Welcome to the second part of this special three part series commemorating the 21st Century Edition of Napoleon Hill’s landmark work, “Law of Success,” in which he reveals 17 Principles of Success based on his 25 years of research studying the lives of over 500 of the world’s greatest achievers. (To read the first part, visit: http://tinyurl.com/3d3loq).
In this special three part series, I’m highlighting these 17 Principles of Success both as a refresher for those who are already familiar with Hill’s work, and as an introductory guide to the essential qualities of achievement for those who have not yet had the chance to study this great personage who started the personal development revolution. Enjoy:
Principle # 6: Imagination
“Imagination is the workshop of the human mind and creative power of the soul,” writes Hill. “First comes thought; then organization of that thought into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.”
According to Hill, there are two types of imagination: synthetic imagination and creative imagination. Synthetic imagination involves rearranging old ideas into new combinations that produce new solutions. Stimulating creative imagination involves a repetition of highly emotionalized thoughts that can be combined with visualization, meditation, and prayer focused on a chief aim or solving a difficult problem, and then surrendering the thoughts to infinite intelligence to come up with new ideas, combinations, and plans.
Artists, inventors, and entrepreneurs frequently use some combination of both types of imagination. For example, many writers will often intentionally stop writing in the middle of a heated sentence or uncompleted paragraph at a particularly challenging point in the plot and “sleep on it.” During the rest of the night their subconscious mind, through the powers of creative intelligence, will work on the solution, and upon awakening, the writer will write beautifully to complete the idea.
Entrepreneurs will often brainstorm and write down all the ideas, challenges, and available solutions and resources concerning a challenging problem and then “forget about it.” They might go on vacation for an extended period of time. On returning, or even while they’re on vacation, new ideas spring up that help solve the problem.
To further develop your imagination, study yourself; find out the inner motivations that drive you to carry out certain tasks to completion while avoiding other tasks. Study other people and human behavior around you. If you want to know what the other person will do (whether a customer, boss, employee, partner, or competitor), use your imagination to put yourself in their shoes. What would you do if you were that person? By being able to look from another’s perspective, you not only help build your imagination muscles, you also help build bridges.
Principle # 7: Enthusiasm
Enthusiasm comes from the Greek root “entheos” which literally means God within. Enthusiasm is the vital force that impels action. Great leaders inspire others to action from their own enthusiasm which is highly contagious.
“It’s not so much what you say as it is the tone and manner in which you say it that makes a lasting impression,” writes Hill.
I recall a time when a “recruiter” had called and left a message for me requesting an interview. I checked out the company’s website and liked what I had to see. I was ready to come in for an interview, but when I returned the recruiter’s call and spoke to her, the tone of her voice clearly indicated that she wasn’t happy with her job and that I was just a number to make her appointment quota.
While the conversation was polite and professional, her tone and manner of speaking said she didn’t care. Needless to say, I did not come in for an interview, and it wouldn’t be a far stretch to guess that that recruiting company was losing business by the truckload on account of that one person – probably hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.
It’s surprising (or maybe not so surprising given the poor customer service survey results across North America) that companies are willing to go on losing millions by treating their frontline workers who have first line of contact with customers as an “expense” instead of as an investment.
The companies that will turn out to be champions in this information economy are the ones that treat their customer service and sales staff as VPs of Customer Relations. These organizations will have a HUGE competitive advantage by investing just a fraction of the money (money that would normally be lost to poor service) towards paying above industry average rates to retain quality customer service professionals, investing in their professional development, teaching basic human relations skills, and helping to create a better work environment.
Principle # 8: Self-Control
Hill keenly points out that self control directs your enthusiasm. A wise business tenet is to keep cool when others are hot. As Hill says, “Those who control themselves usually boss the job.”
I can’t recall how many business deals I’ve lost because I contacted a potential client in a moment of anger or frustration (either due to the business on hand or something entirely different). It’s amazing how much more business one can drum up by simply counting to ten, taking a couple of deep breaths, and thinking of something pleasant for a few seconds before making or taking that important call!
If you’ve tried these types of techniques without much success and are still angry with someone, at least try ‘writing it out of your system’ before approaching this person. Write a steaming hot letter to this person venting about what you feel is inappropriate behavior or some problem or injustice you feel you might have encountered.
