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Book Review Productivity

Book Review: Think and Grow Rich (Napoleon Hill)

One of the very early classics of self-help literature which condenses a lot of knowledge about self-awareness into about 200 pages.
It’s especially helpful to people who are new to the self-development scene but should but taken with a grain of salt!


The book in three sentences:

  1. This book is the result of research of the combined knowledge of more than 500 of America’s most successful individuals.
  2. The book’s message in one sentence: “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve.”
  3. It aims at making the reader more self-aware and encourages evaluation and management of oneself and one’s feelings and thoughts.

Impressions:

Who should read it:

Having been published in 1937, “Think and Grow Rich” is still considered as one of the go-to books when it comes to self-improvement. It offers very specific hands-on advice on some of the most important and basic principles of the self-development scene, including self-evaluation and management.

Especially if you are still a newcomer in the world of productivity this a very good place to start out and gather a ton of inspiration. It is very adequately illustrated with a bunch of success stories and therefore is almost guaranteed to act as a source of motivation, offer self-confidence and serve as the right access points to get started.

If you are regularly diving into this kind of literature, I’d advise you to better move on and put your hands-on other classics like “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Hill’s advice is simply too common and widespread nowadays and the only advantage it possesses are its detailed lists and instructions that other books are often much vaguer about.

Take it with a grain of salt:

As with the whole self-development literature you should be weary and take every message with a grain of salt. As with this book – better take it with a full tablespoon of the white powder as there are countless of controversial statements.

Having been published in 1937 it of course is inherent to the book’s nature to convey ideas and images that were common over 80 years ago. So be sure to take a lot of imagination with you in order to project its content over into our modern culture.

Hill seems to declare money and riches as the gods of what seems like a new religion and more than just a few times conveys the idea of absolute commitment and sacrifice to its obtainment. Of course, money plays a central role in our well-being and happiness and is what most people lack of, however, everyone with a tad of sense should be able to see through this as the short-cut to an unfulfilled life.

Trying to transpose his advice to basic virtues and meaningful goals definitely helped me to get more out of this book. This also holds true with the stereotypical ideal of the successful white businessman that seems to be created in Hill’s imagery. So, don’t give up your principles in pursue of money!

In fact, the ability to critically think and reflect will be a very useful tool to work yourself through this book. Hill rarely goes into discussing opposing arguments to his theories. He basically leaves no room for doubt in them and portrays an unhealthy obsession with them, making his ideas seem like rock-solid principles. This of course contributes to the book’s magic when it comes to causing motivation, however, should be eyed very skeptically.

What I see as most critical is Hill’s tendency of constantly leaving scientifically and evidence-based ground and entering the realm of pseudoscientific and religious beliefs. Many of his principles are actually even proven to be wrong nowadays.

So be especially skeptical when it comes to the “transmutation of sexual energy” or learning from the “infinite intelligence”.

My Top 3 Quotes:

  • “You can train yourself to be persistent. Persistence is a state of mind, therefore it can be cultivated.”
  • “Take Inventory of Yourself.”
  • “One of the common attributes of highly successful people is the ability to reach decisions quickly and to change them slowly. Most of us are the opposite.”

How the book changed me:

Taking inventory:

The idea of taking inventory of ourselves is very inherent when it comes to New Year’s resolutions when an on-going year is ending. We, however, have so many more possibilities to improve and adjust our behaviorsif we turn this into a monthly or even weekly process.

Hill opened my eyes to indulging in this exercise far more often than I used to and also offers a very handy questionnaire to do so. I find that a dedicated Notion page combined with Google Keep seems to be working out perfectly for me to keep track how well I incorporate my principles and beliefs into my life.

The Idea of Autosuggestion:

Autosuggestion refers to the idea of continuous suggestion of certain principles and ideas to one’s sub-conscious until they get adapted. Sounds like brainwashing yourself, I know, but if done with the right ideas this turns out to be a powerful technique to make them come natural to you whenever you need them.

I found out that it helps me build habits easier and lets me adapt certain ideas I pick up from books into my life. My approach consists of writing certain principles on my window with suitable markers and reading through them after I wake up and going back to bed. Consequently, I consistently get exposed to the ideas I want to incorporate.

As with every self-development principle, don’t exaggerate it too much though and trust your gut when it comes to keeping a healthy balance!

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