This is a preview of the Shortform book summary of
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
Read Full Summary

1-Page Summary 1-Page Book Summary of Think and Grow Rich

Think and Grow Rich is Napoleon Hill’s best-selling guide to becoming wealthy and successful. Published in 1937, it introduced the concept of positive thinking to the masses and was a forerunner to much of today’s self-help literature.

The main premise of Think and Grow Rich is that our thoughts create our reality. If we know what we want, desire and pursue it single-mindedly, have faith and create a plan, we can think it into being.

Hill offers a specific action plan and principles for achieving riches, which he gathered from interviews with 500 wealthy people, including Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Charles M. Schwab. He began with a conversation with Carnegie, who he says challenged him to spend 20 years interviewing successful men to capture in writing a philosophy of success that anyone, regardless of their station in life, can successfully emulate.

Although the book focuses on financial success, its principles also are applicable to other goals.

The ‘master key’ to success is first understanding that we have the power to control our thoughts — then taking responsibility for doing so. If we choose not to control our thoughts, they end up controlling us.

Our thoughts determine whether we succeed or fail in work and life. If we fill our minds with thoughts of success (become success-conscious or money-conscious), we can achieve riches. If we allow ourselves to become failure-conscious instead, failure is what we will get.

The prescription for turning positive thoughts into riches, which is repeated in many ways throughout the book, is this:

  1. Focus on a single, clearly defined purpose as your overriding life goal.
  2. Make achieving this goal your all-consuming desire.
  3. Pursue it with persistence and faith.

Other principles or qualities that come into play are:

  • Decisiveness: Make decisions quickly and stick with them.
  • Imagination: Cultivate your imagination as...

Want to learn the rest of Think and Grow Rich in 21 minutes?

Unlock the full book summary of Think and Grow Rich by signing up for Shortform.

Shortform summaries help you learn 10x faster by:

  • Being 100% comprehensive: you learn the most important points in the book
  • Cutting out the fluff: you don't spend your time wondering what the author's point is.
  • Interactive exercises: apply the book's ideas to your own life with our educators' guidance.

READ FULL SUMMARY OF THINK AND GROW RICH

Here's a preview of the rest of Shortform's Think and Grow Rich summary:

Think and Grow Rich Summary Shortform Introduction

Think and Grow Rich, first published in 1937, is an action plan for getting rich, but its principles of positive thinking are applicable to any other important goals you have.

Hill’s premise that our thoughts turn into physical reality — you can think yourself rich — was popularized by the New Thought movement of the 19th century.

The book was a bestseller for decades and remains popular today. Nonetheless, Think and Grow Rich is a product of its time — reflecting the prejudices of its era, apocryphal stories, and assertions based on a limited understanding of science. For completeness, we’ve included this information in hopes they’ll be useful in understanding the book’s principles.

  • For instance, in explaining how positive thinking brings positive results, Hill asserts that our thoughts create vibrations that attract corresponding vibrations from the ether of the universe, creating the reality we desire.
  • While you might not accept this as literally true, you might view the vibrations/ether explanation more as a metaphor. For instance, if you obsess over an idea, then your mind filters all of the information you receive through this idea. When you receive new information, you think, “Is this relevant to my idea? Does it help me further my idea?” In this way, new information that can help resonates with you (like vibrations in the ether).

There are multiple versions of the book available, some with added material or edited sections. The Napoleon Hill Foundation endorses only the original version. However, because some Shortform readers may benefit from added material, this summary blends Hill’s original examples of successful industry leaders from the late thirties with modern examples from recent editions.

The original book meanders, with each idea being repeated multiple times and the concepts blending into each other. The examples given don’t always relate to the principle at hand. We’ve reorganized some material by theme to make it easier to follow, and we renamed his “13 Steps” as “14 Principles.” Some recommendations and lists that are...

Try Shortform for free

Read full summary of Think and Grow Rich

Sign up for free

Think and Grow Rich Summary Principle 1: Think Success by Default

Thoughts are powerful: What you think becomes your reality. We all have the power to control our thoughts, although many people don’t use it. If you harness this power, you can become wealthy, or achieve what you seek.

The way to achieve riches is to become success-conscious, rather than failure-conscious:

  1. Start by focusing your mind on a single, clearly defined purpose, not multiple purposes that would dilute your focus. Choose one overriding life goal.
  2. Make achieving this goal your all-consuming desire, to the point that you think of little else and you devote all your time and energy to achieving it.
  3. Finally, be persistent in pursuing your one goal or purpose. You will encounter setbacks but have faith in your goal and ability to achieve it — and never give up on it.

