temporary defeat and failure. When plans fail
he substitutes others but he does not change
his purpose. He perseveres."
Q Will a plan based upon immoral or unjust ends succeed
as quickly as one motivated by a keen sense of justice and
A Through the operation of the law of compensation,
everyone reaps that which he sows. Plans based on unjust
or immoral motives may bring temporary success, but enduring
success must take into consideration the fourth dimension, time.
Time is the enemy of immorality and injustice. It is the
friend of justice and morality. Failure to recognize this fact
has been responsible for the crime wave among the youths of
The youthful, inexperienced mind is apt to mistake temporary success for permanency. The youth often makes the mistake of coveting the temporary gains of immoral, unjust plans,
but neglects to look ahead and observe the penalties which
follow as definitely as night follows day.
Your Majesty. Let us get back
to the discussion of lighter and more concrete subjects that are
likely to interest the majority of people. I am interested in discussing the things that make people happy and miserable, rich
and poor, sick and healthy. In brief, I am interested in everything that can be used by human beings to make life pay satisfactory dividends in return for the effort that one puts into the
business of living.
THIS IS PRETTY DEEP STUFF,
A Very well, let us be definite.
Q You have my idea. Your Majesty has a tendency to stray
off into abstract details which most people can neither understand nor use in the solution of their problems. Could that, by
any chance, be a definite plan of yours to answer my questions
with indefinite answers? If that is your plan, it is a slick trick
but it will not work. Go ahead now and tell me something
more of the miseries and failures of human beings growing
directly out of indefiniteness.
A Why not permit me to tell you more of the pleasures and
successes of people who understand and apply the principle of
Q I observe that sometimes people with definiteness of plan
and purpose get what they ask from life only to find after they
get it that they do not want it. What then?
A Generally one can get rid of whatever is not wanted by
application of the same principle of definiteness with which
the thing was acquired. A life that is lived with fullness of peace
of mind, contentment, and happiness always divests itself of
everything it does not want. Anyone who submits to annoyance
by things he does not want is not definite. He is a drifter.
ofpeace ofmind, contentment,
and happiness always divests itselfofeverything
UA life that is lived with fullness
it does not want. "
+ + + + + + + + + +
How many of us are truly content? In a world where so many
people are trying to "keep up with the Joneses," could we not
all learn something here? Is there something in your life that
you need to divest yourself of? Make a commitment to catch
yourself when you are feeling annoyed ... and remember the
Devil's words, "Anyone who submits to annoyance by things
he does not want is not definite. He is a drifter."
Q What about married people who cease to want each other?
Should they separate, or is it true that all marriages are made
in heaven and the contracting parties are, therefore, forever
bound by their bargain, even though it may prove to be a poor
one for both.
A First, let me correct that old saying that all marriages are
made in heaven. I know of some which were made on my side
of the fence. Minds which do not harmonize should never be
forced to remain together in marriage or any other relationship.
Friction and all forms of discord between minds lead inevitably
to the habit of drifting, and of course to indefiniteness.
Q Aren't people sometimes bound to others by a relationship
of duty which renders it impractical for them to take from life
what they want most?
A "Duty" is one of the most abused and misunderstood
words in existence. The first duty of every human being is to
himself. Every person owes himself the duty of finding how
to live a full and happy life. Beyond this, if one has time and
energy not needed in the fulfillment of his own desires, one
may assume responsibility for helping others.
"The first duty ofevery human being is to himself.
Every person owes himselfthe duty offinding how to live a full
and happy life. "
Of course, though compelled to answer accurately, the Devil
still responds from the perspective of the Devil. Is it possible
that Mother Teresa or Gandhi had a very different opinion
on this issue? They lived their lives in service of others. How
do you feel? Do you put finding a full and happy life first in
your life? Do you agree with those who would argue that to
truly be of service to others you need to take care of yourself first? Is it then possible that Mother Teresa and Gandhi
found their full and happy lives-through service to others?
Q Isn't that a selfish attitude, and isn't selfishness one of the
causes of failure to find happiness?
A I stand by my statement that there is no higher duty than
that which one owes himself.
Q Doesn't a child owe something in the way of duty
parents who gave it life and sustenance during its periods of
A Not at all. It is just the other way around. Parents owe their
children everything they can give them in the way of knowledge. Beyond that, parents often spoil instead of helping their
offspring by a false sense of duty which prompts them to
indulge their children instead of forcing them to seek and gain
knowledge at first hand.
Q I see what you mean. Your theory is that too much help
thrust upon the youth encourages him to drift and become
indefinite in all things. You believe that necessity is a teacher of
great sagacity, that defeat carries with it an equivalent virtue,
that unearned gifts of every nature may become a curse instead
of a blessing. Is that correct?
Hill notes, <'Unearned gifts of every nature may become a curse
instead ofa blessing." In our effort to give to our children, are
we really cursing them? A very sobering thought, but also
great advice, for parents.
A You have stated my philosophy perfecdy. My belief is not
theory. It is fact.
Q Then you do not advocate prayer as a means of gaining
A On the contrary I do advocate prayer, but not the sort of
prayer that consists of empty, begging, meaningless words.
The sort of prayer against which I am helpless is the prayer of
definiteness of purpose.
Q I never thought of definiteness of purpose as being a
prayer. How can it be?
A Definiteness is in effect the only sort of prayer upon which
one can rely. It places one in the way of using hypnotic rhythm
to attain definite ends ... by the mere act of appropriating it
from the great universal storehouse of Infinite Intelligence.
The appropriation, in case you are interested, takes place
through definiteness of purpose, persistently pursued!
Q Why do the majority of prayers fail?
A They don't. All prayers bring that for which one prays.
Q But you just said that definiteness of purpose is the only
sort of prayer upon which one can rely. Now you say that all
prayers bring results. What do you mean?
A There is nothing inconsistent about it. The majority of
people who pray go to prayer only after everything else fails
them. Naturally they go with their minds filled with fear that
the prayers will not be answered. Well, their fears are realized.
The person who goes to prayer with definiteness of purpose
and faith in the attainment of that purpose puts into motion
the laws of nature which transmute one's dominating desires
into their physical equivalent. That is all there is to prayer.
One form of prayer is negative and brings only negative results. One form is positive and brings definite, positive
results. Could anything be more simple?
People who whine and beg God to assume responsibility
for all their troubles and provide them with all the necessities and luxuries of life are too lazy to create what they want
and translate it into existence through the power of their
When you hear a person praying for something that he
should procure through his own efforts, you may be sure you
are listening to a drifter. Infinite Intelligence favors only those
who understand and adapt themselves to her laws. She makes
no discrimination because of fine character or pleasing personality. These things help people negotiate their way through
life more harmoniously with one another, but the source from
which prayer is answered is not impressed by fine feathers.
Nature's law is, "Know what you want, adapt yourself to my
laws, and you shall have it."
The preceding question and answer push the boundaries
of Hill's critique of organized religion versus personal
spirituality and responsibility.
Q Does that harmonize with the teachings of Christ?
A Perfecdy. Also it harmonizes with the teachings of all truly
Q Is your theory of definiteness in harmony with the philosophy of men of science?
A Definiteness is the major difference between a scientist
and a drifter. Through the principle of definiteness of purpose
and plan, the scientist forces nature to hand over her most
profound secrets. It was through this principle that Edison
uncovered the secret of the talking machine, the incandescent
electric light, and scores of other benefits for mankind.
Q Then I understand that definiteness is the first requisite
for success in all earthly undertakings? Is that right?
A Exactly! Anything which teaches people to examine facts
and coordinate them into definite plans through accurate
thinking is hard on my profession. If this thirst for definite
knowledge now spreading over the world keeps up, my business will be shot to pieces within the next few centuries. I thrive
on ignorance, superstition, intolerance, and fear, but I cannot
stand up under definite knowledge properly organized into
definite plans in the minds of people who think for themselves.
Q Why don't you take over Omnipotence and manage the
whole works in your own way?
A You might as well ask why the negative portion of the electron doesn't take over the positive portion and run the entire
works. The answer is that both the positive and the negative
charges of energy are necessary to the existence of the electron. One is balanced equally against the other, stalemated, as
So it is with what you call Omnipotence and I. We represent the positive and the negative forces of the entire system of
universes, and we are equally balanced one against the other.
If this power of balance were shifted the slightest degree,
the whole system of universes would become quickly reduced
to a mass of inert matter. Now you know why I cannot take
over the whole show and run it my way.
Q If what you say is true, you have exactly the same power as
Omnipotence. Is that true?
A That is correct. My opposition-you call it Omnipotenceexpresses itself through the forces which you call good, the
positive forces of nature. I express myself through the forces
you call bad, the negative forces. Both good and bad are coincidental with existence. One is as important as the other.
Q Then the doctrine of predestination is sound. People are
born to success or failure, misery or happiness, to be good or
bad, and they have nothing to do with this nor can they modifY
their natures. Is that your claim?
A Emphatically not! Every human being has a wide range
of choice in both his thoughts and his deeds. Every human
being can use his brain for the reception and the expression of
positive thoughts or he can use it for the expression of negative thoughts. His choice in this important matter shapes his
Q From what you have said I gather the idea that human
beings have more freedom of expression than either you or
your opposition. Is that correct?
A That is true. Omnipotence and I are bound by immutable
laws of nature. We cannot express ourselves in any manner not
conforming to these laws.
Q Then it is true that man has rights and privileges not available to either Omnipotence or the Devil. Is that the truth?
A Yes, that is true, but you might well have added that man
has not yet fully awakened to the realization of this potential
power. Man still regards himself as something resembling the
worms in the dust, when in reality he has more power than all
other living things combined.
Q Definiteness of purpose seems to be a panacea for all evils
A Not that perhaps, but you may be sure no one ever will
become self-determining without it.
Q Why aren't children taught definiteness of purpose in the
A For the reason that there is no definite plan or purpose
behind any of the school curricula! Children are sent to school
to make credits and to learn how to memorize, not to learn
what they want of life.
Says the Devil: "Children are sent to school to make credits and to
leam how to memorize, not to leam what they want oflife. »
+ + + + + + + + + +
Again, I find this chilling. Hill sounded this alann in 1938
and yet the manuscript went unpublished and today we are
still "teaching to the test" in our schools. I am on a mission
to promote financial education to teach young people about
money, a true life skill, and yet many schools still reject it
because it does not satisfy the "test requirements" upon
which they are graded and receive funding. Is it not time to
sound the alarms again?
Q What good is a school credit if one cannot convert it into
the material and spiritual needs oflife?
A I am only a Devil, not an un-winder of riddles!
Q I deduce from all you say that neither the schools nor
the churches prepare the youths of the world with a practical
working knowledge of their own minds. Is anything of more
importance to a human being than an understanding of the
forces and circumstances which influence his own mind?
A The only thing of enduring value to any human being is
a working knowledge of his own mind. The churches do not
permit a person to inquire into the possibilities of his own
mind, and the schools do not recognize that such a thing as a
Why is Napoleon Hill so down on churches and the prevailing organized religions of his day? I believe his criticism
stems from an abiding love for the true spirit and meaning
of faith and the underlying validity of all religious traditions-despite what human beings do to weaken or corrupt
them. What is the balance between accepting that which is
revealed to your mind and heart-your soul-and the reality
of life in a world so often infected with evil, as personified
by Hill's Devil?
Q Aren't you a little hard on the schools and the churches?
A No, I am merely describing them as they are, without bias
Q Aren't the schools and the churches your bitter enemies?
A Their leaders may think they are, but I am impressed only
by facts. The truth is this, if you must know it: the churches
are my most helpful allies and the schools run the churches a
Q On what specific or general grounds do you make this
A On the grounds that both the churches and the schools
help me to convert people to the habit of drifting.
Q Do you realize that your charge is substantially a sweeping
indictment of the two institutions of major importance which
have been responsible for civilization, in its present form?
A Do I realize it? Man alive, I gloat over it. If the schools and
churches had taught people how to think for themselves, where
would I be, now?
Q This confession ofyours will disillusion millions of people
whose only hope for salvation is in their churches. Isn't that
a cruel thing to do to them? Wouldn't most people be better
off living in the bliss of ignorance than to know the truth
A What do you mean by the term "salvation"? From what are
people being saved? The only form of enduring salvation that
is worth a green fig to any human being is that which comes
from recognition of the power ofhis own mind. Ignorance and
fear are the only enemies from which men need salvation.
Q You seem to hold nothing sacred.
A You are wrong. I hold sacred the one thing which is my
master-the one thing I fear.
Q What is that?
A The power of independent thought backed by definiteness
Q Then you do not have many people to fear?
A Only two out of every 100 to be exact. I control all others.
Q Let's give the churches a rest and get back to the public
schools. Your confession has shown clearly that you thrive and
perpetuate yourself from one generation to another by the
clever trick of taking over the minds of children before they
have the chance to learn how to use their minds.
I wish to know what is wrong with a public school system
that permits the Devil to control so many people. I wish to
know, also, what can be done to the established system of
teaching that will insure all children the opportunity to learn,
first, that they have minds, and second, how to use those
minds to bring spiritual and economic freedom.
I am putting the question to you definitely enough, and
since you have stressed the importance of definiteness of
purpose I am here and now putting you on notice that your
answer to my question must be definite.
A Wait a moment while I catch my breath. You have given me
quite an order! It seems strange that you would come to the
Devil to learn how to live. I should think you would go to my
opposition. Why don't you?
Q Your Majesty, it is you who are on trial here, not 1. I want
the truth and I am not particular as to the source from which
I get it. There is something radically wrong with the system of
education that has given us a balance sheet with life that shows
us hopelessly in the red and groping for the road to self-determination as if we were so many animals lost in the jungle.
I want to know two things about this system. First, what is
the major weakness of the system? Second, how can this weakness be eliminated? The floor is yours again! Please stick to the
question and stop trying to decoy me into the discussion of
deep, abstract subjects. That's definite, is it not?
A You leave me no choice but that of direct answer. To begin
with, the public school system approaches the subject of education from the wrong angle. The school system endeavors to
teach children to memorize facts, instead of teaching them how
to use their own minds.
Q Is that all that is wrong with the system?
A No, that is only the beginning. Another major weakness of
the school system is that it does not establish in the minds of
children either the importance of definiteness of purpose or
make any attempt to teach youths how to be definite about
The major object of all schooling is to force the students to
cram their memories with facts instead of teaching them how
to organize and make practical use of facts.
This cramming system centers the attention of students
on the accumulation of "credits" but overlooks the important
question of how to use knowledge in the practical affairs of life.
This system turns out graduates whose names are inscribed
upon parchment certificates, but whose minds are empty of
self-determination. The school system got off to a bad start
at the beginning. The schools began as institutions of "higher
learning," operated entirely for the select few whose wealth and
family entided them to education.
Thus the entire school system was evolved by beginning at
the top and working back down to the bottom. It is no wonder
the system neglects to teach children the importance of definiteness of purpose when the system, itself, has literally evolved
Q What would correct this weakness of the public school
system? Let's not complain of the weakness of the system
unless we are prepared to offer a practical remedy with which
it can be corrected. In other words, while we are discussing the
importance of definiteness of plan and purpose, let us take our
own medicine and be definite.
A Why don't you layoff the schools and churches and save
yourself plenty of trouble? Don't you know that you are poking
your nose into the affairs of the two forces that control the
world? Suppose you do show up the schools and the churches
as being weak and inadequate for the needs of human beings?
What then? With what are you going to replace these two
Q Stop trying to evade my questions by the old trick of
asking a counter-question! I do not propose to replace the
schools and churches. But I do propose to find out, if I can,
how these organized forces can be modified so they will serve
people instead of keeping them in ignorance. Go ahead, now,
and give me a detailed catalogue of all the changes in the
public school system which would improve it.
A So you want the entire catalogue, do you? Do you want the
suggested changes in the order of their importance?
This is another point at which the questioner forces the Devil
out of his comfort zone. It is amusing and instructive to witness this exchange, which provides a road map for improvement of our public schools.
Q Describe the changes needed just as they come to you.
A You are forcing me to commit an act of treason against
myself, but here it is:
Reverse the present system by giving children the privilege
ofleading in their school work instead of following orthodox
rules designed only to impart abstract knowledge. Let
instructors serve as students and let the students serve
As far as possible, organize all school work into definite
methods through which the student can learn by doing, and
direct the class work so that every student engages in some
form of practical labor connected with the daily problems
Ideas are the beginning of all human achievement. Teach
all students how to recognize practical ideas that may be of
benefit in helping them acquire whatever they demand of life.
Teach the students how to budget and use time, and above
all teach the truth that time is the greatest asset available to
human beings and the cheapest.
Teach the student the basic motives by which all people are
influenced and show how to use these motives in acquiring
the necessities and the luxuries of life.
Teach children what to eat, how much to eat, and what is the
relationship between proper eating and sound health.
Teach children the true nature and function of the emotion
of sex, and above all, teach them that it can be transmuted
into a driving force capable of lifting one to great heights
Teach children to be definite in all things, beginning with the
choice of a definite major purpose in life!
Teach children the nature of and possibilities for good and
evil in the principle of habit, using as illustrations with
which to dramatize the subject the everyday experiences of
children and adults.
Teach children how habits become fixed through the law of
hypnotic rhythm, and influence them to adopt, while in the
lower grades, habits that will lead to independent thought!
Teach children the difference between temporary defeat
and failure, and show them how to search for the seed of an
equivalent advantage which comes with every defeat.
Teach children to express their own thoughts fearlessly and
to accept or reject, at will, all ideas of others, reserving to
themselves, always, the privilege of relying upon their
Teach children to reach decisions promptly and to change
them, if at all, slowly and with reluctance, and never without a
Teach children that the human brain is the instrument with
which one receives, from the great storehouse of nature, the
energy which is specialized into definite thoughts; that the
brain does not think, but serves as an instrument for the
interpretation of stimuli which cause thought.
