Naming a child Napoleon was a rather grandiose thing to do in 1883. The world’s most famous bearer of that name, Napoleon Bonaparte, was reviled during his century. The mere suggestion that “Boney will get you,” was enough to stop children from misbehaving. His name was synonymous with overbearing pride, cruel determination, and military destruction.
Mr. and Mrs. Hill chose that name for their son anyway. In his own way, Napoleon Hill may have had a more profound effect on society than the French conqueror.
Hill grew to adulthood during the Gilded Age, a time when “robber barons” amassed enormous fortunes and created legends. One of the most famous, or infamous, magnates of the time was Andrew Carnegie, the creator of Carnegie Steel who later gave much of his fortune to the building of public libraries across the United States.
Hill, a young journalist, was fascinated with Carnegie. He sought an audience with the great man and began a lifelong association. Carnegie commissioned Hill with learning the secret of how some men became wildly successful while others eeked out a minimal living.
The study of success became Hill’s lifelong work. His book, “Think and Grow Rich” is credited with being the first self help book that did not come from a religious framework. Much of today’s enormous self-help industry can trace its roots to the ideas of Napoleon Hill.
A friend introduced me to “Think and Grow Rich” when I was in my twenties. Frankly, I detested it! The thought of amassing a huge fortune seemed to me selfish, greedy, and lacking in consideration for others. I rejected Hill’s work.
Others tried to present Hill’s ideas in catchy phrases. “What the mind of man can conceive, and believe, he can achieve.” It all sounded like wishful thinking, fairy godfathers, and hot air
Having been raised to believe that hard work was at the root of success, I observed my father working extremely hard with impeccable ethics, yet struggling financially. If a great work ethic wasn’t enough, what was the “secret sauce of success?” I still regarded growing a fortune with suspicion, but financial security appealed to me, especially as our family grew. Paul earned a good living which made me grateful, but there were always wants and needs that required more than a professor’s salary.
Nikken appealed to me because it combined being of service by distributing great products with the potential for earning income. I understood my role as “Get out there and help people feel better.”
Nikken said something very different. Until we took the Humans Being More course, we would not be permitted to enter the leadership ranks of the company. The company made it clear that a healthy mind was a prerequisite to success.
Suddenly my old nemesis, Napoleon Hill, was back in my life. But now, with added maturity and the gentle influence of the Humans Being More training, the concept of “growing rich” had taken on a much more nuanced character. Why did a company in business to sell wellness products subsidize a course all about helping people decide what was most important? Although leaders all credited the course with propelling them into action, facilitators freely stated that some attendees left the course affirming that “Being a Nikken wellness consultant is not for me.” Achieving clarity and focus seemed to be the point for Nikken, whether that led to selling products or not.
I came to realize that the company was in earnest about a balanced life. All five pillars of wellness are crucial. Growing rich” is, indeed, a much more nuanced experience than I once believed.
If you haven’t read it, take the time to look over “Think and Grow Rich.” Although the language is somewhat dated, (women are all but absent from its pages) the concepts are worth exploring. You can easily order paperback editions, electronic versions, and audible editions. It’s also available in audio and Braille from the Library for the Blind. If you want a quick summary of Hill’s six steps for acquiring riches, a quick Google search yielded this among many results. https://medium.com/better-advice/hills-famous-6-steps-formula-to…
I earnestly hope each of you will “Think and grow rich,” whatever that means to you.
Mary Ellen Gabias
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