Here’s how this process worked in the lives of two men.

Example 1: Partnering with Edison

  • Edwin C. Barnes had an overriding goal (his definite purpose) of working with the inventor Thomas Edison. Partnering with Edison became his all-consuming desire.
  • Despite never having met Edison, Barnes went to see and told him his goal. Edison recognized his determination but gave him a lesser job. While this might seem like a defeat, Barnes agreed to work for Edison, but persisted in focusing on his specific goal of a partnership.
  • This went on for five years, but he didn’t give up on his goal or stop thinking about it.
  • Barnes saw an opportunity when Edison couldn’t get his salespeople to sell his new dictating machine. Barnes said he could sell it and was given the opportunity. He sold it so successfully that Edison gave him a contract to distribute and market the machine.
  • Thus, Barnes thought his way into a partnership with Edison. Continuing to believe he could be successful allowed him to persist, which allowed him to seize the opportunity when it surfaced.

Example 2: Striking Gold

  • A man had a specific purpose and desire to find gold. He discovered a small amount of gold, staked a claim, and raised money...

What Our Readers Say

This is the best summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People I've ever read. I learned all the main points in just 20 minutes.
Learn more about our summaries →

Shortform Exercise: Control Your Thoughts

People who achieve success do so because they have a success-consciousness — they spend their time thinking about success rather than doubting themselves or thinking about things that can go wrong.


What do you spend the most time thinking about? Where are these thoughts leading you?

Try Shortform for free

Read full summary of Think and Grow Rich

Sign up for free

Think and Grow Rich Summary Principle 2: Have an All-Consuming Desire

The first step to riches is having an all-consuming desire to achieve your specific goal or definite purpose.

Hopes or wishes for something aren’t enough — in fact, if your desire is no more than a wish, you’re likely to quit striving for it when you hit roadblocks. You have to want something badly in order to achieve it.

Your hunger to reach your goal must be so strong that you stake everything on achieving it, and you burn your bridges, leaving yourself with no way to retreat.

Your goal has to be overriding — you can only devote your full energy to a single goal at the same time.

Examples of strong desires laying the foundation for success:

Example 1: Edwin C. Barnes’ burning desire

Barnes’ story is told in Chapter 1, but here is a closer look at how his intense desire to partner with Edison played out. To start with, his goal was specific: He wanted to partner with Edison, not work for him. It became the consuming obsession of his life, and when he was ready to act on it, he left behind his past life and devoted everything to reaching his goal.

While Barnes worked for Edison as a mere salesman for five years, he didn’t give up on his desire for a partnership or decide to do something else instead — his desire only grew stronger, and he focused on becoming Edison’s partner until it became a reality.

Example 2: Department store founder Marshall Field

After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, many merchants who lost their businesses chose to leave the city in defeat rather than to rebuild. However, one merchant, Marshall Field, refused to give up. He had an overwhelming desire to build the world’s greatest store on the ruins of his original store, no matter how many times it burned down. He built the Marshall Field’s department store in downtown Chicago, which eventually grew into a national chain.

Example 3: Director Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg had an all-consuming desire to make movies. He had made films as an amateur, but hadn’t broken into the industry. He came up with a unique idea for literally getting in the...

Why people love using Shortform

"I LOVE Shortform as these are the BEST summaries I’ve ever seen...and I’ve looked at lots of similar sites. The 1-page summary and then the longer, complete version are so useful. I read Shortform nearly every day.""
Jerry McPhee
Sign up for free

Shortform Exercise: Build an All-Consuming Desire

The first step to riches is having an all-consuming desire to achieve your specific goal. You should also specifically picture the goal that your desire will lead you to.


What one thing do you want more than anything else? What are you willing to do to get it? Be specific for both questions.

Try Shortform for free

Read full summary of Think and Grow Rich

Sign up for free

Think and Grow Rich Summary Principles 3 and 4: Have Unwavering Faith

In addition to having an intense desire for riches or other success, you also must have an unwavering faith or belief in your goal and your ability to achieve it.

Faith or belief is one of the most important keys to converting our thoughts into reality. Faith works on a subconscious level and helps move you toward your goal.

If you have faith in yourself and your plans to achieve wealth, it will prompt ideas and associations that lead you to success.

