Napoleon Hill (October 26, 1883ľNovember 8, 1970) was an American author who was one of the earliest producers of the modern genre of personal-success literature. His most famous work, Think and Grow Rich, is one of the best-selling books of all time. In America, Hill stated in his writings, people are free to believe what they want to believe, and this is what sets the United States apart from all other countries in the world. Hill's works examined the power of personal beliefs, and the role they play in personal success. "What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve" is one of Hill's hallmark expressions. How achievement actually occurs, and a formula for it that puts success in reach for the average person, were the promise of Hill's books.
Hill called his success teachings "The Philosophy of Achievement" and he considered freedom, democracy, capitalism, and harmony to be important contributing elements. For without these, Hill demonstrated throughout his writings, personal beliefs are not possible. He contrasted his philosophy with others, and thought Achievement was superior and responsible for the success Americans enjoyed for the better part of two centuries. Fear and selfishness had no part to play in his philosophy, and Hill considered them to be the source of failure for unsuccessful people.
The secret of Achievement was tantalizingly offered to readers of Think and Grow Rich, and was never named directly as Hill felt discovering it for themselves would provide readers with the most benefit. Hill presented the idea of a "Definite Major Purpose" as a challenge to his readers, to make them ask of themselves "in what do you truly believe?" For according to Hill, 98% of people had no firm beliefs, putting true success firmly out of reach. Hill's numerous books have sold millions of copies, proving that the secret of Achievement is still highly sought-after by modern Americans. Hill dealt with many controversial subjects through his writings including racism, slavery, oppression, failure, revolution, war and poverty. Persevering and then succeeding in spite of these obstacles using the philosophy of Achievement, Hill stated, was the responsibility of every American.
According to his official biographer, Hill was born into poverty in a two-room cabin in the town of Pound in rural Wise County, Virginia. His mother died when he was ten years old. His father remarried two years later. At the age of thirteen he began writing as a "mountain reporter" for small-town newspapers. He used his earnings as a reporter to enter law school, but soon had to withdraw for financial reasons. The turning point in his career is considered to have been in 1908 with his assignment, as part of a series of articles about famous men, to interview industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who at the time was one of the most powerful men in the world. Hill discovered that Carnegie believed that the process of success could be elaborated in a simple formula that could be duplicated by the average person. Impressed with Hill, Carnegie commissioned him (without pay and only offering to provide him with letters of reference) to interview over 500 successful men and women, many of them millionaires, in order to discover and publish this formula for success.
Hill spent most of his effort on describing to his readers and students the paradox that "thoughts are things". In fact, the subtitle of the introduction chapter of Think and Grow Rich is "The Man Who 'Thought' His Way." The ability of people to share thoughts underpins achievement, and Hill stated that this allows the success-oriented individuals to attract like-minded people in order to accomplish anything. Most of the examples in Think and Grow Rich concern the great difficulty of creating and maintaining like-mindedness, and Hill termed this concept "The Master Mind". Hill's numerous examples of racism, prejudice, war, poverty, discouragement, and fear illustrated the significant barriers that existed in his time (and still exist today) as the road-blocks to Achievement through the coordination of like-minded individuals.
Hill did not provide a written definition of the secret of Achievement, for he was adamant it would deprive people of the ability to learn it for themselves. Hill's belief was that the U.S. Constitution was one of the finest living examples of the Philosophy of Achievement in existence, and the same power is available to all; to which there is no doubt just as much disbelief in our times as in Hill's. And yet the Constitution does exist, making Hill's claim all the more tantalizing that such a power is available to the average person; this claim alone is mainly responsible for the millions of copies of his books in circulation. There is no hard-copy record of the Carnegie Secret in existence, beyond Carnegie's own stupendous fortune which still exists today as the Carnegie Foundation. Carnegie's wealth was so great in his time that its share of the U.S. Gross National Product was far in excess of today's largest fortunes, rivaling the USA so much that is was once thought Carnegie could become "an Emperor in Washington". And yet, Carnegie achieved this wealth as an individual, and not completely without controversy; but as a historical fact it is indisputable that one man was responsible. On this basis, Carnegie's secret formula is considered by some presently to be a long-lost secret, awaiting rediscovery. Most, however, consider it to be a combination of sheer luck and a lot of hard work..