Teach children the value of harmony in their own minds and
that this is attainable only through self-control.
Teach children the nature and the value of self-control.
Teach children that there is a law of increasing returns which
can be and should be put into operation, as a matter of habit,
by rendering always more service and better service than is
expected of them.
Teach children the true nature of the Golden Rule, and above
all show them that through the operation of this principle,
everything they do to and for another they do also to and
Teach children not to have opinions unless they are formed
from facts or beliefs which may reasonably be accepted as facts.
Teach children that cigarettes, liquor, narcotics, and overindulgence in sex destroy the power of will and lead to the habit
of drifting. Do not forbid these evils-just explain them.
Teach children the danger of believing anything merely
because their parents, religious instructors, or someone else
says it is so.
Teach children to face facts, whether they are pleasant or
unpleasant, without resorting to subterfuge or offering alibis.
Teach children to encourage the use of their sixth sense
through which ideas present themselves in their minds from
unknown sources, and to examine all such ideas carefully.
Teach children the full import of the law of compensation as it
was interpreted by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and show them how
the law works in the small, everyday affairs of life.
Teach children that definiteness of purpose, backed by definite
plans persistently and continuously applied, is the most
efficacious form of prayer available to human beings.
Teach children that the space they occupy in the world is
measured definitely by the quality and quantity of useful
service they render the world.
Teach children there is no problem which does not have an
appropriate solution and that the solution often may be found
in the circumstance creating the problem.
Teach children that their only real limitations are those which
they set up or permit others to establish in their own minds.
Teach them that man can achieve whatever man can conceive
Teach children that all schoolhouses and all textbooks
are elementary implements which may be helpful in the
development of their minds, but that the only school of
real value is the great University of Life wherein one has the
privilege oflearning from experience.
Teach children to be true to themselves at all times and, since
they cannot please everybody, therefore to do a good job of
Q That is an imposing list, but it seems conspicuous by
the fact it ignores practically every subject now taught in the
public schools. Was that intended?
A Yes. You asked for a list of suggested changes in public
school curricula which would benefit children-well, that is
what you got.
Q Some of the changes you suggest are so unorthodox they
would shock most of the educators of today, wouldn't they?
A Most of the educators of today need to be shocked. A good
sound shock often helps the brain that has been atrophied
Q Would the changes you suggest for the public schools give
children immunity against the habit of drifting?
A Yes, that is one of the results the changes would bring, but
there are others too.
I can't say that I agree with each thing on the Devil's list.
However, when I stopped to analyze his list of recommendations, this question came to my mind: Isn't that what our
schools should be teaching our children? The Devil knew this
and we didn't?!?
I wish Hill had thought to ask why our schools are what
they are-and where they are-or what and where they aren't.
The great scholars who designed our system of schooling
must have realized the importance of at least some of what
the Devil professed our schools should be teaching. Why
aren't these things part of the system? How could the original
architects of what is today our compulsory education system
have been so far off target? The Devil did make the claim that
the school system is one of his primary vehicles for creating
and sustaining his large army of drifters. Could it be?
Q How could the suggested changes be forced into the public
school system? You know, of course, it is as difficult to get a
new idea into an educator's brain as it is to interest a religious
leader in modifYing religion so it will help people to get more
Any of you who have tried to work to make changes in the
public school system are probably nodding right now.
A The quickest and surest way to force practical ideas into
the public schools is to first introduce the ideas through private schools and establish such a demand for their use that
public school officials will be compelled to employ them.
Q Should any other changes be made in the public school
A Yes, many. Among other changes needed in all public
school programs is the addition of a complete course of
training in the psychology of harmonious negotiation between
people. All children should be taught how to sell their way
through life with the minimum amount of friction.
Every public school should teach the principles of individual achievement through which one may attain a position
of financial independence.
Classes should be abolished altogether. They should be
replaced by the round table or conference system such as
businessmen employ. All students should receive individual
instruction and guidance in connection with subjects which
cannot be properly taught in groups.
Every school should have an auxiliary group of instructors consisting of business and professional people, scientists,
artists, engineers, and newspapermen, each of whom would
impart to all the students a practical working knowledge of
his own profession, business, or occupation. This instruction
should be conducted through the conference system, to save
the time of the instructors.
Q What you have suggested is, in effect, an auxiliary system
of instruction that would give all school children a working
knowledge of the practical affairs of life, direct from the original source. Is that the idea?
A You've stated it correctly.
This is another subject that strikes close to home. My husband recalls that during the early 1970s in New Jersey, one
of the organizations that he was involved with assembled a
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group of scientists and businessmen to teach basic coursesfor example, mathematics and physics-in their fields as volunteers in the public schools, only to be told that since the
scientists and businessmen were not professional teachers,
they were not welcome. More recently, the mission of
bringing practical teaching into the schools has been popularized by several groups (Teach for America, America Saves,
Junior Achievement), but it is still often viewed as enhancement material and not part of the core curriculum.
This and many other shifts in how content, context, principles, and skills are delivered to our children in our compulsory system of education need to be included as part of an
interactive, experiential process that will determine how our
children live their lives-and what impact they will have on this
complex world in which we live. The challenge is this: How
do we package it all into a deliverable program that can be
systematically and systemically implemented so it is successoriented, rewarding, and fulfilling for all participants, children
and adults alike? I am pleased and proud to say that I work
with groups that have designed such programs-and they're
taking these programs forward with definiteness of purpose.
Their vision of the future-like ours-is to have an educational system that evolves into a powerful force, capable of
producing self-motivated, independent-thinking, self-reliant,
contributing members of society. And capable also of producing something more important-future generations ready
and able to work in a complex world, to live successfully, to
take pleasure in empowering themselves and others, and
to make a real and lasting difference in the world as informed,
responsible, involved global citizens, each with definiteness
of purpose I
Q Let us dismiss the public school system and go back
the churches for a moment. All my life I have heard clergymen preaching against sin and warning sinners to beware
and repent so they could be saved. But I have never heard
any of them tell me what sin is. Will you give me some light on
A Sin is anything one does or thinks which causes one to be
unhappy! Human beings who are in sound physical and spiritual health should be at peace with themselves and always
happy. Any form of mental or physical misery indicates the
presence of sin.
Q Name some of the common forms of sin.
A It is a sin to overeat because that leads to ill health
It is a sin to over-indulge in sex because that breaks down
one's will power and leads to the habit of drifting.
It is a sin to permit one's mind to be dominated by negative thoughts of envy, greed, fear, hatred, intolerance, vanity,
self-pity, or discouragement, because these states of mind lead
to the habit of drifting.
It is a sin to cheat, lie, and steal, because these habits
destroy self-respect, subdue one's conscience, and lead to
It is a sin to remain in ignorance because that leads to poverty and loss of self-reliance.
It is a sin to accept from life anything one does not
want because that indicates an unpardonable neglect to use
Q Is it a sin for one to drift through life, without definite aim,
plan, or purpose?
A Yes, because this habit leads to poverty and destroys the
privilege of self-determination. It also deprives one of the
privilege of using his own mind as a medium of contact with
Q Are you the chief inspirer of sin?
A Yes! It is my business to gain control of the minds of people
in every way possible.
Q Can you control the mind of a person who commits no
A I cannot, because that person never permits his mind to be
dominated by any form of negative thought. I cannot enter the
mind of one who never sins, let alone control it.
Q What is the commonest and most destructive of all sins?
A Fear and ignorance.
Q Have you nothing else to add to the list?
A There is nothing else to be added.
Q What is faith?
A It is a state of mind wherein one recognizes and uses the
power of positive thought as a medium by which one contacts
and draws upon the universal store ofInfinite Intelligence at will.
Q In other words, faith is the absence of all forms of negative
thought. Is that the idea?
A Yes, that is another way of describing it.
Q Has a drifter the capacity to use faith?
A He may have the capacity but he does not use it. Everyone
has the potential power to clear his mind of all negative
thoughts and thereby avail himself of the power of faith.
Q Stating the matter in another way, faith is definiteness of
purpose backed by belief in the attainment of the object of
that purpose. Is that correct?
A That's the idea, exactly.
Faith is tta state ofmind wherein one recognizes and uses the
power of positive thought as a medium by which one contacts and
draws upon the universal store of
Infinite Intelligence at will. II
+ + + + + + + + + +
Hill succinctly sums up the definition:
"Faith is definiteness ofpurpose backed by beliefin the
attainment ofthe object ofthat purpose. "
able to move with definiteness of purpose at all times?
WHAT PREPARATION MUST ONE UNDERGO
A One must gain mastery over self. This is the second of the
seven principles. The person who is not master of himself can
never be master of others. Lack of self-mastery is, of itself, the
most destructive form of indefiniteness.
C7#le person who is not master ofhimself
can never be master ofothers. "
How true this isl Think of our political leaders who have
fallen from grace because they could not control their own
behavior. How can we trust them to control ours?
Q Where should one begin when making a start at control
A By mastering the three appetites responsible for most
of one's lack of self-discipline. The three appetites are (1) the
desire for food, (2) the desire for expression of sex, (3) the
desire to express loosely organized opinions.
Q Does man have other appetites which need control?
A Yes, many of them, but these three are the ones which
should be conquered first. When a man becomes master of
these three appetites, he has developed enough self-discipline
to conquer easily those oflesser importance.
Q But these are natural appetites. They must be indulged if
one is to be healthy and happy.
A To be sure they are natural appetites, but they are also dangerous because people who have not mastered themselves overfeed the appetites. Self-mastery contemplates sufficient control
over the appetites to enable one to feed them what they need
and withhold food not needed.
Q Your viewpoint
both interesting and educational.
Describe the details through which I may understand how and
under what circumstances people over-feed the appetites.
A Take the desire for physical food, for example. The majority
of people are so weak in self-discipline they fill their stomachs
with combinations of rich food which please the taste but overwork the organs of digestion and elimination.
They pour into their stomachs both quantity and combinations of food which the body chemist can dispose of only by
converting the food into deadly toxic poisons.
These poisons clog and stagnate the body sewer system
until it slows down in its work of elimination of waste matter.
After a while the sewer system stops working altogether, and
the victim has what he calls "constipation."
By that time he is ready for the hospital. Auto-intoxication,
or body sewer poisoning, takes the machinery of the brain and
rolls it into something resembling a wad of putty.
The victim then becomes sluggish in his physical movements and mentally irritable and fussy. If he could only take
one good look at, and one bad smell of, his sewer system, he
would be ashamed to look himself in the face .
City sewers are not the pleasantest of places when they
become over-loaded or clogged, but they are clean and sweet
compared with the intestinal sewer when it has been overloaded or clogged. This is not a pretty story to be associated
with the pleasant and necessary act of eating, but that is where
it belongs because over-eating and wrong food combinations
are the evils which cause auto-intoxication.
People who eat wisely and keep their body sewers clean
handicap me because a clean body sewer generally means a
sound body and a brain that functions properly.
Imagine-if your imagination can be stretched that farhow any human being could move with definiteness of purpose
with his body sewer filled with enough poison to kill a hundred
people if it were injected into their bloodstream directly.
Here again, Napoleon Hill is far ahead of his time.
Science eventually caught up with Hill-and even surpassed
his intuition about physical processes and how they link to
mental and emotional health.
Q And all this trouble is the result of lack of control over the
physical appetite for food?
A Well, if you wish to be absolutely correct you should say
that improper eating is responsible for the majority of the ills
of the body, and practically all headaches.
If you want proof of this, select 100 people suffering with
headaches and give each of them a thorough washing out
of their body sewer systems with a high enema, and observe
that no fewer than ninety-five of the headaches will disappear
within a few minutes after their sewers have been cleaned.
Q From all you say about the intestinal tract, I gather the
impression that mastery over the physical appetite for food
means also mastery over the habit of neglecting to keep the
A Yes, that is true. It is just as important to eliminate the
waste matter of the body and the unused portions of food
as it is to take the right amount and the correct combinations
Q I never thought of auto-intoxication as being one of your
devices of control over people, and I am utterly shocked to
know how many people are victims of this subtle enemy. Let's
hear what you have to say of the other two appetites.
A Well, take the desire for sex expression. Now there is a
force with which I master the weak and the strong, the old and
the young, the ignorant and the wise. In fact, I master all who
neglect to master sex!
Q How can one master the emotion of sex?
A By the simple process of transmuting that emotion into
some form of activity other than copulation. Sex is one of the
greatest of all forces which motivate human beings. Because of
this fact it is also one of the most dangerous forces. Ifhumans
would control their sex desires and transmute them into a
driving force with which to carry on their occupation-that is,
if they spent on their work one half the time they dissipate in
pursuit of sex, they would never know poverty.
• 189 •
Q Do I understand you to imply there is a relationship
between sex and poverty?
A Yes, where sex is not under definite control. If allowed to
run its natural course, sex will quickly lead one into the habit
Q Is there any relationship between sex and leadership?
A Yes, all great leaders in every walk of life are highly sexed,
but they follow the habit of controlling their sex desires,
switching them into a driving force behind their occupation.
Q Is the habit of over-indulgence in sex as dangerous as the
habit of taking narcotics or liquor?
A There is no difference between these habits. Both lead to
hypnotic control, through the habit of drifting!
Q Why does the world look upon sex as something vulgar?
A Because of the vulgar abuse people have made of this emotion. It is not sex that is vulgar. It is the individual who neglects
or refuses to control and guide it.
Q Do you mean, by your statement, that one should not
indulge the desire for sex?
A No, I mean that sex, like all other forces available to man,
should be understood, mastered, and made to serve man. The
desire for sex expression is as natural as the desire for food.
The desire can no more be killed than one can entirely stop a
river from flowing. If the emotion of sex is shut off from the
natural mode of expression, it will break out in some other less
desirable form, just as a river will, if dammed, break through
and flow around the dam. The person who has self-discipline
understands the emotion of sex, respects it, and learns to control and transmute it into constructive activities.
Just what damage is there in over-indulgence of sex?
A The greatest damage is that it depletes the source of man's
greatest driving force, and wastes, without adequate compensation, man's creative energy.
It dissipates energy needed by nature to maintain physical
health. Sex is nature's most useful therapeutic force.
It depletes the magnetic energy which is the source of an
attractive, pleasing personality.
It removes the sparkle from one's eyes and sets up discord
in the tone of one's voice.
It destroys enthusiasm, subdues ambition, and leads inevitably to the habit of drifting on all subjects.
I would like for you to answer my question in another way
by telling me what beneficial ends the emotion of sex may be
made to attain, if mastered and transmuted.
A Controlled sex supplies the magnetic force that attracts
people to one another. It is the most important factor of a
It gives quality to the tone of voice and enables one to
convey through the voice any feeling desired.
It serves, as nothing else can serve, to give motive-power to
It keeps the nervous system charged with the energy needed
to carry on the work of maintaining the body.
It sharpens the imagination and enables one to create
• 191 •
It gives quickness and definiteness to one's physical and
It gives one persistence and perseverance in the pursuit of
one's major purpose in life.
It is a great antidote for all fear.
It gives one immunity against discouragement.
It helps to master laziness and procrastination.
It gives one physical and mental endurance while undergoing any form of opposition or defeat.
It gives one the fighting qualities necessary under all circumstances for self-defense.
In brief, it makes winners and not quitters!
Q Are those all the advantages you claim for controlled sex
A No, they are only some of the more important benefits
it provides. Perhaps some will believe the greatest of all the
virtues of sex is that it is nature's method of perpetuation of
all living things. This alone should remove all thought that sex
Q I gather, from what you say, that the emotion of sex is a
virtue, not a fault.
A It is a virtue when controlled and directed to the attainment of desirable ends. It is a fault when neglected and permitted to lead to acts oflust.
Q Why aren't these truths taught to children by their parents
and the public schools?
A The neglect is due to ignorance of the real nature of sex.
It is just as necessary in maintaining health for one to understand and properly use the emotion of sex as it is to keep the
body sewer system clean. Both subjects should be taught in all
public schools and all homes where there are children.
Q Wouldn't the majority of parents need instruction on the
proper function and use of sex before they could intelligently
teach their children?
A Yes, and so would the public schoolteachers.
Q What relative position of importance would you give to the
need for accurate knowledge on the subject of sex?
A It is next to the top of the list. There is but one thing of
greater importance to human beings. That is accurate thought.
"There is but one thing ofgreater importance to human beings.
That ;s accurate thought. "
Q Do I understand you to say that knowledge of the true
functions of sex and ability to think accurately are the two
things of greatest importance to mankind?
A That is what I intended you to understand. Accurate
thinking comes first because it is the solution to all man's
problems, the answer to all his prayers, the source of opulence
and all material possessions. Accurate thinking is aided by
properly controlled and directed sex emotion because sex emotion is the same energy as that with which one thinks. It begins
with those who desire self-determination sufficiently to be
willing to pay its price. No one can be entirely free-spiritually,
mentally, physically, and economically-without learning the
art of accurate thinking. No one can learn to think accurately
without including, as a part of the needed knowledge, information on the control of sex emotion through transmutation.
Q It will be a great surprise to many people to learn there is
so close a relationship between thinking and sex emotion. Tell
us, now, about the third appetite, and let's see what it has to do
A The habit of expressing loosely organized opinions is one
of the most destructive of habits. Its destructiveness consists in
its tendency to influence people to guess instead of searching
for the facts when they form opinions, create ideas, or organize
The habit develops a grasshopper mind-one that jumps
from one thing to another but never completes anything.
And of course, carelessness in the expression of opinions
leads to the habit of drifting. From there it is only a step or two
until one is bound by the law of hypnotic rhythm which automatically prohibits accurate thinking.
