Rare Napoleon Hill Writings: February 1918

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 second post of this series with his rare writing.

In this lengthy article, Hill begins to give some shape to what would later be seen in his classic book.

What I Have Learned From Analyzing Ten Thousand People


WHEN I was requested to write this article, I was overjoyed at such an opportunity to pass on to thoughtful men and women, who are trying to “find themselves,” the benefit of my experience as a personal analyst.

During the past eight years I have analyzed over 10,000 men and women who were earnestly seeking their proper niche in the world’s work. Incidentally, through my research I have discovered some of the fundamental qualities without which no human being can hope for success. Five of these are mentioned in this article, in words which a school boy can easily understand.

I have also discovered some of the things which break men’s hearts and send them to the scrap-heap of human failures. It is my sincere hope that every person who reads this article may profit by one or more of the points which it covers. I am placing the results of my discoveries in print for the first time, solely out of my deep desire to make life’s pathway just a little smoother for my fellowman.

It is my purpose to pass on to you, in as few words as possible, that portion of my discoveries which I believe will aid you in planning and achieving your “chief aim” in life, whatever that may be. I shall not preach to you. Whatever suggestions I make are based upon discoveries which I have made in my work.

I believe it befitting to state that twenty years ago I was working as a laborer, at wages of $1 a day. I had no home and no friends. I had but little education. My future then looked very unpromising. I was downcast in spirit. I had no ambition. I had no definite purpose in life. All around me I saw men, some young and some old, who were whipped — just as I felt that I was. I absorbed my environment as a sponge absorbs water. I became a part of the daily routine in which I lived.

It had never occurred to me that I could ever amount to anything. I believed my lot in life was to be that of a laborer. I was just like a horse which has had the bit slipped into its mouth and the saddle buckled on its back.

Here is the turning point in my career. Note it well!

A chance remark, no doubt made in a half-jocular way, caused me to throw the bit out of my mouth, kick off the saddle and “run away” as young horses sometimes do. That remark was made by a farmer with whom I lived. I shall never forget it if I live to be a hundred, because it has partly bridged the gap over that awful chasm which nearly all human beings want to cross, ‘”failure”!

The remark was this: “You are a bright boy. What a pity you are not in school instead of at work as a laborer at a dollar a day.”

“You are a bright boy!” These were the sweetest words I had ever heard.

That remark aroused in me the first ambition I had ever felt, and, incidentally, it is directly responsible for the Personal Analysis system which I have worked out. No one had ever hinted to me before that I was ‘”bright.” I had always imagined that I was exceedingly dull. In fact, I had been told that I was a dunce. As a boy I was defeated in everything I undertook, largely because those with whom I associated ridiculed me and discouraged me from engaging in the things which interested me most. My work was selected for me — my associates were selected for me — my studies were selected for me — and my play, well, I was,taught that play was a waste of time.

With this first-hand knowledge of the great handicap under which the average person starts out in life, as a working basis, I began many years ago to work out a system for helping people “find themselves” as early in life as possible. My efforts have yielded splendid returns for I have helped many find the work for which they were most suited, and started them on the road to happiness and success. I have helped not a few to acquire the qualities for success which are mentioned in this article.

The First Two Success Requisites

With this prelude I shall tell you first what I believe to be the two most important of the five chief requisites for success. These are SELF-CONFIDENCE and ENTHUSIASM. The other three I will mention later.

What is self-confidence?

I will tell you what it is: It is the little glass window through which you may look and see the real man-power within your body. Self-confidence is self-discovery — finding out who you are and what you can do. It is the banishment of fear. It is the acquirement of mental courage. It is the turning on of the light of human intelligence, through the use of common sense.

It was self-confidence, plus enthusiasm and concentration, that caused the birth of the world’s greatest inventions, the incandescent electric light, the automobile, the talking machine, the aeroplane, the moving picture and all the other great mechanical creations.

Self-confidence, then, is an essential quality for all worth-while accomplishments. Yet, it is the quality in which most of us are weakest. Not a weakness which many of us acknowledge, but it exists just the same. A man without self-confidence is like a ship without a rudder — he wastes his energy without moving in the right direction.

I wish I might be able to tell you exactly how to acquire full self-confidence. That would be a big undertaking. I will give you this suggestion, however — I made my first step in the direction of self-confidence the day I heard those words, “You are a bright boy.” That was the first time I had ever felt ambition tugging at my coat sleeve, and with it, apparently, came self-confidence.

It is remarkable what clothes have to do with’ building self-confidence. A man came to me for analysis not long ago. He had been earning a good salary, but conditions for which he was in no way responsible caused him to be let out. I asked him how much money he had and he said, “Seventy-five dollars.” I told him to invest one-third of it in a new suit of clothes. He demurred on the ground that he “couldn’t afford it.” But I insisted and went with him to buy the clothes. Then I insisted on his going to the cobbler’s and having the heels of his shoes straightened up. Then I persuaded him to have his shoes shined and get a clean shave and a hair cut. I then sent him to see the president of a large corporation who employed him at $3,000 a year.

