I love old books.
My study is filled with books with tattered, yellowed pages. My Kindle Fire is filled with eBooks, many of them free, public domain works going back to the days of the Gutenberg printing press!
Needless to say, there’s a lot to be learned from old books. Today, I’d like to share some ideas I’ve gleaned from one old book that is quite famous in business circles, Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. Written in 1937, Think and Grow Rich is, ostensibly, a self-help book, though many take it to be something more than that. The name implies that it’s a book about making money. And it surely can be used for that purpose, but Think and Grow Rich, as Hill explains within the book itself, can be used in many situations in life.
Think and Grow Rich is written in the somewhat more difficult English of its day, and it occasionally evinces some of Hill’s personal biases (which you might expect, given historical context), making it less palatable than it could be to today’s readers without those obvious demerits. This has led several editors to issue subsequent editions that attempt to clean up the out-of-favor elements and the antiquated writing style. More to the point though, many writers have taken the liberty of re-purposing Hill’s core message in a slew of derivative works.
And that’s basically what I’m trying to do here: distill the main idea of Think and Grow Rich, something called “creative imagination,” for you in the span of a single blog posting.
The person who first recommended Think and Grow Rich to me also told me that it is a book that would change my life, and that has actually been the case.
Here’s the short version.
Business Tip #1: Think about it and make it happen
Creative imagination has everything to do with the power of thought. Your thoughts embody not only your hopes and aspirations, but also your doubts and fears. Hill urges readers to come to terms with the fact that all of your problems, and more importantly, all of your successes, are matters of thought. Hence the name: Think. And Grow Rich.
The gist of creative imagination is as follows: Everything that was ever done in business started out as a thought inside someone’s head. Your mind is just as capable as anyone’s of storing an idea that will break out and go big. There you have it. Now use this knowledge wisely.
That is a truncated explanation, of course. But if you really consider it, it is quite true. Looking back at history, Henry Ford obviously had to think of the assembly line before it could happen. And when that innovation happened, it was met with great success. More recently, with little fanfare at the time, Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim first thought of and then created YouTube in 2005. Think of how much we take that site for granted – testament to the success of an idea.
What all successes have in common is that they all start with an idea. Having a good idea is one thing, but seeing it through to fruition takes creative imagination.
Business Tip #2: Don’t underestimate the value of organized planning
In chapter seven of Think and Grow Rich, Hill urges you to engage in thoughtful planning of your business. You’ve no doubt been told many times that you need a business plan; otherwise you leave too much to chance and are likely to fail.
Hill also espouses that notion, but he also relates the “organized” aspect of planning to extend to the “organization” – that is, the team around you in your business.
One of the best quotes from the book relates to this idea and is an awesome business tip worth keeping in mind:
“No individual has sufficient experience, education, native ability, and knowledge to insure the accumulation of a great fortune, without the cooperation of other people.”
Creative imagination requires you to visualize how all of the people around you can help you achieve your goals. You have to “imagine” all the roles that it will take to make you successful, and plan to employ their skills, resources, and creativity in full.
Business Tip #3: You gotta have faith in your business
In any business, there will inevitably be some setbacks. Deals fall through, supply prices go up, and marketing budgets are exceeded. It happens. Many failed businesses have been shaken to shambles when something has gone wrong.
Another aspect of creative imagination is the need for continual faith in your original creative entrepreneurial idea. The seed idea for your business, and the organized plan you built around it, are the touchstones to which you return when the going gets rough. The ultimate goal in starting your business wasn’t to get particular price on supplies for all eternity; it was to achieve wealth and elevate your quality of life. The obstacles that spring up along the way will seem small in comparison to the attainment of your goals. Brush the bad stuff off and forget it, to put it plainly.
Have faith in your creative imagination, even when problems arise, and success will happen.
Business Tip #4: Focus matters a lot
One of the major themes in Think and Grow Rich is the power of thought. Ultimately, Hill has extrapolated his entire framework from the old religious maxim “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” The phrase holds true in the business world, nonetheless.
Consider the following questions with regard to your business:
What do you focus on in your business?
What errors, in terms of focus, have you seen managers or colleagues make?
What aspects of your business suffer from a lack of your personalized attention?
The direction in which you point your focus has an effect on the results you get in the end.
If your business is management consulting, you want to focus on that, so you hire a search engine optimization specialist to help your marketing director deliver your brand, so that you don’t have to be concerned with such things. That’s smart, as it allows you to focus your thoughts and energies on the actual consulting, to conclude this example.
Can you think of any areas where you direct your focus that don’t really help you achieve your core goals? Could your focus get you closer to your goals if you put it in the direction of something that you tend to overlook?
The things you focus on in business have to be beneficial to the ultimate attainment of your success.
Business Tip #5: Make decisions fearlessly
One thing that Think and Grow Rich does not talk about, having been written too early to have factored it, is Dwight D. Eisenhower’s decision-making policy.
Eisenhower once said: “Now I realize that on any particular decision a very great amount of heat can be generated. But I do say this: life is not made up of just one decision here, or another one there. It is the total of the decisions that you make in your daily lives with respect to politics, to your family, to your environment, to the people about you.”
With that in mind, apply that to your business. You made the decision to be in business, so that is your governing principle.
This connects to what Hill has to say in his famous book because he urges quick, confident decision-making in all situations. Of course, as Eisenhower alluded, some decisions carry with them deep implications – that’s inescapable. But if you stick with your creative imagination, and return to your governing decision – to be successful in business – you can make decisions that err on the side of success each time you face a choice.
Applying the principles of Hill and Eisenhower is a recipe for fearless decision-making.
Are you ready to Think and Grow Rich?
Those of you who have already read Think and Grow Rich will immediately note that I have condensed its message down to fit the relative confines of a single blog posting, considerably. But I’ve done so in the spirit of making the book’s content more relevant to all of you Quote Rollers out there.
I would urge you to read the book, though – just try to look past its sometimes cumbersome language. It’s worth noting that many people find the book to be more than just a self-help publication. Many business people take Hill’s message to heart – and quite of few people who have done so have gone on to great success, which they often eagerly attribute to having read the book.
It’s a brisk read in its own right, and if you can get past the old school English, you may just find yourself among the successes who owe a little gratitude to the late Napoleon Hill!
What do you think about the concept of creative imagination? Have you read Think and Grow Rich and have a different take on it? We’d love to hear from you in the comment space below.
Photos: Flickr, Creative Commons