«The habit ofexpressing loosely organized opinions is one of the
most destructive ofhabits. "
Q What other disadvantages are there in free expression of
A The person who talks too much informs the world of his
aims and plans and gives to others the opportunity to profit by
Wise men keep their plans to themselves and refrain from
expressing uninvited opinions. This prevents others from
appropriating their ideas and makes it difficult for others to
interfere with their plans.
Q Why do so many people indulge in the habit of expressing
A The habit is one way of expressing egotism and vanity.
The desire for self-expression is inborn in people. The motive
behind the habit is to attract the attention of others and to
impress them favorably. Actually it has just the opposite effect.
When the self-invited speaker attracts attention, it usually is
Q Yes, what other disadvantages has the habit?
A The person who insists on talking seldom has an opportunity to learn by listening to others.
Q But isn't it true that a magnetic speaker often puts himself
in the way of opportunity to benefit himself by attracting the
attention of others through his powers of oratory?
A Yes, a magnetic orator does have an asset of tremendous
value in his ability to impress people by his speech, but he
cannot make the best use of this asset if he forces his speech on
others without their invitation.
No single quality adds more to one's personality than the
ability to speak with emotional feeling, force, and conviction,
but the speaker must not impose his speech upon others without
• 195 •
being invited to do so. There is an old saying that nothing is
worth more than its actual cost. This applies as well to the free
uninvited expression of opinions as to material things.
Q What about people who volunteer their opinions by
expressing them in writing? Do they also suffer by lack of
A One of the worst pests on earth is the person who writes
uninvited letters to people of prominence. Men in public office,
moving picture stars, men who have succeeded in business or
written a best-selling book, and people whose names appear
often in the newspapers are continuously besieged by people
who write letters expressing their opinion on all subjects.
Q But the writing of uninvited letters is a harmless way
of finding pleasure through self-expression, is it not? What
damage does one do by the habit?
Take a moment to remember that letter-writing was about
the only way to communicate in the written form when
Napoleon Hill wrote this manuscript. As you read, think
about how his thoughts would apply to today's world of
blogging and social networking.
A Habits are contagious. Every habit attracts a flock of its relatives. The habit of doing anything that is useless leads to the
formation of other habits that are useless, especially the habit
• 196 •
But that is not all the dangers associated with the habit of
indulging in uninvited expression of opinions. The habit creates enemies and places in their hands dangerous weapons by
which they may do great injury to the one who indulges in it.
Thieves and confidence men and racketeers pay big prices for
the names and addresses of the writers of uninvited letters,
knowing as they do the writers of these letters become easy victims of all manner of schemes that result in the loss of their
money. They refer to the writers of such letters as "nuts." If
you wish to know how foolish people are who write uninvited
letters, read the "nut column" of any newspaper-the column
in which the paper publishes the voluntary opinions of its
readers-and you will see for yourself how the writers of such
letters antagonize people and invite opposition from others.
Q I had no idea, Your Majesty, that people get into so much
difficulty through uninvited expression of their opinions,
but now that you have brought up the subject I do remember
writing the editor of a prominent magazine an uninvited
letter of criticism which cost me a fine position on his staff, at
a fat salary.
A That is a perfect example. The proper place to begin
self-discipline is right where you stand. The way to begin is
by recognizing the truth-that there is nothing for good or
evil throughout the myriads of universes except the power
of natural law. There is no individual personality anywhere
throughout the myriad of universes with the slightest power
to influence a human being save nature and human beings
There is no human being now living, no human being has
ever lived, and no human being ever will live with the right
• 197 •
or the power to deprive another human being of the inborn
privilege of free and independent thought. That privilege is
the only one over which any human being can have absolute
control. No adult human being ever loses the right to freedom
of thought, but most humans lose the benefits of this privilege either by neglect or because it has been taken away from
them by their parents or religious instructors before the
age of understanding. These are self-evident truths, no less
important because they are being called to your attention by
the Devil than they would be if brought to your attention by
Hill distinguishes our right to have independent thoughts
from our uninvited expression of those thoughts. How would
you apply this principle in today's world of blogging and
Q But what are people going to lean upon in the hour of
emergency when they know not where nor to whom to appeal?
A Let them lean upon the only dependable power available to
any human being.
Q And what is that?
A Themselves! The power of their own thoughts. The only
power they can control and may rely upon. The only power
which cannot be perverted, colored, modified, and falsified by
their dishonest fellow human beings.
"The only dependable power available to any human being ••.
The power of their own thoughts.
The only power they can control and may rely upon."
+ + + + +
You may not be able to control other people ... but you can
control how you react to them and their actions. This is an
easy thing to say but much more difficult to do. We tend to
want to change other people when we can truly only change
ourselves and how we react to others.
Q All you say seems logical, but why must I come to the Devil
to discover such profound truths? Let's get back to the seven
principles. You have already disclosed enough information
to show clearly that the secret of how to break the power of
hypnotic rhythm is wrapped in the seven principles. You have
shown, too, that the most important of these principles is selfdiscipline. Now go ahead and describe the other five principles
you have not yet mentioned, and indicate what part they play
in giving one self-discipline.
A First, let me summarize that part of my confession we have
I have frankly told you that my two most effective devices
for mastering human beings are the habit of drifting and the
law of hypnotic rhythm. I have shown you that drifting is not
a natural law, but a man-made habit which leads to man's submission to the law of hypnotic rhythm.
The seven principles are the media by which man may
break the hold of hypnotic rhythm and take possession, again,
• 199 •
of his own mind. You see, therefore, the seven principles are the
seven steps which lead victims of hypnotic rhythm out of the
self-made prisons in which they are bound.
Q The seven principles are the master key that unlocks the
door to spiritual, mental, and economic self-determination? Is
A Yes, that's another way of stating the truth.
+ 200 +
FAILURE EVER A BENEFIT TO MAN?
A Yes. Indeed, learning from adversity is the third of the seven
principles. But few people know that every adversity brings
with it the seed of an equivalent advantage. Still fewer people
know the difference between temporary defeat and failure. If
this knowledge were generally known, I would be deprived of
one of my strongest weapons of control over human beings.
Q But I understood you to say that failure is one of your
greatest allies. I got the impression from your confession that
failure causes people to lose ambition and quit trying, and
then you take them over without opposition on their part.
A That is just the point. I take them over after they quit
trying. If they knew the difference between temporary defeat
and failure, they would not quit when they meet with opposition from life. If they knew that every form of defeat, and all
failures, bring with them the seed of unborn opportunity, they
would keep on fighting and win. Success usually is but one
short step beyond the point where one quits fighting.
Q Is that all one might learn from adversity, defeat, and
A No, that is the least of what one might learn. I hate to
tell you this, but failure often serves as a blessing in disguise
because it breaks the grip of hypnotic rhythm and frees the
mind for a fresh start.
Q Now we are getting somewhere. So you have confessed, at
long last, that even nature's law of hypnotic rhythm can be and
often is annulled by nature herself Is that correct?
A No, that is not stating the matter accurately. Nature never
reverses any of her natural laws. Nature does not take away a
human being's freedom of thought through hypnotic rhythm.
The individual gives up his freedom by abuse of this law. If a
man jumped from a tree and was killed by the sudden impact of
his body with the earth, through the law of gravity, you wouldn't
say nature murdered him, would you? You would say the man
neglected to relate himself properly to the law of gravity.
Q I am beginning
to see. The law of hypnotic rhythm
capable of both negative and positive application. It may drag
one down to slavery through loss of the privilege of freedom
of thought, or it may help one rise to great heights of achievement through the free use of thought, depending on how the
individual relates himself to the law. Is that correct?
A Now you have it right.
Q But what about failure? One does not fail intentionally,
with purpose aforethought. No one encourages temporary
defeat. These are circumstances over which the individual
often has no control whatsoever. How, then, can it be said that
nature does not take away one's freedom of thought when
failure destroys ambition, will power, and the self-confidence
essential to make a fresh start?
A Failure is a man-made circumstance. It is never real until it
has been accepted by man as permanent. Stating it another way,
failure is a state of mind; therefore, it is something an individual
can control until he neglects to exercise this privilege. Nature
does not force people to fail. But nature does impose her law
of hypnotic rhythm upon all minds and through this law gives
permanency to the thoughts which dominate those minds.
In other words, failure thoughts are taken over by the law
of hypnotic rhythm and made permanent if the individual
accepts any circumstances as being permanent failure. That
same law just as readily takes over and makes permanent
thoughts of success.
"Failure is a state ofmind; therefore,
it is something an individual can control until he neglects
to exercise this privilege."
+ + + + + + t
+ + +
Can this be true? Has Hill convinced you that "failure is a
man-made circumstance"? I believe he makes a compelling
case. If I look closely at my life-my own successes and fa.iIures in business, mistakes, and missteps-can I claim that
anyone is responsible other than myself? Will a personal
inventory of your life yield different results? Hill has helped
me place a different value on failure than I did in the past ...
Q What part, then, does failure play in helping an individual
break the grip of hypnotic rhythm after that law has been fastened upon his mind?
A Failure brings a climax in which one has the privilege of
clearing his mind of fear and making a new start in another
direction. Failure proves conclusively that something is wrong
with one's aims or the plans by which the object of these aims
is sought. Failure is the dead end of the habit-path one has
been following, and when it is reached it forces one to leave
that path and take up another, thereby creating a new rhythm.
But failure does more than this. It gives an individual an
opportunity to test himself wherein he may learn how much
will power he possesses. Failure also forces people to learn
many truths they would never discover without it. Failure often
leads an individual to an understanding of the power of selfdiscipline without which no one could turn back after having
once been the victim of hypnotic rhythm.
Study the lives of all people who achieve outstanding
success in any calling and observe, with profit, that their success is usually in exact ratio to their experiences of defeat
"Failure brings a climax in which one has the
privilege ofclearing his mind of fear and making a new start in
another direction. "
Q Is this all you have to say of the advantages of failure?
A No, I have barely begun. If you want the real significance of
adversity, failure, defeat, and all other experiences which break
up a human being's habits and force him to form new habits,
watch nature at her work. Nature uses illness to break the
physical rhythm of the body when the cells and organs become
improperly related. She uses economic depressions to break
the rhythm of mass thought when great numbers of people
become improperly related-through business, social, and
political activities. And she uses failure to break the rhythm
of negative thought when an individual becomes improperly
related to himself in his own mind.
Observe carefully and you will see that everywhere in nature
there is always at work a natural law which gives eternal change
to all matter, all energy, and to the power of thought. The only
permanent thing in the universes is change. Eternal, inexorable
change-through which every atom of matter and every unit of
energy has the opportunity to properly relate itself to all other
units of matter and energy, and every human being has the
opportunity and the privilege of properly relating himself to all
other human beings no matter how many mistakes he makes,
or how many times or in what ways he may be defeated.
When mass failure overtakes a nation, such as the 1929
world business depression, the circumstance is in perfect harmony with nature's plan to break up man's habits and give out
The beauty of publishing this book now, during the current
economic turmoil, is that nature is once again breaking up
man's habits and presenting fresh opportunities.
Q What you are saying intrigues me. Am I to understand that
hypnotic rhythm has something to do with the way people
relate themselves to one another?
A That abstract, elusive thing called character is nothing
but a manifestation of the law of hypnotic rhythm; therefore,
when speaking of one's character it would be proper to say
his thought-habits have been crystallized into a positive or a
negative personality, through hypnotic rhythm. One is good or
bad because of the knitting together of his thoughts and deeds
through hypnotic rhythm. One is bound by poverty or blessed
with abundance because his aims, plans, and desires, or lack of
them, have been made permanent and real by hypnotic rhythm.
Q Is that all you have to say of the connection between hypnotic rhythm and human relationships?
A No, I have just begun. Remember while I am talking I am
speaking of the influence of hypnotic rhythm in connection
with all human relationships. Men who succeed in business
do so entirely because of the way they relate themselves to their
associates and to others outside of the business.
Professional men who succeed do so largely because of
the manner in which they relate themselves to their clients.
It is much more important for the lawyer to know people and
to know the laws of nature than it is to know the law. And
the doctor is a failure before he starts unless he knows how
to relate himself to his patients so as to establish their faith
Marriage succeeds or fails entirely because of the manner in
which the participants relate themselves to one another. Proper
relationship in marriage begins with a proper motive for the
marriage. Most marriages do not bring happiness because the
contracting parties neither understand, nor attempt to understand, the law of hypnotic rhythm, through the operation of
which every word they speak, every act in which they engage,
and every motive by which they are inspired to deal with each
other is picked up and woven into a web that entangles them
in controversial misery or gives to them the wings of freedom
through which they soar above all forms of unhappiness.
Every newly made acquaintanceship between people ripens
into friendship and then into spiritual harmony (sometimes
called love) or plants a germ of suspicion and doubt which
evolves and grows into open rebellion, according to the way in
which the participants in the acquaintanceship relate themselves to one another.
Hypnotic rhythm picks up the dominating motives, aims,
purposes, and feelings of the contacting minds and weaves
these into some degree of faith or fear, love or hatred. After
the pattern has taken definite shape, as it does with time, it is
forced upon the contacting minds and made a part thereof.
In this silent way does nature make permanent the dominating factors of every human relationship. In every human
relationship the evil motives and the evil deeds of the contacting
individuals are coordinated and consolidated into definite form
and subtly woven into that all-important human trait known
as character. In the same manner, the motives and the deeds of
good are consolidated and forced upon the individual. You see,
therefore, it is not only one's deeds but also one's very thoughts
which determine the nature of all human relationships.
Q You are leading into pretty deep water. Let's keep near the
shore, where I can follow you without fear of getting beyond a
safe depth. Go ahead and tell me how this subject of human
relationships actually works in the current affairs of a problemfilled world such as we have today.
A That is a happy thought. But let me make sure you understand the principles I am telling about, before I try to show you
how to apply them in the affairs oflife.
I wish to be sure you understand that the law of hypnotic
rhythm is something that no one can control, influence, or
evade. But everyone can relate himself to this law so as to benefit by its inexorable operation. Harmonious relationship with
the law consists entirely of the individual changing his habits
so they represent the circumstances and the things the individual wants and is willing to accept.
No one can change the law of hypnotic rhythm any more
than one can change the law of gravity, but everyone can
change himsel£ Remember, therefore, in all the discussion of
this subject that all human relationships are made and maintained by the habits of the individuals related.
«No one can change the law ofhypnotic rhythm
any more than one can change the law ofgravity,
but everyone can change himself. "
+ + + + + + + + t
Have you ever tried to change someone else and only been
frustrated when you realized you were not in control and
therefore not succeeding?
The law of hypnotic rhythm plays only the part of solidifYing the factors which constitute human relationships, but
it does not create those factors. Before we go further with the
discussion of human relationships, I want you to get a clear
understanding of the subconscious mind.
The term "subconscious mind" represents a hypothetical
physical organ which has no actual existence. The mind of man
consists of universal energy (some call it Infinite Intelligence)
which the individual receives, appropriates, and organizes in
definite thought forms through the network of intricate physical apparatus known as a brain.
These thought forms are replicas of various stimuli which
reach the brain through the five commonly known physical
senses and the sixth sense, which is not so well known. When
any form of stimuli reaches the brain and takes the definite
shape of thought, it is classified and stored away in a group of
the brain cells known as the memory group.
All thoughts of a similar nature are stored together so that
the bringing forth of one leads to easy contact with all its associates. The system is very similar to the modern office filing
cabinet, and it is operated in a similar manner.
The thought impressions with which one mixes the
greatest amount of emotion (or feeling) are the dominating
factors of the brain because they are always near the surfaceat the top of the filing system, so to speak-where they spring
into action voluntarily, the moment an individual neglects to
exercise self-discipline. These emotion-laden thoughts are so
powerful they often cause an individual to rush into action
and indulge in deeds which have not been submitted to or
approved by his reasoning faculty. These emotional outbursts
usually destroy harmony in all human relationships. The brain
often brings together combinations of emotional feeling so
powerful they completely set aside the control of the reasoning
faculty. On all such occasions human relationships are apt to
be lacking in harmony.
Through the operation of the sixth sense, the brain of a
human being may contact the filing cabinet of other brains
and inspect at will whatever thought impressions are on file
there. The condition under which one person may contact and
inspect the filing cabinet of another person's brain is generally known as harmony, but you may better understand what is
meant ifI say brains attuned to the same rate of thought vibrations can easily and quickly exercise the privilege of entering
and inspecting each other's filing cabinets of thoughts.
In addition to receiving organized thoughts from the
filing cabinets of other brains through the sixth sense, one
can, through this same physical organ, contact and receive
information from the universal storehouse known as Infinite
All information reaching one's brain through the sixth
sense comes from sources not easily isolated or traced; therefore, this sort of information is generally believed to come from
one's subconscious mind. The sixth sense is the organ of the
brain through which one receives all information, all knowledge, all thought impressions which do not come through one
or more of the five physical senses.
Now that you understand how the mind operates, you will
more easily understand how and why people come to grief
through improper human relationships. You will also understand how human relationship may be made to yield riches
in their highest form, riches in material, mental, and spiritual estates.
Moreover, you will understand there can never be happiness except through understanding and application of the
right principles of human relationships. You will understand,
too, that no individual is an entity unto himself, that completeness of mind can be attained only by harmony of purpose
and deed between two or more minds. You will understand
why every human being should, of his own choice, become his
brother's keeper in fact as well as in theory.
Q What you say may be true, but I still insist that you have
me beyond safe depths of thought. Let us get back nearer to
the shore, where I can wade in familiar water. We shall go out
into the deeper water after we learn to swim well. We started
out to discuss the subject of how to profit by adversity, but it
seems we have drifted somewhat afield from that subject.
