Think And Grow Rich? Really?

A woman thinking

Desire backed by Faith knows no such word as impossible.

Every adversity brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage.

– Napoleon Hill

I never read Napoleon Hill’s classic Think and Grow Rich. I judged the book by the cover believing that it was probably materialistic pablum only useful to sales people trying to develop positive thinking habits to consistently close deals and make big bucks – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Being successful in sales does require a strong dose of integrity, self-confidence and positive thinking, but I didn’t see the relevance to someone like me who was an educator and not motivated by wealth accumulation. I made a mistake.

The two quotes above sound like words you would see on inspirational posters that have no practical effect in the life of the individual who glances at them. The mind responds positively to such thoughts until patterns of negativity overwhelm the momentary flash of hope that such words ignite. On the other hand, within the context of wealth creation the words can seem shallow. “Desire backed by Faith knows no such word as impossible”…when trying to get filthy rich.

But Napoleon Hill’s words were born of actual experience. He could say those words because he lived the principles in every area of his life.

Imagine a baby back in the first half of the 1900’s born without ears or any hearing organs whatsoever. One of Napoleon Hill’s sons, Blair, was that baby. Although the doctors gave the reasonable  prognosis of permanent deafness Hill refused to accept  that his son would grow up deaf or suffer any disadvantage from what anyone would consider a handicap. Such denial would be downright delusional if not for the fact that his son grew up with hearing and became successful not only as a business man but also in terms of being a tremendous inspiration to others suffering deafness.

How could such a miracle occur?

First, Hill discovered that his toddler son could hear some sound through what he later learned was “bone conduction.” Hill discovered he could talk to his son by moving his lips against the base of Blair’s skull completely ignoring his deafness.

Second, Having learned that Blair in his own way could hear, Hill began to use stories to fill Blairs mind with a “burning desire” to hear normally.

Third, Hill convinced his son that his lack of normal hearing and ears would actually give him an advantage in many ways.

Fourth, the Hills refused to send Blair to a school for the deaf opting for regular education.

Blair never learned a sense of limitation or handicap. At seven Blair borrowed six cents from a neighborhood shoemaker, bought some newspapers and spent the day selling papers and restocking his inventory with the profits until he ended the day earning eight times what he had started with. He paid back the shoe maker and went home a successful, deaf, seven year old entrepreneur with 42 cents.

By the time Blair was a senior in college a new hearing device had been developed that allowed him to hear with almost normal clarity. Blair was so impressed with the device and was filled with such a desire to help the deaf all over the world he presented a global marketing plan to the company, got hired and became hugely successful marketing the device.

Hill taught not only the principles of gaining wealth but the principles of unselfishness and generosity.

Every day I teach kids who have not learned to dream, who see only obstacles instead of opportunities and have no faith in themselves. Part of my passion is to give my students small victories as often as possible and to make their time with me positive, to let them know I genuinely love them and care about them. The principles in this book will be a new addition to my pedagogy as I teach my students to think and dream big and, if the desire is there, to grow rich. As my tag line says: Make money. Help others. It’s that simple.

You can get the free e-book version of Think and Grow Rich at .


26 Comments on “Think And Grow Rich? Really?”

  1. Malcolm Greenhill November 30, 2012 at 7:55 AM #

    I think the original Victorian self-help book was published by Samuel Smiles in 1859 called ‘Self-Help: with Illustrations of Character and Conduct’. It was an overnight ‘best seller’ and became the bible of Victorian liberalism. I have a copy and it’s still very readable today.

  2. bravesmartbold November 30, 2012 at 11:50 AM #

    What great insight into a book that I read as a college student. I hadn’t known that about his son. I pressed this. I hope you don’t mind.

  3. Bumba November 30, 2012 at 10:34 PM #

    I’m not a fan of the inspirational messages. I’m too skeptical, cynical I suppose. But this story was interesting.
    I’m sure you inspire your students just by teaching them!

    • Robert-preneur December 1, 2012 at 11:36 PM #

      Thanks Bumba!
      I don’t have inspirational posters around my classroom because no one ever really reads them. It’s more effective to be inspirational yourself.
      Thank you for your kind words.

  4. David Emeron December 1, 2012 at 6:03 AM #

    Reblogged this on David Emeron: Reflections upon Reflections and commented:
    Thank you for the visit, I myself have read many such classics, and knew long ago they were fare from shallow tomes.

  5. breisebreiseleighgoleire1969 December 3, 2012 at 8:17 PM #

    I absolutely agree that we as educators need to be inspirational for our students. Especially in this economic climate, and I’m not talkiing about the recession, I’m talking about the instant gratification of “want/have” with regard to happiness. That true happiness comes from within and if we show our students that, happiness is innate, it can’t be bought, then maybe tomorrow will look a bit brighter for them. Great post!

    • Robert-preneur December 4, 2012 at 5:48 AM #

      Thank you so much Loretto. It is exciting to imagine the possibilities for kids if we can help reshape their thinking so that they come to realize that their limitations are largely a state of mind.

  6. breisebreiseleighgoleire1969 December 3, 2012 at 8:18 PM #

    Reblogged this on Breise! Breise! Extra! Extra! and commented:
    Great post about happiness and giving.

  7. Purnimodo December 4, 2012 at 6:02 AM #

    I like your reply from above ‘to be more inspirational yourself’. I never really got self-help books (especially those directed at women.. ) but I might give this one a try.

    Love the picture. Beautiful piece of art. Remind me of a female and abstract version of Rodin’s The thinker.

