Youth from all over Africa congregated in Abuja between 21 and 23 June, 2015 for a very important and huge Success Seminar. My purpose was to train the mind of the African youth to imbibe the habit of success. Successful people all over the world are those who have developed the habit of success. They form good habit and ensure that those habits govern their behaviours. On the other hand, unsuccessful people permit bad habits to crystallize in them, and these bad habits govern them and consequently lead to frustration, aggression and eventual failure. Hence, Ed Foreman says, “Good habits are hard to form but easy to live with. Bad habits, on the other hand, are easy to form but hard to live with.” Napoleon Hill, once said in his Laws of Success that: “What a different story people would have to tell if they would adopt a definite purpose and stand by that purpose until it had time to become an all-consuming purpose.” Furthermore, Andrew Carnegie said, “Any idea that is held in the mind that is either feared or revered will, begin at once to clothe itself in the most convenient and appropriate physical forms available.” These are powerful and wonderful statements. It is based on this that I shall review and summarize Napoleon Hill’s 17 principles of personal achievement.
I am bringing these 17 principles in answer to a question asked me by a boy from Zambia while I was couching them on the need to be a success in life. Probably, he was startled when I told them that if you think that success are difficult, try to be a failure in life and see which one is more difficult to manage. This brilliant Zambian student said to me: “Sir, can you summarise to us how we (the youth of Africa) can make it in life before we hit 40 years?” Now, let’s see Napoleon Hill’s 17 principles of personal achievement as encapsulated in his famous book: Think and Grow Rich.
1. Definiteness of Purpose
The starting point of all achievement is definiteness of purpose, that is, knowing what your goal in life is, knowing what you want. This fills you with a success-consciousness and protects you against failure. Decide on a major goal in your life — either personal or professional. Write out your goal in a clear, concise, positive manner. Transfer it to a 3 x 5 card. Place it in your office and home where you will see your goal several times a day. Successful people move on their own initiative, but they know where they are going before they start.
2. Create a Master Mind
This is the coordination of effort between two or more people in a spirit of perfect harmony in order to attain a specific objective. Adopt a definite purpose with an objective to be attained by the alliance. Then determine what appropriate benefit each member may receive in return for his cooperation in the alliance, and see that he or she gets it. Establish a plan through which each member makes a definite contribution. Ensure that harmony prevails in the group. Remember that your watchword is definiteness of plan and purpose. Calculate the number of individuals in the group by the nature of the purpose to be attained. Also, bear in mind that no man or woman can become a permanent success without carrying others along with him or her.
3. Applied Faith
This is a state of mind through which your aims, desires, plans and purposes are translated into their physical or financial equivalent. What affirming statements, what beliefs do you feel you must have faith in before you can reach your goal? These statements can refer to yourself, your fellow citizens, or the universe. You can do it if you believe you can.
4. Pleasing Personality
A pleasing personality helps you master the major cause of failure — the inability to get along with people harmoniously. List the elements of a pleasing personality in which you most need to make improvement. What steps will you take to make these changes? How will changing them help you reach your goals? Your personality is your greatest asset or liability. It embraced everything you control: mind, body and soul.
5. Going the Extra Mile
Rendering more and better service than you are paid to render, doing it all the time and doing it with a pleasing and positive attitude. In the process of achieving your goal, and with the list of your “master minds” in mind, what “extra miles” might you consider going? What might be the anticipated results of these extra efforts? The most successful men and women are those who serve the greatest number of people.
6. Personal Initiative
This is the inner power that kick-starts all action. It is power that inspires the completion of all that one begins. What actions can you take today, right now, to move toward goals? Outline your planned movement toward your goal, beginning each step with the words, “I will.” No man is free until he learns to do his own thinking and gains the courage to act on his own personal initiative.
This is the ability to control our thoughts and emotions. Self-discipline is the only thing in life over which you have complete, unchallenged and unchallengeable control. Using the “I will …” statements outlined in No.6, visualize in your mind that you are doing each one. Imagine yourself going through whatever it takes to successfully complete each step. How does it feel? What do you notice as possible obstacle? What parts were easy? What ones were difficult? Direct your thoughts, control your emotions and ordain your destiny.
8. Controlled Attention
This is the highest form of self-discipline. It is the act of coordinating all your mind’s faculties and directing their combined power to a given end. What resources can you use for research as you plan your strategy for achieving your goals? What affirmations would be most helpful if they were placed in your mind for your subconscious to remember? You can keep your mind working for you, even while you sleep, with controlled attention.
