Notes and Lessons from Napoleon Hill’s 1928 Masterpiece: Outwitting The Devil

Update: Jan 2017 – just going to leave this here: 

https://www.google.com/amp/paleofuture.gizmodo.com/the-untold-story-of-napoleon-hill-the-greatest-self-he-1789385645/amp?client=safari

– Not to detract from the man’s work, but the above read was eye opening to say the least. Take what you will with a grain of salt, the entry below included.


As a follow-up to yesterday’s entry on Napoleon Hill’s Outwitting The Devil, tonight I wanted to publish some of the key notes I copied as when I read the book today.
Let me preface this by saying holy shit, this is a masterpiece. Keep in mind the finished manuscript was locked away by Hill’s spouse and her surviving family for over 70 years, before being published in 2011 when ownership of the rights moved to a non family member – so it never received much attention, unlike Think and Grow Rich, which has sold over seventy million copies.

The reviews of Outwitting The Devil on Amazon are glowing – despite a seemingly unanimous dislike for the influence of new age author Sharon Lechter, of Rich Dad Poor Dad fame. And personally, I agree – her [Sharon Lechter’s] influence cheapens the value of such a masterpiece. And I don’t use this word [masterpiece] lightly.

Back when I used to used to review beer, there was an important concept that the savvy reviewer would employ when reviewing a given beer – and it was the idea that the beer should be compared to the other beers within it’s genre. Similarly, in this case, I am not calling it a masterpiece compared to Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, I am calling it a masterpiece against every success oriented, self-help / positive psychology book I have ever read – including greats like the Power of Positive Thinking, and even Hill’s own magnum opus, Think and Grow Rich.

Mind you, I have been reading self-improvement and positive psychology for nearly two decades. What I have come to find is that the New Thought originals – Napoleon Hill, James Allen, Norman Vincent Peal, and Earl Nightingale laid the groundwork for virtually everything that has since been published in the genre. These men were basically the Founding Father’s to the positive psychology / philosophy of success movement. 

After listening to and reading Outwitting The Devil, I really am taking a look at how much more benefit I can expect to gain from reading new philosophy of success books on a regular basis. You can read every single approach and theory to success in the world, but at a certain point you have to put aside your identity as a student of life so that you can be a leader in your own life. In other words, if you aren’t actively applying the principles you have learned then you aren’t extracting any value from learning. You need to get into the field. You need to hit live balls. Plus, let’s be real – there are a lot of shuckters rehashing timeless wisdom to people looking for answers. Do you want to spend your life listening to audio and reading books, or do you want to go out there and put what you have learned into practice and turn dreams into reality.

That being said, it’s extremely important to maintain your mindset and there is a lot of value in feeding and watering your mind to maintain fertile ground. I’ve known successful people in their later decades who still listened to the classics on a weekly basis – coincidentally, they did so while driving or otherwise occupied (working out).

I personally wish to do the same, so that I am making the maximum use of my time achieving my goals and dreams, rather than mentally masturbating over them during time I could otherwise be productive. And this may not be the right path of study for everyone, but at 29 years old I am ready to make that transition in my philosophy of success journey, and a large part of this is due from reading Outwitting The Devil – and the accompanying lessons I have learned. Lessons, which I am publishing for preservation, and future reflection / study here.

It should also be noted that I am increasingly interested in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, self-talk, and Stoicism as a means to manage my psyche, so I do not plan on abandoning my focus there, just divesting my interest from pure philosophy of success teachings.

Below are my notes and excerpts highlighting the most important teachings from Outwitting The Devil. The headings and italicized text are my own, the remainder are verbatim from Outwitting The Devil – much of the italicized text has been translated from statements into affirmations using the second person ‘you’ pronoun, which has been shown to be more effective than “I”.

Misc. Affirmations

You have a clear major purpose in life and an obvious confidence.

Your goals require thought and effort equal in proportion to your experience, and ability.  

You spend only a portion of what you earn.

Your health is amazing.

You have ample imagination and you exercise it daily.

You have an abundance of enthusiasm and initiative, which allows you to face your goals head on. 

You have an even temperament and control over your emotions. 

You have a magnetic personality that attracts other people.

You do not repeat past mistakes because you have learned to profit from failure.

You have an open mind and are tolerant of other’s opinions. 

You expect little of others and are not afraid to give of yourself.

You successfully complete what you begin. 

You are decisive. 

