What is Napoleon Hill’s The Law of Success about? What is the key message to take away from the book?
In The Law of Success, Napoleon Hill argues that your subconscious mind creates your life experiences, drawing upon your recurrent thoughts. According to him, these thoughts can either train your subconscious mind to work in alignment with your goals or in opposition to them.
Below is a brief overview of The Law of Success in Sixteen Lessons by Napoleon Hill.
The Law of Success in Sixteen Lessons
In The Law of Success, Napoleon Hill—best-selling author of Think and Grow Rich—demystifies what it takes to achieve success.
This guide explores Hill’s thoughts on achieving success in two parts:
- In the first part, we’ll explore how your conscious, habitual thoughts impress upon your subconscious mind, and how the impression they leave influences all of your subsequent thoughts, behaviors, and experiences.
- In the second part, we’ll present a step-by-step process for aligning your conscious thoughts and behaviors with what you want to achieve, which will retrain your subconscious mind to create more successful experiences.
Additionally, we’ll supplement Hill’s thoughts with research, advice, and actionable ideas from psychologists and self-improvement practitioners.
Part 1: Your Subconscious Mind Determines Your Success
Hill argues that your subconscious mind determines how successful you are. According to him, if you’re not achieving the level of success you want, it’s because your habitual, conscious thoughts have trained your subconscious mind to work against your goals. Your subconscious mind does this by influencing you to think or behave in unconstructive ways and attracting people or circumstances that hinder your progress.
In this part of the guide, we’ll clarify Hill’s thoughts on how your subconscious mind impacts your success. We’ll first explain how your habitual, conscious thoughts leave an impression on your subconscious mind and how this impression influences all your subsequent thoughts and behaviors. Then we’ll explore how your subconscious mind is connected to higher consciousness and how it uses this connection to shape everything that happens in your life.
Principle #1: Your Habitual Conscious Thoughts Train Your Subconscious Mind
Hill argues that your conscious thoughts leave an impression on your subconscious mind, and the more often you think certain thoughts (the more habitual they are), the heavier the impression they leave. This impression trains your subconscious mind to form conclusions about who you are and what’s important to you—your personality traits and your deepest desires, fears, and beliefs. Your subconscious mind then influences you to automatically think and behave in ways that reflect and reinforce those conclusions.
Example #1: You habitually think about how lonely you are and you imprint this sentiment upon your subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind concludes that you are lonely. As a result, each time you’re around people, your subconscious mind influences you to think and behave in ways that reinforce your loneliness—for instance, by making you feel socially anxious or urging you to push people away.
Example #2: You habitually think about how difficult it is to complete a certain task and you imprint this sentiment upon your subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind concludes, “This task is difficult.” As a result, each time you’re faced with this task, your subconscious mind influences you to think and behave in ways that reinforce the belief that it’s difficult—for instance, by making you feel overwhelmed or tempting you to procrastinate.
Principle #2: Your Subconscious Mind Creates Your Experiences
Hill argues that, in addition to influencing the way you respond to what happens in your life, your subconscious mind creates experiences that reflect your habitual thoughts. He explains that your subconscious mind has the power to create your experiences because it’s connected to and interacts with higher consciousness—the force that creates and manages all experiences across the entire universe. This higher consciousness has three distinct traits:
- It’s the source of all knowledge, containing all the thoughts ever released by conscious beings.
- Its energy permeates and connects all matter in the universe.
- It synchronizes all interactions that take place in the universe.
Hill explains that, through its connection to higher consciousness, your subconscious mind can potentially connect to and attract any idea, person, or circumstance into your life. However, the impressions your habitual thoughts leave on your subconscious mind restrict its connection only to the ideas, people, or circumstances that reflect the conclusions your conscious mind has formed about you. These conclusions include how you feel about yourself, your expectations, your hopes, and your fears.
To clarify Hill’s thoughts on how your habitual thoughts restrict your experiences, let’s explore how your subconscious mind attracts ideas, people, and circumstances in more detail.
How Your Subconscious Mind Receives Ideas
Hill explains that your subconscious mind receives all of your thoughts and ideas through its connection to higher consciousness. Though higher consciousness is the source of all knowledge (because it contains the collective thoughts of humanity), your subconscious mind can only access thoughts and ideas within higher consciousness that are consistent with your habitual thoughts.
Example: You’re a struggling writer and you habitually feel insecure about your creative abilities. Your continual lack of self-confidence imprints upon your subconscious mind, causing it to conclude that you aren’t creative enough to become a successful writer. Even though higher consciousness contains an infinite number of creative ideas, any one of which could potentially help you succeed as a writer, your subconscious mind can’t access them. Instead, it only attracts ideas that make you further doubt your creative abilities.
How Your Subconscious Mind Attracts People
Hill states that, just as your subconscious mind restricts the thoughts and ideas you can access from higher consciousness, it also limits the people you attract into your life. He explains that the energy of higher consciousness permeates all conscious beings and connects them telepathically. Through this telepathic link, your subconscious mind orchestrates interactions that cause certain people to show up in your life. However, though higher consciousness has a telepathic connection to all conscious beings, your subconscious mind can only telepathically link to and attract people who reinforce your habitual thoughts.