If I had sent him to interview the president of that ‘corporation without the new suit and the clean-up, he wouldn’t have gotten the position, in all probability, because he would not have had the proper self-confidence. Good clothes, clean linen, polished shoes and a clean shave are not luxuries — they are a necessity to the man who comes in contact with the business public.

The Second Success Requisite

Then comes the second requisite for success, enthusiasm, that great dynamic force which puts self-confidence into action. Enthusiasm may be likened to the steam which runs the locomotive. The most powerful locomotive ever built might stand upon the side-track with coal in the bunker and the engineer in the cab, but if there is no steam the wheels will not turn — there is no action.

It is exactly the same with the human machine. If there is no enthusiasm there is little or no action. Lack of these qualities — self-confidence and enthusiasm — stands between the great majority of men and success. This statement is no mere conjecture upon my part. I have proved it in thousands of cases. I am proving it in more than a hundred cases a week right along. Enthusiasm is something which cannot be counterfeited. Only the real article will fill the bill. Enthusiasm usually comes automatically when you find the vocation into which you can pitch your whole heart and soul — the work you love best.

The Third Success Requisite

The third requisite for success is a definite working plan — the habit of working with a “chief aim” in life. From my work as a vocational director I have learned that most people have no such plan. Men who are working without a well defined plan — without a pre-determined objective — are going nowhere in particular and most of them are getting nowhere. In my personal Analysis Chart, which all whom I examine must fill out, is this question.

“What is your chief aim in life”

An actual tabulation of answers to this question shows that only one out of every fifty has any “chief aim.” But few have any sort of a real aim, “chief” or otherwise. Yet, nearly all whom I have analyzed expect to succeed. Just when, or how. or in what work the majority of them do not undertake to say.

Nearly every man wants a “big position,” yet not one out of a hundred, even though he may be competent, knows how to get it. A “big position” is not something that we find hanging on a bush ready to be plucked off by “pull” by the first person who comes along. It is the sum total of a number of smaller positions or tasks which we have efficiently filled; not necessarily with different firms, but, as often as otherwise, in the employment of one firm. A big position is built just as we build a big sky-scraper — by first formulating a definite plan and then building according to that plan, step by step.

The possible exception to this rule is the man who gets into a “big position” through “pull.” There are exceptions to most rules, but the question to ask yourself is this: “Am I willing to go through life and take a chance on getting ahead on ‘pull’?” Look about you and I dare say you will find that for every man who is succeeding by “pull” you may find a hundred who are succeeding by “push”!

There are varying degrees of success, just as there are different ideas as to what success is, but whether your idea of success is the accumulation of wealth or the rendering of some great service to mankind, or both, you will not likely achieve it unless you have a “chief aim” — a definite goal with a definite plan mapped out for reaching it.

No architect ever started a building until he had first created a perfect picture of it in his mind, and then carefully transferred the detail of the picture to a blue-print! And no human being may hope to build a worthwhile success until he has planned the building and decided what it shall be.

Selecting a Vocation

A very large proportion of the people whom I have analyzed are in positions which they hold, not by selection, but by chance. Even those who are following vocations which they deliberately chose, in the majority of cases, have not observed even the most elementary rules of self-analysis. They have never stopped to find out whether or not the work in.which they are engaged is the work for which they are best fitted by nature and education.

For example, a young man whom I recently analyzed, had prepared himself for the practice of law, but had made an utter failure of that profession. He failed, first, because he did not like the profession after he got into it; secondly, because he had absolutely no native ability for that profession. He was badly deformed physically and, as a consequence, made a very poor impression before courts and juries. He lacked enthusiasm and that dynamic force which we call “personality,” without which he could not hope to succeed as a lawyer. Such a person might succeed to some extent as advisory counsel or “office lawyer,” but not as a trial lawyer where a strong personality and the ability to speak with force and conviction count for so much.

The surprising part of this particular case was the fact that this man had never understood just why he did not succeed in the practice of law. It seemed simple enough to him after I had pointed out the negative qualities which I believed had stood between him and success. When I asked him how he came to take up law, he replied. “Well, I just had a hunch that I would like it!”

“I just had a hunch that I would like it!”

Selecting a life work on a “hunch” is a dangerous thing. You wouldn’t purchase a race-horse on a “hunch”; you would want to see him perform on the track. You wouldn’t purchase a bird-dog on a “hunch”; you would want to see him in action or know something of his pedigree. If you selected a bird-dog in this haphazard way, you might find yourself trying to set birds with a bull-pup!