You eat in moderation and exercise frequently. 

You do not drink foolishly. 

You admire others who are successful in their own calling. 

Your ability to think smartly and use your mind is one of your most valuable assets. 

You will admit your ignorance on a subject rather than speaking up unnecessarily. 

You are not someone who criticizes people behind their backs and flatters them to their faces. 

You are always engaged in doing something definite, through some well-organized plan which is definite. You have a major goal in life toward which you are always working, and many minor goals, all of which lead toward your central scheme.

Your tone of voice, the quickness of your step, the sparkle in your eyes, the quickness of your decisions clearly mark you as a person who knows exactly what you want and is determined to get it, no matter how long it may take or what price you must pay.

You give people direct answers to questions.

You extend favors to others but accept favors sparingly.

You will be found up front whether you are playing a game or
fighting a war.

You have a good memory; never offering an alibi for your
shortcomings.

Your never blame others for your mistakes – no matter if they
deserve the blame.

You will find yourself running the biggest business in town, living on the best street, driving the best automobile, and making your presence felt wherever you happen to be.

You are an inspiration to all who come into contact with
your mind.

You have a mind of your own and use it for your own purposes.

Common Pitfalls that prevent people from living their highest purpose

Love
The thirst for sex expression
Covetousness for money
The obsessive desire to gain something for nothing — gambling
Vanity in women, egotism in men
Desire to be the master of others
Desire for intoxicants and narcotics
Desire for self-expression through words and deeds
Desire to imitate others
Desire for perpetuation of life after death
Desire to be a hero or heroine
Desire for physical food

These pitfalls cause you to drift from your true self and neglect your purpose in life.

Stay true to yourself, committed to your purpose and avoid pitfalls with the following 10 Steps

1. Do your own thinking on all occasions. The fact that human beings are given complete control over nothing save the power to think their own thoughts is laden with significance.

2. Decide definitely what you want from life; then create a plan for attaining it and be willing to sacrifice everything else, if necessary, rather than accept permanent defeat.

3. Analyze temporary defeat, no matter of what nature or cause, and extract from it the seed of an equivalent advantage.

4. Be willing to render useful service equivalent to the value of all material things you demand of life, and render the service first.

5. Recognize that your brain is a receiving set that can be attuned to receive communications from the universal storehouse of Infinite Intelligence, to help you transmute your desires into their physical equivalent.

6. Recognize that your greatest asset is time, the only thing except the power of thought which you own outright, and the one thing which can be shaped into whatever material things you want. Budget your time so none of it is wasted.

7. Recognize the truth that fear generally is a filler with which the Devil occupies the unused portion of your mind. It is only a state of mind which you can control by filling the space it occupies with faith in your ability to make life provide you with whatever you demand of it.

8. When you pray, do not beg! Demand what you want and insist upon getting exactly that, with no substitutes.

9. Recognize that life is a cruel taskmaster and that either you master it or it masters you. There is no half-way or compromising point. Never accept from life anything you do not want. If that which you do not want is temporarily forced upon you, you can refuse, in your own mind, to accept it and it will make way for the thing you do want.

10. Lastly, remember that your dominating thoughts attract, through a definite law of nature, by the shortest and most convenient route, their physical counterpart. Be careful what your thoughts dwell upon.

Q: That list looks imposing. Give me a simple formula, combining all the ten points. If you had to combine all ten in one, what would it be?

A: Be definite in everything you do and never leave unfinished thoughts in the mind. Form the habit of reaching definite decisions on all subjects.

Both Success and Failure are The Result of Habit

That is precisely the major difference between individuals. The person who thinks in terms of power, success, opulence, sets up a rhythm (of habits and thoughts) which attracts these desirable possessions. The person who thinks in terms of misery, failure, defeat, discouragement, and poverty attracts these undesirable influences. This explains why both success and failure are the result of habit. Habit establishes one’s rhythm of thought, and that rhythm attracts the object of one’s dominating thoughts.

All successful people use hypnotic rhythm, either consciously or unconsciously, by expecting and demanding success. The demand becomes a habit, hypnotic rhythm takes over the habit, and the law of harmonious attraction translates it into its physical equivalent.

Q: In other words, if I know what I want from life, demand it and back my demand by a willingness to pay life’s price for what I want, and refuse to accept any substitutes, the law of hypnotic rhythm takes over my desire and helps, by natural and logical means, to transmute it into its physical counterpart. Is that true?

