Does Think and Grow Rich Work? Let’s Take a Look.


The 13-step formula outlined in Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich works under two conditions. First, the secret to success contains two parts, one of which must already be in your possession. And second, you must take action and practice the steps outlined in the book. 

In this article, I will explain what it really takes to make Think and Grow Rich work. It has worked for me – many times. 

Keep in mind that Hill has many definitions of success, and the book is not just about becoming rich financially. It is about achieving any outcome you desire. 

I will share with you:

  • My experience using the principles
  • What that elusive “secret” of success is
  • How to recognize and use the 13 principles in real life
  • How you can get the most out of Napoleon Hill’s book

How I Unwittingly Made Think and Grow Rich Work for Me

It was April 17, 2006, and I lay on the floor of a dance studio, writhing in pain from a torn ligament in my knee. It was a nasty injury that made me limp and shudder from pain while walking in the following months.

I began looking for a non-surgical solution because the surgery was going to be another trauma, worse than the torn ACL. After talking to doctors and therapists, I became adamant about healing my knee without going under the knife.

So, I armed myself with google, did some research, and tried several methods ranging from massage therapy to traveling to Czech Republic to visit a spa that specializes in joint diseases.

Nothing doing.

All I got was some relief from inflammation. And after months of trying, I still had a limp, could not straighten my leg fully, and had occasional piercing pain while walking.

Upon returning from Czech Republic, I felt quite dejected and depressed. It seemed that all the doors had been shut, and I was out of options.

At the time, I didn’t understand how the subconscious mind worked. So, I was in for a surprise.

One day, some weeks after my trip to Czech Republic, I was taking a walk in the park with a friend. We were talking about random subjects, and I don’t remember what the topic of the conversation was at the moment.

But what I do remember and will never forget was a sudden change in my mental state. It was a thought that hit me like a bolt of lightning. It was not only a thought, but a radically confident state of mind.

It was thought plus faith taken to the vibration of positive knowledge. The thought was: “I WILL heal my knee without surgery. Period!”

My hair stood up at that moment, as I knew with absolute certainty that I would get my non-surgical healing. The solution was awaiting me right at that moment, and all I had to do was uncover and appropriate it. 

To make a long story short, within a few days, I found the right doctor. He treated his patients by teaching them a special type of gymnastics. 

The doctor lived and practiced in Moscow, Russia. After a 90-second consultation with him over the phone (during which he was kind of rude but strangely confident in his ability to help me), I booked my flight and arrived in Russia about three days later.

I went to work and studied the method daily from 10am to 4pm for two weeks. It didn’t seem to do much, but it showed signs of promise. 

I came back to New York and continued to practice the gymnastics daily for an hour. One month went by: no result. Another month went by: still nothing. 

And then, another two or three weeks later, as if by a stroke of magic, I was healed during a gymnastics session. I no longer had any pain. I could straighten out my leg very easily and stand on it firmly. And I walked with no limp. I should add that my gait improved, as well. 

All of this happened to me before I ever read Think and Grow Rich. However, I ordered the book from Amazon about a month prior to my healing and began reading it. 

Soon after my full recovery, and after reading the book from cover to cover, I realized that I had just lived through an example of success described in the book. 

That was when I got serious about the philosophy of Think and Grow Rich. I now had experiential knowledge that Think and Grow Rich works. 

What Is the Secret of Success in Think and Grow Rich?

In the preface to his famous book, Napoleon Hill writes, 

“The secret to which I refer cannot be had without a price, although the price is far less than its value. It cannot be had at any price by those who are not intentionally searching for it. It cannot be given away, it cannot be purchased for money, for the reason that it comes in two parts. One part is already in possession of those who are ready for it.”

Hill was right. It was not until I received that epiphany in the park that my healing really took off. I did not know the secret to healing; I did not know the method. For several months, I also did not possess the part of the secret that was required to have within.

In other words, for several months I was not ready to receive the secret to a successful recovery. Why? Because my negative emotions – sadness, doubt, worry – clouded my mind and prevented me from getting the answer I needed.