A We have detoured, but we have not drifted. The Devil never
drifts. The detour was necessary in order that you might be
prepared to understand the most important part of this entire
We are now ready to get back to the discussion of the subject of adversity. Inasmuch as most adversities grow out of
improper relationships between people, it seems important to
understand how people may become properly related.
Naturally the question arises as to what is a proper relationship between people? The answer is that the proper relationship is one that brings to all connected with it, or affected
by it, some form of benefit.
"The proper relationship is one that
brings to all connected with it, or affected by it,
+ + + + + + + + + +
Take a moment to inventory your relationships, at home,
at work, and at play. List the relationships that seem in need
of improvement and keep them in your mind as you continue reading.
• 212 •
Q What, then, is an improper relationship?
A Any relationship between people which damages anyone
or brings any form of misery or unhappiness to any of the
Q How can improper relationships be corrected?
A By change of mind of the person causing the improper
relationship, or by changing the persons to the relationship.
Some minds harmonize naturally while others just as naturally clash. Successful human relationships, to endure as such,
must be formed of minds that naturally harmonize, quite aside
from the question of having common interests as a means of
bringing them into harmony.
When you speak of business leaders who succeed because
"they know how to pick men," you might more correctly say
they succeed because they know how to associate minds which
harmonize naturally. Knowing how to pick people successfully
for any definite purpose in life is based upon ability to recognize the types of people whose minds naturally harmonize.
Remember Hill's definition of the Master Mind: "harmonious
coordination of two or more minds working to a definite end. "
Q Stay focused on adversity, if you will. If there are possible
benefits to be found through adversity, name some of them.
A Adversity relieves people of vanity and egotism. It discourages selfishness by proving that no one can succeed without the
cooperation of others.
Adversity forces an individual to test his mental, physical,
and spiritual strength; it thus brings him face to face with his
weaknesses and gives him the opportunity to bridge them.
Adversity forces one to seek ways and means to definite
ends by meditation and introspective thought. This often leads
to the discovery and use of the sixth sense through which one
may communicate with Infinite Intelligence.
Adversity forces one to recognize the need for intelligence
not available except from sources outside of one's own mind.
Adversity breaks old habits of thought and gives one an
opportunity to form new habits; therefore, it may serve to
break the hold of hypnotic rhythm and change its operation
from negative to positive ends.
Q What is the greatest benefit one may recelve through
A The greatest benefit of adversity is that it may, and generally does, force one to change one's thought-habits, thus
breaking and redirecting the force of hypnotic rhythm.
Q In other words, failure always is a blessing when it forces
one to acquire knowledge or to build habits that lead to the
achievement of one's major purpose in life. Is that correct?
A Yes, and something morel Failure is a blessing when it
forces one to depend less upon material forces and more upon
Many human beings discover their "other selves," the
forces which operate through the power of thought, only
after some catastrophe deprives them of the full and free
use of their physical bodies. When a man can no longer use
his hands and his feet, he usually begins to use his brain; thus
he puts himself in the way of discovering the power of his
The Devil brings in the "other self" here, revealing how we
can use our power of thought and our "other selves" to
discover our true power and major purpose.
Q What benefits may be derived from the loss of material
things-money, for example?
A The loss of material things may teach many needed lessons, none greater, however, than the truth that man has control over nothing and has no assurance of the permanent use
of anything except his own power of thought.
Q I wonder if this is not the greatest benefit available
A No, the greatest potential benefit of any circumstance
which causes one to make a fresh start is that it provides an
opportunity to break the grip of hypnotic rhythm and set up
a new set of thought-habits. New habits offer the only way out
for people who fail. Most people who escape from the negative
to the positive operation of the law of hypnotic rhythm do so
only because of some form of adversity which forces them to
change their thought-habits.
Q Isn't adversity apt
break one's self-reliance and cause
one to give up hope?
It has that effect on those whose will power is weak through
long established habits of drifting. It has the opposite effect on
those who have not been weakened through drifting. The nondrifter meets with temporary defeat and failure, but his reaction to all forms of adversity is positive. He fights instead of
giving up, and usually wins.
Life gives no one immunity against adversity, but life
gives to everyone the power of positive thought, which is sufficient to master all circumstances of adversity and convert
them into benefits. The individual is left with the privilege of
using or neglecting to use his prerogative right to think his
way through all adversities. Every individual is forced either to
use his thought power for the attainment of definite, positive
ends, or by neglect or design use this power for the attainment
of negative ends. There can be no compromise, no refusal to
use the mind.
The law of hypnotic rhythm forces every individual to give
some degree of use, either negative or positive, to his mind,
but it does not influence the individual as to which use he will
make of his mind.
"The non-drifter meets with temporary defeat and failure, but his
reaction to all forms ofadversity is positive. He fights instead of
giving up, and usually wins. "
+ + + + + + + + + +
Do you remember a time when you felt like giving up ...
but didn't? My co-author and I expand this concept in our
book Three Feet from Gold, with stories of perseverance and
never giving up from over thirty-five of today's top leaCfers,
non-drifters of our timel
Q Am I
understand from what you say that every adversity
is a blessing?
A No, I did not say that. I said there is the seed of an equivalent advantage in every adversity. I did not say there was the
full-blown flower of advantage, just the seed. Usually the seed
consists of some form of knowledge, some idea or plan, or
some opportunity which would not have been available except
through the change of thought-habits forced by the adversity.
Q Are those all the benefits available to human beings
A No, failure is used by nature as a common language in
which she chastises people when they neglect to adapt themselves to her laws.
For example, the world war was man-made and destructive.
Nature planted in the circumstances of the war the seed of an
equivalent reprimand in the form of a world depression. The
depression was inevitable and inescapable. It followed the war
as naturally as day follows night and by the operation of the
self-same law, the law of hypnotic rhythm.
Q Am I
understand that the law of hypnotic rhythm is the
same as that which Ralph Waldo Emerson called the law of
A The law of hypnotic rhythm is the law of compensation. It
is the power with which nature balances negative and positive
forces throughout the universes, in all forms of energy, in all
forms of matter, and in all human relationships.
Q Does the law of hypnotic rhythm operate quickly in all
instances? For example, does this law immediately bless one
with the benefits of positive application of thoughts, or curse
one immediately with the results of negative thoughts?
A The law operates definitely but not always swifdy. Both
the benefits and the penalties incurred through the law by
individuals may be harvested by others, either before or after
Observe how this law works by forcing upon one generation of people the effects of both the sins and the virtues of
preceding generations. In the operation of all of nature's laws,
the fourth dimension, time, is an inexorable factor. The length
of time consumed by nature in the relation of effects to their
causes depends, in every instance, on the circumstances at
hand. Nature grows a pumpkin in three months. A good size
oak tree requires a hundred years. She converts a hen's egg into
a chicken in four weeks, but she requires nine months to convert the egg of a human being into an individual.
"Life gives no one immunity against adversity,
but life gives to everyone the power ofpositive thought,
which is sufficient to master all circumstances ofadversity and
convert them into benefits. "
+ + + + + + + + + +
Has nature created the current economic turmoil
to allow us once again to convert our own personal
adversities into benefits?
+ 218 +
of the potentialities of adversity and failure. You may go ahead, now, with your
description of the next of the seven principles. What is your
NOW HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING
The next principle is environmental influence.
Q Go ahead and describe the working principle of environmental influences as a determining factor in human destinies.
A Environment consists of all the mental, spiritual, and physical forces which affect and influence human beings.
Q What connection, if any, is there between environmental
influences and hypnotic rhythm?
A Hypnotic rhythm solidifies and makes permanent the
thought-habits of human beings. Thought-habits are stimulated by environmental influences. In other words, the material on which thoughts are fed comes from one's environment.
Thought-habits are made permanent by hypnotic rhythm.
Q What is the most important part of one's environment, the
part which determines, more than all others, whether an individual makes positive or negative use of his mind?
A The most important part of one's environment is that created by his association with others. All people absorb and take
over, either consciously or unconsciously, the thought-habits
of those with whom they associate closely.
Q Do you mean by this that constant association with a
person whose thought-habits are negative influences one to
form negative thought-habits?
220 - - -
A Yes, the law of hypnotic rhythm forces every human being
to form thought-habits which harmonize with the dominating
influences of his environment, particularly that part of his
environment created by his association with other minds.
Q Then it is important that one select one's close associates
with great care?
A Yes, one's intimate associates should be chosen with as
much care as one chooses the food with which he feeds his
body, with the object always of associating with people whose
dominating thoughts are positive, friendly, and harmonious.
Q Which class of associates has the greatest influence
A One's partner in marriage and in the home and one's associates in his occupation. After that come close friends and
acquaintances. Casual acquaintances and strangers have but
little influence on one.
"The material on which thoughts are fed
come from one's environment. Thought-habits are made
permanent by hypnotic rhythm. "
+ + + + +
+ + +
Have you ever felt your attitude or mood become negative
just by being in the presence of someone negative? Was it
your spouse, child, or business partner? Hill suggests that
you need to interject thoughts that are positive, friendly, and
harmonious not only to counteract those negative thoughts
• 221 •
but also to influence that person into a more positive space.
If it is your business partner, evaluate if the relationship is
one you want to save ... or make the decision to move away
from the partner's negativity.
Q Why does one's partner in marriage have so great an influence upon one's mind?
A Because the relationship of marriage brings people under
the influence of spiritual forces of such weight that they
become dominating forces of the mind.
Q How may environmental influences be used to break the
grip of hypnotic rhythm?
A All influences which establish thought-habits are given permanency through the law of hypnotic rhythm. One may change
the influences of his environment so that the dominating influences are either positive or negative, and the law of hypnotic
rhythm will make them permanent, unless they are changed
through one's habits of thought.
Q Stating this truth in another way, one may submit himself
to any environmental influence desired, whether positive or
negative, and the law of hypnotic rhythm will make the influence permanent when it assumes the magnitude of thoughthabit. Is that the way the law works?
A That is correct. Be careful of all forces which inspire
thought; those are the forces which constitute environment
and determine the nature of one's earthly destiny.
• 222 •
Q What class of people controls their environmental
A The non-drifters. All who are victims of the habit of
drifting forfeit their power to choose their own environment.
They become the victims of every negative influence of their
Q Is there no way out for the drifter? Is there no method by
which he may submit himself to the influence of a positive
A Yes, there is a way out for drifters. They can stop drifting,
take possession of their own minds, and choose an environment which inspires positive thought. This they may accomplish through definiteness of purpose.
Q Is that all there is to the act of eliminating the habit of
drifting? Is the habit only a state of mind?
A Drifting is nothing but a negative state of mind, a state of
mind conspicuous by its emptiness of purpose.
Q What effective procedure may one follow in establishing
an environment most helpful in developing and maintaining
A The most effective of all environments is that which may
be created by a friendly alliance of a group of people who will
obligate themselves to assist one another in achieving the
object of some definite purpose. This sort of an alliance is
known as a Master Mind. Through its operation one may associate himself with carefully chosen individuals each of whom
brings to the alliance some knowledge, experience, education,
plan, or idea suited to his needs in carrying out the object of
his definite purpose.
The most successful leaders in all walks of life avail themselves of this sort of made-to-order environmental influence.
Outstanding achievement is impossible without the friendly
cooperation of others. Stating the truth in another way, successful people must control their environment, thereby
insuring themselves against the influence of a negative
Q What of people whose duty to relatives makes it impossible
for them to avoid the influence of a negative environment?
A No human being owes another any degree of duty which
robs him of his privilege of building his thought-habits in a
positive environment. On the other hand, every human being
is duty bound to himself to remove from his environment
every influence which even remotely tends to develop negative
Q Isn't this a cold-blooded philosophy?
A Only the strong survive. No one can be strong without
removing himself from all influences which develop negative
thought-habits. Negative thought-habits result in the loss of
the privilege of self-determination, no matter what or who may
cause those habits. Positive thought-habits may be controlled
by the individual and made to serve his aims and purposes.
Negative thought-habits control the individual and deprive
him of the privilege of self-determination.
Q I deduce from all you have said that those who control
the environmental influences out of which their thoughtt
habits are built are masters of their earthly destinies and that
all others are mastered by earthly destinies. Is that stating the
A Perfectly stated.
Q What establishes one's thought-habits?
A All habits are established because of inherent or acquired
desires, or motives. That is, habits are begun as the result of
some form of definite desire.
Q What takes place in the physical brain while one is forming
A Desires are organized impulses of energy called thoughts.
Desires that are mixed with emotional feeling magnetize the
brain cells in which they are stored and prepare those cells
to be taken over and directed by the law of hypnotic rhythm.
When any thought appears in the brain or is created there, and
is mixed with keen emotional feeling of desire, the law of hypnotic rhythm begins, at once, to translate it into its physical
counterpart. Dominating thoughts, which are acted upon first
by the law of hypnotic rhythm, are those with which are mixed
the strongest desires and the most intense feelings. Thoughthabits are established by the repetition of the same thoughts.
Q What are the most impelling basic motives or desires which
inspire thought action?
A The ten most common motives, those which inspire most
of one's thought-action, are these:
The desire for sex expression and love
The desire for physical food
The desire for spiritual, mental, and physical
The desire for perpetuation of life after death
The desire for power over others
The desire for material wealth
The desire for knowledge
The desire to imitate others
The desire to excel others
. The seven basic fears
These are the dominating motives which inspire the
majority of all human endeavors.
Q What about the negative desires such as greed, envy, avarice, jealousy, anger? Are these not expressed more often than
any of the positive desires?
A All negative desires are nothing but frustrations of positive
desires. They are inspired by some form of defeat, failure, or
neglect by human beings to adapt themselves to nature's laws
in a positive way.
Q That's a new slant on the subject of negative thoughts. If I
correctly understand what you have said, all negative thoughts
are inspired by one's neglect or failure to adapt oneselfharmoniously to nature's laws. Is that correct?
A That is exactly correct. Nature will not tolerate idleness
or vacuums of any sort. All space must be and is filled with
Everything in existence, of both a physical and a spiritual nature, must be and is constantly in motion. The human
brain is no exception. It was created to receive, organize, specialize, and express the power of thought. When the individual
does not use the brain for the expression of positive, creative
thoughts, nature fills the vacuum by forcing the brain to act
upon negative thoughts.
There can be no idleness in the brain. Understand this
principle and you will come into a new and important understanding of the part environmental influences take in the lives
of human beings.
You will better understand, also, how the law of hypnotic
rhythm operates, it being the law which keeps everything and
everyone constantly moving through some form of expression
of either negative or positive principles.
"Nature will not tolerate idleness or vacuums ofany sort.
All space must be and is filled with something ••• When the
individual does not use the brain for the expression ofpositive,
creative thoughts, nature fills the vacuum by forcing the brain to
act upon negative thoughts. "
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I find this so true particularly when I think of children who
have too much idle time on their hands. Don Green, CEO
of the Napoleon Hill Foundation, remembers, "As young
people we were constantly kept busy with the admonition
that idleness was the devil's workshop." Interesting parallel,
don't you think?
Nature is not interested in morals as such. She is not interested in right and wrong. She is not interested in justice and
injustice. She is interested only in forcing everything to express
action according to its naturel
Q That is an enlightening interpretation of nature's ways. To
whom may I tum for corroboration of your claims?
A To men of science, to the philosophers, to all accurate
thinkers. Lastly, to the physical manifestations of nature
Nature has no such thing as dead matter. Every atom of
matter is constantly in a state of motion. All energy is constantly in motion. There are no dead voids anywhere. Time and
space are literally manifestations of motion of such swiftness
that it cannot be measured by human beings.
Q Alas, one is forced to the conclusion, from what you say,
that the sources of dependable knowledge are shockingly
A The developed sources of knowledge are limited. Every
normal adult human brain is a potential gateway to all the
knowledge there is throughout the universes. Every normal
adult brain has within its mechanism the possibility of direct
communication with Infinite Intelligence, wherein exists all the
knowledge that is or can ever be.
Q Your statement leads me to believe that human beings may
become all they have attributed to what they call God. Is that
what you mean?
A Through the law of evolution the human brain is being
perfected to communicate at will with Infinite Intelligence.
The perfection will come through organized development of
the brain, through its adaptation to nature's laws. Time is the
factor which will bring perfection.
Q What causes cycles of recurring events, such as epidemics
of disease, business depressions, wars, and crime waves?
A All such epidemics in which great numbers of people are
similarly affected are caused by the law of hypnotic rhythm,
through which nature consolidates thoughts of a similar
nature and causes those thoughts to be expressed through
Q Then the Great Depression was put into motion because
great numbers of people were influenced to release thoughts of
fear. Is that correct?
A Perfectly. Millions of people were endeavoring to get something for nothing, through stock gambling. When they sudderuy discovered they had gotten nothing for something, they
became frightened, rushed to their banks to draw out their
balances, and the panic was on. Through mass thought of
millions of minds, all thinking in terms of fear of poverty, the
depression was prolonged over a period ofyears.
The current economic tunnoil in the United States and
throughout the world was put into motion in a similar
fashion. Millions were endeavoring to get something for
nothing, through real estate (no-money-down deals, subprime mortgages, and valuation bubbles) as well as the
financial markets. When everything started to collapse,
they became frightened and the panic was on once again.
By changing the thoughts of these millions from fear back
to focus on fundamentally sound financial principles, can we
stabilize the economy? Napoleon Hill's philosophy can show
us the way. The choice is ours.
Q From what you say, I deduce that nature consolidates the
dominating thoughts of people and expresses these thoughts
through some form of mass action, such as business depressions, business booms, and so on. Is that correct?
A You have the right idea.
Q Let us now take up the next of the seven principles. Go
ahead and describe it.
A The next principle is time, the fourth dimension.
Q What relationship is there between time and the operation
of the law of hypnotic rhythm?