Example: You habitually think that you’re unlovable and you imprint this sentiment upon your subconscious mind. Even though higher consciousness has a connection to many people who could potentially love you, your subconscious mind can’t telepathically link to them. Instead, it only links to and attracts people who reinforce your lack of self-love—such as those who also suffer from low self-esteem, partners who mistreat you, or friends who take you for granted.
How Your Subconscious Mind Creates Experiences
Hill asserts that your subconscious mind creates all of your experiences through its connection to higher consciousness. He explains that the energy of higher consciousness permeates and connects all matter in the universe. Through this connection, higher consciousness orchestrates interactions and governs everything that happens in the world. However, though higher consciousness has a connection to everything—giving it the potential to create any type of experience—your subconscious mind can only connect to and create experiences that reinforce your habitual thoughts.
Example: You habitually fear that you’re not good enough to succeed in your career and you imprint this fear upon your subconscious mind. Even though higher consciousness has the potential to help you achieve career success in numerous ways—for instance, by attracting professional connections or creating opportunities for promotion—your subconscious mind can’t connect to and create these experiences. Instead, it can only create experiences that reinforce your fear of failure—for instance, by limiting your career opportunities to low-paying or unfulfilling positions or causing you to make errors that hinder your chances of promotion.
Part 2: Retrain Your Subconscious Mind to Create Success
We’ve just explained how your subconscious mind determines the level of success you achieve: Your habitual thoughts leave an impression on your subconscious mind that shapes your thoughts and behaviors as well as everything that happens in your life. We also illustrated numerous ways that misaligned habitual thoughts—those that inhibit your ability to achieve what you want—lead your subconscious mind to work in opposition to your goals.
Hill argues that, fortunately, your subconscious mind is malleable and adapts to reflect your habitual thoughts. This means that, by consciously controlling your habitual thoughts, you can retrain your subconscious mind to align with your goals and attract ideas, people, and experiences that will help you achieve what you want.
Hill suggests some practical methods to realign your habitual thoughts and, in doing so, to prime your subconscious mind for success. We’ll cover his methods in a five-step process:
- Adopt a positive attitude.
- Define a specific goal.
- Create affirmations and visualizations.
- Take constructive actions to achieve your goal.
- Build a supportive team.
Step #1: Adopt a Positive Attitude
The first step toward retraining your subconscious mind to create success is to adopt a positive attitude. Hill explains that your attitude toward life determines the nature of your habitual thoughts—whether they’re negative or positive—and the overall impression they make on your subconscious mind. This impression then influences whether you move toward or away from success.
The more negative your attitude, the more negatively you think about your life. These negative thoughts leave a pessimistic impression on your subconscious mind—causing it to connect only to the parts of higher consciousness that reflect your pessimism. As a result, your subconscious mind creates experiences that reinforce your negative thought patterns and discourage you from moving toward success.
Conversely, the more positive your attitude, the more positively you think about your life. These positive thoughts leave an optimistic impression on your subconscious mind—causing it to connect only to the parts of higher consciousness that reflect your optimism. As a result, your subconscious mind creates life experiences that reinforce your optimism and encourage you to move toward success.
Hill suggests that you can adopt a positive attitude by practicing seven methods.
1) Focus Only on What You Want to Experience
Doing this will help you overcome any feelings of worry or anxiety. For example, if you want to improve your financial situation, instead of dwelling on your current debts, focus only on the feeling of financial stability that you want to experience.
2) Appreciate What’s Going Well in Your Life
Taking time to think about experiences you’re thankful for keeps you focused on what you like about your life and how lucky you are.
3) Think About Others the Way You Want Them to Think About You
This will inevitably improve the way you behave toward the people in your life, which, in turn, will positively influence the way they perceive and behave toward you.
4) Reframe Criticisms and Setbacks as Opportunities to Improve
Reframing criticisms and setbacks as opportunities to improve will train you to focus on what you can control (your thoughts and behaviors) to make the best out of any situation.
(Shortform note: One way to achieve this type of reframing is to ask solution-oriented questions. For example, instead of asking, “Why did they leave a bad review?” or “Why didn’t I make the sale?” ask, “What three things can I accomplish this quarter to improve feedback and generate more sales?”)
5) Overcome Your Fears
Making an effort to overcome your fears will empower you to pursue what you want with a greater sense of ease and enthusiasm.
6) Avoid Anything That Inspires Negative Thoughts
Steering clear of anything that might trigger negative thoughts makes it easier to focus your attention on the more positive aspects of your life.
7) Eliminate Habits That Harm Your Mental or Physical Health
Identifying and replacing unhealthy habits will resolve many of your concerns. For example, if habitual overspending causes you to worry about your finances, saving your money will improve your bank balance and alleviate your financial stress.
Step #2: Define a Specific Goal
While you work on cultivating a positive attitude, define a specific goal that you want to achieve. This will help you create a clear vision of what will make you feel successful, and it will give your subconscious mind a clear direction to move toward.
Focus on Your Natural Talents and Interests
Hill offers advice for defining your goal: Focus on using your natural talents and interests. He explains that this will improve your chances of successfully achieving your goal in two ways:
1) You’re more likely to enjoy pursuing a goal that genuinely interests you. Your enjoyment will motivate you to take action to achieve your goal, which will increase your productivity and allow you to gain momentum with little effort.
2) You’ll be able to leverage your existing skills and knowledge, which will help you make progress more quickly and effectively than if you try to develop new abilities from scratch.
Hill claims that these two benefits will inspire you to think positively about achieving your goal. These thoughts will leave a positive impression on your subconscious mind that will train it to work in alignment with what you want to achieve.
Step #3: Create Affirmations and Visualizations
Once you’ve defined a specific goal, create affirmations and visualizations that encourage you to achieve it. Hill explains that continually affirming or visualizing yourself successfully achieving your goal leaves a positive impression on your subconscious mind. The more weight you add to this impression, the quicker you’ll convince your subconscious mind you’re capable of achieving success.
Hill recommends a three-step process for creating affirmations and visualizations to support your goal:
1) Write a short statement describing what you intend to achieve and read it multiple times a day. For example, “I intend to make 50 sales a day.”
2) Each time you read your statement, imagine what new skills or qualities you would possess and how your life would change once you’ve achieved your goal. For example, you might imagine yourself as more relaxed and confident or in charge of a large sales team.
3) Create visualizations and affirmations to support each new skill or quality you imagine yourself possessing. For example, visualize yourself interacting with your employees, and affirm, “I feel relaxed and confident about my ability to make sales.”
Step #4: Take Constructive Actions to Achieve Your Goal
Alongside practicing visualizations and affirmations, take constructive actions to achieve your goal. This will align your behaviors with your positive thoughts and focus your subconscious mind on exactly what you need to do to make progress. Hill recommends the following three-step process for taking constructive actions to achieve your goal:
- Break your goal down into daily tasks.
- Create a daily schedule.
- Expand your knowledge and skills.
Let’s explore each of these steps in detail.
1) Break Your Goal Down Into Daily Tasks
The first step toward taking constructive actions to achieve your goal is to break it down into a series of daily tasks. Hill explains that this process will help you prioritize your time and increase your productivity, which will help you build momentum toward achieving your goal.
2) Create a Daily Schedule
Once you’ve broken your goal down into daily tasks, create a daily schedule to accomplish them. According to Hill, you’re more likely to complete each task if you set aside uninterrupted time and avoid multitasking and distractions.
3) Expand Your Knowledge and Skills
After completing your daily task, focus your attention on expanding your knowledge and skills. According to Hill, the more you improve your capabilities, the faster you’ll achieve your goal.
Additionally, Take on Unrelated Challenges and Responsibilities
In addition to taking constructive actions to achieve your goal, Hill recommends taking on extra challenges and responsibilities unrelated to your goal. For example, offer to complete additional projects at work or provide support to your colleagues. Hill explains that consistently going above and beyond what you need to do will impress upon your subconscious mind the idea that you’re capable of successfully taking on more responsibilities. Additionally, Hill claims that this proactive behavior will benefit you by:
- Broadening your knowledge and skill set. This will help build your self-confidence, and it will also inspire new ideas and insights that will help you achieve your goal.
- Demonstrating your value to others. People will notice and appreciate your efforts, and this will create opportunities for advancement and success.
Step #5: Build a Supportive Team
Once you’re comfortable taking daily constructive actions, build a supportive team to help you achieve your goal. Hill argues that you’re more likely to achieve success when you work with a team than when you work on your own. He explains that when a group of people collectively work toward a goal, their combined knowledge, expertise, and resources allow them to achieve much more than they could on their own. Teamwork has three primary benefits:
- It creates a hive mind.
- It provides social reinforcement.
- It generates better ideas and decisions.
Let’s explore each of these three benefits in detail.
1) Supportive Teams Create a Hive Mind
According to Hill, sharing a purpose with others aligns the conscious thoughts of each mind, creating a telepathic link between the subconscious minds of everyone involved. This telepathic link enables each individual within the group to access and leverage the knowledge and expertise of every other member of the group.
2) Supportive Teams Provide Social Reinforcement
Hill claims that sharing progress with others invites positive feedback and support. This positive attention inspires feelings of enthusiasm that boost the self-confidence and motivation of everyone within the team.
3) Supportive Teams Generate Better Ideas and Decisions
According to Hill, sharing ideas with others invites objective and constructive feedback that drives continual improvement. It also stimulates the imagination of each individual in the group—inspiring new, potentially successful ideas.
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Here's what you'll find in our full The Law of Success summary:
- How your subconscious mind creates your life experiences
- Why the only way to achieve success is to realign your habitual thoughts
- Actionable advice on how to retrain your subconsciousmind for success