Think and Grow Rich – Chapter 1: Introduction

So here we go with the first chapter of the first book in what I’m calling the “Motivational Monday” series.

I picked Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich as our first book because it’s considered a classic in the personal development realm.

Before we begin, let me say that some of the ideas presented in the book will seem old fashioned and even hokey. That’s due to the fact that the book was first published in 1937. Also, some of the events in the book may look different to us now that we have the benefit of hindsight. That said, let’s dive into chapter one of Think and Grow Rich.

Chapter One – Introduction

The book opens with the story of Edwin C. Barnes. A man who basically started with nothing and “thought” his way into a business partnership with Thomas Edison selling Edison’s dictating machine. The point of the story—and the point of the book—is that Barnes first thought about what he wanted (DESIRED) before he pursued it. He didn’t get his desire fulfilled immediately. Rather, Edison gave him a job and Barnes worked hard until the opportunity presented itself. This brings me to one of my favorite quotes from the first chapter:

That is one of the tricks of opportunity. It has a sly habit of slipping in by the back door, and often it comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat. Perhaps this is why so many fail to recognize opportunity.

It’s Hill’s contention that knowing what you want first is the starting point to success. The second point is internalizing that want to the point that you can think of nothing else. The third important point to take home from chapter one is that one must be will to push through temporary defeat in pursuit of success. He illustrates this point with a story about a man named Darby who set out to mine gold. He discovered a vein of gold that disappeared during his mining activities. So, he quit and sold his mining equipment. The person who bought that land from Darby, brought in an engineer who figured out that a fault line had disrupted the vein of gold and that it continued three feet from where Darby had stopped mining. The point: don’t give up. The second point: surround yourself with experts.

That is the bulk of chapter one. I left out several other details that you’ll want to read about in the book.

So, that brings us to the main question:

What is your desire? What is it that you want for your life?

This is a tough question for me. I simply don’t know. That’s been a problem all my life. I have never had a major definitue purpose other than “I want to be well-off,” which is way too vague.

3 thoughts on “Think and Grow Rich – Chapter 1: Introduction”

  1. I’ve always asked myself the question, ‘Why do I want to be well-off?’. To travel, to give to causes I believe in, and to have ‘capital’ with which to change the world by implementing the best ideas, some of which come from school children in remote, developing countries who can’t do much else but imagine. Imagination is everything.

  2. I am reading along with you, though somewhat in hindsight since it was clearly written with people younger than myself in mind. Know what you want is all well and good, if it is achievable. But my sister, who ‘knew’ that she wanted to be a nurse from her early teens tried and failed several times to get into a hospital-based nursing program (which was pretty much how it was done in the sixties). Failing that, she went to college–where she wound up in an economics program that propelled her into graduate school that led her into the banking industy, from which she just retired as an executive vice president at JP Morgan. Sometimes you have to open to opportunities that have nothing to do with what you thought you wanted in the beginning.

  3. I downloaded a free version of the book onto my iPad and have been skipping around (which is how I tend to read books given my ADD-ish tendencies). It illustrates the basic prerequisites of economic success, but fails to account for all the possible roads. That’s okay though, because it’s good food for thought.

    After reading parts of the first chapter, I brought up the issue of goals with my wife. Since the financial crisis, we had sort thrown our financial blueprint out the window, as so many assumptions seem to have been invalidated. But, we’d never really gotten around to establishing new goals.

    So, wife asked me: “How much do we need? How much before you feel everything is going to be okay?” It’s a tricky question for us, because we’re already somewhat ahead of our peers in terms of savings and NW. That, of course, never stops me from worrying about it. “Twice as much in 10 years” was my response. I want to have at least twice the assets by 2022. Then, I will feel good about our retirement years.

    Okay…. now I just need to figure out how that’s going to happen. It’s a big number. If only I could count on investment returns… but I already made that mistake before. Our diversified investment portfolio, after expenses, has a whooping net return of ZERO over the past 10 years. Nice. I can’t afford another lost decade, as it will probably be my last decade of earning power.

    At any rate, the book is helping to remind me of some of the basic discipline that is tantamount to wealth creation. So it is proving to be useful… that plus the old world style and historic references crack me up.

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