    • Robert-preneur December 4, 2012 at 8:28 PM #

      Honestly, I thought a lot of self-help books tended to be a little hokie as well. But I really liked this book. Never read a self-help book for women because men are from Mars, women are from Venus.
      I found the statue stiking. I thought of Rodin too.

  8. cristiandemitri December 7, 2012 at 1:58 PM #

    Hello Robert, great post and great teachings for your students! I like when you say:

    “… Every day I teach kids who have not learned to dream, who see only obstacles instead of opportunities and have no faith in themselves. Part of my passion is to give my students small victories as often as possible and to make their time with me positive, to let them know I genuinely love them and care about them. …”

    When I was in High school, for the first 3 years I wasn’t so able with maths and my votes were always around 6/10, but in the fourth year my math teacher was replaced by another. The teachings of the new professor allowed me to take more confidence with the matter. He helped me with perseverance and trust, transmitting all his love for mathematics. Today I’m an engineer! This is the proof that when we do things with passion and will, we can always achieve all our goals.

    • Robert-preneur December 7, 2012 at 3:50 PM #

      Fantastic Christian! What an exciting turnaround for you. I hope I can have that kind of impact on my students. I appreciate your comment very much and am happy that you have achieved such great goals. Success in all your future goals!
      Warmth and Peace

  9. janrssor December 8, 2012 at 9:39 PM #

    This morning I was thinking of how to introduce a community event to some of my colleagues of The Winners Circle ( I wanted us to host a community event that would be an open think tank to inspire creative idea to change the world from the Grass Roots level of our small town in Brewster NY. There would be few rules only like, NO CRITICISM, NO NEGATIVE AND AS MUCH POSITIVE AS POSSIBLE. You just gave me the words to use to introduce this concept.

    Years ago as part of Amway, I read THINK AND GROW RICH to better learn how to succeed in business. Though I already had as a doctor. It was fascinating! You are of course correct in your conclusion that we who are “idealistic” often miss the fact that if one can grow rich, he can enrich many in the process. It is not just about personal wealth!

    Long ago in Puerto Rico, I met the owner of “NY Department Stores.” Mr Kogan was very wealthy. I was 13 years old and in awe of having ridden in his impressive car. He took me for a walk into his store just as it opened for business that morning. As he walked through it, he greeted many of his employees by name and they all smiled back and said “good Morning.” I was now more in awe. When we got to the the back where his simple office was, we sat down and he looked at me and asked me what I thought of his store. I said I was amazed at what he had created and wondered what was the best thing about what he had done. He said to me, “It is walking through here each morning and being greeted by smiling faces who appreciate my efforts. At the same time it is my biggest challenge as I am personally responsible for keeping this business successful so that they will not lose their jobs, their homes and their dreams that are all tied to mine.”

    My father, also an entrepreneur, had warned me about the great responsibilities of success and wealth. But now I understood them more and understood more about the good you can do by working for a dream.

    Glad you read this great book and are sharing it! Glad to see a link to a free copy! I keep copies in my office and give them out to young people who have a dream and fire in their eyes.

    Janr Ssor

    • Robert-preneur December 8, 2012 at 11:18 PM #

      I’m so glad this post could help in some small way your efforts to inspire others. I hope those others catch the passion that you have for making a positive impact on our world. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. For those with a big heart, wealth is a great responsibility. I wish all of you in “The Winners Circle” success in all your endeavors.
      Warmth and Peace

  10. janrssor December 8, 2012 at 9:41 PM #

    Reblogged this on Janr Ssor and commented:
    Think And Grow Rich, one of the great books to inspire us! Read this interesting article by Robert-preneur’s blog.

  11. cristiandemitri December 12, 2012 at 2:30 PM #

    I was impressed when you say you teach to kids who not learned to dream.
    So, I would like to share an idea that it was raised in my mind when I read your post.

    What do you think to develop a project with your students by following the steps listed below?

    1) you could start choosing a specific topic,
    2) for this common topic you should identify a specific field, and
    3) for this field one or more weaknesses,
    3) you could work in order to understand how to overcome these weaknesses, doing togheter a colorful mind map on a big poster, enjoying all your artistic skills,
    4) you could hang it on the wall in order to focus on building an idea,
    5) you could develop this idea and you could create a business model,
    6) at this step you could encourage your students to generate a good summary, videos and images about idea and about how it works, spreading these kind of information on social network (as I say in my “groundbreaking winds” posts),
    7) now you are ready to seek crowdfunding, preparing all the necessary things in order to build an exiciting crowdfunding campaign (planning of marketing strategy),
    8) you could choose one of the most popular crowdfunding platforms: Kickstarter, Indiegogo, RockTheHub, Rock The Post. etc..,
    9) if the crowdfunding achieve the goal you could choose how to destinate earnings,
    10) if your choice is for example, an orphanage in bad shape and you want to do up a football field, you and your students could shop togheter all the necessary,
    11) you could encourage your students to do up the football field personally by hands,
    12) at the end, your students could write a small ebook, a guide, telling this exciting experience, giving useful tips for all those who want to start a business.

    I know you are the teacher and so, most probably, you’ve already done something like this but I nevertheless felt the need to share with you this idea in the hope that it will be useful.

    • Robert-preneur December 13, 2012 at 7:17 AM #

      Thank you so much for the well thought out suggestion Cristian. I appreciate you taking the time. I have not had the opportunity to do such a project and I think it’s a great idea for my economics class. I will have to look into implementing this for the second semester. We’re almost into Christmas vacation now. All the best to you.
      Warmth and Peace

  12. morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer December 20, 2012 at 3:23 AM #

    I especially enjoyed this post, since i worked with deaf and hard of hearing children and adults way back a long time ago. This technique of raising a son with a significant handicap is impressive.


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