A: That describes the way the law works.

We have learned, beyond the question of doubt, that anyone who adopts definiteness of purpose as a policy and uses it in all of his daily experiences cannot be induced to lose his focus.

On Loving Rationally and Cautiously, and The Danger of Love as a Pitfall to Losing Focus on Your Mission (your definiteness of purpose)

The love for anything or anyone, save only the love of definiteness of purpose, may become dangerous. Love is a state of mind which beclouds reason, saps will power, and blinds one to facts and truth.

Everyone who becomes self-determining and gains spiritual freedom to think his own thoughts must examine carefully every emotion that seems even remotely related to love.

You may be surprised to know that love is one of my most effective baits (pitfalls). With it I lead into the habit of drifting those whom I could attract with nothing else. That is why I have placed it at the head of my list of bribes (pitfalls)Show me what any person loves most and I will have my cue as to how that person can be induced to lose their focus and definiteness of purpose.

Love and fear, combined, give me the most effective weapons with which I induce people to drift. One is as helpful to me as the other. Both have the effect of causing people to neglect to develop definiteness in the use of their own minds.

Give me control over a person’s fears and tell me what he loves most and you may as well mark that person down as my slave. Both love and fear are emotional forces of such stupendous potency that either may completely set aside the power of
will and the power of reason. Without will and reason there is nothing left to support definiteness of purpose.

Q: But, Your Majesty, life would not be worth living if people never felt the emotion of love.

A: Ah! You are right as far as your reasoning goes, but you neglected to add that love should be under one’s definite control at all times. (Think like a Stoic)

Of course, love is a desirable state of mind, but it also is a palliative which may be used to limit or destroy reason and will power, both of which rate above love in importance to human beings who want freedom and self-determination.

Q: I understand from what you say that people who gain power must harden their emotions, master fear, and subdue love. Is that correct?

A: People who gain and maintain power must become definite in all their thoughts and all their deeds. If that is what you call hard, then they must become hard.

Relationships and Marriage vs. Duty to Oneself

Q: What about married people who cease to want each other? Should they separate, or is it true that all marriages are made in heaven and the contracting parties are, therefore, forever bound by their bargain, even though it may prove to be a poor
one for both.

A: First, let me correct that old saying that all marriages are made in heaven. I know of some which were made on my side of the fence. Minds which do not harmonize should never be forced to remain together in marriage or any other relationship. Friction and all forms of discord between minds lead inevitably to the habit of drifting, and of course to indefiniteness.

Q: Aren’t people sometimes bound to others by a relationship of duty which renders it impractical for them to take from life what they want most?

A: “Duty” is one of the most abused and misunderstood words in existence. The first duty of every human being is to himself. Every person owes himself the duty of finding how to live a full and happy life. Beyond this, if one has time and energy not needed in the fulfillment of his own desires, one may assume responsibility for helping others.

Q: Isn’t that a selfish attitude, and isn’t selfishness one of the causes of failure to find happiness?

A: I stand by my statement that there is no higher duty than that which one owes himself.

The Importance of Definiteness of Purpose

Weak plans have a way of becoming strong if definitely applied.

Q: You mean that any plan definitely put into continuous action in pursuit of a definite purpose may be successful even if it is not the best plan?

A: Yes, I mean just that. Definiteness of purpose plus definiteness of plan by which the purpose is to be achieved generally succeeds, no matter how weak the plan may be. The major difference between a sound and an unsound plan is that the sound plan, if definitely applied, may be carried out more quickly than an unsound plan.

Q: In other words, if one cannot be always right one can and should be always definite? Is that what you are trying to get across to me?

A: That is the idea. People who are definite in both their plans and their purposes never accept temporary defeat as being more than an urge to greater effort. You can see for yourself that this sort of policy is bound to win if it is followed with definiteness.

Q: Can a person who moves with definiteness of both plan and purpose be always sure of success?

A: No. The best of plans sometimes misfire, but the person who moves with definiteness recognizes the difference between temporary defeat and failure. When plans fail he substitutes others but he does not change his purpose. He perseveres.
Eventually he finds a plan that succeeds.

Why The Majority of Prayers Fail

Q: Why do the majority of prayers fail?

A: They don’t. All prayers bring that for which one prays.

Q: But you just said that definiteness of purpose is the only sort of prayer upon which one can rely. Now you say that all prayers bring results. What do you mean?