But once I was ready to receive it, it fell in my lap within days. This is probably what Hill refers to in the book when he writes that when riches come, they come so quickly and in such a great quantity that you begin to wonder “where they had been hiding all those lean years.”

Think and Grow Rich vs the Secret

This is a good time to clarify what Napoleon Hill’s secret is really not. So let’s briefly compare Napoleon Hill’s secret to the Secret as described by Rhonda Byrne in her eponymous book. 

The book The Secret took the world by storm in 2006. I remember people of all walks of life reading and talking about it; and then the movie came out.

The secrets of Napoleon Hill and Rhonda Byrne are quite different from one another, although they have an important connection.

Rhonda Byrne’s Secret can be summarized thus: “Thoughts attract a corresponding reality. Your life reflects what you think about all day long.”

This idea was not new when The Secret came out. For decades, Earl Nightingale had been telling us that we become what we think about. Prior to the Secret, Brian Tracy described the Law of Attraction in his program Psychology of Achievement.

And to really go back in history to some of the first recorded explanations of this idea, we find the Buddha, whose words are recorded in the book titled the Dhammapada.

This is how the Dhammapada begins:

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts.” (transl. Muller, 1881). 

As a reminder, the Buddha lived 2,500 years ago. So, yes, the concept is not new.

Napoleon Hill’s Secret is different because he was the first author to discover the science of achievement. His secret consists of a number of steps which must be practiced. 

In other words, Hill broke the secret of success down into supporting ideas and practical steps. His secret is a science and a method, not merely an idea.

That said, the concept that is central to Think and Grow Rich is that “thoughts are things, and powerful things at that,” (Hill). After all, “thinking” is in the title of the book.

So, to take advantage of the principle that “thoughts are things,” and to begin to use your mind to achieve the success you desire, you can confidently skip the Secret by Rhonda Byrne and become a student of Napoleon Hill’s book. 

As a bonus, you can read or listen to the Secret by Byrne, just to bolster your faith in the Law of Attraction until you begin to see your own results and confirm its validity for yourself.

The Components of Napoleon Hill’s Secret to Success

According to Napoleon Hill, the secret contains two parts, one of which must already be in possession of the person who wants to attain the thing he desires.

The book contains the remaining part of the secret, which is described thoroughly in 13 principles. So, let’s talk about the part that is missing from most people who wish to think and grow rich.

Let me tell you a little anecdote. I once was giving my friend a lift home from work, and we started talking about Think and Grow Rich because we had both read the book. I remember telling him that I had put together my set of affirmations as described in the book and was reading them daily. 

He turned to me and gave me a look like I had two heads. He said, “Are you saying you’re actually implementing this stuff?”

This was years ago, and today my friend still works the 9-7 he abhors (with two hours of commute each day), and I am traveling the world while building my purpose-driven business. 

It seems clear that when we read the book, one of us had the second part of the secret within him while the other did not. 

When I read the book, it made such an impression on me that I knew it held a key to my success. I just knew it. And so implementation was not a problem. 

But when the desire, or faith, or that certain playful spirit of adventure is missing, then it’s easy to overlook the true power of what’s on the pages of Think and Grow Rich.

Years later, in our conversations, my friend revealed a number of symptoms of failure that Napoleon Hill describes in the book, such as fears and excuses.

For example, he made it clear that he is deathly afraid of criticism from his community. If he tried something new and failed, he would become the laughing stock of his relatives and the crowd at his place of worship. And that was to be avoided at all costs.

He has also repeatedly cited his wife and kids as definite impediments to starting something new. These are all “textbook” symptoms of missing the second part of the secret.

Your Part of the Secret Is Charged with Energy

You know you have that elusive part of the secret within you when you feel a charge of energy in your being. This energy can be positive or negative. 

You must either be inspired to create something amazing that you’ve been thinking about for a while – OR – you must be suffering from pain intense enough to incite you to take the book seriously and do something about your situation. 

This charge of energy is the necessary part of the secret that will bring the 13 principles described in the book to life. Without the energy of life, the principles are dead. They are just words on paper.

Therefore, it is a good idea to buy and read the book when you have an inkling of a positive or a negative charge of energy in your mind/body. 