After you’ve read the letter to yourself, tear it up and throw it away! Now you can approach this person and make your case with a level head without blaming or getting overly emotional. Maybe it was a simple misunderstanding.
I’m not saying this method will always work. Sometimes you do have to confront someone and express your anger – but those moments are rare when it’s productive. Using this one technique alone can save you from countless relationship disasters and bad business deals, and might even help get you that promotion over the next person who blows his top!).
Never retaliate against those who offend you. Be a leader by being a person of poise and self-control.
Principle # 9: The Habit of Doing More Than Paid For
“Giving people a little more than what they expect is a good way to get back more than you’d expect” – Robert Half
We get back in life what we give. By getting into the habit of always doing more than you’re paid for, you will meet with opportunities for expansion, advancement, and promotion at every turn of the corner. (You might not get these opportunities immediately with your current employer; but eventually competitors will take notice and will gladly provide you with plenty of opportunity if your employer is not willing to do so).
Napoleon Hill offers countless real-life examples of ordinary people reaching extraordinary heights of achievement and success using this one principle alone in his magnum opus: “Law of Success: The 21st-Century Edition.”
Principle # 10: A Pleasing Personality
Hill states that a pleasing personality is a person that attracts. It’s all about your character and how you carry yourself. Are you dressed for success as it relates to your field? Do you speak with self-confidence?
Do you offer a firm handshake and a warm smile, or a limp, ‘dead fish’ handshake with a rigid, forced smile?
Do you offer an appropriate level of eye-contact given the cultural context or do you have shifty eyes that makes people feel uncomfortable? Are you flexible in mind, body, and spirit? Do you express genuine interest in others?
The best way to develop a pleasing personality is to show a keen interest in other people. If that recruiter had expressed even the slightest interest in what I did as a person, I would have overlooked the initial awkwardness of the call and come in for an interview. Her lack of a pleasing personality cost her and her company a number of lost contracts.
It’s so much more FUN and PROFITABLE to have a pleasing personality!
Principle # 11: Accurate Thinking
“The facts, just the facts, ma’am” – Sgt. Friday in Dragnet
Don’t believe everything you read in the news. Much of it is planted by powerful lobbyists and corporations with hidden agendas. Get into the habit of basing your decisions on factual information and avoiding gossip, rumors, and conjecture.
Even common day practices that are widely accepted can be based on wrong assumptions. In the Middle Ages, bloodletting was a common practice that was believed to help cure a variety of illnesses. It was a common belief among doctors that bad blood caused disease and so they bled patients for every imaginable ailment under the sun. This crude and ineffective medical ritual continued for 2,500 years until it was discovered that germs, not bad blood, were responsible for disease.
Today, we have our own version of bloodletting that is far more devious than in the Middle Ages. Take for example invasive medical practices such as coronary stenting and angioplasty. Freakonomics author, Steven D. Levitt, sites a recent NY Times article which, according to Levitt, “tells of the compelling study which found that coronary stenting is typically no more effective than heart drugs, even though it is far more invasive — and, to be sure, profitable for the medical personnel involved.” (According to the NY Times article, “angioplasty and stenting generally cost between $25,000 and $50,000”).
I think we need a new name for 21st Century bloodletting. If you’ve read this far, perhaps you can convince Mr. Webster to add the term moneyletting to the dictionary.
If someone makes a sweeping statement that raises doubts, you can ask this person the question that Napoleon Hill likes asking: “How do you know?”
We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of accurate thinking. But to get to the heart of Hill’s main idea, accurate thinking is about separating the important facts from the unimportant ones.
The important facts being any fact you can use in the attainment of your chief aim. I’m not saying that the unimportant facts can’t also help enrich your life. But by focusing most of your time on the important facts as it relates to your chief aim will help get you there further and faster…
I hope you enjoyed Part II of this “Law of Success” series. (You can visit my blog for Law of Success Part III).
In the meantime, share these principles with your peers, forward this newsletter, discuss the concepts and teach other people what you’ve learned. There’s no better way to learn than by teaching others.
If you haven’t already, I’d highly recommend getting a copy of Napoleon Hill’s classic bestseller: “Law of Success: The 21st-Century Edition.” It really is a great read and I rank it in my personal top 10 list.