A Time is the law of hypnotic rhythm. The lapse of time
required to give permanency to thought-habits depends upon
the object and the nature of the thoughts.
Q But I understood you to say that the only enduring thing
in nature is change. If that is true, then time is constantly
changing, rearranging, and recombining all things, including
one's thought-habits. How, then, could the law of hypnotic
rhythm give permanency to one's thought-habits?
A Time divides all thought-habits into two classes, negative
thoughts and positive thoughts. One's individual thoughts are
of course constantly changing and being recombined to suit
the individual's desires, but thoughts do not change from negative to positive or vice versa except through voluntary effort
on the part of the individual.
Time penalizes the individual for all negative thoughts and
rewards him for all positive thoughts, according to the nature
and purpose of the thoughts. If one's dominating thoughts are
negative, time penalizes the individual by building in his mind
the habit of negative thinking and then proceeds to solidify
this habit into permanency every second of its existence.
Positive thoughts are, likewise, woven by time into permanent
habits. The term "permanency," of course, refers to the natural
life of the individual. In the strict sense of the term, nothing is
permanent. Time converts'thought-habits into what might be
called permanency during the life of the individual.
Q Now I have a better understanding of how time works.
What other characteristics has time in connection with the
earthly destiny of human beings?
A Time is nature's seasoning influence through which
human experience may be ripened into wisdom. People are
not born with wisdom, but they are born with the capacity to
think, and they may, through the lapse of time, think their way
ttpeople are not bom with wisdom, but they are born with the
capacity to think, and they may, through the lapse of time, think
thf!ir way into wisdom."
+ + + + + + + + + +
I find this one of the most profound statements in this entire
book. By using our ability to think and analyzing our experiences in life, whether successes or failures, we can gain
wisdom. Can it actually be that simple?
Q Do youths ever possess wisdom?
A Only in very elementary matters. Wisdom comes only
through the lapse of time. It cannot be inherited and it cannot
be imparted from one person to another except through the
lapse of time.
Q Does the lapse of time force an individual to acqUlre
A No! Wisdom comes only to non-drifters who form positive
thought-habits as a dominating force in their lives. Drifters
and those whose dominating thoughts are negative never
acquire wisdom except of a very elementary nature.
Q From what you say, I infer that time is the friend of the
person who trains his mind to follow positive thought-habits
and the enemy of the person who drifts into negative thoughthabits. Is that correct?
A That is precisely true. All people can be classified as drifters
and non-drifters. Drifters are always at the mercy of the nondrifters, and time makes this relationship permanent.
Q Do you mean that if! drift along through life, without definite aim or purpose, the non-drifter may become my master,
and time only serves to give the non-drifter a stronger and
more permanent grip upon me?
A That is stating the truth exactly.
"Wisdom comes only to non-drifters who form positive thoughthabits as a dominating force in their lives. "
+ + + + +
+ + +
Again I am forced to think about our children. With so much
negativity around us due to terrorism and financial strife,
what is going to be the long-term impact on our children?
We must envelop our children in positive experiences in order
to generate positive thoughts in their minds.
Q What is wisdom?
A Wisdom is the ability to relate yourself to nature's laws so
as to make them serve you, and the ability to relate yourself to
other people so as to gain their harmonious, willing cooperation in helping you to make life yield whatever you demand
Q Then accumulated knowledge is not wisdom?
A Great heavens, no! If knowledge were wisdom, the achievements of science would not have been converted into implements of destruction.
Q What is needed to convert knowledge into wisdom?
A Time plus the desire for wisdom. Wisdom is never thrust
upon one. It is acquired, if at all, by positive thinking, through
Q Is it safe for all people to have knowledge?
A It is never safe for anyone to have extensive knowledge
Q What is the age at which most people who acquire wisdom
begin to acquire it?
A The majority of people who acquire wisdom do so after
they have passed the age of forty. Prior to that time the majority
of people are too busy gathering knowledge and organizing it
into plans to spend any effort seeking wisdom.
Q What circumstance of life is most apt to lead one
A Adversity and failure. These are nature's universal languages through which she imparts wisdom to those who are
ready to receive it.
Q Do adversity and failure always bring wisdom?
A No, only to those who are ready for wisdom and have voluntarily sought it.
Q What determines one's readiness to receive wisdom?
A Time and the nature of one's thought-habits.
Q Is newly acquired knowledge the same as time-tested
A No, knowledge tested through the lapse of time always is
superior to that which has been newly acquired. Time gives
to knowledge definiteness in both quality and quantity, and
dependability. One never can be sure of knowledge that has not
Q What is dependable knowledge?
A It is knowledge which harmonizes with natural law, which
means that it is based upon positive thought.
Q Does time modifY and alter the values of knowledge?
A Yes, time modifies and alters all values. That which is accurate knowledge today may become null and void tomorrow
because of time's rearrangement of facts and values. Time
modifies all human relationships for better or for worse,
depending upon the policy through which people relate themselves to one another.
In the realm of thought there is a time when it is proper
to sow the seeds of thought, and there is a proper time
to reap the harvest of those thoughts, the same as there is
a time to sow and a time to reap from the soil of the earth.
Without the proper measurement of time between the sowing
and the reaping, nature modifies or withholds the rewards of
Go ahead, now, and describe the last two of the seven
A The next principle is harmony.
Throughout nature one may find evidences that all natural
law moves in an orderly manner, through the law of harmony.
Through the operation of this law nature forces everything
within the range of a given environment to become harmoniously related. Understand this truth and you will catch a new
and a more intriguing vision of the power of environment. You
will understand why association with negative minds is fatal to
those seeking self-determination.
Q Do you mean that nature voluntarily forces human beings
to harmonize with the influences of their environment?
A Yes, that is true. The law of hypnotic rhythm forces upon
every living thing the dominating influences of the environment in which it exists.
If nature forces human beings to take on the nature of the
environment in which they live, what means of escape are available to people who find themselves in an environment of poverty and failure but desire to escape?
A They must change their environment or remain povertystricken. Nature permits no one to escape the influences of his
However, nature, in her abundance of wisdom, has given
to every normal human being the privilege of establishing his
own mental, spiritual, and physical environment, but once he
establishes it he must become a part of it. This is the inexorable
working of the law of harmony.
Q In a business association, for example, who establishes
the dominating influence that determines the rhythm of the
A The individual or individuals who think and act with definiteness of purpose.
Q Is it as simple as that?
A Yes, definiteness of purpose is the starting point from
which an individual may establish his own environment.
Q I do not seem to follow your reasoning. The entire world
is tom with warfare and business depressions and other forms
of strife which represent about everything except harmony.
Nature does not seem to be forcing people to harmonize with
one another. How do you explain this inconsistency?
As in Hill's day, there seems to be little harmony in our world
today. When you think of the current economy, the natural
disasters, the military conflicts, the human devastation from
disease and hunger, does harmony seem even attainable? Hill
would say, yes, even in the face of the horrible conditions of
his time. While you and I may not be in control of harmony
in our world, we can create harmony in our homes.
A There is no inconsistency. The dominating influences of
the world are, as you say, negative. Very well, nature is forcing
human beings to harmonize with the dominating influences of
the world environment.
Manifestations of harmony may be either positive or negative. For example, a group of men in prison may, and they generally do, think and act in a negative manner, but nature sees
to it that the dominating influence of the prison is impressed
upon every individual in it. A group of poverty-stricken people
in a tenement house may fight among themselves and apparendy resist all forms of harmony, but nature forces each of
them to become a part of the dominating influence of the
house in which they live.
Harmony, in the sense it is here used, means that nature
relates everything throughout the universes to every other
thing of a similar nature. Negative influences are forced into
association with one another, no matter where they may be.
Positive influences are just as definitely forced into association
with one another.
Q I am beginning to see why successful business leaders are
so careful in the choice of their business associates. Men who
succeed in any calling usually establish their own environment
by surrounding themselves with people who think and act in
terms of success. Is that the idea?
A That is the idea exacdy. Observe, with profit, that the one
thing all successful men insist upon is harmony among their
business associates. Another trait of successful people is that
they move with definiteness of purpose and insist upon their
associates doing the same. Understand these two truths and
you understand the major difference between a Henry Ford
and a day laborer.
So the principle of harmony is a benefit to us when we surround ourselves with other successful people. Think of the
people you work with. Are they supporting you ... or holding
Q Now tell me about the last of the seven principles.
A The last principle is caution.
Next to the habit of drifting, the most dangerous human
trait is the lack of caution.
People drift into all sorts of hazardous circumstances
because they do not exercise caution by planning the moves
they make. The drifter always moves without exercising caution. He acts first and thinks later, if at all. He does not choose
his friends. He drifts along and allows people to attach themselves to him on their own terms. He does not choose an occupation. He drifts through school and is glad to get the first
job that will give him food and clothing. He invites people to
cheat him at trade by neglecting to inform himself of the rules
of trade. He invites illness by neglecting to inform himself of
the rules of sound health. He invites poverty by neglecting to
protect himself against the environmental influences of the
poverty-stricken. He invites failure at every step he takes by
neglecting to exercise the caution to observe what causes people
to fail. He invites fear in all its forms by his lack of caution in
examining the causes of fear. He fails in marriage because he
neglects to use caution in his choice of a mate, and he uses still
less caution in his methods of relating himself to her after marriage. He loses his friends or converts them into enemies by his
lack of caution in relating himself to them on the proper basis.
"Next to the habit ofdrifting, the most dangerous human trait
is the lack ofcaution. "
Q Are all people lacking in caution?
A No, only those who have acquired the habit of drifting.
The non-drifter always uses caution. He carefully thinks his
plans through before he begins them. He makes allowances
for the human frailties of his associates and plans ahead to
If he sends a messenger on an important mission, he sends
someone else to make sure the messenger does not neglect his
mission. Then he checks on both of them to be sure his wishes
have been fulfilled. He takes nothing for granted where caution
provides a way to insure his success.
Q Isn't over-caution as detrimental as lack of caution?
A There is no such thing as over-caution. What you call "overcaution" is an expression of fear. Fear and caution are two
entirely different things.
Q Don't people mistake fear for over-caution?
A Yes, that does sometimes happen, but the majority of
people create for themselves far more disastrous hazards by
total lack of the habit of caution than by over-caution.
Q In what way may caution be used most advantageously?
A In the selection of one's associates and in one's method of
relating oneself to associates. The reason for this is obvious.
One's associates constitute the most important part of one's
environment, and environmental influences determine whether
one forms the habit of drifting or becomes a non-drifter. The
person who exercises due caution in the choice of associates
never allows himself to be closely associated with any person
who does not bring to him, through the association, some definite mental, spiritual, or economic benefit.
Q Isn't that method of choosing associates selfish?
A It is sensible and leads to self-determination.
It is the
desire of every normal person to find material success and
Nothing contributes more to one's success and happiness
than carefully chosen associates. Caution in the selection of
associates becomes, therefore, the duty of every person who
wishes to become happy and successful. The drifter allows
his closest associates to attach themselves to him on their
own terms. The non-drifter carefully selects his associates and
allows no one to become closely associated with him unless
that person contributes some form of helpful influence or
bestows some definite benefit.
Q It never occurred
to me that caution in the selection of
friends had so definite a bearing on one's success or failure.
Do all successful people exercise caution in the selection of
all their associates, whether in business, social, or professional
A Without the exercise of caution in the choice of all associates, no one may be certain of success in any calling. On the
other hand, lack of exercise of caution brings almost certain
defeat in whatever one undertakes.
Do you have a hard time saying "no" to people? This
chapter makes you realize that using caution in selecting
your associates and learning to say "no" more often may
speed you on your path to success.
+ 242 +
connected with my interview with the Devil
interest me most. These three factors interest me because they
have been the most important influences in my own life, a
fact which any reader of my story can easily discern. The three
important factors are the habit of drifting, the law of hypnotic
rhythm through which all habits are made permanent, and the
element of time.
Here is a trio of forces which hold inviolate the destinies of
all men. The three take on a new and more important meaning
when they are grouped and studied as a combined force. It
takes bur little imagination and scarcely any understanding
of natural laws for one to see that most of the difficulties
in which people find themselves are of their own making.
Moreover, difficulties seldom are the outgrowth of immediate
circumstances. They are generally the climax of a series of circumstances which have been consolidated through the habit
of drifting and with the aid of time.
"Most of the difficulties in which people find themselves
are of their own making. "
Many people today have a victim mentality which they use as
an excuse to not take responsibility for their own lives.
Samuel Insull did not lose his $4 billion industrial empire
as the result of the depression. He began losing it long before
the depression when he became the victim of a group of
women who flattered him into turning his talents from public
utilities to grand opera. If ever a man in a high position in the
financial world went down because of the power of drifting,
hypnotic rhythm, and time, that man was Samuel Insull. I am
writing from accurate knowledge of Mr. Insull and the cause
of his troubles dating from the time that I served with him
during the World War to the time of his ill-advised attempt to
run away from himself
Samuel Insul! moved from England to the U.S. in 1881 to
become the private secretary of Thomas Edison and rose
to become president of the Chicago Edison Co. in 1892. By
1907 he had taken control of Chicago'S transit system. By
1912 he was operating several hundred power plants. He
vigorously promoted the stock of his holding companies.
When they collapsed in 1932, he fled to Europe; extradited
in 1934, he was tried three times for fraud, violation of
bankruptcy laws, and embezzlement, but was acquitted each
time. Hill gives us an inside look at the other reasons for his
collapse and fall from grace. Today you instantly know the
name Edison ... but probably do not recognize Insull.
Henry Ford went through the same depression that swept
Mr. Insull under, but Ford came out on top without a scratch.
Do you want to know the reason? I'll tell you. Ford has the
habit of not drifting on any subject. Time is Ford's friend
because he has formed the habit of using it in a positive, constructive manner, with the aid of thoughts of his own making,
woven into plans of his own creation.
Take any circumstance you wish, measure it with reference
to its relationship to the habit of drifting, hypnotic rhythm,
and time, and you may ascertain accurately the cause of all success and all failure.
Franklin D. Roosevelt went into office with a bang during
his first term. He had but one major purpose in mind and that
was very definite. It was to stop the stampede of fear and start
people to thinking and talking in terms of business recovery
instead of business depression.
In carrying out that purpose, there was no drifting. The
forces of the entire nation were consolidated and moved as one
to help carry out the President's definite purpose. For the first
time in the history of America, the newspapers of all political
leanings, the churches of all denominations, the people of all
races and colors, and the political organizations of all brands
united themselves into one stupendous power for the sole purpose of helping the President restore faith and normal business relationships in the country.
In a conference held between the President and a group of
emergency advisers a few days after he went into office, I asked
him what was his major problem. He replied, "It is not a question of majors and minors; we have but one problem and that
is to stop fear and supplant it with faith."
Before the end of his first year in office, the President had
stopped fear and supplanted it by faith, and the nation was
slowly but surely on the way out of the jungle of depression.
By the end of his first term-mark well the element oflapse of
time-the President had so effectively consolidated the forces
of American business and private life that he had an entire
nation in back of him, ready, willing, and enthusiastically
desirous of following his lead no matter which way he went.
These are facts well known to everyone who reads newspapers or listens to the radio.
Like all of us, Napoleon Hill lived in a political envIronment that affected everyone. We often think of ourselves as
"victims" of the media or the political system or other outside forces. Hill is showing us how to rise above victim hoodanother of the Devil's tools-and take responsibility for all
Then came another presidential election and the opportunity for the people to express their faith in their leader. They
expressed it in a landslide without precedent in American
politics, and the President went into office a second time with
an almost unanimous electorate vote with only two states
Now observe how the Wheel of Life began to reverse itself
and turn back in the other direction. The President changed
his policy from definiteness of purpose to indefiniteness and
His change of policy split the powerful labor group
and turned more than half of it against him. It split the
almost-solid following he held in both houses of Congress,
and more important than all this, it split the American people
into "pro" and "anti" groups with the result that about all
the President had left of his original political assets was his
million-dollar smile and his ready handshake-obviously not
enough to enable him to regain the power he once wielded in
Here, then, we have an excellent example of a man who
skyrocketed to great power through definiteness of purpose
and belly-flopped to the starting point by his habit of drifting.
In both his rise and his fall can be seen clearly the operation
of the principles of drifting and non-drifting reaching a climax
through the power of hypnotic rhythm and time.
"Here, then, we have an excellent example
ofa man who skyrocketed to great power through definiteness of
purpose and belly-flopped to the starting point by
his habit ofdrifting. "
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Take a moment to think of other people, in the public eye or
in your circle of influence, who achieved great success only to
lose it later because of drifting.
All my life the Devil had a dramatic story to tell of his dealings with me. He saw me drift in and out of scores of business opportunities for which many would have given a king's
ransom. He saw me drifting in my policy of relating myself to
others, particularly in my lack of caution in business dealings.
The circumstance which saved me from fatal control of the
law of hypnotic rhythm was the definiteness of purpose with
which, at long last, I dedicated my entire life to the organization of a philosophy of individual achievement. I drifted at one
time or another on all my minor whims and endeavors, but my
drifting was offset by my major purpose, which was sufficient
to restore my courage and start me once more in the quest of
knowledge every time I was defeated in connection with my
I learned something of the hazardous nature of the habit
of drifting while engaged in analyzing more than 25,000
people in connection with the organization of the Law of
Success. These analyses showed that only two out of every 100
have a definite major aim in life. The other 98 were caught
by the habit of drifting. It seems more than a coincidence
that my analyses clearly corroborated the Devil's claim that
he controls 98 out of every 100 people because of their habit
Looking back over my own career, I can see clearly that I
could have avoided the majority of the temporary defeats with
which I met if I had been definitely following a plan for the
attainment of my major purpose in life.