A court reporter, whom I analyzed, said to me: “My fifteen years of experience have proved to me that a jury seldom tries the defendant, but instead, they try the lawyers in the case. The lawyer who makes the best impression generally wins.” Everyone who is familiar with court actions knows that this is too often true. You can see, therefore, what an important part “personality” plays in the practice of law.

Mr. Carnegie says that his success is due largely to his ability to pick men. Mr. Frank A. Vanderlip and Mr. Rockefeller say the same. If you will stop and analyze all the successful men you know, you will probably find that they either possess all the requisites for success in the business in which they are engaged, or, they know how to select men who will supply what they lack — men who are their opposites in nearly every particular.

Probably fifty per cent of those who call themselves salesmen are of poor personal appearance, have weak faces, and speak without force. A salesman conveys to his prospective buyer a positive or negative influence, according to his own,personality and manner of approach in presenting his case. A man who is badly deformed, or the man who suffers from impediment of speech and otherwise makes a negative appearance had better not take up oral salesmanship. If he can hide behind the written page, he may succeed, but in person never!

The Fourth Success Requisite

The fourth success requisite is the habit of performing more service than you are actually paid for. It is the practice of the majority of men to perform no more service than they feel they are being paid to perform. Fully eighty per cent of all whom I have analyzed were suffering on account of this great mistake.

You need have no fear of competition from the man who says, “I’m not paid to do that, therefore I’ll not do it.” He will never be a dangerous competitor for your job, but watch out for the fellow who does not let his pick hang in the air when the whistle blows, or the man who stays at his desk or work bench until his work is finished — watch out that such a fellow does not “Challenge you at the post and pass you at the grandstand,” as Andrew Carnegie said.

Before mentioning the fifth and last requisite for success I shall ask your indulgence while I digress for just a few moments. After I had commenced work on this article I decided to have the five points which I have covered put to the acid test to see whether or not they would square up with the experience of other vocational directors. I took the manuscript to Dr. J. M. Fitzgerald, Chicago, who is, without doubt, the most able vocational director in the world.

Dr. Fitzgerald went over the manuscript with me word for word and I have his permission to quote him as saying that he fully endorses the five chief points covered by this article. He says that they square up with his own experience, exactly. But, before we went over the manuscript, I asked Dr. Fitzgerald to state the chief negative qualities which he had discovered to be standing as barriers between those whom he had analyzed and success. His reply was quick and concise, as follows:

1st. Lack of self-discernment; the lack of ability upon part of most men to analyze themselves and find the work for which they are best prepared.

2nd. Lack of intensified concentration and the disposition not to put more into their work than they expect to get out of it.

3rd. Lack of moral self-control.

Dr. Fitzgerald has analyzed, in person, more than 15,000 men and women. Many of the largest corporations of the middle West will not employ a man for any important position until he has been analyzed by Dr. Fitzgerald. He has taken men from the bookkeeper’s desk and enabled them to become successful executives. He has converted clerks into managers in much less time than is ordinarily required, merely by having started them in the right direction, through accurate personal analysis.

I mention these details concerning Dr. Fitzgerald’s work because I want you to feel that my own experience, as stated in this article, is not mere conjecture on my part — that it is authentic and that it has the endorsement of the world’s greatest personal analyst. Bear in mind that the five chief points covered by this article have been discovered, classified and charted from the personal analysis of 25,000 people, 10,000 of whom I have analyzed and 15,000 of whom were analyzed by Dr. Fitzgerald.

The Fifth Success Requisite

This article ought to be of benefit to those who are about to select a vocation and those who are in the wrong vocation but wish to make a change. However, there is another class to be taken into consideration. It is represented by those who have selected the right vocation but who, nevertheless, are not succeeding. I have found the Key to Success for this class. In this Great Magic Key you will find the fifth and last of the success rules which I have discovered in my vocational work.

In presenting to you this key let me first explain that it is no invention of mine.

This Great ‘Magic Key is a most wonderful power, yet perfectly simple of operation. So simple that most people have failed to make use of it. We human beings are too prone to look askance at so simple a formula for success — a formula which will open the door to health and wealth; yet, such a formula is the Great Magic Key.

Through the Great Magic Key we have unlocked the secret doors to all of the world’s great inventions. Through its magic powers all of our great geniuses have been produced.

We will suppose that you desire a better position. The Great Magic Key will help you attain it! Through its use Carnegie, Rockefeller, Hill, Harriman, Morgan and Guggenheim have accumulated millions of dollars in material wealth.

You ask — “What is this Great Magic Key?”

And I answer with one word: CONCENTRATION!

To stop here would be insufficient. You must know how to use this Great Magic Key! First, let me tell you that AMBITION and DESIRE are the great dynamic powers which you must summon to the aid of CONCENTRATION. They form the lock which this great key fits. Without ambition and desire the Great Magic Key is useless. The reason that so few people use the key is that most people lack ambition!

