What does it mean to have a growth mindset, and why does it even matter? Well, just like there is no real formula for being the best parent, there is no perfect formula for being successful in any endeavor. Similar to how striving to be a good parent is achieved by following some generally accepted guidelines, being successful results from several patterns and ideas.
Uncovering the Patterns of High Achievers
In 1908, Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-American business tycoon who was one of the wealthiest people in America, asked himself that exact question: what makes successful people successful? He was so curious about it that he put out a project. He wanted someone to come forth and agree to work for him for the next twenty years, for free, but keep the fruits of the work in the end. The project was to interview all the successful people of that time and document their processes, ideas, and mindsets.
Carnegie wanted to get inside the minds of high achievers and understand what their common denominator was.
That year, a twenty-five-year-old man named Napoleon Hill came to interview Carnegie. During their conversation, Carnegie challenged Napoleon Hill to understand what makes successful people successful. Was he, Carnegie, an exception? Surely not. There were other successful people at the time and not just in business, but in science, arts, and the media.
Following several failed business ventures, Napoleon Hill took Carnegie’s challenge. Over the next seven years, he will go on to interview some of the most influential and successful people of that time, including Henry Ford, Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and John Rockefeller.
Hill took all the information that he could gather through the interviews and put it all together in a massive eight-volume book titled The Laws of Success. The book was published in 1928 and was an instant success. Everyone wanted to read and understand the secrets of successful people.
The book brought Hill not only fame but also financial freedom. However, the success was short-lived as the Great Depression hit Napoleon Hill quite hard.
Think and Grow Rich
It will be another nine years when, in 1937, Napoleon Hill will publish the book Think and Grow Rich. The idea behind the book was a complete synthesis of his prior work and interviews with successful people. This time the book was condensed into one single volume.
Think and Grow Rich will go on to become one of the most popular non-fiction books of all time, some claiming it sold about 20 million copies over the past fifty years. The book is still in print today, and every so often, it’s updated and modernized. Others claim the number is much lower and insist that it’s difficult to quantify due to a lack of records. What I know is that today, more than eighty years since publication, the book is ranked as #14 in the category of Success Self-Help on Amazon. That is a testament to its ability to stand the test of time.
The book’s title reveals Hill’s idea about riches and success, and it’s the word ‘think.’ The first prerequisite to becoming rich and successful is to think yourself that way. All success begins with a state of mind and visualization. If you lack the ability to do so, achieving success will be far harder, if not impossible. And this doesn’t have to do with money exclusively. Riches are not just financial; they could be happiness, relationships, fame, etc.
13 Growth Mindsets for Success
Here are the thirteen growth mindsets that Napoleon Hill describes in his book.
The first and foremost prerequisite to success is a deep and strong desire to succeed. Now, this one sounds very counterintuitive because when you think about what success means, there is nobody out there who doesn’t want to be successful. But, there’s a fundamental difference between wanting something at a very theoretical level and having a burning desire to get it.
You see, desire is like a giant campfire radiating heat that keeps people away, while just wanting something is like a tiny flame that you can squish with your fingers. I don’t deny the little flame itself is fire, too, but it’s just not strong enough. The way to kindle your desire first and turn it into a massive fire is to focus on what you want versus what you don’t have at the moment to achieve what you want.
For the flame to grow, you must feed it. Focusing continually on what is lacking turns your fire off. When you want something, you say, “here are all the things that I am missing to get this thing that I want.” When you have a burning desire, you say, “it doesn’t matter where I am today, I will get this thing, and I’ll do it now.” Desire focuses on the opportunity and the possibility.
It’s like a little kid’s wish for the next video game. He doesn’t care about anything else. All he wants that video game more than anything else in the whole world. He’ll stay up at night dreaming about it and visualizing himself playing it. Be that kid!
Faith goes hand in hand with desire because the lack of faith is the exact thing that kills desire. If you believe you are not attractive and focus on that belief, you will find yourself in unfulfilled relationships. If you believe you don’t know how to be an entrepreneur, guess what? You won’t. Limiting beliefs stifle confidence and kill action. If you believe you can’t do something, you won’t do it.
Your own confirmation bias will kick in, and your lack of faith will turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. The bad news is that all of us, including some of the most successful people who ever lived, experience a certain level of lack of faith, and fall prey to limiting beliefs. The good news is you can reverse those patterns. You can train your faith by focusing on proof from your past or others.
You can search for inspiration in how other people, perhaps even friends of yours, pushed through their limiting beliefs. You can use affirmations and take little steps toward building your confidence. Once you force yourself to start believing, that desire will grow and, with it, your ability to take action.
Most issues we have with gaining the necessary faith that leads to our desires is that we look around us too much. Seeing people who achieved a lot in their lives and turning them into our guiding light is a fallacy that doesn’t lead anywhere good. Instead, it leads to the road seeming far harder than it should. It puts us at odds with our opportunities instead of aligning us with them. This idea that we are not deserving or entitled to success is a killer.