From my experience in having analyzed the problems of
more than 5,000 families, I know, definitely, that the majority
of married people who get out of harmony with each other
do so because of the accumulation of a great number of little
circumstances in their married relationship which could have
been cleared up and disposed of as they arose if there had been
a definite policy to do so. They do not live their married life
with definiteness of purpose.
So the story has gone, all back down the ages. The man
with the most definite plan and purpose and the most power
rides on to victory. The others scurry for cover and get crushed
under the heels of those who are more determined.
The answer is not hard to find. There is no use looking
toward high heaven for it. For my part I would prefer to
seek the answer from the Devil, for he would tell me quickly
enough that victory goes to the people who know what they
want and are determined to have it. They have mastered the
habit of drifting. They have definite policies, definite plans,
and definite objectives. Their opposition, which may outnumber them very greatly, has no chance against them
because the opposition has no plan, no purpose, no policy
except that of drifting along, hoping that something may turn
up to help them. In those three brief sentences you have the
sum and the substance of the difference between success and
failure, power and lack of it.
We come, now, near to the end of our visit through this
book. If we were to try to state in one brief sentence the most
important part of that which I have tried to convey through
the book, it would be something like this:
One's dominating desires can be crystallized into their
physical equivalents through definiteness ofpurpose backed
by definiteness ofplans, with the aid ofnature's law of
hypnotic rhythm and time!
There you have the positive phase of the philosophy of
individual achievement I have tried to describe through this
book, brought down to an irreducible minimum of brevity
and simplicity. If you expand the philosophy for the purpose
of adapting it to the circumstances of life, you find that it is
as broad as life itself, that it covers all human relationships, all
human thoughts, aims, and desires.
So here we are, at the end of the strangest of all the thousands of interviews I have had with the great and the neargreat, over a period of fifty years of labor, in my search for the
truths oflife that lead to happiness and economic security.
How strange, indeed, that after having had active cooperation from such men as Carnegie, Edison, and Ford, I should
have been compelled, finally, to go to the Devil for a working
knowledge of the greatest of all the principles uncovered in my
quest for truth. How strange that I was forced to experience
poverty and failure and adversity in a hundred forms before
being given the privilege of understanding and using a law of
nature which softens the thrust of these wicked weapons or
wipes them out altogether. But the strangest of all this dramatic experience which life has provided me is the simplicity
of the law through which, if I had understood it, I could have
transmuted my desires into substantial form without having
to undergo so many years of hardship and misery.
I find now, at the end of my interview with the Devil, that I
had been carrying in my own pockets the matches with which
the fires of adversity were being touched off And I find, too,
that the water with which those fires were finally extinguished
was at my command in great abundance.
I searched for the philosopher's lodestone with which
failure may be converted into success, only to learn that both
success and failure are the results of day-to-day evolutionary
forces through which dominating thoughts are pieced together
bit by bit and woven into the things we want or the things we
do not want, according to the nature of those thoughts.
How unfortunate that I did not understand this truth
from the time that I reached the age of reason, for if I had
understood it then I might have been able to go around some
of the hurdles I have been forced to jump as I walked through
"The Valley of the Shadow" of life.
The story of my interview with the Devil is now in your
hands. The benefits you will receive from it will be in exact
proportion to the thought it inspires in you. To benefit from
reading the interview, you need not agree with every portion
You have only to think and to reach your own conclusions
concerning every part of it. How reasonable that is. You are the
judge and the jury and the attorney for both the prosecution
and the defense. If you do not win your case, the loss and the
cause thereof will be yours!
"One's dominating desires can be crystallized into their
physical equivalents through definiteness ofpurpose backed by
definiteness of plans, with the aid ofnature's law ofhypnotic
rhythm and time!"
Napoleon Hill wanted to share this message with the world
in the 1930s, but instead it was hidden away in a vault, to be
finally uncovered and shared with you now in 2011for a reason. Will you . .•
Realize you are carrying in your own pockets the
matches with which the fires of adversity are being
touched off, and find, too, that the water with which
those fires can be finally extinguished is at your own
command in great abundance? And then:
Find your definiteness of purpose?
Create a definite plan?
Engage the aid of nature's law of hypnotic rhythm?
And use the asset of time to assist you in reaching
your greatest success?
WHETHER YOU HAVE READ this entire book or only a few
of its pages before turning to this afterword, you will have
realized that if the historical names, dates, and events in this
book were replaced by those of our current times, little has
changed. From Hill's description of media propaganda, the
conditioning that children receive in school, the fear-based
teachings preached by religions, people's poor diet and health
habits, to the challenging economic climate, little seems to
have shifted in our collective consciousness and therefore in
our collective experience.
The good news is that it is never too late for a new beginning, for a renaissance in consciousness. As Mr. Hill reminds
us, "I have also discovered that there comes with every experience of temporary defeat, and every failure and every form
of adversity, the seed of an equivalent benefit." Our path is
seemingly composed of a polarity of both failure and success.
A lighter way of putting it might be that Hill's principles for
living teach us "how to fail successfully." This is a paradox
understood by the spiritually mature, those whom he describes
as having risen above the "hypnotic rhythm" and discovered
their "other self," which can also be identified as the Self of the
self, the Higher Self, or the Authentic Self
It is encouraging that many of today's spiritual, philosophical, self-help, and even scientific authors share Hill's
view of what he calls "definiteness of purpose," or, in current
parlance, "intention setting." When it is our intention to wake
up from the "hypnotic rhythm" of living-what the Hindus
call delusion and the Buddhists call illusion-individual and
collective consciousness expands. We, along with our global
Hill's integrity shines through his descriptions of what
it means to manifest success. In fact, he unhesitatingly
announces that "any man can avail himself of the benefits of
his 'other self'" as long as he is not "steeped in greed." This
spiritually dignified statement elevates success to a matter of
consciousness-that is, success does not necessarily mean that
"he who has the most toys wins." Hill thus eliminates confusing spiritual awakening with the capacity to manifest things
in one's life, for there is never enough of "more."
We are also taught the importance of awareness, of mindfulness, an activity of consciousness abhorred by Hill's Devil,
who delights in using people's lack of thinking for themselves to his advantage. Consciously observing the mind and
its capacities is to look at it with respect, compassion, gratitude, for it is God's gift to us. Mind not only forms our inner
landscape; it creates our outer circumstances. Let us not fight
with the mind; let us appreciate its nuances, its intuitions, its
utmost capacities with the understanding that mind is the key
to being self-directed, self-empowered, self-confident.
Next to "drifting," the most dangerous human trait Hill
describes is the "lack of caution," or what we might call a lack
of discernment. Discernment is a relative of wisdom, which
causes us to think of the repercussions before we take action,
as well as to honestly observe the results of our choice-making.
Thus we may create our own path to freedom.
In the minds of his modern-day readers, Hill's teachings
are most often associated with prosperity, which translates as
money in one's individual coffers. But truth be told, he has
shared with the world his wisdom of "how-to-live principles,"
beginning with one's interior being, one's inner state of consciousness, inviting us to give outer expression to our highest
potential not only for our own benefit, but for all humankind.
I wish to add that it was a wisdom-guided choice on the
part of the Napoleon Hill Foundation to entrust this precious
manuscript to the able hands of Sharon Lechter. Her many
years of deeply studying Napoleon Hill's truth principles, and
more importantly her practice of them, have made her a perfect candidate to now offer this manuscript to the world.
Mayall Hill's readers break free from conditional belief
systems and live life in all of its richness, its exquisite beauty
and joy, freely delivering their gifts, talents, and skills on this
planet we all call home. Peace and richest blessings to you!
-MICHAEL BERNARD BECKWITH
MICHAEL BERNARD BECKWITH
is the author of
Spiritual Liberation: Fulfilling Your Soul's Potential, and was featured
in The Secret. He is the founder of the Agape International Spiritual
Center and the co-founder of the Association for Global New
Thought, and the Season for Nonviolence.
THROUGHOUT NAPOLEON HILL'S WRITINGS, there is a strong
spirituality present, informing his methods and his morality.
In many places in the present book, Outwitting the Devil, this
religious foundation for his belief system is perhaps at its
Some of his statements about evil and fear, about "indefiniteness" and "drifting," derive from an American religious
tradition that dates back, at least, to the Transcendentalism
of Ralph Waldo Emerson in the mid-nineteenth century.
Currents in American spirituality in Hill's day (during the
writing of this book in the late 1930s) included Norman
Vincent Peale, Emmett Fox, and, in popular inspirational fiction, Lloyd C. Douglas. The very personal Christian evangelism
of Aimee Semple McPherson and Billy Sunday were also still
omnipresent in the media and public consciousness of the era.
For Hill, however, the stature of some of the titans of
industry and finance of the time achieved a kind of religious
validation and served to inspire his own thought and action,
and he urged others to look to these men-and all were
men-as models of successful moral behavior that yielded personal success as well as general good.
The Great Depression was, for Napoleon Hill, in great
measure a moral failure. What would he say about our current
crises in financial markets-the near collapse of the banking
system in 2008 and the subsequent severe recession that has
affected the lives of everyone who will pick up this book in
2011 and beyond?
His pantheon included Carnegie (of course), Edison, Ford,
and Rockefeller. Each of these tycoons has been subsequently
analyzed and reanalyzed by historians, economists, and
biographers and their personal flaws placed in the glare of
public scrutiny. To Hill, they were not historical figures but
contemporary leaders on the world stage-as were Adolf
Hitler and Benito Mussolini, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston
Churchill. He did not critique Rockefeller's ruthless competitiveness, and he was probably unaware at the time of Ford's
For Hill, American society and the free market system
held the best hope for the world as it teetered on the brink of
conflagration-and even with the evident imperfections of his
native country (what he saw as its susceptibility to the Devil's
machinations), there was nothing on earth that could compare with it.
For individuals who made the personal choice to succeed
in life, who resisted the temptations and weaknesses of irreligion and sought, instead, the help of God (called by various
names in the book), there was no limit to how far they might
go. Limits were self-imposed, or imposed by the negative outside force of evil, personified by the Devil.
So what is Hill's religion? Frankly, that is not important to
me. As much as I have been influenced by Napoleon Hill's philosophy and fascinated by his life, it has never mattered to me
what church he attended or whether he attended any church
at all. More important is the question: What is he teaching us
today about the role of faith in our lives?
The answer to that question is for you to decide. I think it
is a foundational issue that affects every line he writes. After
all, he chose to frame this book in the classical genre of the
philosophical dialogue, and he sets up a sparring match with
the most vivid anti-religious figure in all ofliterature (from the
Bible, through Milton, through C.S. Lewis). And I continue to
be fascinated by this choice for it allows Hill to express-in a
very readable style-his own deeply held beliefs and theories
about human behavior. It holds profound lessons for us all.
As you go forward in your life and find obstacles in your
way, it may serve you to review Hill's seven principles for
Outwitting the Devil in your life.
Mastery over self
Controlling environmental influence (associations)
Time (giving permanency to positive) rather than negative
thought-habits and developing wisdom)
Harmony (acting with definiteness ofpurpose to become the
dominating influence in your own mental) spiritua~ and
Caution (thinking through your plan before you act)
In reviewing these seven principles, you may identifY and reveal
what is holding you back from achieving your greatest success.
It was a profound blessing to me to have the Napoleon
Hill Foundation entrust this manuscript to my hands-a manuscript that was hidden and locked away for over seventy years
(either by his wife or the Devil himself ... you decide). They say
when a student is ready, the teacher will appear. Is it possible
that Think and Grow Rich was the right message during the
Great Depression and that Outwitting the Devil is the right message for our current times? I believe we see God's hand at work,
not the Devil's. I believe Outwitting the Devil was not published
until God felt it was the right message at the right time ... now
for us in 2011. It has definitely made a huge impact in my life
and I hope that you will find value in it for your life.
May Napoleon Hill's words bringyou
hope, courage, and, most ofall,
definiteness ofpurpose for your life . ..
+ 258 +
NUMBER of people have played a role in bringing
Outwitting the Devil to print after it spent more than seventy years in
The Napoleon Hill Foundation deeply appreciates the family of
Dr. Napoleon Hill, who have kept his legacy alive. Dr. Charlie Johnson,
Hill's nephew, who had custody of the controversial manuscript, recognized the power and relevance of its message and recently gave the
manuscript to the Napoleon Hill Foundation so it could be published.
Many thanks to Sharon Lechter and her deep passion for preserving and promoting Hill's legacy. In her comments throughout the
book, Sharon has used her talents and energy to help readers appreciate and benefit from this timely message.
Sharon joins us in thanking the admirers of Napoleon Hill all
over the world who help us spread Hill's wisdom-teachers and mentors, motivational speakers and college professors, successful business
leaders and budding entrepreneurs. You are living testaments to the
continued importance of Hill's work. Little wonder that Hill was often
introduced as Miracle Maker and Maker of Millionaires during the
many years of his speaking tours.
We thank the entire team at Sterling Publishing for their dedication and expertise, most notably Marcus Leaver, Jason Prince, Michael
Fragnito, and Kate Zimmermann. On a more personal note, we thank
our teams at The Napoleon Hill Foundation and Pay Your Family First
for their never-ending guidance and support ... Robert T. Johnson Jr.,
Michael Lechter, Annedia Sturgill, Phillip Lechter, Kevin Stock, Angela
Totman, and Kristin Thomas. In addition, we appreciate the encouragement and assistance from Steve Riggio, Greg Reid, Joe McNeely,
Greg Tobin, and Cevin Bryerman.
On behalf of Napoleon Hill, whose journey began over a century
ago and whose wisdom has brought hope and encouragement to millions of people around the globe, we thank you!
-DON GREEN, CEO of the Napoleon Hill Foundation,
About the Authors
NAPOLEON HILL WAS BORN IN 1883 in the remote mountains of Wise
County, Virginia. He was born into poverty, and his mother died when
he was nine years old. One year later his father remarried, and his stepmother became a source of inspiration for the young boy.
With the influence of his stepmother, Hill became a newspaper
reporter while in his teens. His writings got the attention of Robert
L. Taylor, former governor of Tennessee and later a United States senator. Taylor owned Bob Taylor's Magazine and employed the young Hill
to write success stories. At the time, Hill was enrolled at Georgetown
University Law School.
In 1908 Hill was assigned to interview Andrew Carnegie and a
three-hour interview became one that lasted three days. While Hill
did the interviewing, Carnegie sold him on the idea of organizing the
world's first philosophy of personal achievement, based on the principles of success.
Carnegie provided Hill with introductions to giants of the time
including Henry Ford, Thomas A. Edison, and John D. Rockefeller.
Hill was to spend twenty years interviewing, studying, and writing
about successful individuals.
It would be twenty years after Hill interviewed Andrew Carnegie
before he wrote the eight-volume Law of Success in 1928. He was to
write many best sellers in his lifetime. In 1937 Hill wrote Think and
Grow Rich, which became the best-selling self-help book of all time
and continues today to sell millions of copies allover the world.
Little wonder that Hill was often introduced as Miracle Man-Maker
About the Authors
A LIFE-LONG EDUCATION ADVOCATE, Sharon Lechter is the founder
of Pay Your Family First, a financial education organization. Sharon
serves as a national spokesperson for the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. In 2008 Sharon was appointed to the first President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, serving both Presidents
Bush and Obama.
Sharon is an entrepreneur, author, philanthropist, educator, international speaker, licensed CPA, and mother. She has been a pioneer in
developing new technologies, programs, and products to bring education into children's lives in ways that are innovative, challenging,
and fun. Her financial literacy board game, ThriveTime for Teens, an
innovative and experiential life and money reality game, has gained
recognition with coveted awards including the GOLD Mom's Choice
Award, Creative Child Magazine's 2010 Game of The Year, Dr. Toy's
Best Vacation Product, and a five-star rating from WTS Toy Reviews.
Sharon is recognized as an expert on the topics of financial education
for children, personal finance, and entrepreneurship.
Sharon authored the national best seller Three Feet from Gold
in cooperation with the Napoleon Hill Foundation and Greg Reid.
Sharon is also known world-wide as the co-author of the international
#1 New York Times best seller Rich Dad Poor Dad and fourteen other
books in the Rich Dad series.