A: There is nothing inconsistent about it. The majority of people who pray go to prayer only after everything else fails them. Naturally they go with their minds filled with fear that the prayers will not be answered. Well, their fears are realized.

The person who goes to prayer with definiteness of purpose and faith in the attainment of that purpose puts into motion the laws of nature which transmute one’s dominating desires into their physical equivalent. That is all there is to prayer.

One form of prayer is negative and brings only negative results. One form is positive and brings definite, positive results. Could anything be more simple?

The Practical Affairs of Life that All Children Should be Taught

Teach all students how to recognize practical ideas that may be of benefit in helping them acquire whatever they demand of life.

Teach the students how to budget and use time, and above all teach the truth that time is the greatest asset available to human beings and the cheapest.

Teach the student the basic motives by which all people are influenced and show how to use these motives in acquiring the necessities and the luxuries of life.

Teach children what to eat, how much to eat, and what is the relationship between proper eating and sound health.

Teach children the true nature and function of the emotion of sex, and above all, teach them that it can be transmuted into a driving force capable of lifting one to great heights of achievement.

Teach children to be definite in all things, beginning with the choice of a definite major purpose in life!

Teach children the nature of and possibilities for good and evil in the principle of habit, using as illustrations with which to dramatize the subject the everyday experiences of
children and adults.

Teach children how habits become fixed through the law of hypnotic rhythm, and influence them to adopt, while in the lower grades, habits that will lead to independent thought!

Teach children the difference between temporary defeat and failure, and show them how to search for the seed of an equivalent advantage which comes with every defeat.

Teach children to express their own thoughts fearlessly and to accept or reject, at will, all ideas of others, reserving to themselves, always, the privilege of relying upon their
own judgment.

Teach children to reach decisions promptly and to change them, if at all, slowly and with reluctance, and never without a definite reason.

Teach children that the human brain is the instrument with which one receives, from the great storehouse of nature, the energy which is specialized into definite thoughts; that the brain does not think, but serves as an instrument for the interpretation of stimuli which cause thought.

Teach children the value of harmony in their own minds and that this is attainable only through self-control.

Teach children the nature and the value of self-control.

Teach children that there is a law of increasing returns which can be and should be put into operation, as a matter of habit, by rendering always more service and better service than is expected of them.

Teach children the true nature of the Golden Rule, and above all show them that through the operation of this principle, everything they do to and for another they do also to and for themselves.

Teach children not to have opinions unless they are formed from facts or beliefs which may reasonably be accepted as facts.

Teach children that cigarettes, liquor, narcotics, and over-indulgence in sex destroy the power of will and lead to the habit of drifting. Do not forbid these evils— just explain them.

Teach children the danger of believing anything merely because their parents, religious instructors, or someone else says it is so.

Teach children to face facts, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant, without resorting to subterfuge or offering alibis.

Teach children to encourage the use of their sixth sense through which ideas present themselves in their minds from unknown sources, and to examine all such ideas carefully.

Teach children the full import of the law of compensation as it was interpreted by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and show them how the law works in the small, everyday affairs of life.

Teach children that definiteness of purpose, backed by definite plans persistently and continuously applied, is the most efficacious form of prayer available to human beings.

Teach children that the space they occupy in the world is measured definitely by the quality and quantity of useful service they render the world.

Teach children there is no problem which does not have an appropriate solution and that the solution often may be found in the circumstance creating the problem.

Teach children that their only real limitations are those which they set up or permit others to establish in their own minds.

Teach them that man can achieve whatever man can conceive and believe!

Teach children that all schoolhouses and all textbooks are elementary implements which may be helpful in the development of their minds, but that the only school of
real value is the great University of Life wherein one has the privilege of learning from experience.

Teach children to be true to themselves at all times and, since they cannot please everybody, therefore to do a good job of pleasing themselves.

Q: What is faith?

A: It is a state of mind wherein one recognizes and uses the power of positive thought as a medium by which one contacts and draws upon the universal store of Infinite Intelligence at will.

Q: In other words, faith is the absence of all forms of negative thought. Is that the idea?

A: Yes, that is another way of describing it.

Q: Has a drifter the capacity to use faith?

A: He may have the capacity but he does not use it. Everyone has the potential power to clear his mind of all negative thoughts and thereby avail himself of the power of faith.

Q: Stating the matter in another way, faith is definiteness of purpose backed by belief in the attainment of the object of that purpose. Is that correct?

