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.
Here is Hill taking on the subject that once got him fired from a job: Ambition!
Let Ambition Be Your Master
By NAPOLEON HILL
All rights reserved by the author.
LUCKY is the man who is driven by that determined little slave master called AMBITION! Those who have enjoyed the greatest success in life were literally driven to succeed by AMBITION! It made Harriman, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Hill, Roosevelt and a good many thousands of other successful men of whom we never hear.
Ambition is the mainspring of life, but we must keep it wound up! Self-confidence is the balance wheel which keeps ambition moving at an even momentum. Enthusiasm is the oil with which we keep the human machine greased and in smooth running order. The well organized, capable and productive man is AMBITIOUS, ENTHUSIASTIC, and, possesses plenty of SELF-CONFIDENCE. Without these success is uncertain, if not impossible.
One of the greatest men America has ever known divorced his first wife because she was beneath his mental plane, and therefore had a tendency to keep down his ambition. This great man is not with us any more, but the world is testifying to his greatness by quoting his writings and reading his books more than ever before. It is a commonly known fact that his second wife was his chief source of inspiration — that she was responsible for keeping his AMBITION alive and constantly on the alert. That is why he married her. He foresaw the need for a constant attendant who would see to it that his AMBITION let him have no rest.
Lucky is the man who has formed a partnership with such a wife. We all get lazy at times. We need someone to keep our AMBITION alive and spur us on to bigger and better accomplishment. The chief reason that I consent to my wife going back to the farm every summer is that while she is away she constantly writes me letters which fire me with AMBITION. She understands me as few wives understand their husbands. She knows how necessary it is to constantly remind me of my chief aims in life, and she has a way of doing it which is pleasing and inspiring.
When I secured my first $5,000 a year position I thought I was fixed for life, and probably I would have been, had it not been for that little master for whom I was slaving — AMBITION! My wife and AMBITION collaborated against me and made me resign that position — FOR A BIGGER ONE! Five thousand a year would have satisfied me had it not been for my master, AMBITION. In my bigger and broader field I serve a hundred of my fellowmen where I served one before, which means that I get a hundred times as much enjoyment out of life as well as financial returns which are adequate and in proportion to the service which I perform.
In addition to my regular work I lecture three times a week in one of the local colleges, on the subject of Advertising and Salesmanship. The course is a heavy one, covering a period of ten months. The students are taught everything about Advertising and Selling that I can teach them, both from my own experience and from that of a score or more of able advertising specialists. THE FIRST LECTURE IN THE COURSE IS ON THE SUBJECT OF THE VALUE OF AMBITION! I use every ounce of influence that I possess to fire these young men and young women with an everlasting knowledge of the value of AMBITION, SELF-CONFIDENCE and ENTHUSIASM! If I succeed no further than to cause my students to cultivate that wonderful power, AMBITION, my time and their’s will have been well spent in the effort.
AMBITION is what freed America from over-the-sea rulership.
Once in my life, while I was working for a salary, I was discharged from my position — just ONCE! The head of the institution for which I worked told me that I was too “ambitious.” That was the greatest compliment anyone ever paid me, even though it cut me off temporarily from my bread and meat.
I have always had my suspicions why this man “fired” me, although he claimed it was because his “help” were unanimously agreed that I ought to go! His “help” who objected to me was one of his brothers who had his eye on the General Managership of the institution. He knew what “AMBITION” might lead me to. I have never blamed the brother, for he has a wife and two babies to support, and “AMBITION” on my part seemed to him a dangerous barrier between him and his coveted goal.
That institution of which I write was organized nearly twenty years ago. It is doing a business of about $600,000 a year. Another institution, engaged in the same line of business, started in just six years ago, on a capital of less than $6,000. I was formerly Advertising Manager of this institution. It does not discourage “AMBITION.” It is now doing a business of $1,500,000 a year, and clearing more net profits every month than the other firm is doing in gross business. The older institution, the one which was organized and has been doing business for nearly twenty years, is headed by men who are afraid of the “AMBITIOUS MAN.” Those who are working for a salary are afraid he will get their jobs (which said fear is not without some foundation). The head of the firm is afraid of the “AMBITIOUS MAN” because he is afraid he will find in him a competitor in business (which.also, is not without well grounded foundation).
BUT– AND HERE IS THE CRUX OF MY WHOLE STORY OF THESE TWO FIRMS — THE MAJORITY OF BUSINESS FIRMS ARE LOOKING FOR MEN WHO HAVE PLENTY OF “AMBITION.” Do not worry because one firm is afraid of the ambitious man. The very fact that such a firm is afraid of him is, in itself, strong evidence of weakness on the part of those who manage the firm.
While I was Advertising Manager of the younger firm of which I have written, I had three young men in my department. I put them on notice that some day one of them would get my position, and I commenced training them for my job. I told them that the man who “made good” first would get the place, if my recommendations would help any. My Secretary landed the prize. He is still with that firm, making more money than he ever made in his life, and more money than the average man of his age receives. I did not discourage “AMBITION” for fear of losing my job. I encouraged it so that someone would grow to be big enough to push me out of the rut and into a bigger position. That is what happened. I have no patience to speak of, with the man who is so narrow that he is afraid to inspire “AMBITION” in his fellow-workers. Show me a man who believes he has a corner on the details connected with his job and I will show you, in the same person, a man who will never develop beyond petty selfishness.
I beseech you not to fall into the habit of neglecting to cultivate your “AMBITION.” You will need something more than mere services with which to succeed. You will need that ever alert little master which is the subject of this chapter. But, I must here give you a word of warning — do not let your ambition become a selfish one! The greatest object over which to develop ambition is the desire to serve our fellowmen. We cannot serve them if we are jealous of them. Remember, also, that AMBITION is a contagious thing. If you give it to the world the world will give it back to you in increased measure. But keep it unto yourself and you will lose it. It will take wings and fly!
Ambition finds expression in a thousand different forms. It is the foundation which underlies all invention, art, music, industry, commerce — nay, the very foundation upon which the progress of the world has been built. Within the present generation we have seen it expressed in the most wonderful inventions the world has ever known; the automobile, the telephone, the wireless, the submarines, the X-ray and the aeroplane. AMBITION was the very warp and woof out of which these things were constructed. Ambition leads us to think, and when we begin to think the nebulous problems in the world’s evolution begin to become clarified and simplified. BE AMBITIOUS IF NOTHING MORE. OTHER THINGS WILL TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES.
For those who want to see the source pages: