Napoleon Hill is the author of the always-in-print classic, Think and Grow Rich.
I’ve found writings of his in the public domain at Google Books. I’m not an expert in his work, but I have to think this material is rare and possibly hasn’t been seen since it was first published.
This is the fourth post of this series with his rare writing.
Hill addresses something he understands firsthand: Adversity!
Adversity — A Blessing in Disguise
By Napoleon Hill
FRIEND, do not become discouraged, disappointed and disheartened, if the seemingly cruel hand of fate knocks you off of your feet. Maybe the blow will prove to be the greatest blessing that ever came your way.
It has happened to many and doubtless it will happen to you, when the dark clouds of despair have darkened the pathway of life’s progress, that behind each dark cloud is a silver lining, if we only learn how to see it.
There were two men who established and built up an enormously successful commercial institution. They owned the stock in the company about equally. One of the men, who had lots of initiative, began selling off some of his stock, thus enjoying for personal use a large amount of ready cash from the proceeds.
His associate in the business, who didn’t possess quite so much initiative, wanted to sell some of his personal stock that he might also enjoy some ready cash from the proceeds. But not a dollar could he sell. He appealed to his associate who was finding a ready market for his stock, requesting the associate to help him dispose of his stock. But the associate refused, suggesting that “he do his own selling.” This refusal resulted in a serious disagreement between the two men, which finally ended in a complete dissolution of their friendly business relations.
Now let us see what happens. The one who could not find a market for his stock was the fortunate one in the final crisis. The one with the ready initiative, who sold his stock, sold with it by so doing, his voice in the management of the business. When the climax was reached in their disagreement, the one who couldn’t sell his stock naturally had, BY FORCE OF CIRCUMSTANCES, the control of the business, so he used his power to his own salvation and to the great detriment of his associate, by voting him out of the Presidency of the corporation and voting himself into that office.
The fact that he couldn’t Sell his stock was A BLESSING IN DISGUISE.
There was once a young man who was President of a corporation which was making lots of money. He owned automobiles, had servants and all the other luxuries which go with a successful business. He trusted his banker too far by borrowing money for expansion purposes. The banker wanted this young man’s interest in the corporation, because he knew the young man was making lots of money and the banker happened to be dishonest. In the 1907 Roosevelt Panic he saw his chance and closed him out. It seemed like a dark day for the young man. All was lost. But watch the roulette wheel of destiny as it spins around by the force of the hand of fate. His loss forced him to go back to the practice of law. This brought him in touch with a million dollar corporation which employed him at a salary of $5,000.00 a year, a salary which he wouldn’t have thought of accepting from an outsider while he was in control of his own business. This brought him to the middle west, and likewise in touch with the “big opportunity” of his life.
So his loss proved a blessing in disguise, for it literally drove him into a greater success.
A young bank clerk was discharged on account of his habit of drawing pictures of automobiles and sketching mechanical parts of automobiles during business hours. The loss of his job was quite a shock to him, for he supported his mother and two sisters from his small earnings as a bank clerk.
The loss of his bank job was the greatest blessing that ever came to him, for six months later he invented an automobile part which made him a fortune. He is now president of the largest automobile accessories companies in America. His clerks are all supplied with desk pads and pencils, with instructions to do all the drawing of automobiles they wish, and to submit to him any new ideas for improvements of automobile parts. Any of their ideas which he uses are paid for extra, at one hundred dollars each.
John D. Rockefeller discharged one of his faithful employees who he thought went too far in the exercise of his authorized duties, in making a financial transaction for Mr. Rockefeller in his absence, even though the deal netted Mr. Rockefeller several thousand dollars in cash.
A blessing in disguise. This office clerk, who had been honest and faithful, but not overly well paid, was immediately employed by one of Mr. Rockefeller’s rivals, at a handsome salary. He now holds a high official position with the rival company.
And, while I write, further evidence of the soundness of my theory that “Adversity is usually a blessing in disguise” reaches me. One of the men mentioned in the beginning of this narrative — the one who was successful in selling stock, but who thereby lost the presidency of his company — has been elected president of a ten million dollar corporation, with an excellent chance to make $50,000.00 a year from his salary and dividends on his bonus stock in the company.
The ten million dollar corporation never would have been organized in all probability, except for the fact that this man’s business associate supplanted him in his original position.
A blessing in disguise, for the ten million dollar corporation has patents and secret processes for making fuel, heat and light which probably will make this man immensely wealthy.
Every change in one’s environment is for a purpose. That which seems like disappointment and ill “luck” usually is a blessing in disguise. If we do not carefully study cause and effect in all that we do and all that comes our way, we may never discover when and where our apparent failures are, in reality, blessings instead.
Stop and take an inventory of your life’s record and see if you cannot find evidence in your own case which will support the correctness of this. Take an inventory of the lives of those you know intimately and see if the same is not true.
Then, when you become discouraged; when the hand of fate seems to be against you; when your destiny seems doubtful and life’s pathway fraught with many thorns of disappointment; when the rough and rugged hand of time spins the roulette wheel of fate so hard that the little pointer goes past your number just remember, friends, that there is a bigger stake awaiting you, if not in your present environment, then later on in some other “game” in the sphere of human accomplishments.
Hang on! — The Business Philosopher
For those who want to see the source pages:
Rare Napoleon Hill Writings: January 1917
Rare Napoleon Hill Writings: February 1918
Rare Napoleon Hill Writings: June-July 1918