A committed philanthropist, Sharon also gives back to world
communities as both a volunteer and benefactor. Sharon serves on the
national boards of the Women Presidents' Organization, and Childhelp, a national organization founded to prevent and treat child abuse.
www.sharonlechter.com . www.payyourfamilyfirst.com . www.outwitlingthedevi/.com
Bribery, 111-112, 115, 116, 129,
137, 150, 154
Bryant & Stratton Business
emergencies and, 24
failure and, 2, 106
faith and, 47-49
happiness and, xv
Hill lecturing on, 15, 18,22
principles of, 7, 11
relationships and, 224
success and, 2
Adversity. See also Failure(s)
advantages from, 53, 202, 217
benefits of, 213-214
blessing of, 14
learning from, 148,202
in relationships, 212-213
wisdom from, 234
America Saves, 181
Attraction, 118, 132-133, 140,
Carnegie, Andrew, 2-5,12,17,19,
definiteness of purpose and,
drifting of, 75, 79, 163, 177
duty and, 163
fear affecting, 78, 80, 151
habits and, 175
hypnotic rhythm and, 151
mind of, 75-83
parents teaching, 79,151
positive thoughts for, 233
religion for, 77-78,151
schools and. See Schools
using independent thinking,
Cigarettes, 64, 65-66, 177
Compensation, law of, 41,153,157,
Criticism, 126, 127
Bell, Alexander Graham, 3
Betsy Ross Candy Company, 7
choosing negative or positive
constant motion of, 227
desires and, 225
evolution of, 228-229
food and, 187, 188
Infinite Intelligence and, 117,
"other self" and, 214
senses and, 210
sixth sense and, 211
thought process in, 209-210,
unused portions of, 60, 72
Death, 61, 63,124-125
Declaration ofIndependence, 87
attainment of, 43
brains and, 225
bribery and, 112, 116
habits from, 225
hypnotic rhythm and, 225
Infinite Intelligence and, 117
for money, 113
"other self" assisting, 29
for sex, 111,129
thoughts and, 225-226
Dictatorships, 87-88, 108
Doubt,S, 14,29,45. See also
accurate thoughts and, 84
attraction and, 133
bribery affecting, 116
caution and, 239, 240
of children, 75, 79,163,177
definiteness of purpose and,
description of, 91-93
dictators and, 87
environments and, 85, 223
failure and, 89, 104,245
faith and, 184
flattery affecting, 101-102
Ford ignoring, 244
Franklin D. Roosevelt and, 88,
habits and, 153
hypnotic rhythm and, 131, 142,
independent thinking and,
laws of nature and, 86
losing soul through, 122-123
marriage and, 84,161
of mind, 73-75, 86, 99
money and, 89-90
occupations and, 84-85
opinions and, 194
opportunities and, 135
parents teaching, 79
poverty and, 89,183
prayer affecting, 164-165
religion promoting, 170-171
schools promoting, 170-171
self-determination and, 83, 183
thoughts and, 73-75, 99
time and, 243, 244
wisdom and, 232
Edison, Thomas, 3, 39, 47, lOS,
Education. See Schools
Egotism, 102-104, 111, 153,
achievement and, 24
rear and, 17, 18,19,20
indecision and, 18
"other self" and,S, 21-22
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 41, 63,177
Emotions, 67, 210
definiteness of purpose and, 237
drifting and, 85, 223
habits and, 75
harmony and, 236
human relationships and,
hypnotic rhythm and, 145,220,
influence of, 27, 28, 145,224
vibration of, 131
Failure(s). See also Adversity
achievement and, 106
blessing of, 37-41, 202, 214
Carnegie on, 2-5
causes of, 2, 5, 7
caution and, 239
definiteness of purpose and,
drifting and, 89,104,245
of Edison, 47
hypnotic rhythm and, 202,
learning from, 4,105,117
"other seW' and, 36, 214
quitting after, 202
time and, 245
virtue of, 106, 163
wisdom from, 234
achievement and, 47-49
affecting fear, 46
drifting and, 184
as source, 57
Golden Rule magazine, 8, 9,132
Gravitation, law of, 121
Great Depression, 37, 40, 46, 52, 68,
135-136, 206, 229
Green, Don, xi-xiii, 27, 227
Franklin D. Roosevelt and, 245
"other self" and, 27, 28, 38
as sixth sense, 49
affecting children, 78, 80, 151
causing Great Depression, 229
caution and, 239, 240
of criticism, 126, 127
of death, 61, 124-125
definiteness of purpose and, 154
emergencies and, 17, 18,19,20
faith affecting, 46
Franklin D. Roosevelt and, 245
hypnotic rhythm and, 124-125
impeding prayer, 43
mass, 68, 229-230
mind and, 61
"other self" and, 27-28, 45
overcoming, 23, 100
paralyzing effect of, 17-19,20
of poverty, 61, 85, 112
propaganda in, 109
religion using, 80, 83, 125,
salvation from, 171
as sin, 183
Finances. See Money
Flattery, 100-104, 129, 141
definiteness of purpose and, 188
illness and, 188
over-indulgence of, 84, 112, 113,
self-discipline with, 186-189
waste elimination and, 189
Ford, Henry, 3, 105,244
children and, 175
cigarette, 64, 65-66
definiteness of purpose and, 153
from desires, 225
drifting and, 73-75,153,223
environments and, 75
Great Depression affecting, 135
independent thinking and,
permanence of, 231
rhythm of, 122
of sex, 190
thoughts and, 224-225
achievement and, xv
money and, 9-10
through service, 13,42, 162
Harmony, 236-239, 248
Henley, William Ernest, 22-23
Heredity, 74, 145, 151
Hill, Annie Lou, xi, xii
death of, 98, 127
definiteness of purpose and, 247
during Great Depression, 52
interviewing Carnegie, 2-5
jobs of, 7-9
Law ofSuccess by, 3
as lecturer, 15, 18,22
as publisher, 8, 9
Think and Grow Rich by, xii, 3-4, 5
wife of, xi, xii, 127, 130
Hitler, Adolf, 87-88
attraction and, 132, 144
Gillette, King, 3
God. See also Infinite Intelligence
description of, 49
power of mind and, 123, 140
prayers to, 43, 164
character and, 206
children and, 151
description of, 120-121
desires and, 225
drifting and, 131, 142,243,244
environments and, 145,220,222
failure and, 202, 203-205, 206,
fear and, 124-125
human relationships and,
influence of, 136-137
as law of compensation, 217
laws of nature and, 120-121,
marriage and, 207
permanence of, 222, 231
poverty and, 144,207
prayer and, 164
success and, 144,207,245
time and, 230, 243, 244
prayer and, 43, 44
reality of, 130-131
Insull, Samuel, 244
"Invictus" (Henley), 22-23
Junior Achievement, 181
Knowledge, 234, 235
LaSalle Extension University of
Law ofSuccess (Hill), xiii, 3
Lincoln, Abraham, 63
Marriage, 84, 161,207,221,222,
McDermott, Pat, 15, 16
Mellett, Don R., 15-16, 17, 19
Metropolitan Business College, 14
Mind. See also Thoughts
affecting prayer, 48
bribery and, 111
of children, 75-83
Devil controlling, 60-61, 62, 78
drifting of, 73-75, 86,99
fear and, 61
independent thinking and,
Master, 54-55, 57,130,213,223
subconscious, 209-210, 211
beliefs affecting, 46
desire for, 113
drifting and, 89-90
happiness and, 9-10
loss of, 215
"other self" and, 24-25, 28,
problems from, 113-114
success with, 9
Mother Teresa, 162
Mussolini, Benito, 87-88
Illness, 63, 64, 84, 89,182, 188
Indecision, 11, 17, 18,45,53.
See also Doubt
See also Thoughts
children using, 77-79, 81-82, 83,
definiteness of purpose and, 171
drifting and, 95,116
habits and, 77-78
Infinite Intelligence and, 140
opinions and, 198
parents and, 77-78, 79,151
religion and, 77-78,79,83, 151
schools and, 77-78, 79, 81-82,
Infinite Intelligence. See also God
abilities of, 48-49
access to, 228
brains and, 117, 176,228
desires and, 117
gratitude to, 44
independent thinking and, 140
negativity and, 140
overcoming obstacles and, 39
Napoleon Hill Foundation, 27
fear impeding, 43
to God, 43, 164
gratitude in, 44-45
hypnotic rhythm and, 164
Infinite Intelligence and, 43
mind affecting, 48
"other self" and, 48
success with, 43,117,164
Procrastination. See Drifting
Purpose, definiteness of
children and, 151-152, 168-169
danger of, 153
drifting and, 149, 150,223
environments and, 237
failure and, 155-157
fear and, 154
food and, 188
Franklin D. Roosevelt and, 245,
habits and, 153
of Hill, 247
independent thinking and, 171
love and, 154-155
prayer with, 163-164, 177
religion and, 168-171
schools and, 172-173
successful plans with, 155-157,
Napoleon Hill Magazine, 9
Nature, laws of
climate and, 143
drifting and, 86
eternal change in, 206
faith and, 28
harmony and, 236
hypnotic rhythm and, 120-121,
Omnipotence and, 167
time and, 218
wisdom and, 233
Newton, Isaac, 121
Opinions, 186, 194-197, 198
assisting desires, 29
brains and, 214
doubt and, 45
emergencies and,S, 21-22
experience of, 12-13
failure and, 214
faith and, 27, 28, 38
fear and, 27-28, 45
guidance of, 24-30
indecision and, 45
limitations and, 34, 36
money and, 24-25, 28, 35-36
prayer and, 48
Paine, Thomas, 63
Parents, 77-78, 79,151,163
Pelton, Albert L., 33-34
Politics, 64, 79,108,141
caution and, 239
drifting and, 89,183
fear of, 61, 85, 112
hypnotic rhythm and, 144,207
sex and, 189-190
thoughts and, 63, 64
Powell, Earl, 35
with definiteness of purpose,
drifting affecting, 164-165
for children, 77-78, 151
definiteness of purpose and,
independent thinking and,
promoting drifting, 170-171
propaganda in, 107
sin and, 182-183
using fear, 80, 83,125, 142, 151
Rockefeller,John D., 3, 64, 65
Roosevelt, Franklin D., 88,
Roosevelt, Theodore, 3
definiteness of purpose and,
illness and, 84
independent thinking and, 7778,79,81-82,83,151,172
positive changes for, 174-182
promoting drifting, 170-171
propaganda in, 107
teaching practical lessons,
Science, 127-128, 165-166
accurate thinking and, 193
associates and, 241
caution and, 241
drifting from, 83, 183
education and, 172-173
love and, 155
negative thoughts and, 224, 236
with food, 186-189
with opinions, 186, 194-197
with sex, 186, 189-194
effects of, 95
happiness through, 13,42, 162
priority of, 117
accurate thinking and, 193-194
desire for, 111, 129
draining energy, 191
habit of, 190
over-indulgence of, 66, 113, 186
positive effects of, 191-192
poverty and, 189-190
self-discipline with, 186, 189194
women using, 101
Sixth sense, 48, 49,177,210,211,
Carnegie on, 2-5
causes of, 2
definiteness of purpose and,
drifting and, 245
equation for, 49
happiness and, 9
hypnotic rhythm and, 144,207,
with money, 9
with prayer, 43,117,164
time and, 245
Success magazine, 9
Teach for America, 181
Team work, 54-55
Think and Grow Rich (Hill), xii, 3-4, 5
Thoughts. See also Independent
accurate, 80, 83, 84, 166,
attraction of, 118, 140
brain storing, 210
deeds following, 134
desires and, 225-226
drifting and, 73-75, 79, 83, 84,
habits and, 224-225
nature and, 226-228
negative, 61-62, 75, 85,121,
poverty and, 63, 64
rhythm of, 122
sixth sense and, 210-211
Wars, 8, 68, 94,101,107,141,217
World War I, 8, 68
The purpose of
The Napoleon Hill Foundation is to ...
• Advance the concept ofprivate enterprise offered under the
• Teach individuals by formula how they can rise from humble
beginnings to positions of leadership in their chosen professions
• Assist young men and women to set goals for their own lives
• Emphasize the importance of honesty, morality and integrity as
the cornerstone of Americanism
• Aid in the development of individuals to help them reach their
• Overcome the self-imposed limitations offear, doubt and
• Help people rise from poverty, physical handicaps, and other
disadvantages to high positions, wealth and acquire the true
riches of life
• Motivate individuals to motivate themselves to high achievements
THE NAPOLEON HILL FOUNDATION
A notfor-profit educational institution dedicated
to making the world a better place in which to live.
----+ 268 + - - -
Please share your personal stories
of how you succeeded in
Outwitting the Devil
y visiting www.outwittingthedevil.com. you
can join our community. Share your own
story of how you outwitted the Devil and
you will be helping others to realize that they can too!
If you are still fighting the Devil yourself, you will be
able to learn how other community members faced
their own moments of struggle, what helped them
persevere, and how they achieved success.
It may just be the motivation you need, to propel you
Whatever the mind can conceive
and believe, it can achieve!
THE NAPOLEON HILL FOUNDATION
www. outwittingthedevil. com . www.naphill. org
The Secret Chapter
Unlocked for you today
The chapter excluded from the book
is available to you-as our gift!
((An interview with my Invisible Counselors . ..
my Strangest Experience. ))
Find more about Ou I WIllING THE DEVIL,
the secrets, and the insider details from Sharon Lechter
to download this amazing chapter
OUTWITTING THE DEVIL
"We are told too often to ignore the existence of the negative and to
focus only on the positive. Yet the power comes in recognizing both
and learning to deal with them. This book tells a great story and
teaches some terrific lessons."
-LARRY WINGET, New York Times and Wall StreetJournal
best-selling author of Shut Up, Stop Whining & Get a Life!
"Napoleon Hill's immortal Think and Grow Rich was 50 years ahead of
its time. His newly discovered treasure, Outwitting the Devil, is further
proof of his wisdom and his legacy. Hill guides you through true and
false, best and worst, and right and wrong, as ifhe were alive today.
This book is not an option for anyone looking for today's insights
that will lead you to tomorrow's success and fulfillment."
-JEFFREY GITOMER, author of The Little Red Book ofSelling
and The Little Gold Book ofYES Attitude
"If you don't program yourself, life will program you! Napoleon
Hill's Outwitting the Devil provides you the code to achieve your
-LES BROWN, The Motivator! author of Live Your Dreams
"Hill takes an idea that C. S. Lewis used in The Screwtape Letters,
expands it, and then presents it in a very personal way. The result is
a fascinating look into the mind of Napoleon Hill and how he sees
society as blindly programming us for failure. Outwitting the Devil may
still be too 'hot' to publish."
-DR. J. B. HILL, Napoleon Hill's grandson
"The single greatest look into the mind of the inspirational legend,
-GREG S. REID, co-author of Three Feetfrom Gold
"Hill's teachings are most often associated, in the minds of his
modern-day readers, with prosperity, which translates as money in
one's individual coffers. But truth be told, he has shared with the
world his wisdom of ' how-to-live principles,' beginning with one's
interior being, one's inner state of consciousness, inviting us to
give outer expression to our highest potential not only for our own
benefit, but for all humankind."
-MICHAEL BERNARD BECKWITH,
author of Spiritual Liberation: Fulfilling Your Soul's Potential
"Napoleon Hill's ageless wisdom has been combined with Sharon
Lechter's ability to communicate with the modern reader in
Outwitting the Devi~ the profound and life-changing sequel to Think
and Grow Rich. As you read it and then read it again, you will realize
that what you think about, you bring about!"
-RITA DAVENPORT, author, speaker, and humorist
"Think and Grow Rich revealed the fundamental principles of success ...
Outwitting the Devil will reveal what may be getting in your way, how
to break through those barriers and achieve the success you deserve.
-JIM STOVALL, best-selling author of The Ultimate Gift
"You will discover whether the Devil he interviews is real or
imaginary, much like the Devil that you may personally be dealing
with in your life and experience."
-MARK VICTOR HANSEN, co-creator of the #1 New York Times
best-selling series Chicken Soup for the Soul®
"There has never been a more important time for truth than now.
I am proud of Sharon Lechter's bravery to step forward to put God
in the center of our lives."
-SARA O'MEARA, co-founder and chair ofChildhelp, Inc.,
five-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize
The Secret Chapter •
Thank you for visiting outwittingthedevil.com. I was honored to
be asked to edit and annotate Napoleon Hill’s manuscript. In doing so,
this Secret Chapter was taken out of the final book because it was a
story in its own right that validates Hill’s philosophy on the power of
his Mastermind principle.
As he shares his story about an Interview with his invisible
counselors, you will understand the importance of studying the wisdom
of the greatest minds of history. One of Napoleon Hill’s greatest gifts
is sharing with us the power of collective wisdom. Alone, we must
work long hours and struggle to create success. Together we can speed
our way to success by drawing on the strengths of each individual
In Outwitting the Devil Hill reveals his interview with the Devil
and he leaves it to the reader to determine if he was talking to the real
devil or an imaginary devil. The brilliance of his manuscript is found
in his ability to reveal and expose the self-limiting beliefs which may
be preventing each of us from achieving the success we so richly
deserve. He shares his own battles with the Devil and times in his life
when he was in the depths of despair and depression and how he found
his way to success by following the very same principles he shares in
Think and Grow Rich and Outwitting the Devil.
Please enjoy the Secret Chapter, but don’t miss out on reading
Outwitting the Devil. Here are some of the reviews it is receiving from
around the world:
N A P O L E O N
H I L L
“If widely read this book could trigger a seismic shift in
– SAM333 (BarnesandNoble.com)
“Don't let this one get away! I'm going to recommend
Outwitting the Devil to everyone I care about! I suggest
you do the same - and start with yourself.”
“We are all working to ‘outwit the devil’ as we struggle to
be the best we can be. This central theme of this work
comes at a time when we need it most as, now more than
ever, we live in a time that demands that good men stand
and 'do the right thing.”’
Bonnie Elosser (Amazon.com)
“Once again, this book shows that Napoleon Hill was
decades ahead of his time. His insight into human nature
and in our spiritual-selves is incredible. To truly take in
what he says in this book is to know freedom from the very
things that hold us down spiritually and financially.”
– J.K. Fowlkes (Amazon.com)
It was an honor and a privilege to participate in bringing Outwitting
the Devil to the world after it was hidden away for over 70 years.
Please help me share its wisdom with anyone you know who is looking
to improve their lives and achieve their dreams.
Napoleon Hill shares, “Fear is the tool of a man-made
devil.” However, in Outwitting the Devil Hill forces the
devil to confess that, “Those who control and use their own
minds escape my web.”
©2011 by The Napoleon HIll Founda on
The Secret Chapter •
©2011 by The Napoleon HIll Foundation
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photo-copying, recording, or
otherwise, without prior written permission from The Napoleon HIll Foundation.
N A P o L E o N
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he author has for many years followed the habit of taking
personal inventory of himself once a year, for the purpose of
determining how many of his weaknesses he has bridged or
eliminated, and to ascertain what progress, if any, he has
made during the year.
on one of these occasions, before THE LAW oF SuCCESS philosophy
had been reduced to textbooks and published, the inventory showed the
author had not only slowed down during the year, but that he was becoming
indifferent toward himself and toward life. He was scheduled to deliver an
address in ohio, some two hundred miles from his home. The trip was made
on the way the author's “guardian angel” took her place beside him on
the vacant front seat of the car. (This portion of the incident may, if the reader
desires, be attributed entirely to the author’s use of his imagination, or to daydreaming, or to any other cause one sees fit.)