In other words and to put it simply, you must be ready for a change! If you are, you have that mysterious part of the secret that can now be effectively combined with the principles described in the book.

Think and Grow Rich Principles (with Examples)

Let me now give you a brief illustration of each of the 13 principles, using my knee healing journey which I described above as a framing story. 

1. Desire

As Napoleon Hill puts it, you should get yourself into a “white heat of desire” if you want to achieve something really important to you. 

In seeking recovery from my torn ligament, I remember that I was really driven. I wanted that recovery so badly that I was going to do virtually anything to bring it about. 

I know it because I traveled to two foreign countries seeking the right method of treatment before I achieved the healing I was after.

Very importantly, I knew exactly WHY I wanted it. I received my injury during a dancing lesson. I was really into dancing at the time, and I wanted to recover as soon as possible just to get back into the studio. 

This was really important to me to the exclusion of everything else at the time. Hill calls such a level of desire “a magnificent obsession,” and that’s exactly what it was for me.

2. Faith

“Faith is not blind acceptance,” – John Kehoe teaches, and he is right, – “Faith is a vibration of energy.”

After spending months looking for a non-surgical solution to my trauma to no avail, I felt defeated and kind of lost my mojo for a short while. I was overtaken with doubt, which is the opposite of faith.

When the mind’s vibration is doubt, it stops searching for the desired goal. Instead, it seeks safety because worry begins to creep in and demand security as an antidote to doubt.

However, at some point, I remembered what I had learned from a certain goddess (a real woman) while on my trip to Czech Republic, the first country I visited in search of healing.

She was a kind of a health coach and knew a few things about healing. She taught me that if I wanted to heal without surgery, then I had to heal myself. 

In other words, I should stop looking for someone to heal me, like a surgeon, and look for a way for me to heal myself using my body’s self-healing mechanism. 

This idea was interesting at the time, but because it was new, it had not sunk in quite yet.

Then, as I relate in my story above, while on my walk in a park with a friend, I got a sudden revelation. Somehow everything I knew, including my goddess’s advice, came together, raised to the vibration of faith.

And my faith at the moment was so intense that it felt like I knew with 100% certainty that the perfect solution was awaiting me, and that I was going to receive it or the roadmap to it, shortly. Which is exactly what happened.

3. Auto-suggestion

Auto-suggestion is simply self-suggestion. It is a way to program your mind to believe something that is not yet true in order to bring it into reality.

I had been familiar with this idea ever since I was a teenager. And I decided to try some affirmations for myself. 

A healer had recommended a book of healing affirmations, and I began using them. I recorded one for my knee and listened to it every day. 

The set of affirmations was not perfect for my specific trauma, but it made my mind go into a vibration in which it looked for answers, like a self-guided missile.

So, amazingly, without even knowing it, I was using this principle from the book, as well.

4. Specialized knowledge

In order for me to achieve my healing, I needed specialized knowledge – namely, a method of non-surgical recovery from trauma. 

First, I needed to understand that I was looking for a self-healing method, not just a healing method. Does that make sense?

Because at first I didn’t know I could heal myself, I was looking for methods where others could heal me. In effect, I was excluding or omitting a method in which I could heal myself.

But when I found out what I really needed, the method soon presented itself. I had to travel to Russia to learn the method, and that was the perfect specialized knowledge I needed to achieve recovery.

So, yes, to achieve a new and challenging goal, you will need new knowledge specifically aimed at helping you realize your desired outcome. 

5. Imagination

In his book, Napoleon Hill talks about two kinds of imagination – synthetic and creative. Synthetic imagination involves working with all the ideas that are already in your subconscious mind.

Creative imagination goes beyond your mind to attract answers from Infinite Intelligence. I know that this concept sounds a bit woo-woo. However, I experienced its truth.

When the epiphany hit me during that walk in the park, that was my creative imagination at work. I received positive knowledge that the perfect solution was waiting for me. 

Because it felt like 100% knowledge and not just a possibility, it felt as real as the couch on which I am sitting right now, typing these words.

In other words, my creative imagination presented me with the inspiration and the hunch I needed to go out and find the method of healing that was ideal for me.

