Think And Grow Rich – Chapter 1: Introduction

Continuing my analysis of Think and Grow Rich.

This is for Chapter 1, Introduction.

(Go here to start from the beginning.)

Quote and Analysis

“TRULY, “thoughts are things,” and powerful things at that, when they are mixed with definiteness of purpose, persistence, and a BURNING DESIRE for their translation into riches, or other material objects.”

Here we have the formula stated somewhat plainly. Thoughts are translated into riches (whatever that is to you) when you:

  • Have a definite focus (a specific thing you want).
  • Are persistent about keeping that focus (not letting other concerns, information, options, objections, setbacks, or opinions distract you from that focus).
  • Have a strong desire for this to happen.

Quote and Analysis

“It was what he THOUGHT that counted. If the significance of this statement could be conveyed to every person who reads it, there would be no need for the remainder of this book.”

The purpose of the book is to convey the Carnegie “secret”. Conveying the significance of this statement removes the need for the remainder of the book. So the significance of this statement is the essence of that secret. So “what you think” is some key piece of the secret. Not surprising given the name of the book…Think and Grow Rich.

But the question still remains…exactly what to think.

Quote and Analysis

“Months went by. Apparently nothing happened to bring the coveted goal which Barnes had set up in his mind as his DEFINITE MAJOR PURPOSE. But something important was happening in Barnes’ mind. He was constantly intensifying his DESIRE to become the business associate of Edison.”

Here we have the first mention of the “DEFINITE MAJOR PURPOSE” or later, the “DEFINITE CHIEF AIM”. That one goal / aim / purpose that is your focus…and is definite and specific.

We also have a description of what it looks like to pursue that focus, and how it will look. It will look like nothing is happening, possibly for a long time. Months, maybe years.

But during that time, our job is to keep persistently intensifying desire. Not to become discouraged. To expect that this goal will eventually become reality.

Quote and Analysis

“When the opportunity came, it appeared in a different form, and from a different direction than Barnes had expected. That is one of the tricks of opportunity. It has a sly habit of slipping in by the back door, and often it comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat. Perhaps this is why so many fail to recognize opportunity.”

Cautioning us to look at defeat differently. If we think we didn’t get what we wanted…maybe look again. It might actually be the path to what we wanted.

Also this is the first mention of “temporary defeat”. The point is made later in the book that defeat is only permanent if you decide it is permanent. If you give up on your goal. This is a reiteration of persistence. Of maintaining that focus even when it appears that it won’t be possible.

Quote and Analysis

“One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat.”

Again, “temporary defeat”. And another way of saying “be persistent”. Persist in pursuing your goal.

Quote and Analysis

“The “Junk” man took millions of dollars in ore from the mine, because he knew enough to seek expert counsel before giving up.”

This kind of jumped out at me. And it brings up three points I want to highlight.

The first is to seek expert counsel before giving up a possible route to your goal. Note, never give up the goal itself. But if you are feeling discouraged, see if you can’t get someone who is an expert in what you are trying to do to give you some advice or counsel.

The second is much more subtle. Who is an expert? Many people will give you advice that you shouldn’t take. Ignore it. They aren’t experts. And if the thing you are doing is so new that no one else is more expert than you, then take no one’s advice. In a bit, he talks about Ford’s engineers saying the engine Ford wanted couldn’t be built. They were expert engine builders, but not experts at building this engine.

The third point is that just because expert counsel tells you to give up, doesn’t mean you have to. Hill is just suggesting that you seek the counsel in case the expert can tell you something that you missed and can use to move forward. The expert can tell you what is possible, and how to get there, but the expert can’t tell you what is impossible. It used to be impossible to talk to someone on the other side of the world, and now it happens so often we get annoyed with it (call centers in India…).

Quote and Analysis

“More than five hundred of the most successful men this country has ever known, told the author their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them. Failure is a trickster with a keen sense of irony and cunning.

It takes great delight in tripping one when success is almost within reach.”

Again with the “temporary defeat” and the persistence to keep going.

Also…if it feels like you’re failing, you might be just around the corner from success! Keep at it. Persist.

Quote and Analysis

“He profited by these two dramatic experiences, because he analyzed them, and found the lesson they taught. But what of the man who has neither the time, nor the inclination to study failure in search of knowledge that may lead to success?

Where, and how is he to learn the art of converting defeat into stepping stones to opportunity?”

Again with “temporary defeat” or in this case “converting defeat into stepping stones to opportunity”.

We’re being inoculated to the idea of defeat. He’s building up our immunity to defeat. And giving us a plan for when it does happen, so we’ll know what to do instead of becoming frazzled and discouraged. He tells us defeat is likely to come, but it’s just a step on the path to the success. Look for that path when defeat comes. Defeat is not a reason to stop. Persist.

Quote and Analysis

“In answer to these questions, this book was written. The answer called for a description of thirteen principles, but remember, as you read, the answer you may be seeking, to the questions which have caused you to ponder over the strangeness of life, maybe found in your own mind, through some idea, plan, or purpose which may spring into your mind as you read.

One sound idea is all that one needs to achieve success. The principles described in this book, contain the best, and the most practical of all that is known, concerning ways and means of creating useful ideas.”

He mentions the “strangeness of life”, which I think is a reference to a story in this section about a little girl using a “strange power” over a grown man.

And a reference to the odd paths that life takes. Back to the idea of success slipping in the backdoor, or failure actually being the stepping stone to success.

And then he tells us one sound idea is all that we need. And that the principles in this book (the chapter titles) are the best and most practical ways to create those ideas. We only need one.

Quote and Analysis

“Before we go any further in our approach to the description of these principles, we believe you are entitled to receive this important suggestion…. WHEN RICHES BEGIN TO COME THEY COME SO QUICKLY, IN SUCH GREAT ABUNDANCE, THAT ONE WONDERS WHERE THEY HAVE BEEN HIDING DURING ALL THOSE LEAN YEARS.

This is an astounding statement, and all the more so, when we take into consideration the popular belief, that riches come only to those who work hard and long.”

Two things here.

First, the “WHEN RICHES BEGIN…” part is another attempt to show us what the path to success feels and looks like. It’s not a steady increase. It’s not one good occurrence after another leading steadily to the goal. It’s like with Barnes above…months or years of nothing apparently happening, nothing visible happening, and then boom, everything starts to happen all at once and to a great degree. So persist. Keep at it even when things appear to be not happening.

Second, “hard and long”. I’ve already mentioned in the previous post where he mentions that “but little effort” is required. And here he’s reiterating that idea, and saying that the amount of riches you receive are not related to how hard or long you work.

Quote and Analysis

“When you begin to THINK AND GROW RICH, you will observe that riches begin with a state of mind, with definiteness of purpose, with little or no hard work. You, and every other person, ought to be interested in knowing how to acquire that state of mind which will attract riches.”

Whoa. He brings in “state of mind”. And then says that the “state of mind” will attract riches. And then says there is a way to acquire this state of mind that attracts riches.

So perhaps the “secret” is what specifically this particular “state of mind” is that attracts riches, and how to maintain it?

He further says that with the “state of mind” you also need a definiteness of purpose. Again this is just another way of saying a specific goal. Something detailed.

And then a reiteration of the idea of “little or no hard work”. So again, if what you are doing, or the plan you have feels like hard work, then it’s probably not right. I will note however that he doesn’t say “no work” and he doesn’t say “no easy work”. So it’s possible that some work will be required, but you might very much enjoy that work when you are doing it. For example, I’m “working” when I’m writing this, but I’m enjoying it, so it’s not “hard work”.

Quote and Analysis

“Just as an electrician in a theatre raises the lights so gradually that darkness is transmuted into light before you realize it, so did the spell of fear in the minds of the people gradually fade away and become faith.”

Two things.

He mentions “faith”, but he doesn’t mean religion. He means belief in good things. Confidence that things will or are getting better. A belief even in the face of little or no proof.

Also, this is another attempt to tell us how it will look and what to expect on the way to success…so we won’t get discouraged, and will persist. The lights are raised so gradually that it’s light in the room before you realize it. Again back to wondering where the riches had been, or apparently having nothing happening for months or years. When things are going right, and heading toward your goal, it’s not going to feel like it until right there just before it happens. It’s not a nice logical measured progression. It’s more of a hockey stick like progression.