But if you lack faith and believe the opposite, you’ll defeat yourself. For instance, if you believe that you’re doomed to poverty due to forces beyond your control, this negative belief will take over your mind. It will block out positive thoughts and desires that could help you overcome your circumstances, and you will fail to improve your current state.

So to achieve your goal, it’s important to develop faith to propel you toward it, and inspire others to work with you. You can develop faith through affirmation and visualization (which the author calls autosuggestion) — that is, by constantly telling yourself you can succeed and by envisioning yourself succeeding (more on autosuggestion later).

You eventually come to believe the things you repeat to yourself. If you write down your goal and repeat it frequently by reading it out loud, you’ll reinforce it in your mind and convince your subconscious to act on it.

You can go a step beyond envisioning yourself succeeding by acting as though you already have the thing you want. Your mind takes on the nature of the thoughts that dominate it.

If you lack self-confidence, or faith in yourself, you can change that, and increase your chances of success, by doing and repeating the following:

  1. I know I have the ability to achieve my specific goal.
  2. I will concentrate my thoughts for 30 minutes a day on the person I intend to become.
  3. I will spend 10 minutes a day demanding self-confidence from myself.
  4. My goal demands that I develop self-confidence to achieve it.
  5. I will cultivate positive thoughts toward myself and others. I have...

What Our Readers Say

This is the best summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People I've ever read. I learned all the main points in just 20 minutes.
Learn more about our summaries →

Shortform Exercise: Visualize Your Success

Visualizing the thing or condition you want to achieve makes it seem real and will subconsciously encourage you to act in ways that help you achieve it.


Close your eyes and visualize something you want intensely. Describe it in as much detail as you can. Write down these details.

Try Shortform for free

Read full summary of Think and Grow Rich

Sign up for free

Think and Grow Rich Summary Principles 5 and 6: Specialized Knowledge and the Master Mind

Knowledge is critical to making better decisions and achieving your goals.

There are two types of knowledge: general and specialized. Colleges provide general knowledge, but often this knowledge lacks practical application. If you want to get rich, the type of knowledge you need is specialized and specific to the particular industry or endeavor you’ve chosen as your path. This is why college degrees aren’t guarantees of career success — formal education should be viewed only as the beginning for acquiring knowledge.

To make progress toward your goal, figure out what sort of specialized knowledge you need, and why you need it. Then figure out how to get it. There are various ways to gain this specialized knowledge, including training programs, books, research and experimentation, and personal experience.

Never stop gaining specialized knowledge related to your goal. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your learning ends when you graduate from school. In fact, much of the practical knowledge that gets you toward your life’s goals comes after school. Combining a hunger for knowledge with imagination will help you adapt to changing times.

The Master Mind

Despite the importance of specialized knowledge, don’t feel like you need to know every necessary piece of knowledge yourself in order to achieve your goal. Instead, you need a Master Mind group — a group of associates who have the knowledge, advice and expertise to help you achieve your goal.

No one has enough experience, education, and ability to accumulate a fortune single-handedly. You need a Master Mind group to help you shape a plan for reaching your goal.

Henry Ford demonstrated this to great effect:

  • A newspaper called him “an ignorant pacifist,” and Ford sued.
  • In court, the paper’s lawyers tried to argue that the statement was accurate: Ford was indeed “ignorant.” They put Ford on the stand and began asking him trivia questions, like “how many soldiers did the British send to the American colonies in 1776?”
  • Ford tired of the questions, and replied that at...

Want to read the rest of this
Book Summary?

With Shortform, you can:

Access 1000+ non-fiction book summaries.

Highlight your
Favorite Passages.

Access 1000+ premium article summaries.

Take Notes on your
Favorite Books.

Read on the go with our iOS and Android App.

Download PDF Summaries.

Sign up for free

Shortform Exercise: Gain Specialized Knowledge

If you want to get rich, you need specialized knowledge in the area you’re choosing to focus on.


What specialized knowledge does your goal demand that you don’t currently have? Be specific.

Try Shortform for free

Read full summary of Think and Grow Rich

Sign up for free

Shortform Exercise: Build Your Master Mind Group

You don’t need to have all the answers yourself — you can build a Master Mind group of associates to help you achieve your goal.


What are the types of people you need in your Master Mind group? What specialized knowledge does each person have that complements you?

What Our Readers Say

This is the best summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People I've ever read. I learned all the main points in just 20 minutes.
Learn more about our summaries →

Think and Grow Rich Summary Principle 7: Imagination

Your imagination is a crucial tool for converting your thoughts into riches. You can create anything you can imagine.

