How to Think and Grow Rich (and also how to get things done).
Napoleon Hill (1883-1970), the author of the most well-known self-help book ever published–Think and Grow Rich–emphasized action rather than only thinking, wishing and dreaming.
“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”
“Patience, Persistence and Perspiration makes an unbeatable combination for success.”
“Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once,
whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.”
That last quote fits several people who have worked with me to produce a Worship Without Worry seminar in their area, in the last few months (and it also can fit you in your work and life):
*Tim Hawkins, U.S. Attorneys Office, Boise, Idaho (He’s the Law Enforcement Coordinator and Intelligence Specialist and a nice man!)
*Tony Snow, Reserve Deputy with the Etowah County, Alabama Sheriff’s Department (Tony and that Reserve Force are tremendous workers in many ways.)
*Lee Nathans, Security Director of Temple Israel in Columbus, Ohio (Also chair of the Bexley, Ohio Police-Community advisory board.)
*Steve Campbell, pastor of the Garden Church and Better Way Ministries, also in Columbus (He and Wanda are busy every day and night with a challenging urban ministry.)
*Mark Mitchell of Foothill Family Church near Irvine, California (A business person who gives of himself to his work, family and church, continuously.)
*Jim Caauwe, Crime Prevention Specialist for the Savage, Miinnesota, Police Department (He had a law enforcement career and now is involved with a zillion things in the Savage community.)
*Dorothy Strebe, Operations Director for Triumph Lutheran Church, Moorhead, Minnesota (Sheriff Bill Bergquist started the project but relied on Dorothy to arrange it and coordinate it–and she certainly did.)
*Chief of Police David Bentrud, Waite Park, MN, Police Department (We have a seminar set for February 27th, 2014–and he only made the first contact a few weeks ago.)
What they all have in common is that they started, worked hard, took care of details and finished a project successfully. They didn’t just talk about one day hosting a seminar, they went from asking about making it happen to bringing all the elements together–and they took care of details that make a difference.
By comparison, I know people who have been talking for years about wanting to do a lot of things–not just hosting a seminar, but also about finances, fitness, relationships, clearing clutter or dealing with a work problem. They will probably still be talking about all of those things in five years, because they’re waiting for conditions to be right, better weather, someone to help, a new boss, less other things going on, more support, etc., etc.
What Napoleon Hill would say: Think and Grow Rich, provides steps to success, based on visualizing the success you seek and aiming your life toward it. The essence of his advice on how to get what you want:
1.) Clearly picture what you want, in great detail. Make it the vision towards which you aim your energies.
2.) Decide what it will take in time, effort, cost, sacrifice, etc., to get what you want.
3.) Starting working toward your goal and never give up until you get what you want–then keep paying the price to maintain it.
There is more to the book and his concepts, of course–but those really are the main steps. They have helped millions of people find ways to accomplish their goals. They also point the way to how to get any project started and finished. Yes, the one you’ve been thinking about but haven’t worked on yet. Yes, the one you’ve procrastinated about for weeks, months or years. Yes, even the one you think seems close to impossible.
Napoleon Hill didn’t say this next thought, but he should have: “You’ll never be able to drive anywhere if you wait for all the lights to turn green at once.” None of the people I listed, above, made a list of why they couldn’t get a seminar produced in their communities–they simply said they wanted to produce one and the next thing I knew, it happened.
How you can apply it: Write down something you would like to accomplish or have talked about doing or have on a wish list for yourself. Do something toward that project or goal before you go to bed tonight–preferably something constructive that starts to overcome the inertia that has kept you essentially motionless. Over the next days, weeks and months, whatever time it takes, do something every day to keep going and keep going and keep going, until you can see the successful finished product.
There is a lot of work involved in that brief overview, I realize that. But, once you start and move forward just a bit, things will happen and it will become easier. Honest!
Napoleon Hill (1883-1970)
In the last few weeks several people, in different career fields and positions, have made comments to me about feeling phony, like a fake, and as though they are playing a part in a bad play.
“Sometimes I feel like the biggest fake in the world.”
“I feel like an actor playing a part. It wears me out so much I can hardly wait to get home and just be me.”
“If they had known what was going on inside my head they wouldn’t have been so impressed.”
“I feel like a hypocrite when I’m coaching employees, because it sounds like I have my act together, but I know I don’t. In fact, in some ways they’re doing a better job than I am.”
Each of those people were seemingly successful, well-adjusted, happy and confident–but their conversation certainly was not. They felt unequal to tasks they were being given, undeserving of praise and unimpressive. They didn’t seem to be afraid they would be found out–they just disliked feeling phony.
Walt Whitman’s poem, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” has lines that fit all of us who sometimes wonder if everyone else is so full of self-doubt (sometimes self-loathing) as we are, and so full of unpleasant thoughts and impulses.
“It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall,
The dark threw its patches down upon me also.
The best I had done seem’d to me blank and suspicious,
My great thoughts as I supposed them, were they not in reality, meager?”
Nor is it you alone who know what it is to be evil,
I am he who knew what it was to be evil,
I too knitted the old knot of contrariety,
Blabbed, blushed, resented, lied, stole, grudged,
Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not speak,
Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, cowardly, malignant,
The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me,
The cheating look, the frivolous word, the adulterous wish, not wanting,
Refusals, hates, postponements, meanness, laziness, none of these wanting,
Lived the same life with the rest, the same old laughing, gnawing, sleeping,
Played the part that still looks back on the actor or actress,
The same old role, that role that is what we make it, as great as we like,
Or as small as we like, or both great and small.”
Or, as my friend, Jeff Adams, pastor of Graceway Church in Kansas City, Missouri, says: “We’re all pretty much big messes.” Walt Whitman would agree.
What about you? Do you sometimes feel like a phony or a fake, or as though the view that others have of you is much better than the view you have of yourself?
My father, Ernest Lewis, often would recite his favorite portion of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, The Psalm of Life. I heard it many times as a youngster, a teenager and a young adult. Sadly, I didn’t fully understood its significance to him or to anyone who has seen both life and death and who is aware that there is much less time ahead than the time behind. I wish I had talked to him about it–one of those many regrets I have (and with which you may be familiar). One thing is certain: Now I understand.
I’ve especially thought about Dad’s favorite lines since the tragic events last week in Aurora, Colorado, where I live.
FROM THE PSALM OF LIFE
…Art is long and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
There are many things about life and death that we can’t choose. However, we can choose whether our march is purposeful and cheerful or indecisive and sluggish–and whether we are still achieving and pursuing right up to the end of our journey in this earthly life or still dragging our feet and complaining. What tempo is the beat of your muffled drum?
1931 Magazine Cover
We tend to treat the beginning of a new year as though on January 1st, something magical happens that allows us a brand new start on life,work, health, finances and relationships. This year I’ve heard a lot of people express thoughts along the line of “Good riddance to 2011!” As though the twelve months of 2011 had it in for them. If years could talk, maybe 2011 would say to us, “Good riddance to you, you whining, ungrateful, weak-willed human, with your helpless, hopeless attitude!”
Sometimes life and circumstances bring stress, anger, disappointment, heartache and grief. As a result, a day, a week, a month or a year will always have unpleasant memories. We don’t have to be such Pollyannas that we look for reasons to be glad for the truly bad and sad things that have happened. We also don’t need to beat ourselves up unmercifully and take the blame for all of it. But, we will feel better and more able to deal with the future if we purposefully look for the aspects of even sad situations that can give us reasons to be happy or at least, less unhappy.
We can also benefit by seeing how some of our own behaviors and responses created the problems, added to the problems or kept us from responding to the problems effectively–and how we can do differently in the future.
One thing is for sure–if you’re going into the new year with the same old you to deal with all of it you probably won’t get a trouble-free year, no matter how much magical thinking you do.
*If you had habits that caused you problems last year and you haven’t replaced them with new ones, it won’t be the fault of 2012 if your life is no different when 2013 starts.
*If you won’t allow yourself to see even small increments of improvement in whatever it is that has bothered you in 2011, you will see the flaws rather than the good things in 2012.
*If you put the blame on someone else for every upset in your life or work in 2011, you probably will still be griping in 2012. The griping part is bad enough, but what’s worse is that most of us gripe instead of doing even little things to make life better for ourselves.
This is the first week of the new year. If it helps you to think of it as a cosmic event that erases the past and gives you a new chance, think that way. However, you will be better off if you don’t put so much pressure on 2012 and put more pressure on yourself to be the catalyst for good things all year long. Happy New You!
When Your Thoughts
Are In Turmoil
When your mind is whirling, twisting and knotted up with worry, fear, anger, doubt, shock or sorrow, the most difficult thing to do–but the thing that will help the most–is to be calm. Not the concept of be calm and carry on, only be calm.
Peace, Calm and Tranquility
In the past I’ve written several articles about seeking peace of mind and holding onto it when you find it. A recent post, on the anniversary of the events of September 11th , was a reminder to think of peace in every sense, work toward peace and let peace be our focus in life and work.
I heard from many people about habits they were trying to stop or start, after the post on Control, Alt, Delete. I also received a lot of emails about the post on lessening the negative influence of the Itchy Socks in our lives. On a more postive note, many people liked the post on faith and holding on, in spite of adversity.
But the post that received the most remarks by phone, email and online, was the one about dedicating time. A special one was from a woman who emailed me to report that around the time she read that article she had reached what she thought was the worst time of her life–a darkly threatening wall that she couldn’t get over or around. She decided to dedicate a day to her son in the military, to see if it helped her get through a work day. She found it so helpful that she started dedicating days to many in her circle of friends and later telling them what she accomplished in their names!
She told me, “I started every day with a moment of prayer to ask for guidance and peace. Then, I dedicated the day to someone. After that, there just didn’t seem to be room for the worry and sadness that used to go round and round in my head all the time.” That was in 2009 and she is still moving forward and being effective and positive.
Get Calm and Stay Calm
There are many ways to gain peace and calm: Through spiritual faith and prayer, while exercising or regaining health and fitness, through quiet time and meditation, by cleaning house or decluttering, through walks, music, reading or a hobby, by becoming closer to a loved one or by eliminating a harmful element in your life. One thing is for sure–trying any or all of those things won’t hurt!
The idea is to stop mental clamor, agitation and disturbance and allow your mind and spirit to level out and be calm. Then, appreciate how good it feels. You can do something worthwhile soon, but for a little while let yourself feel the calm. Do that with purpose every day and you’ll learn to recreate the calm no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
When you hear about, read about and think about things that have the potential to bring grief, anxiety, sorrow or the other negative emotions that gather and grow, stop. Picture yourself turning those off and flooding your mind and heart with peace and calm so you are better prepared to do the things that must be done. That process can add years to your life, joy to your work and other activties and happiness to your relationships.
Give yourself that gift during this Holiday Season, 2011.
I sometimes see teachers write TGIF! on the blackboard on Friday. A workplace I know has TGIF celebrations every Friday at noon. (And they wonder why no work gets done the rest of the day!)
I often hear people who work non-traditional schedules say, with elation, ”Today is my Friday!” Or, with despair, “Today is my Monday.” I sometimes wonder if their days off are such unalloyed pleasure and their work is so unpleasant as to make the time away such a marvelous experience!
Of course, there are reasons to like time away from work: Sleeping later, being able to have an unstructured day, spending more time with family and friends, going out on a date, staying in on a date, sports and recreation, and just getting a break from unpleasant interactions with coworkers, bosses and customers.
However, it often seems that Monday morning is filled with conversations about the work and hassles of the weekend, not the joys. If a favorite team lost, even Sunday afternoon sports on TV doesn’t stir up fun conversation.
I’ve written before about the names my daughter, Shannon, and I had for the days of the week when she was young. With the holidays approaching and people getting restless at work–and kids getting restless at school–it might be good to remember them, Pollyanna though they might sound.
- Marvelous Monday!! Shannon and I now and then had a special breakfast on Monday to celebrate getting to see friends and talk with them about the fun things we did over the weekend.
- Terrific Tuesday!! With Monday out of the way we could really get busy at school and work. An amazing concept, huh?
- Wonderful Wednesday!! The weekend was coming up, but we could spend two more days turning in good work–and in Shannon’s case, wearing cute clothes!
- Tremendous Thursday!! This was a big day, because we knew everyone else was getting worn down, so we could be the most energized of anyone. Yaaaaay!!!!!!!
- Fabulous Friday!! We made a point of getting up early (for us, anyway) on Friday, so we could go to school, and to work, feeling ready to do well and end the week on a high note.
- Super Saturday and Sacred Sunday: We seemed to always have a good time on weekends, but on Sunday evening we talked about how much fun it would be to get back to school the next day. We were ready for Marvelous Monday!!
There are millions of people who are unemployed (or jobless, as the new euphemism puts it). Most of those people don’t just wish they had a job, they desperately need a job. There are likely millions of people who just as desperately wish they had fulfilling jobs where they are treated decently. Many hundreds of thousands of people are disabled to the point that they will never be able to work at all or to work again as they would like. Many more people are retired and live each day wishing they could be active and useful back at their former jobs.
If you are employed and find fulfillment in that employment in some way; if you have friends at work and a workplace that is tolerable; if you are making enough money that with good money management you can pay your bills and have at least a bit left over, be very, very grateful. Make each workday a day of thanks for your good fortune.
Shannon and I were thrilled to be able to come home, relax and have fun on the weekends, even though often my “weekend” was not a Saturday and Sunday. However, we made a purposeful decision and commitment to not live for only two days a week, while dreading the other five. Every day is a good day. Have a good day at work and school this week!
“Gadhafi is history” a Libyan official said, when announcing on October 20th, 2011, that Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi (commonly known as Moammar Gadhafi) had been killed by Libyan rebels. It is the end of a cruel, violent and utterly repressive dictatorship that started in 1969 with a military coup that was, at the time, welcomed by many.
Several years ago I wrote about Ozymandias of Egypt, one of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s most well-known works. That poem speaks poignantly of how most of what we think of as impressive in our lives and the lives of others is taken away by time, until finally nothing much remains. It is a reminder to us to touch as many lives as possible in a positive way every day, as our small way to ensure that some part of our spirit remains forever. I don’t think that is a selfish goal–and it will help us stayed focused on what really matters. In Shelley’s poem he describes Ozymandias as having a ”…heart that fed.” Ozymandias had a heart that consumed rather than contributed. You and I want to be contributors.
Moammar Gadhafi, so it has been said, often referred to himself as “The King of Kings.” I think the title was taken already, so that makes it even a bit more presumptious of him! However, during his lifetime there were many who lined the streets when he drove past and shouted his praises as if he deserved them. (A lesson for us there, as well!)
With Gadhafi’s self-given royal title in mind, I was particularly anxious to re-read Shelley’s poem. Take the time to read it, almost as if it is standard text, so you can fully appreciate the message.
Ozymandias of Egypt
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
At some point, all of us are history. We have no control over that. But we can control a good part of the present and in so doing make a difference in how we are remembered and how much we will have enriched the lives of our loved ones, friends and even chance acquaintances.
Stop for a moment and listen to the sound of the wind whistling around the fallen statue of Ozymandias. Watch as the sand swirls and shifts from there to the death site of Moammar Gadhafi. Then, do something very, very good with your life today!
Summer is over for many and Winter isn’t here yet. September and October is often a Limbo time. It’s too soon for major holiday planning but you can feel the approach of the end of the calendar year. Summer vacations are over but there seems to be a slow return to what will be a hectic pace to make up for it all. I’ve been sensing some lethargy in people who usually are high energy! (Maybe me, too!)
This would be a good week to make the time–schedule it-and tidy your office or work space, organize your work for the next few days and get some projects off your mind.
1. Take everything off your desk top and dust or wash items. Don’t just shuffle things around, make it look better and different when you put the items back–and don’t put all the items back. Stuff can be very distracting, both to you and to others.
2. Make a priority list of three items only. Three. Preferably three you’ve been stalling on. Do them as quickly as you can and get them out of the way. They might not be three Vital tasks or Crucial tasks, to use that concept. They could just be three tasks that you don’t want to think about anymore. Do them quickly.
3. List all of the remaining projects you must do and when they must be done; tasks you think would be good to do and when you’d like to have them started; things you really would like to get involved with and will if you possibly can sometime. The idea is to see what is hanging over your head with a vengance and what is just self-created pressure. If they’re on a list, you at least won’t forget about them completely, but you can let them rest. You may never do some of them, but you might adapt the thoughts some way.
One way to get focused is to make sure that you are being dependable for those who are expecting you to keep promises about work. After the three quick tasks, those are the tasks that need your attention.
4. Take a moment to do some introspective thinking about what is frustrating you right now that you have some control over. What are some things you can do to move yourself past that frustration? Think hopeful thoughts about the rest of this month and into the Fall and Winter. Let some anger or irritation go. Give yourself some peace of mind.
5. Survey your kingdom–or at least your cubicle, locker, patrol car, work space, or wherever you spend most of your time–and let yourself feel refreshed and recharged about it.
A man who seems very put-together told me last week that about once a month he has to stop for a moment, get things re-organized and say to himself, with a pleased sigh, “OK, that’s better. Carry on.” Make this week your time for that kind of emotionally and mentally healthy activity, then let me know how it makes you feel. Best wishes!
We distinguish the excellent man from the common man by saying that the former is the one who makes great demands upon himself, and the latter is one who makes no demands on himself.
Jose Ortega y Gasset, Spanish philosopher and essayist (1883-1955)
Most of us want to be thought of as excellent–in our work, in our example, in our efforts and ethics, in our health and appearance and in our outlook on life. We want to be excellent parents, excellent friends, excellent employees, supervisors, managers or leaders. We don’t want to be common in the sense it was used in this thought, as unexceptional, mediocre and unimpressive. (The examples we see of that condition are enough to motivate us!)
Señor Ortega y Gasset was correct: Achieving excellence (or improving substantially) requires making demands on ourselves–perhaps asking of ourselves actions that are difficult or uncomfortable mentally or physically, or that require time and effort. It’s rarely easy. Most of us have to say, ”OK, Mind, Body and Spirit. I want this from you! I know you can give it to me and I won’t settle for less, so do it!”
What do you want to demand of yourself today, this week or in the coming weeks and months? It doesn’t have to be a dramatic accomplishment to be worthy of demanding more. Maybe you need to more consistently fulfill the requirements of your work role. Maybe you need to focus on a new or renewed good habit; or stopping one thing and starting something else; or, being your best self even when you are tempted to be otherwise. It’s all worth the effort, and all of it will give you a wonderful sense of achievement.
Remember, you can’t hint or hope, even to yourself, and expect to achieve. You will have to command, insist and refuse to accept anything less than what you want. That is the ultimate self-discipline that leads to excellence. Be demanding!