This is a contagious state of mind that not only helps you gain the cooperation of others but, more importantly, inspires you to draw upon and use the power of your imagination. It is always important to choose the most positive language — with yourself and with others. Demonstrate that by writing ten statements about potential obstacles that begin negatively, i.e., “I’m afraid that …” or “I doubt that …” or “I don’t think that ….” End each statement with a reason for your belief or doubt. Now transform that into a positive statement by rewriting each statement, replacing “I’m afraid” or “I doubt” with “I can” or “I will”. Once again, give your reasons for holding these new enthusiastic and positive beliefs. See the difference being positive in word choice can make? Real enthusiasm comes from within, and is faith in action.
Imagination is your mind’s exercise, challenge and adventure. It uses old ideas and established facts to reassemble them into new combinations and to put them to new uses. First, imagine your “ideal” life, the one in which your goal has been reached, things are the way that you want them, and you have everything you desire. What is that life like? Describe it in detail. Describe all aspects of it — what you have, where you live, who you love, etc. Second, imagine five alternative methods of achieving your goal; it’s always good to have several choices. Let your imagination soar, held back by no barriers. Might these new ideas be incorporated into your current plan of attack? Imagination is the workshop of the soul.
11. Learning from Adversity and Defeat
Hardship and adversity are a common language of nature in which she speaks to all living creatures and teaches them many things they would not learn in any other way. Review your life — both professional and in the personal realm — and recall several obstacles that have stood in your way. Think about those obstacles and what followed after encountering them. Remember how many of them actually led to positive things: new knowledge, inspiration, a “lucky” break. Describe one of these incidents in detail. Every adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.
12. Budgeting Time and Money
Successful people know themselves, not as they think they are, but as their habits have made them: the use of time and money are the most vital of these habits. Detail the time and monetary expenses of achieving your goals. Break down the costs as specifically as possible. Where will you find that time? Where will you find the money? Will you have to deduct time or money from other tasks or needs? What will you do with any spare money you might have? Tell me how you use your spare time and how you spend your money, and I will tell you where and what you will be ten years from now.
13. Positive Mental Attitude
To govern your life, you must be able to govern your mind, and that is the starting point of all riches. Over the next few days, review how much time you spend on the following negative aspects: complaining, gossiping, fearing or doubting, criticizing. Make an effort to erase these from your life. Apply the time you save to something positive (see #12). Replace negative words — can’t, won’t, shouldn’t — with positive ones — with positive ones — can, will, shall (see #9). Be careful what you wish for, for you will surely achieve it.
14. The accurate thinker recognizes all the facts of life, both good and bad, and assumes the responsibility of separating and organising the two, choosing those which serve his needs and rejecting all others. Think of three statements about the obstacles you might encounter that you now consider facts. Think hard about the truth of each, doing research if necessary (see #8). Are these really true? For example, you own a company that sells beach chairs. Your obstacle is that beach chairs sell poorly in winter. That is a fact. But does that mean beach chairs must sell poorly in January or simply in cold weather? What if you found a distributor in the Caribbean or South America? The fact is, beach chairs could sell year round ; it all depends on how you look at the facts! You are what you think.
15. Sound Physical Health
The key that coordinates all other principles and sets all ideas into motion is sound health which provides the “flavor” to the good things in life. For one week, keep track of everything you eat or drink. What percentage of that is “healthy”? What did you eat or drink that could do you harm? What should you do away with? During that week, did you exercise? What sort of exercise? How many times and for how long? And your sleep habits how were they? Did you get all of the sleep your body needed? Why or why not? How could you change your lifestyle or your schedule to incorporate a proper diet and sleep regimen? Good health, a sense of well-being and a purpose for living make any day beautiful.
Harmony based on a definite motive, cooperation is the medium through which great personal power may be attained; the willing cooperation and coordination of effort to achieve a specific objective. Returning to your Master Mind list (see #2), think of ways in which you might use your skills and knowledge to help the people named therein return for the help they can give you. Harmonious cooperation is a priceless asset that you can acquire in proportion to your giving.
17. Cosmic Habit Force
The cosmic habit force is the universe’s law of equilibrium, the one natural law into which all other natural laws revolve themselves. You manifest in your life that which you think. List eight things you would like to manifest by thinking about them repeatedly and by truly believing in them. When you learn to weave unpleasant circumstances into something useful, you’re on the road to success.