Your imagination can spark both ideas and plans for achieving them. Your powers of imagination decline if you don’t regularly use them, but they also improve with use. Keep thinking about big, ambitious ideas.

There are two types of imagination — synthetic and creative — and both can play a role in the transformation process. The synthetic imagination rearranges existing ideas and concepts in new ways. The creative imagination, which works in the subsconscious, generates new ideas, and through hunches and inspiration, it produces the plan you need to follow to achieve your goal.

The world’s greatest business leaders, thinkers and artists used their creative imagination to come up with works of art, inventions, and products. Great fortunes start with ideas generated by imagination. Here are two examples of the role imagination played in creating ideas that produced riches:

  • A doctor had come up with a recipe for a syrupy soda fountain beverage, but it didn’t sell very well. Eventually, to pay off his debts, he sold the formula, a kettle, and soda fountain equipment to a drugstore clerk for $500. The drugstore clerk, Asa Candler, applied imagination to come up with an innovative promotion and marketing campaign that transformed the beverage into a household name, Coca-Cola. One of his ideas, which...

Try Shortform for free

Read full summary of Think and Grow Rich

Sign up for free

Shortform Exercise: Having a Hunch

Your creative imagination, which works in the subsconscious, generates new ideas, sometimes through hunches and inspiration.


What’s a hunch or inspiration you have now that could be interesting?

What Our Readers Say

This is the best summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People I've ever read. I learned all the main points in just 20 minutes.
Learn more about our summaries →

Think and Grow Rich Summary Principle 8: Planning

It’s often said that knowledge is power, but actually, knowledge is only potential power. Knowledge only becomes actual power if it can be put to use as part of an organized plan.

If your first plan doesn’t work, replace it with a new one. In fact, keep replacing failed plans until you come up with one that works.

Many people who fail do so because they lack the persistence to keep working to come up with a better plan when an earlier one fails. They don’t understand that defeat is temporary, and only means there was something wrong with your plan, which can be fixed if you keep trying until you get it right. Thomas Edison met with temporary defeat 10,000 times before inventing a successful lightbulb.

Don’t be a quitter who gives up before you achieve your goal. Also, be sure to select as members for your Master Mind group people who will not be stymied by defeat.

Important note: Ideas must be nursed from birth, if they are to survive and succeed. When you have an idea, you must activate it with a definite plan and immediate action.

The Benefits of Capitalism

The book takes a tangent to talk about the importance of capitalism as a practical system for achieving goals.

We have the ability to make plans for accumulating riches and put them into action because we live in a capitalist society. By contrast, individual freedoms in many other societies are sharply limited.

Our freedoms are a privilege, without which the accumulation of riches wouldn’t be possible. They include:

  • Basic freedoms: Freedom of thought; freedom to act; freedom of choice, religion, politics, travel; freedom to choose where to live, whom to marry, and what to eat; equal opportunity.
  • Wealth-related freedoms: Freedom to aspire to a higher station in life; freedom to own all the property you can get; freedom to choose your business, profession, and occupation; freedom to provide useful service in return for riches.

Capitalism consists of more than money. It also encompasses groups of organized, intelligent people who come up with new ways to use money that...

Try Shortform for free

Read full summary of Think and Grow Rich

Sign up for free

Think and Grow Rich Summary Principle 9: Decisiveness

A common reason for failing to become wealthy is the inability to make and stick with a decision.

Successful people reach decisions quickly, and change them slowly if at all — so they don’t get sidetracked from their plan.

Unsuccessful people do the opposite: They put off making decisions and, once they’ve finally decided something, they change their minds quickly. This makes it impossible to move consistently toward a goal.

Henry Ford had a reputation for acting decisively and standing firm on decisions. For example, he held firm on his decision to continue making the Model T, long after advisors and customers had urged him to change it. As a result, he continued to make money for a while, and was able to put off expending resources to develop another model. While some considered him obstinate, that quality is preferable to being indecisive.

Procrastination, the opposite of decisiveness, is a common obstacle that you must overcome.

People who can’t reach decisions promptly and stick with them will fail to achieve riches. They lack desire of their own and are thus easily influenced by the opinions of others, in effect allowing others to do their thinking for them. You have a mind of your own, which you must use to make decisions if you want to succeed.

Decisive people are undeterred by others’ criticism — what they want to do is what they’re going to do, regardless of what others think. Indecisive people take others’ negative opinions to heart, and sometimes develop inferiority complexes as a result.