The personage on the vacant seat beside the author seemed very real.
There took place, almost immediately after the author observed by his
“feelings” that some force or personality beside his own was in the car, the
following interview, which resulted in the Compact described:
Voice speaking to me from within: you have wasted more of your time
in the past than you have used constructively. How long are you going to
continue this waste?
The author: yes, I know I have wasted too much time. What has been
the cause of this waste, and how can I make amends for it in the future?
Voice from within: The time you have wasted in the main has been the
time you have devoted to thinking and indulging too freely in physical
pleasures. you should make amends for this waste by transmuting this
vital energy into a service to others, through THE LAW oF SuCCESS
The author: Do I understand that my thoughts in the future should be
devoted entirely to serving others through the LAW oF SuCCESS?
©2011 by The Napoleon HIll Foundation
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Voice from within: Not at all, but you should divert the major portion of
your thoughts to the purpose suggested. If you fail to do so, you will
bring misery to yourself, and deprive others of knowledge which you
should impart to them through the LAW oF SuCCESS.
The author: I haven't the money with which to publish the LAW oF
Voice from within: That is no excuse. you may have all the money you
need for this, and for every other purpose, provided you are willing to
accept advice and follow it.
The author: I am willing to accept advice and I will follow it. give me
instructions, and I will follow them to the letter.
Voice from within: Very well, your willingness to follow instructions is
all that you need for the present. Are you ready to receive your
The author: I am ready.
Voice from within: you will find it difficult at first to follow your
instructions, because you will have to change completely your habits.
The reward which awaits you, if you follow instructions faithfully,
however, is worth all the effort you will devote to the task. Here are your
First. In the future, you shall devote as much time and effort to
serving others, through the LAW oF SuCCESS philosophy, as you
have devoted in the past to indulgence in personal pleasures.
Second. Proceed at once to the task of writing the LAW oF
SuCCESS philosophy. When the manuscripts have been completed,
you will receive further instructions for their publication.
Third. upon publication of the LAW oF SuCCESS, philosophy you
will receive instructions for the writing of other books. Carry out
those instructions as soon as you receive them.
©2011 by The Napoleon HIll Foundation
N A P o L E o N
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Fourth. As compensation for carrying out these and other
instructions which will be given to you in the future, you may have
your choice of any three things you wish.
The Author: Do you mean that I may really have any three things I
choose, in return for carrying out these instructions?”
Voice from within: yes, any three things you choose.
The Author: With whom am I dealing? Who will be responsible to me
for the compensation I have been promised after I carry out the
Voice from within: you are dealing with Infinite Intelligence. I am the
Individual Entity designated by Infinite Intelligence to bargain with you
for your services. So you may proceed with your instructions with faith
that you will receive your reward. I shall now give you the power to
compensate yourself as soon as you earn your reward.
The Author: Very well. I shall choose (1) Wisdom through an
understanding heart that will help me to relate myself to others in a spirit
of harmony; (2) Health in both body and mind, and (3) Wealth in such
amounts as I may need to carry out the instruction you have given me.
Voice from within: It is not enough. I cannot permit you to be cheated.
you should modify your first choice to include happiness. Without
happiness you will not be an efficient worker. Infinite Intelligence has
selected you to assume a great responsibility. A world-crisis is impending.
you have been prepared to render useful service in connection with this
crisis. revise your first choice.
The Author: All right! My first choice shall be happiness through the
wisdom of an understanding heart.
Voice speaking from within: That is better! The terms of our compact
are now satisfactory. you are now assuming the role of both master and
servant. your wages shall be paid as fast as the service is rendered. I shall
©2011 by The Napoleon HIll Foundation
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explain the method by which you shall be paid, so that you will know you
can neither collect without earning your pay, nor be cheated out of your
reward after earning it.
Happiness comes only from rendering useful service to others. you shall
receive this portion of your reward as fast as you earn it.
The wisdom of an understanding heart comes through intense desire for
it. Take this portion of your reward as rapidly as you wish.
Health of body and mind comes through positive thought. Keep your
mind free from negative thoughts and claim this portion of your reward
as fast as you earn it.
Wealth of this sort, which will permit happiness, comes by rendering
useful service to others. Through the LAW oF SuCCESS you may
render such service. The money will be paid directly to you by those
whom you serve, and in proportion to the amount of service you render,
the quality of the service, and the number of people served.
Infinite Intelligence has very wisely made you your own supervisor, your
own employer, your own servant, and your own pay-master. The compact
is now in force. The extent to which it is carried out is limited only by
you. This is irrevocable except by your own default.
My visitor departed, leaving behind a feeling of aloneness, similar to that
which one might have felt if a fellow-traveler had opened the door of the car
and stepped out. The experience was uncanny. I had never had such an
experience before. For a time I was not sure what had happened.
Many thoughts ran through my mind. The first was that I had been daydreaming. Another was that I had been overworking my imagination.
Subsequent events proved both thoughts to be wrong.
©2011 by The Napoleon HIll Foundation
N A P o L E o N
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Briefly, the following, took place, after that experience on the twentysixth of october, 1923 (my birthday):
(a) upon my return home the following day I began to organize the data
I had been gathering on the LAW oF SuCCESS philosophy for
nearly fifteen years previously. on the following Christmas evening
I began the actual writing of the LAW oF SuCCESS.
(b) Late in the year 1928 the manuscripts had been completed, after
many revisions, and they were published by A. L. Felton of Meriden,
Connecticut, through circumstances which fully harmonize with the
terms of the compact already described.
(c) In 1929 the world-wide "Business Depression" began creating a state
of chaos throughout the civilized world. Examination of the LAW
oF SuCCESS philosophy will disclose the fact that it is perfectly
suited to the needs of millions of people who have been injured by
loss of faith, and in other ways by the depression.
(d) The LAW oF SuCCESS philosophy now has a following in all
cities, towns and villages in America, and in practically every country
on earth. The means of distribution of the philosophy (which I have
described in other books recently written) came through media which
harmonize perfectly with the terms of the compact.
(e) Last, but by no means least, I am healthy in both body and mind; I
am happier than I have ever been before in my entire life, and I have
not wanted for the money necessary to carry out my instructions.
The part of this experience which impresses me most is the ingenuity
with which the compact was so designed that it gave me both the privilege
of becoming the master, and the responsibility of being the servant. Literally,
this compact made me the “Master of my own fate, the Captain of my own
And right here is an appropriate place at which to call attention to a real
benefit which anyone may experience by deliberately focusing attention upon
©2011 by The Napoleon HIll Foundation
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any form of constructive desire. The mind acts upon one’s dominating, or
most pronounced desires. There is no escape from this fact. It is a fact indeed.
“Be careful what you set your heart upon, for it surely shall be yours.”
Did They Speak From the Grave?
While I was passing through the age of “hero-worship" I found myself
trying to imitate those whom I most admired. Moreover, I discovered that
the element of faith, with which I endeavored to imitate my idols, gave me
great capacity to do so quite successfully.
I have never quite divested myself of, this habit of hero worship, although
I have passed the age commonly given over to such state of being. My
experience has taught me that the next best thing to being truly great is to
emulate the great, by feeling and action, as nearly as possible. I have never
known of this habit doing anyone any harm.
Long before the LAW oF SuCCESS philosophy was completed, before
I had ever written a line for publication or endeavored to deliver a speech in
public, I followed the habit of reshaping my own character by trying to
imitate the nine men whose lives and life-works had been most impressive to
me. These nine men were Emerson, Paine, Edison, Darwin, Lincoln,
Burbank, Napoleon, Ford and Carnegie. Every night, over a long period of
years, I held an imaginary council meeting with this group, whom I called my
The procedure was this: Just before going to sleep at night, I would shut
my eyes and see, in my imagination, this group of men seated with me around
my council table. Here I had not only an opportunity to sit among those whom
I considered to be great, but I actually dominated the group by serving as the
chairman and leader.
I had a very definite purpose in indulging my imagination through these
nightly meetings. My purpose was to rebuild my own character so it would
represent a composite of my imaginary counselors. realizing, as I did early
in life, that I had to overcome the handicap of a lowly birth in an environment
of ignorance and superstition, I deliberately assigned myself the task of
voluntary rebirth through the method here described.
©2011 by The Napoleon HIll Foundation
N A P o L E o N
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Rebuilding Character Through Auto-Suggestion
Having been an earnest student of psychology, I knew of course that all
people become what they are because of their dominating thoughts and
desires. I knew that every deeply seated desire may be transmuted into its
physical counterpart. I knew that self-suggestion was a powerful factor in the
building of character; that it was in fact the sole principle through which
character is built!
With this knowledge of the principles of mind operation, I was fairly well
armed with the equipment needed in rebuilding my character. In these
imaginary council meetings, I called on my Cabinet members for the
knowledge and the traits of character I wished each to contribute, addressing
myself to each member, in audible words, as follows:
Mr. Emerson, I desire to acquire from you the marvelous understanding
of Nature which distinguished your life. I ask that you make an impress
upon my subconscious mind of whatever qualities you possessed which
enabled you to understand and adapt yourself to the laws of Nature. I ask
that you assist me in reaching and drawing upon whatever sources of
knowledge are available to this end.
Mr. Burbank, I request that you pass on to me the knowledge which
enabled you to so harmonize the laws of Nature that you caused the
cactus to shed its thorns, and become an edible food. give me access to
the knowledge which enabled you to make two blades of grass grow
where but one grew before, and helped you to blend the coloring of the
flowers with more splendor and harmony. For you alone have
successfully painted the lily.
Napoleon, I desire to acquire from you, by emulation the marvelous
ability you possessed to inspire men and to arouse them to a greater and
more determined spirit of action. Also to acquire the spirit of enduring
faith which enabled you to turn defeat into victory, and to surmount
staggering obstacles. Emperor of Fate, King of Chance, Man of Destiny,
I salute you!
©2011 by The Napoleon HIll Foundation
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Mr. Paine, I desire to acquire from you the freedom of your thought and
the courage and clarity with which to express your convictions, which so
Mr. Darwin, I wish to acquire from you the marvelous patience and
ability to study cause and effect, without bias or prejudice, so exemplified
by you in the field of natural science.
Mr. Lincoln, I desire to build into my own character the keen sense of
justice, the untiring spirit of patience, the sense of humor, the spirit of
human understanding and the tolerance which were your distinguishing
Mr. Carnegie, I am already indebted to you for my choice of a life-work,
which has brought me great happiness and peace of mind. I wish to
acquire a thorough understanding of the principles of organized effort
which you used so effectively in the building of a great industrial
Mr. Ford, you have been among the most helpful of the men who have
supplied much of the material out of which the philosophy of
achievement is being built. I wish to acquire your spirit of persistence,
your determination, your poise, and your self-confidence, with which
you have mastered poverty, organized directness, unified and simplified
human effort, so I may help others to follow in your footsteps.
Mr. Edison, I have seated you nearest to me, at my right, because of the
personal cooperation you have given me during my research into the
causes of success and failure. I wish to acquire from you the marvelous
spirit of faith with which you have uncovered so many of Nature's
secrets, and the spirit of unremitting toil with which you have so often
wrested victory from defeat."
My method of addressing the members of my imaginary Cabinet would
vary, according to the traits of character in which I was, for the moment, most
interested in acquiring. I studied the records of their lives with painstaking
©2011 by The Napoleon HIll Foundation
N A P o L E o N
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care. After some three months of this sort of nightly procedure, I was
astounded by the discovery that these imaginary figures became apparently
Each of these nine men developed individual characteristics which
surprised me. For example, Lincoln developed the habit of being always late,
then walking around the table in a solemn parade. When he came he walked
very slowly, with his hands clasped behind him, and once in a while, he would
stop at my seat as he passed and rest his hand momentarily, upon my shoulder.
He always wore an expression of seriousness upon his face. rarely did I see
him smile. The cares of a sundered nation had made him grave.
That was not true of the others. Burbank and Paine often indulged in
witty repartee which seemed at times to shock the other members of my
one night Paine suggested that I prepare a lecture on “The Age of
reason”, and deliver it from the pulpit of a church which I formerly attended.
Many around the table laughed heartily at the suggestion. But Napoleon did
not. He drew his mouth down at the corners and groaned so loudly that they
all turned and looked at him with amazement. To him the church was but a
pawn of the State, not to be reformed, but to be used, as a convenient inciter
to mass activity by the people.
on one occasion Burbank was late. When he came he was excited with
enthusiasm, and explained that he had been delayed because of an experiment
he was making, through which he hoped to be able to grow apples on most
any sort of tree.
Paine chided him by reminding him that it was an apple which started all
the trouble between man and woman.
Darwin chuckled heartily as he suggested that Paine should watch out
for little serpents when he went out into the forest to gather apples, as they
had the habit of growing into big snakes.
Emerson observed, “No serpents, no apples.” And Napoleon remarked,
“No apples, no state!”
once I had a love affair with a young lady whose name was Josephine.
We had a misunderstanding and agreed to discontinue our love affair. That
• 10 •
©2011 by The Napoleon HIll Foundation
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evening at the meeting Napoleon smiled as he reminded me that he too had
given up a cherished possession whose name was Josephine, and admonished
me to re-establish myself in the young lady's good graces. I did not follow the
years later I met the young lady, after she had married another man, and
she told me that shortly after she and I had our break, she had a dream in
which Napoleon appeared and strongly urged her to recant, and invite me to
do the same.
Lincoln developed the habit of being always the last one to leave the
table after each meeting. on one occasion, he leaned across the end of the
table on his folded arms, and remained in that position for several minutes. I
made no attempt to disturb him.
Finally he lifted his head slowly, got up and walked to the door, then
turned around, came back, and laid his hand on my shoulder and said, “My
boy, you will need much courage if you remain steadfast in carrying out your
purpose in life. But remember, when difficulties overtake that the common
people have common sense. Adversity will develop it.”
one evening Edison arrived ahead of all the others. He seated himself
at, my left, where Emerson was accustomed to sit.
Edison, you are destined to witness the discovery of the secret of life.
When the time comes you will observe that life consists of great swarms
of energy, or entities, each as intelligent as human beings believe
themselves to be.
These units of life group themselves together like hives of bees, and
remain together until they disintegrate through lack of harmony. These
units have differences of opinion, just as do human beings, and often they
fight among themselves.
These meetings which you are conducting will be very helpful to you.
They will bring to your rescue some of the same units of life which
served the members of your Cabinet, whose physical bodies have been
discarded. These units are eternal. They never die!
• 11 •
©2011 by The Napoleon HIll Foundation
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your own thoughts and desires serve as the magnet which attracts units
of life from the great ocean of life. only the friendly units which
harmonize with the nature of your desires are attracted.
The other members of the Cabinet began to enter the room. Edison rose
and slowly walked around to his own seat. Edison was still living when this
happened. It impressed me so greatly that I went to see him and told him
about the experience. He smiled broadly, and said: "your dream was more a
reality than you may imagine it to have been." He added no further
explanation to his statement.
These meetings became so realistic that I became fearful of their
consequence, and discontinued them for several months. The experiences
were so uncanny that I was afraid my mind might become unbalanced if I
continued them, or that I would become a fanatic on the subject and lose sight
of the fact that these meetings were purely experiences of my imagination.
Some six months after I had discontinued the practice I was awakened
one night, or thought I was, when I saw Lincoln standing at my bedside. He
said, “The world will soon need your services. It is about to undergo a period
of chaos which will cause men and women to lose faith and become panic
stricken. go ahead with your work and complete your philosophy. That is
your mission in life. If you neglect it, for any cause whatsoever, you will be
reduced to a primal state and be compelled to retrace the cycles through
which you have passed during thousands of years.”
I was unable to tell when morning came whether I had dreamed this, or
had actually been awake, and I have never since found out which it was, but
I do know that the dream—if it were a dream—was so vivid in my mind the
next day that I resumed my meetings the following night and have ever since
At our next meeting the members of my Cabinet all filed into the room
together and stood at their accustomed places at the council table, while
Lincoln raised a glass and said, “gentlemen, let us drink a toast to a friend
of man. He has returned to the fold.”
After that I began to add new members to my Cabinet, until now it
consists of more than fifty, among them galileo, Copernicus, Aristotle, Plato,
• 12 •
©2011 by The Napoleon HIll Foundation
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Socrates, Homer, Voltaire, Bruno, Spinoza, Drummond, Kant, Schopenhauer,
Newton, Confucius, Elbert Hubbard, Brann, Ingersoll, Wilson and William
This is the first time that I have had the courage to mention this chapter
of my life. Heretofore, I have remained quiet on the subject because I knew,
from my own attitude in connection with such matters, that I would be
branded as a pious fraud if I described my unusual experiences.
I have been emboldened by time to reduce my experiences to the printed
page because the philosophy of achievement which I have had the privilege
of organizing has been accepted as being sound and practical by a great army
of men and women in practically every walk of life.
Also I am now less concerned about what “they will say” than I was in
the past. one of the blessings of maturity is that it sometimes brings one
greater courage to be truthful, regardless of what those who do not understand
may think or say.
Lest I be misunderstood, I wish here to state most emphatically that I still
regard my Cabinet meetings as being purely imaginary, but I feel entitled to
suggest that, while the members of my Cabinet may be purely fictional, and
the meetings entirely existent in my own imagination, they have led me into
glorious paths of adventure, rekindled an appreciation of true greatness,
encouraged creative endeavor, and emboldened the expression of honest
• 13 •
©2011 by The Napoleon HIll Foundation