A That’s the idea, exactly.

Proper control and direction of sexual energy

Q: How can one master the emotion of sex?

A: By the simple process of transmuting that emotion into some form of activity other than copulation. Sex is one of the greatest of all forces which motivate human beings. Because of this fact it is also one of the most dangerous forces. If humans would control their sex desires and transmute them into a driving force with which to carry on their occupation— that is, if they spent on their work one half the time they dissipate in pursuit of sex, they would never know poverty.

Note: The Following italicized text is from Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, added here for additional clarity on Hill’s ideas about Sexual Transmutation.

Sex transmutation is simple and easily explained. It means the switching of the mind from thoughts of physical expression, to thoughts of some other nature.

Sex desire is the most powerful of human desires.

When driven by this desire, men develop keenness of imagination, courage, willpower, persistence, and creative ability unknown to them at other times. So strong and impelling is the desire for sexual contact that men freely run the risk of life and reputation to indulge it. When harnessed, and redirected along other lines, this motivating force maintains all of its attributes of keenness of imagination, courage, etc., which may be used as powerful creative forces in literature, art, or in any other profession or calling, including, of course, the accumulation of riches.

The transmutation of sex energy calls for the exercise of will-power, to be sure, but the reward is worth the effort. The desire for sexual expression is inborn and natural. The desire cannot, and should not be submerged or eliminated. But it should be given an outlet through forms of expression which enrich the body, mind, and spirit of man. If not given this form of outlet, through transmutation, it will seek outlets through purely physical channels.

1. HE STIMULATES HIS MIND SO THAT IT VIBRATES ON A HIGHER-THAN-AVERAGE PLANE, using one or more of the ten mind stimulants or some other stimulant of his choice.

2. HE CONCENTRATES upon the known factors (the finished part) of his invention, and creates in his mind a perfect picture of unknown factors (the unfinished part), of his invention. He holds this picture in mind until it has been taken over by the subconscious mind, then relaxes by clearing his mind of ALL thought, and waits for his answer to “flash” into his mind.

Note: The topic of sexual transmutation interests me – but Hill never provides exact instruction as to how this is to be practiced.

Temperance of speech: Refraining from providing uninvited opinions

Wise men keep their plans to themselves and refrain from expressing uninvited opinions. This prevents others from appropriating their ideas and makes it difficult for others to interfere with their plans.

Q: Why do so many people indulge in the habit of expressing uninvited opinions?

A: The habit is one way of expressing egotism and vanity. The desire for self-expression is inborn in people. The motive behind the habit is to attract the attention of others and to impress them favorably. Actually it has just the opposite effect.
When the self-invited speaker attracts attention, it usually is unfavorable.

Q: Yes, what other disadvantages has the habit?

A: The person who insists on talking seldom has an opportunity to learn by listening to others.

Q: But isn’t it true that a magnetic speaker often puts himself in the way of opportunity to benefit himself by attracting the attention of others through his powers of oratory?

A: Yes, a magnetic orator does have an asset of tremendous value in his ability to impress people by his speech, but he cannot make the best use of this asset if he forces his speech on others without their invitation.

No single quality adds more to one’s personality than the ability to speak with emotional feeling, force, and conviction, but the speaker must not impose his speech upon others without being invited to do so. There is an old saying that nothing is
worth more than its actual cost. This applies as well to the free uninvited expression of opinions as to material things.

The Value of Adversity

Adversity relieves people of vanity and egotism. It discourages selfishness by proving that no one can succeed without the cooperation of others.

Adversity forces an individual to test his mental, physical, and spiritual strength; it thus brings him face to face with his weaknesses and gives him the opportunity to bridge them.

Adversity forces one to seek ways and means to definite ends by meditation and introspective thought. This often leads to the discovery and use of the sixth sense through which one may communicate with Infinite Intelligence.

Adversity forces one to recognize the need for intelligence not available except from sources outside of one’s own mind.

Adversity breaks old habits of thought and gives one an opportunity to form new habits; therefore, it may serve to break the hold of hypnotic rhythm and change its operation from negative to positive ends.

Q: What is the greatest benefit one may receive through
adversity?

A: The greatest benefit of adversity is that it may, and generally does, force one to change one’s thought-habits, thus breaking and redirecting the force of hypnotic rhythm.