The most important and influential decisions are those that require the most courage to make — those with the highest stakes.

One of the most notable examples is the American colonists’ decision to oppose British rule. Although they could have been hanged for treason, leaders of the 13 colonies convened the First Continental Congress (a Master Mind group) in 1774 to coordinate their opposition to British demands. Without their decision to band together for one purpose, no Declaration of Independence would have been...

What Our Readers Say

This is the best summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People I've ever read. I learned all the main points in just 20 minutes.
Learn more about our summaries →

Shortform Exercise: Deciding with Courage

Successful people make decisions quickly without procrastination, and they don’t get sidetracked from their plans.


What is an important decision that you’re struggling to make now? Describe the different options you have to decide on.

Try Shortform for free

Read full summary of Think and Grow Rich

Sign up for free

Think and Grow Rich Summary Principle 10: Persistence

You can’t transform thoughts and desire into money without persistence. You’ll inevitably run into obstacles in the pursuit of your goal, and you need the willpower to keep pushing through those obstacles..

While most people give up at the first sign of difficulty, successful people persist with unstoppable willpower and desire. Those who carry on with single-minded determination despite opposition may be seen as cold-blooded or ruthless, but what they are doing is simply exerting the will to achieve their desire. If you don’t have persistence, you won’t succeed at anything significant.

Example: When Howard Schultz first opened Starbucks, it lost money for three straight years, including more than $1 million in 1989 alone. But Schultz never gave up. He believed strongly that his plans for building a chain of coffee shops were solid, and the company would soon be profitable. Eventually his Seattle stores did become profitable and he expanded the business to other cities and then other countries, making Schultz one of the world’s richest people.

The challenge of following the principles outlined in this book for achieving riches is itself a test of your persistence. The process for applying persistence can be slow at first, like that of surfacing from a deep dream in which you can’t move — you start to awaken slowly, willing yourself to regain control of one set of muscles at a time, until you finally “snap’ awake. If you don’t have ideal persistence today, you can build persistence gradually, until one day you suddenly awaken and get it.

Four requirements for developing persistence are:

  1. A specific goal or purpose, and an all-consuming desire to achieve it.
  2. A specific plan that you pursue non-stop.
  3. A mind that blocks out negativity and discouragement.
  4. A Master Mind group whose members encourage you.

Your payoff for following these four steps is the ability to write your own ticket in life.

You should also examine yourself methodically for signs that you lack persistence:

  • Motivation
    • You’re indifferent: You’re willing to...

What Our Readers Say

This is the best summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People I've ever read. I learned all the main points in just 20 minutes.
Learn more about our summaries →

Shortform Exercise: Examine Your Persistence

If you don’t persist when you run into obstacles, you can’t achieve your goals. So it’s important to identify any signs you lack persistence, and to tackle them.


Review the list of signs that you lack persistence. Which one most applies to you right now? Describe in detail the problem and how it appears in your life.

Try Shortform for free

Read full summary of Think and Grow Rich

Sign up for free

Think and Grow Rich Summary Major Causes of Failure

Lack of persistence is only one of the common causes of failure. Here are others that stand between you and success. They can stem from your environment, your habits or problems with motivation. All of them can be addressed (except unfavorable hereditary background and ill health).

Once again, go through the list, noting which ones most strongly apply to you. Then create your own plan for removing the problem.

Environment

  • Unfavorable hereditary background: Not much can be done to compensate for lack of genetic intellectual capacity, except for using a Master Mind group.
  • Lack of education: An inadequate formal education can be made up for with self-education, acquisition of specialized knowledge, and creation of a Master Mind group.
  • Ill health: Some causes of poor health are beyond your control. But others, such as overeating and not exercising, can be eliminated.
  • Poor environmental influences during childhood. Many people with criminal tendencies acquired them by being raised among people who set bad examples. When you are able, you should surround yourself with positive role models.
  • Marrying the wrong person: The misery of being in a bad marriage will sap your ambition.
  • Having bad business associates: Their problems with rub off on you. Pick associates whom you can emulate.
  • Selecting the wrong job: You can’t succeed in a job you hate, only in a job you can do wholeheartedly.
  • Power not acquired through self-effort: People who inherit money often mishandle it.
  • Lack of capital: Many new business fail to maintain sufficient reserves to absorb the impact of mistakes. This can be planned for.