That is our mind sabotaging us, and if you don’t catch it in time, those thoughts will soon turn into a limiting belief, and little by little, it will scar your mind. It will decay your confidence and kill your faith. When that happens, desires die, and you lower your bar again and again. Autosuggestion is the idea of pushing those thoughts out of your head and retraining your mind to think positively. This idea is not some guru-like BS to look in the mirror and shout at yourself that you are awesome. Although if that works for you as it did for superhuman David Goggins, so be it. However, things such as meditation and positive affirmations do work.
Clearing up your mind of all thoughts, good and bad, turns it into a blank canvas, albeit temporary. Start your new story on that empty sheet and fill it out with the things you want and the things that will lead to that faith and desire. Dark spots will reappear all the time, you know it. But, if you have a consistent brain cleaning routine, you will, in time, make those positive thoughts more prevalent and allow them to win over your limiting beliefs.
If just knowing things was enough to be successful, you could theoretically spend ten years on the Internet and become the most knowledgeable person in the universe. Heck, professors and teachers would be the most successful people ever, wouldn’t they? But the world doesn’t work that way. The more you know about everything without focusing on using that knowledge somewhere specific, the more diluted you get.
Specialized knowledge means to acquire information on a subject and then go deep until you reach mastery. That mastery level, though, can only be attained by using the information in the real world. I advocate that we should never stop learning throughout our lives and that we should all have a comprehensive lifelong learning plan, but a part of that is practicing that knowledge in life. That is getting the wisdom you need to use the knowledge effectively.
Also, an important part of it is having the proper self-awareness to know what you need to know. Being focused on the areas that help you is critical. Learning a lot of things that are unrelated to your vision will help your brain overall; that is a fact. But if you want to be successful, you need to learn how to focus and concentrate your efforts.It's far better to be a master of few than a novice in many. Click To Tweet
Every great invention and every massive success began with an idea. A questioning of the status quo. That idea was the fruit of curiosity and creativity. You don’t need to prepare and learn how to have ideas. We all have imagination; it’s one of those things that separates us from other animals. But gaining the confidence to let it flow is what separates most of us from those who eventually become successful.
You see, there’s a tendency to shut down ideas because they sound stupid or impossible. But, as Mark Twain once said, “They didn’t know it was impossible, so they did it.” He means that once you shun away the limiting belief of impossibility, you open yourself up to possibilities. Imagination is one of the greatest tools at our disposal. You see it in children all the time. Ask a kid to design a robot to do house chores. You’ll be amazed by what they come up with. One day a kid imagined the radio, the TV, and that strange machine that can fly through the sky.
All those inventions came up from someone who refused to repress their imagination. Do the same. Organize authentic imagination sessions where you brainstorm by yourself. Go deep and write those ideas down. If they seem stupid, that’s great. Most awesome ideas sounded ludicrous at first. Don’t label them like that. Every time something sounds ridiculous, write down, “this sounds awesome.” By unleashing your imagination and practicing it, you open up possibilities, and you train your mind to accept all of it. Imagination is an antidote to self-doubt. Use it!
Knowledge, desire, faith, and imagination are great tools for your mind and necessary prerequisites to launch you on your way to success. But once you master those, you need to get working on your practical skills. If all you do is live inside your head, you will have a beautiful head, I can tell you this much, but there won’t be much action to back it up. You need to understand that all the things you have imagined now must become a reality, and for that, you need a plan.
I know you hate the word plan. Everybody does. But you must develop the skill of planning and improve your organization. All those thoughts and ideas in your head-they’re amazing. Now, you need to organize them in a way that makes sense and is driving you to action. A written down plan with concrete goals and deadlines is the only way to take that ball of awesomeness that has grown in your mind and turn it into reality.
Analysis-paralysis is the death of progress. Not being able to make the right decisions at the right time is a skill that every person needs to sharpen. There’s an art to making decisions, and there are many ways in which one can develop their judgment and confidence. But there’s probably no greater tool than actually making a lot of decisions all the time. With the right decision framework in mind, make more and more decisions, and reflect upon their result and how they’ve affected you.
You will make a lot of wrong choices along the way, and that’s okay. That’s how you learn. You will still make bad decisions even if you agonize over them for days and weeks. You see, by not making a decision and merely thinking about making it over and over again, you don’t improve your judgment. In fact, the more you stall a decision, the more your confidence erodes. When you push yourself to make more decisions, the good ones will increase your confidence. The bad ones will feed your learning and improve your judgment.
And, as you realize that even the bad ones don’t kill you because you will find ways to reverse their effects, your confidence will grow even more. Decision-making is one of the most important skills you need to improve on, and you can only achieve that through consistent practice.
If there’s one thing that separates high-achieving people from the rest is the ability to keep going. Imagine where we would be today if the TV’s inventors and the airplane would have given up after their third attempt? Of course, the desire and faith we talked about earlier fuel persistence. That’s why those were required before you got here. If the fire keeps burning, your motor keeps running.