6. Organized planning

Any worthy outcome that you desire to bring about will involve multiple steps and many moving parts.

Initially, I worked on my goal in a very haphazard, unorganized way. Later, when I found the method, I had to apply it, which took time and organized planning.

I had a full-time job back then. And I knew that I had to do my exercises because my method of healing was a special kind of gymnastics. 

So, on weekends I simply did my exercises in the morning. On my work days, I would usually drive off to a botanical garden during my lunch break and practice my exercises there.

So, it took some organizing for me to maintain my focus and keep showing up and doing the work every day. The more complex the goal, the more organizing is required, which is a learnable skill.

7. Decision

I keep coming back to that moment of epiphany in the park, but that event contains several principles described in Think and Grow Rich. 

It was Faith mixed with Desire, Creative Imagination, and a definite Decision that came together into a very unique experience and state of mind. 

A definite Decision was a big part of it. That moment felt like inspiration and decision at the same time. It was like the universe was giving me the information I needed, and I was definitely accepting it and fully committing to acting upon it.

This is why you should be alert to and on the lookout for an opportunity to make a definite decision. In the book, Napoleon Hill writes that the most important quality of a decision is that it must be definite. 

In fact, every example Hill provides in the book is really an example of a definite decision. Practice making decisions, and when that amazing moment of inspiration comes, decide definitely and act upon your decision. 

8. Persistence

Learning the special gymnastics was only a part of my healing journey. It was a method, not a guarantee of success. In other words, it had to be worked, practiced, and perfected. 

And I must confess that during the journey I felt like giving up several times because after weeks of hard work I was still not getting the recovery I was after. I didn’t even feel any improvement.

So, after about a month of work, I called the Russian doctor in Moscow, telling him that I was considering surgery after all. He urged me to continue. So I did. 

Another month went by, and I called him again, complaining about the lack of results. He yelled at me and told me a parable of a stone cutter. 

A stone cutter can hit the stone many times and not even see a crack. And then, after a hundred blows, as if by magic, the stone splits in two. 

The doctor told me that would happen to me. My result would come very suddenly, within a couple of days. But it would take continuous work to get there.

That was exactly what happened. About three months into my work with the method, I suddenly felt something in my knee. It was a very distinct shift in sensation.

And the next day I was fully healed. I had no more pain, I walked without a limp, and had virtually no symptoms of the former injury. 

So, yes, persistence in the face of doubt and difficulties is essential to getting what you want. 

9. The Power of the mastermind

The mastermind is a group of people united by a common goal (or by similar goals) who come together to exchange ideas. 

In my case, the Russian doctor and his team were my mastermind because it took the knowledge and effort of all these people to bring about my recovery. 

Indeed, we cannot succeed in a vacuum. In achieving any significant outcome, you will need the cooperation, guidance, and wisdom of other people. 

10. The Mystery of sex transmutation

When I read this chapter in Think and Grow Rich, I had no idea what to do with this idea. The concept of transmuting sexual energy into its creative equivalent was totally new to me.

And, quite frankly, it took me years to eventually understand how this principle can be practiced. But I finally figured it out, and I’ll give you the gist of it.

For men, sexual transmutation means retaining semen (avoiding frequent ejaculation) and practicing energetic exercises to transmute sexual energy into the power to manifest outcomes.

Only years after my healing, I discovered Qigong and Taoist sexual practices that allow a man to effectively retain semen and direct the resulting accumulating energy towards a worthy and productive outcome.

Here is an introductory video by a very good teacher of these practices from whom I’ve been learning recently:

For women, the process of retaining sexual energy is more involved. Here is a good resource I found online. 

So, sexual transmutation no longer has to be a mysterious concept. With practitioners and teachers available today, it can be a very tangible practice that has the power to raise your creative vibration to a much higher level.

11. The Subconscious mind

Napoleon Hill talks about two significant functions or aspects of the subconscious mind. First, it stores everything you’ve ever perceived for later retrieval. And second, it has the capacity to connect the finite human mind to Infinite Intelligence.

Both functions can help you achieve your desired outcome. 

In my case, first, my subconscious mind absorbed the lesson I learned from the healing goddess in Czech Republic. The lesson about self-healing went into my mind but had to be massaged and synthesized with all the other information in order for me to finally find my ideal healing method.

And second, I believe I connected to Infinite Intelligence to receive my insight/inspiration about non-surgical recovery. My faith was so intense at the moment that it assumed the shape of positive knowledge. 

And to know something absolutely and positively, you need to see it or otherwise experience it. In other words, I knew that my solution existed just like you and I know our computer exists when we stare at it.

So, to have that certainty about the existence of my perfect solution, I tapped into the Infinite which holds all information about reality. 

Again, I know it sounds a bit out there. But that was my experience. It was like I heard the voice that said, “Philip, your perfect solution awaits.” And then I just tweaked my research strategy – and there it was – right on my lap – after months of active searching with no result.

12. The Brain

Hill calls the human brain a “broadcasting and receiving station for thought.”

I know that I’m referring to my epiphany in the park for the N-th time. But I really believe that when I received my insight, I also connected to the thoughts of that doctor. 

My injury and his method of recovery were such a perfect match, and my insight was so clear and intense that this was a perfect example of human brains broadcasting and receiving information.

My brain broadcast the need for a method. It was a thought raised to a high vibration by my subconscious mind, driven by my “white heat of desire” along with the preceding frustration. So, I had both inspiration and desperation working for me.

Doctor Popov’s brain received my signal and broadcast a message that matched my vibration. And that was what I received, in its specific form. I knew the solution was there. I just didn’t know its name and location, which I found out within a couple of days after the insight.

13. The Sixth sense

I’d like to remind you that my “consultation” with Dr. Popov over the phone prior to my flight to Moscow lasted no longer than 90 seconds. I simply acknowledged that the doctor indeed existed, got the address and the pricing, and days later was on a plane to Moscow.

Understandably, some of my friends told me that I was crazy to do that. They tried to discourage me from going. They tried to warn me that Russia is full of charlatans who would love to take my American dollars and leave me empty handed. 

But something in Dr. Popov’s voice on the phone told me that he was for real. He was not trying to sell me on anything. In fact, he sounded a bit annoyed. But something in his voice told me that he could help me. That was clear to me.

That clarity was my Sixth Sense. I just intuitively knew that he was the one. I know I sound like I’m quoting the movie The Matrix. But that’s exactly how I felt.

It was a gut feeling based on which I flew out to a distant country to receive my healing. And I received it. It was a journey, but I got my non-surgical recovery, just like I knew I would. 

How to Get the Most Out of Think and Grow Rich

Don’t Read the Book like a Novel

If you’re going to read this book for pleasure or entertainment, don’t. Wait until you are hit with either inspiration or desperation, as Tony Robbins would put it. 

Otherwise, you’re risking missing its value, and the power of Napoleon Hill’s secret of success may elude you. 

When You Get a Hunch, Take the Risk and Jump into the Unknown

If your goal is lofty, then you should know that you will be asked to make some tough and perhaps even drastic decisions on your way to success. Be prepared to make such decisions. 

Know What You Want

In order for the formula described in Think and Grow Rich to work for you, you will need to find out exactly what you want and why. The more clear you are on your goal and why you want it, the more power Napoleon Hill’s principles will give you to bring it to reality. 

In the beginning, you may not know what you want. This is a common problem with those who start out on their unique personal journey. So here is a video I made in which I show you the steps to find out exactly what you want in life:

You Will Have to Pass the Persistence Test

Hill provides several examples of people who gave up in the face of temporary defeat. The most famous example is that of a gold-digger who stopped three feet from gold. 

He failed the persistence test, as Hill calls it. If you want something intensely enough, then obstacles and difficulties should not make you quit. As Hill writes, “A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins.”

I know this sounds direct. But it’s true, as I’ve learned from my numerous failures and several important successes.

So, there you have it. I hope this guide to the great book Think and Grow Rich has inspired you to not only take action but to persist until you make your dream a reality!

Philip S.

Philip Saparov

Philip Saparov is a Life Purpose Coach and a teacher of Awakened Entrepreneurship. He writes on how to become a successful entrepreneur and gain freedom, no matter where you're starting.

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