Mindset

  • Negative personality: Success requires gaining others’ cooperation, which you can’t get if your personality turns people off.
  • Desire to get something for nothing: Gambling is reckless behavior that leads to failure.
  • Overcaution: Life involves taking chances. If you don’t take chances you’ll only get what’s left after others choose.
  • Intentional dishonesty: If you have a reputation for being dishonest, no...

What Our Readers Say

This is the best summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People I've ever read. I learned all the main points in just 20 minutes.
Learn more about our summaries →

Shortform Exercise: Removing Your Excuses

Alibis are the excuses we use to justify our failures and mistakes. They usually start with the words, “If only…”


What is a “go to” excuse you give for not being where you want to be, for not doing what you know you should do, or for failing at something? (If often starts with “if only.”)

Try Shortform for free

Read full summary of Think and Grow Rich

Sign up for free

Think and Grow Rich Summary Principle 11: Sex Energy Transmutation

According to Think and Grow Rich, the desire for sex is the most powerful of human desires. Some people risk their life and reputation to get it. This energy can be harnessed to help you achieve your goals.

Hill refers to sex as being both energy and as an emotion (a state of mind). The emotion of sex has three benefits: perpetuation of the human race, maintenance of health (it has therapeutic value), and transforming average ability into genius via “transmutation.”

Transmutation means harnessing the power of sex energy to make you wealthy by redirecting your thoughts from the physical expression of sex to creative efforts. When redirected, the powerful motivating force of sex energy can be a creative force for art, literature, music, invention, or achieving riches. Redirected sex energy is the creative energy of all geniuses.

As suggestive evidence, take the sex organs out of an animal, and you remove all the fight and energy from the animal. A castrated bull becomes as calm as a cow.

The emotion of sex needs an outlet; it shouldn’t be repressed but instead given an outlet that enriches the body, mind, and spirit. Transforming sex energy into creativity requires willpower.

Creative imagination is unleashed when a stimulant — sex energy being the most powerful one — acts on the mind to increase brain activity or vibrations. The other stimuli are love, burning desire for money or power, music, friendship, a Master Mind alliance, mutual suffering through persecution, autosuggestion, fear, and drugs or alcohol. But these are far less powerful than the stimulation from the desire for sexual expression.

Of the stimuli, only sex and love, which are particularly powerful together, can inspire genius. Napoleon Hill found that every great male leader he analyzed was inspired by a woman.

For example, when Napoleon Boneparte was inspired by his first wife Josephine, he was invincible. When he ended his relationship with her, he was defeated. Similarly, Abraham Lincoln discovered his creative imagination when his mind was stimulated by the love of Anne...

What Our Readers Say

This is the best summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People I've ever read. I learned all the main points in just 20 minutes.
Learn more about our summaries →

Think and Grow Rich Summary Principle 12: The Subconscious Mind

The subconscious mind collects and files impressions and thoughts received through the five senses. The information collected may be positive or negative. It is also the source of creative imagination, which shapes your plans to achieve riches.

You have the ability to plant thoughts, plans, or goals in your subconscious that you aim to transform into riches. If these thoughts are dominant and supported by faith that you’ll reach your goal, your subconscious mind will lead you to riches.

As previously discussed, the way to plant thoughts of riches in your subconscious mind is to use affirmation or autosuggestion. Positive thoughts must become a habit before they can translate into reality.

The subconscious mind is our link with Infinite Intelligence, or First Cause, which is the energy that powers atoms and drives the laws of nature. It is the medium through which prayers are transmitted. When we transmit our thoughts and desires with faith, we get back answers to our prayers in the form of plans or ideas to get what we’re asking for.

However, your subconscious can be equally influenced by negative thoughts that you passively allow to enter. The most common negative thoughts or emotions to watch out for are fear, jealousy, hatred, revenge, greed, superstition, and anger. They are particularly dangerous because the subconscious mind is more susceptible to thoughts that have an emotional component.

**If you allow...

Try Shortform for free

Read full summary of Think and Grow Rich

Sign up for free

Think and Grow Rich Summary Principles 13 & 14: The Brain and the Sixth Sense

(Shortform note: This is Napoleon Hill’s attempt to justify his principles with some scientific rigor. These ideas aren’t accurate by today’s science and they’re not important to applying the rest of the book, but something in here may resonate with you.)

We don’t know exactly how thoughts become reality. But we know that there are intangible forces at work in the universe, even if we can’t perceive them with our five senses.