Q: In other words, failure always is a blessing when it forces one to acquire knowledge or to build habits that lead to the achievement of one’s major purpose in life. Is that correct?

A: Yes, and something more! Failure is a blessing when it forces one to depend less upon material forces and more upon spiritual forces.

Q: What benefits may be derived from the loss of material
things— money, for example?

A: The loss of material things may teach many needed lessons, none greater, however, than the truth that man has control over nothing and has no assurance of the permanent use of anything except his own power of thought.

Q: I wonder if this is not the greatest benefit available through adversity?

A: No, the greatest potential benefit of any circumstance which causes one to make a fresh start is that it provides an opportunity to break the grip of hypnotic rhythm and set up a new set of thought-habits. New habits offer the only way out for people who fail. Most people who escape from the negative to the positive operation of the law of hypnotic rhythm do so only because of some form of adversity which forces them to
change their thought-habits.

Q: Isn’t adversity apt to break one’s self-reliance and cause one to give up hope?

A: It has that effect on those whose will power is weak through long established habits of drifting. It has the opposite effect on those who have not been weakened through drifting. The non-drifter meets with temporary defeat and failure, but his reaction to all forms of adversity is positive. He fights instead of giving up, and usually wins.

Life gives no one immunity against adversity, but life gives to everyone the power of positive thought, which is sufficient to master all circumstances of adversity and convert them into benefits. The individual is left with the privilege of using or neglecting to use his prerogative right to think his way through all adversities. Every individual is forced either to use his thought power for the attainment of definite, positive ends, or by neglect or design use this power for the attainment of negative ends. There can be no compromise, no refusal to use the mind.

Environment and Interpersonal surroundings

Q: Go ahead and describe the working principle of environmental influences as a determining factor in human destinies.

A: Environment consists of all the mental, spiritual, and physical forces which affect and influence human beings.

Q: What connection, if any, is there between environmental influences and hypnotic rhythm?

A: Hypnotic rhythm solidifies and makes permanent the thought-habits of human beings. Thought-habits are stimulated by environmental influences. In other words, the material on which thoughts are fed comes from one’s environment. Thought-habits are made permanent by hypnotic rhythm.

Q: What is the most important part of one’s environment, the part which determines, more than all others, whether an individual makes positive or negative use of his mind?

A: The most important part of one’s environment is that created by his association with others. All people absorb and take over, either consciously or unconsciously, the thought-habits of those with whom they associate closely.

Q: Do you mean by this that constant association with a person whose thought-habits are negative influences one to form negative thought-habits?

A: Yes, the law of hypnotic rhythm forces every human being to form thought-habits which harmonize with the dominating influences of his environment, particularly that part of his environment created by his association with other minds.

Q: Then it is important that one select one’s close associates with great care?

A: Yes, one’s intimate associates should be chosen with as much care as one chooses the food with which he feeds his body, with the object always of associating with people whose dominating thoughts are positive, friendly, and harmonious.

Q: Which class of associates has the greatest influence upon one?

A: One’s partner in marriage and in the home and one’s associates in his occupation. After that come close friends and acquaintances. Casual acquaintances and strangers have but little influence on one.

Protection From and Removal of Negative Habits of Thinking

Q: What of people whose duty to relatives makes it impossible for them to avoid the influence of a negative environment?

A: No human being owes another any degree of duty which robs him of his privilege of building his thought-habits in a positive environment. On the other hand, every human being is duty bound to himself to remove from his environment every influence which even remotely tends to develop negative thought-habits.

Q: Isn’t this a cold-blooded philosophy?

A: Only the strong survive. No one can be strong without removing himself from all influences which develop negative thought-habits. Negative thought-habits result in the loss of the privilege of self-determination, no matter what or who may cause those habits. Positive thought-habits may be controlled by the individual and made to serve his aims and purposes. Negative thought-habits control the individual and deprive
him of the privilege of self-determination.

Q: I deduce from all you have said that those who control the environmental influences out of which their thought-habits are built are masters of their earthly destinies and that all others are mastered by earthly destinies. Is that stating the
matter correctly?

A: Perfectly stated.

Q: What is wisdom?

A: Wisdom is the ability to relate yourself to nature’s laws so as to make them serve you, and the ability to relate yourself to other people so as to gain their harmonious, willing cooperation in helping you to make life yield whatever you demand
of it.

Q: Then accumulated knowledge is not wisdom?

A: Great heavens, no! If knowledge were wisdom, the achievements of science would not have been converted into implements of destruction.