Desire whatever you may, and if your desire is strong enough the Great Magic Key of CONCENTRATION will help you attain it, if the object of your desire is something which it is humanly possible for you to attain.

There are learned men of science who tell us that the wonderful powers of prayer itself operate through the principle of CONCENTRATION, plus faith and strong DESIRE!

I am making no attempt to associate the Great Magic Key with occultism or religion. I am treating it from the ordinary layman’s viewpoint. I am dealing with it from actual knowledge that I have gained in carefully analyzing and charting over 10,000 people.

We will assume that you are skeptical of the powers of CONCENTRATION and DESIRE. Let’s put these powers to the test, through a concrete example, for unless we do this it would be just like telling you to be honest without telling you how to be honest.

How to Concentrate

First, you must do away with skepticism and doubt! No unbeliever ever enjoyed the benefits of these great powers. You must believe in the test which I am going to ask you to make. You must let no feeling of unbelief creep in.

Now we will suppose that you have thought of becoming a great writer, or a great public speaker, or a great business executive, or a great advertising manager. Suppose we take the latter as the subject of this test. But remember that if you expect results you must follow instructions to the letter.

Take a plain piece of paper, ordinary letter size, and write on it in large letters — the largest it will carry — these words:



(Sign your name.)

If you are not good at lettering just clip out the foregoing, sign it, and place where you will read it just before retiring and just after getting up each day. Do exactly as you have pledged yourself to do, for at least ten days.

Now when you come to do your “CONCENTRATING” this is the way to go about it: Look ahead three, five, ten, or even fifteen years from now and see yourself in a position as advertising manager paying a big salary. See the happy faces of your loved ones — maybe a wife and babies — maybe a mother .with silvery hair. Be a dreamer if you choose to call it that, but be also a “doer”! The world needs this combination of “dreamer-doers.” They are the Lincolns, Grants, Edisons, Hills, Carnegies, Vanderlips and Schwabs.

See yourself laying aside a “nest-egg” for a rainy day. See yourself in your motor car which you will be able to afford. See yourself in your own cozy little home that you will own.

See yourself a person of influence in the business world. See yourself INCREASING IN VALUE AND EARNING STILL MORE MONEY as you grow older. See yourself engaged in a line of work where you will not fear the loss of a job when the gray hairs begin to put in their appearance.

Paint this picture through the powers of your imagination, and lo! it will turn into Desire. Use this Desire as the chief object of your CONCENTRATION, and see what happens!

It may take longer than ten days for you to master this lesson in concentration. Again it may take only one day. That will depend upon how well you perform the task.

You now have the secret of the Great Magic Key!

It will unlock the door to whatever position in life you want, if that position is one that you are prepared by nature and education to fill. It will make of you a better citizen and show you the road to true happiness if the object of your concentration is a worthy one.

Use this Great Key with intelligence! Use it only for the attainment of worthy purposes, and it will give you the things of life for which your heart may crave. So simple, so easy of application, yet so MARVELOUS IN RESULTS! Try it! Begin right now. Forget the mistakes you have made in the past. Start all over again, and make the next five or ten years tell a story of human accomplishment in whatever line of work your calling may have placed you, that you will not be ashamed of — that the future generations of your family will be PROUD OF!


Vocational guidance has not yet become a universally accepted science. It may never be accepted as a science by everyone, but this does not preclude a person from using common sense in selecting a vocation. The trouble is, too many people act on a “hunch.” If you are engaged in work in which you are not succeeding, take inventory of yourself and see if you cannot locate the trouble. The chances are that you can. Just apply common sense in selecting a life work. You may not be able to analyze yourself as well as a man who has many years of experience could do, therefore, if you have any doubts place yourself in the hands of a man who is experienced in analyzing men. He will undoubtedly see your weak spots more quickly than you could. Few of us can be our own best critics because we are inclined to overlook our weaknesses or place too little importance on them.

There are but few, if any, ironclad rules to follow in the selection of a vocation that would apply in every case. Probably these come as near being applicable in all cases as is possible: Be sure you love the vocation you adopt. Be sure you are enthusiastic over it and that you intend to stick to it. Be sure you are prepared, educationally, for the work you select. Be sure the vocation is one in which you can render a service that is beneficial to humanity. Be sure the work is permanent. Be sure that it is work that will not impair your health.

Let me summarize the five chief requisites for success, so you will not forget them. They are — first, Self-confidence; second, Enthusiasm; third, Working with a “chief aim”; fourth, Performing more work than you are paid for; fifth, Concentration, backed by desire and unwavering faith. By a reasonably intelligent application of these qualities you can become master of your own career. .

Finally, I wish to leave this thought with you. It has been my constant companion through life. It has supported my tired legs when they would otherwise have allowed me to fall by the wayside. It is this:


For those who want to see the source pages:

Previously here:

Rare Napoleon Hill Writings: January 1917

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