Intangible forces move oceans, create thunderstorms, and fuel the soil that provides our food; electricity is an intangible force. For all of our education, we don’t understand the intangible force of thought, and how the brain and its network of nerves translate thought into reality. But we are learning more about the brain all the time. It’s likely that the brain, through its intangible processes, can communicate with other intangible forces outside us.

Our brain performs as both a broadcasting and receiving station for thought vibrations. From the ether or energy of the universe, our brain uses the “receiving set” of creative imagination to pick up thought vibrations from other brains — especially when amped up to a high rate of vibration by emotions such as sex. When at their highest level, our thoughts can be broadcast by the subconscious mind to be picked up by other brains.

Experiments in telepathy show that minds can communicate with other minds, without words being spoken. (In experiments, some people have been able to name cards in an unseen pack, or read a thought in another person’s mind.) Master Mind groups can work this way, exchanging, blending, and building on each others’ thoughts until solutions are reached.

The Sixth Sense

Science can’t explain it, but humans can receive knowledge through other means beyond the five senses. The Infinite Intelligence can communicate with the subconscious mind through creative imagination, also known as the sixth sense, which is the thirteenth principle for acquiring riches.

The sixth sense is a signal often referred to as a hunch, inspiration, or intuition...

What Our Readers Say

This is the best summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People I've ever read. I learned all the main points in just 20 minutes.
Learn more about our summaries →

Think and Grow Rich Summary Chapter 15: Overcome Fear

You can’t achieve your goal of translating your thoughts, desire, purpose, and plan into riches, without clearing your mind of three enemies or negative influences: indecision, doubt, and fear. (We discussed Indecision in Principle 9, Decisiveness.)

The three are interrelated. Indecision is an outgrowth of fear; it evolves into doubt and the two combine to create more fear. Further, when we are afraid of things, we also worry about the them.

We fear these six things the most. All other fears fall under one of these headings.

1. Poverty: Rich people are idolized, and so poverty brings embarrassment and suffering. Fear of poverty can distract you from demanding riches from life. Symptoms of a fear of poverty include lack of ambition, indecisiveness, doubt expressed by excuses, worry, overcaution due to looking at the negative in every circumstance, and procrastination.

2. Criticism: No one likes receiving criticism, yet we all freely criticize others. Parents and close relatives can be the worst offenders. However, employers who understand human nature realize that constructive suggestions rather than criticism is the best way to motivate employees.

People often make bad decisions and then are reluctant to change them for fear of criticism. They include marrying the wrong person, taking the bad advice of relatives, or choosing and remaining in a job or career that is not a good fit and makes them miserable.

3. Poor health: We fear illness because of the suffering it causes and the economic toll it takes. Disease, however, can begin in our minds with negative thoughts or suggestions unless we overcome them with positive ones. Doctors send patients to new climates as a way of changing their attitudes and thus their health.

4. Loss of someone’s love: This is the most emotionally painful of the fears. It can manifest itself in jealousy, prompting suspicions and accusations.

5. Old age: This fear is driven by ill health, diminishing...

Try Shortform for free

Read full summary of Think and Grow Rich

Sign up for free

Shortform Exercise: Staring Down Fear

We all fear one or more of the following: poverty (not having enough money), criticism, poor health, loss of love, old age or death. They can generate worry and paralyze us.


What is one of your great fears? What specifically are you worried about?

What Our Readers Say

This is the best summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People I've ever read. I learned all the main points in just 20 minutes.
Learn more about our summaries →

Think and Grow Rich Summary Chapter 16: Negative Influences

In addition to the six basic fears, there’s another destructive force in our lives: susceptibility to negative influences. These are negative opinions, thoughts, or attitudes that work their way into our minds, often without our realizing it. They can come from outside or from within. They come in many different forms, including the well-meant words of close relatives. They cause us to fail at reaching our goal if we allow them to take root.

Leaving your mind open to the negative influence of other people is a common human weakness. Many people don’t recognize it when this influence is operating. Others who acknowledge it fail to correct it, and it becomes part of their daily thought patterns.

Successful people have learned to guard against negative influences. They keep their mind pure and focused on their goal. If you desire riches, you need to search out and eliminate the negative influences in your life and block new ones that can derail you from reaching your goal.

To identify negative influences in your life, closely examine the outside influences affecting you, as well as your own negative behaviors and traits. Questions like these can get you started. If you have strong reactions to any of these, you have likely found a negative influence that is stifling you and is therefore worth removing.

Outside Influences

  • Who do you associate with and why? How do they make you feel?
  • Do you like or dislike your job?
  • How do others react to you?
  • What kind of people do you attract?
  • Are you easily influenced by others, against your own judgment?
  • Are there people you avoid? Why?
  • Who are the most encouraging and discouraging people in your life?
  • What/who annoys you the most?
  • Does anyone nag you? If so, why?
  • Who inspires you the most and why?
  • Are you allowing someone (a relative or acquaintance) to worry you?
  • Do you regularly encourage other people tell you their problems?

**Internal...

Try Shortform for free

Read full summary of Think and Grow Rich

Sign up for free

Think and Grow Rich Summary Conclusion

You now have the “master key” for achieving riches or success as you define it: the ability to control your thoughts.

You either control your thoughts or they control you — there’s no middle ground. You control your mind by occupying it with a specific goal (definite purpose), which is your all-consuming desire, and with a plan for...

What Our Readers Say

This is the best summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People I've ever read. I learned all the main points in just 20 minutes.
Learn more about our summaries →

Think and Grow Rich Summary Appendix of Lists

Leadership

You must decide whether you will be a leader or a follower in your chosen field. Most successful leaders began as followers, then became leaders because they were intelligent followers, obtaining specialized knowledge from their leaders.

There are two forms of leadership — leadership by consent and leadership by force. The first is by far the more effective; leadership by force doesn’t last — dictators eventually fall, as Hitler and Stalin did. The relationship between leaders and followers today is a partnership based on cooperation.

To exercise leadership by consent you need the following personal qualities and behaviors:

Personal qualities of a leader

  • Courage: This is based on self-knowledge and self-confidence. No one will follow a person who lacks courage.
  • Self control: People who can’t control themselves can’t control others. A leader with self-control is emulated by followers.
  • Sense of fairness: You have to be fair to command respect.
  • Charisma: No one will follow a leader who lacks an attractive personality.
  • Empathy. Leaders must have empathy for and understanding of their followers to inspire respect.

Behaviors of a leader

  • A grasp of the details of the leadership position.
  • Decisiveness: No one can follow an indecisive leader.
  • An effective plan: Your plan is your rudder, which every ship needs. Followers need a plan to follow.
  • A habit of doing more than expected. This inspires respect, credibility, and similar behavior among followers.
  • A grasp of the details of the leadership position. This allows you to use time efficiently — and delegate when necessary — rather than being too busy when something important must be done.
  • Willingness to take responsibility: Leaders take responsibility for the mistakes of their followers.
  • Cooperation: Leaders practice and inspire cooperation.

The flipside — negative personal qualities and ineffective behaviors — constitutes the most common reasons that would-be leaders fail.

Negative personal qualities of failed leaders

  • Fear of...

Try Shortform for free

Read full summary of Think and Grow Rich

Sign up for free

Shortform Exercise: Gain Success-Consciousness

People who become rich do so because they have a success-consciousness — they spend their time thinking about success rather than about things that can go wrong.


Are you success-conscious or failure-conscious? How do you know?

What Our Readers Say

This is the best summary of How to Win Friends and Influence People I've ever read. I learned all the main points in just 20 minutes.
Learn more about our summaries →

Table of Contents

  • 1-Page Summary
  • Shortform Introduction
  • Principle 1: Think Success by Default
  • Exercise: Control Your Thoughts
  • Principle 2: Have an All-Consuming Desire
  • Exercise: Build an All-Consuming Desire
  • Principles 3 and 4: Have Unwavering Faith
  • Exercise: Visualize Your Success
  • Principles 5 and 6: Specialized Knowledge and the Master Mind
  • Exercise: Gain Specialized Knowledge
  • Exercise: Build Your Master Mind Group
  • Principle 7: Imagination
  • Exercise: Having a Hunch
  • Principle 8: Planning
  • Principle 9: Decisiveness
  • Exercise: Deciding with Courage
  • Principle 10: Persistence
  • Exercise: Examine Your Persistence
  • Major Causes of Failure
  • Exercise: Removing Your Excuses
  • Principle 11: Sex Energy Transmutation
  • Principle 12: The Subconscious Mind
  • Principles 13 & 14: The Brain and the Sixth Sense
  • Chapter 15: Overcome Fear
  • Exercise: Staring Down Fear
  • Chapter 16: Negative Influences
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix of Lists
  • Exercise: Gain Success-Consciousness