By trying again and again and letting your imagination take you to unexpected places, you will find solutions. By believing in yourself, you can keep going. If something doesn’t work, try it a different way. By consistently pushing through and looking at all failures as nothing by another stepping stone toward your target, you will be able to reach that goal eventually. Persistence and the ability to not give up in the face of failure are critical skills that will ensure success.
Power of the Master Mind
Although not very clear from its title, this principle talks about the people you keep around you. You see, two powerful minds can produce a lot more than each mind separately. The way like-minded people synergize creates an avalanche of ideas. In addition to that, all our brains run on different schedules. Our moods vary, and our motivation varies with them. By being in the right environment and surrounded by the right people, you’ll feel the push you need to get out of a temporary down-turn. Having the right mentors and being in the proper circles will empower you.
So, you must not only cast away those people who drag you down, but you must actively look for people who will pull you up and who you can also pull up as well. You need to find your tribe, and that will propel you forward. That is not to say that you cannot be successful and achieve your dreams by yourself in a vacuum. But it’s the power of many that could help you not only get there faster but feel more fulfilled during the journey as well.
The Mystery of Sex Transmutation
This point seems unrelated to the others, but not if you ask Freud. Hill asserts that we all have a particular sexual energy that helps us mate and ensure our species’ continuation. It’s one of the deepest, most ancient, and raw desire that powers some of our deepest needs. By harnessing that power and using the charm that it generates, we can attract the people that we want in our lives. If we garner all this energy and use it creatively, we will be more charming, and with charm comes rapport and the ability to be persuasive. Although, of course, this tool should only be used ethically and positively, it’s still a potent weapon to have.
The Subconscious Mind
It’s not a myth that our brain gets in the way of our actions most of the time. This situation occurs when we allow our minds to overthink versus acting on instinct. Now, this is not to say that we should stop thinking and only acting on impulse, but it’s the idea that we can train our subconscious mind to take over before we can think our way out of it. That implies practicing habits that help us achieve our goals and letting them drive us.
When you create a habit or ritual that supports your goals, you’ve done that consciously using your logical brain. Once you practice it and turn the action into a subconscious automatic task, you no longer have to think it over. That requires your ability to quiet down your consciousness sometimes and trust your instincts. By repeating your vision and goals, you slowly push them into the subconscious, where your brain can focus on them and find creative solutions to get them accomplished.
The power of our brain is what makes us so distinct from all the other live creatures. Harnessing the power of our brain is what gave us all the wonders that surround us today. You need to be aware of it and also keep in mind that your brain is one of the most adaptable, flexible, and extensible organs in your body. Much like muscles, you can train your brain through learning and practice. You can challenge your brain and push its boundaries every day to make it stronger. Inside your brain, your judgment develops—your conscious, subconscious, and even your unconscious live there. By continually maintaining your brain in a state of learning, you give yourself a huge advantage.
The Sixth Sense
Most of us have use of all five senses. Some of them are sharper than others, and we count on them to navigate the world. To become successful, you also need to develop a sixth sense, which is that of trusting your gut. You see, our senses mostly keep us aware and often raise our fight or flight response. That’s because our senses are our first guardian. Our body and mind need a large comfort zone where very few things can reach and harm us.
That’s why most instincts tell us to run away or stay away. By doing so, though, we also cast away many opportunities and risks that could bring us significant returns. Developing this sixth sense allows you to quickly weed out hazardous situations and treat others as potential opportunities. By being more open to them and taking mitigated risks, you will increase your chances of success.
Growth Mindsets – Conclusion
It’s not easy to summarize a summary of years of interviews with the most successful people that ever lived. I hope I did a decent job of getting the essence of the ideas from Think and Grow Rich. I do recommend you read the whole book or at least ponder upon each of these thirteen concepts. Neither one is difficult to grasp; as a matter of fact, I dare to say that they are all quite intuitive once you read them. But like many simple ideas, they are not easy to implement. To master them, you need to develop a deep sense of self-awareness and discipline. By applying them little by little, you too can become successful, regardless of how you define success for yourself.
Other Related Resources
Napoleon Hill Foundation
10 Lessons From “Think And Grow Rich” By Napoleon Hill
Book Summary: Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill
Now, before you go, I have…
3 Questions For You
- Have you read Think and Grow Rich? How did you find it?
- Which one of the 13 growth mindsets resonated the most with you?
- Do you feel like applying these strategies in your life could have a lasting positive impact? Why?
Please share your answers in the comments below. Sharing knowledge helps us all improve and get better!
Hi there! I’m Iulian, and I want to thank you for reading my article. There’s a lot more if you stick around. I write about personal development, productivity, fiction writing, and more. Also, I’ve created Self-Growth Journey, a free program that helps you get unstuck and create the beautiful life you deserve. Enjoy!