Importance of Caution and Prudence

Next to the habit of drifting, the most dangerous human trait is the lack of caution.

People drift into all sorts of hazardous circumstances because they do not exercise caution by planning the moves they make.

The drifter always moves without exercising caution. He acts first and thinks later, if at all. He does not choose his friends. He drifts along and allows people to attach themselves to him on their own terms. He does not choose an occupation. He drifts through school and is glad to get the first job that will give him food and clothing. He invites people to cheat him at trade by neglecting to inform himself of the rules of trade. He invites illness by neglecting to inform himself of the rules of sound health. He invites poverty by neglecting to protect himself against the environmental influences of the poverty-stricken. He invites failure at every step he takes by neglecting to exercise the caution to observe what causes people to fail. He invites fear in all its forms by his lack of caution in examining the causes of fear. He fails in marriage because he neglects to use caution in his choice of a mate, and he uses still less caution in his methods of relating himself to her after marriage. He loses his friends or converts them into enemies by his lack of caution in relating himself to them on the proper basis.

Caution in Selecting Associates

A In the selection of one’s associates and in one’s method of relating oneself to associates. The reason for this is obvious.

One’s associates constitute the most important part of one’s environment, and environmental influences determine whether one forms the habit of drifting or becomes a non-drifter. The person who exercises due caution in the choice of associates never allows himself to be closely associated with any person who does not bring to him, through the association, some definite mental, spiritual, or economic benefit.

Q: Isn’t that method of choosing associates selfish?

A: It is sensible and leads to self-determination. It is the desire of every normal person to find material success and happiness.

Nothing contributes more to one’s success and happiness than carefully chosen associates. Caution in the selection of associates becomes, therefore, the duty of every person who wishes to become happy and successful. The drifter allows his closest associates to attach themselves to him on their own terms. The non-drifter carefully selects his associates and allows no one to become closely associated with him unless
that person contributes some form of helpful influence or bestows some definite benefit.

Hill’s Summary Statement

One’s dominating desires can be crystallized into their physical equivalents through definiteness of purpose backed by definiteness of plans, with the aid of nature’s law of
hypnotic rhythm and time!

There you have the positive phase of the philosophy of individual achievement I have tried to describe through this book, brought down to an irreducible minimum of brevity
and simplicity. If you expand the philosophy for the purpose of adapting it to the circumstances of life, you find that it is as broad as life itself, that it covers all human relationships, all human thoughts, aims, and desires.

Closing Excerpt

But the strangest of all this dramatic experience which life has provided me is the simplicity of the law through which, if I had understood it, I could have transmuted my desires into substantial form without having to undergo so many years of hardship and misery.

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8 thoughts on “Notes and Lessons from Napoleon Hill’s 1928 Masterpiece: Outwitting The Devil

  1. “You can read every single approach and theory to success in the world, but at a certain point you have to put aside your identity as a student of life so that you can be a leader in your own life. In other words, if you aren’t actively applying the principles you have learned then you aren’t extracting any value from learning.”

    You’re absolutely right! Every great idea must go through execution to become reality. Sounds simple and obvious, but often misunderstood.

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  2. Pingback: School is Out: Quit Drinking the Kool-Aid and Live Your Truth, Your Story | 7Saturdays

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  4. i really enjoyed what you wrote here, i have studying him for a few months and i truly love his philosophy. My son told me about him many years ago, but i never took the time to hear him. Anyway, i had to copy it for my children to read, before its also pulled from the net, like everything that is worth reading or learning about. Would you give me permission to copy your notes, just to keep in my personal FYI writings. i will make sure to put my resource ( Lawrence Black) if i had know about Mr. Hill many years ago, my life would of been much better off. and i want to teach it to my children, so they dont end up like so many people out there. i am learning and applying what i learn and its amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I love his philosophy as well. It cuts to the heart of many important and inelegant truths about life – truths I too wish I would have discovered sooner. You are absolutely welcome to copy these. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog Anna. Best wishes.

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  5. Many thanks for this book, Outwitting the devil. It has definitely changed my life. I first listened to the YouTube video, over 5 hours , then I listened to it the second time, then I purchased 5 of the books and blessed some of my friends. I am now buying another 12 books to give away to people. As a Pastor this book has blessed me and my family and church. Awesome stuff. Many thanks for being a blessing..

    Dr Morrison

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