You might be able to further take this and say that there will be hints. The lights are raising, they’re just not raising quickly. So the hints will be small. So small you might not even notice them. So faith/belief/confidence is helpful to keep you persisting even when you don’t see those hints. But you might also use this and look for tiny hints that your goal is being achieved…and even if you can’t find them, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Your goal is still coming.

Quote and Analysis

“Observe very closely, as soon as you master the principles of this philosophy, and begin to follow the instructions for applying those principles, your financial status will begin to improve, and everything you touch will begin to transmute itself into an asset for your benefit.”

A way to know if you have mastered the 13 principles…the chapter titles. Also another way to look at how the path to success looks and feels. While you are studying and learning and mastering the principles, nothing apparent is happening, but then once you get them all in place, the engine roars to life. Just like building an engine in fact. You don’t get any power from it until all the pieces are in place and working in the correct timing. Before that point it’s all just some dull inanimate hunks of metal.

Quote and Analysis

“One of the main weaknesses of mankind is the average man’s familiarity with the word “impossible.” He knows all the rules which will NOT work. He knows all the things which CANNOT be done.”

Back to what I was saying about “impossible” with experts. Here Hill is just telling us to ignore other people that don’t support our goal. Their opinion will distract us from our success. Persist…even when others say it’s impossible.

Quote and Analysis

“Success comes to those who become SUCCESS CONSCIOUS.

Failure comes to those who indifferently allow themselves to become FAILURE CONSCIOUS.”

Remember the “state of mind” that attracts riches? Maybe “success conscious” is it?

“Success conscious” I think is just being focused on successes. Paying attention to things that are working, and ignoring things that appear to contradict the idea that you are on the way to success. Like looking for the stepping stone to success in an apparent failure…you’re ignoring all the bad parts, and just pulling out that one gem of good in the experience, and using it to move boldly forward.

If you always think that everything is working in your favor…then maybe it is. If you see everything as a “small hint” on your path to success…then maybe it is.

Also here there is a warning sign. The word “indifferently”. This implies that “failure conscious” is the default way that we are. If you don’t make a conscious effort to be “success conscious”, then you will by default slip into a “failure conscious”. And failure comes to those who allow this.

Quote and Analysis

“The object of this book is to help all who seek it, to learn the art of changing their minds from FAILURE CONSCIOUSNESS to SUCCESS CONSCIOUSNESS.”

Whoa. We know from the preface that the object of this book is to convey the “secret”. And here we’re being told that the object of the book is to help all who seek it to learn the art of changing their minds from FAILURE CONSCIOUSNESS to SUCCESS CONSCIOUSNESS.

I think he just told us the secret. The secret is this “art”, this skill, this habit of changing to, or maintaining, the success consciousness. Of only paying attention to those parts of our experiences that feel like stepping stones toward our goal, and letting the rest just pass by unheeded and unnoticed.

Quote and Analysis

“Perhaps one person in every hundred thousand knows the secret of Ford’s success, and those who do know are too modest, or too reluctant, to speak of it, because of its simplicity. A single transaction will illustrate the “secret” perfectly.

A few years back, Ford decided to produce his now famous V-8 motor. He chose to build an engine with the entire eight cylinders cast in one block, and instructed his engineers to produce a design for the engine. The design was placed on paper, but the engineers agreed, to a man, that it was simply impossible to cast an eight-cylinder gas engine block in one piece.

Ford said, “Produce it anyway.” “But,” they replied, “it’s impossible!” “Go ahead,” Ford commanded, “and stay on the job until you succeed no matter how much time is required.”

The engineers went ahead. There was nothing else for them to do, if they were to remain on the Ford staff. Six months went by, nothing happened. Another six months passed, and still nothing happened. The engineers tried every conceivable plan to carry out the orders, but the thing seemed out of the question; “impossible!”

At the end of the year Ford checked with his engineers, and again they informed him they had found no way to carry out his orders.

“Go right ahead,” said Ford, “I want it, and I’ll have it.” They went ahead, and then, as if by a stroke of magic, the secret was discovered.

The Ford DETERMINATION had won once more!

This story may not be described with minute accuracy, but the sum and substance of it is correct. Deduce from it, you who wish to THINK AND GROW RICH, the secret of the Ford millions, if you can. You’ll not have to look very far. Henry Ford is a success, because he understands, and applies the principles of success. One of these is DESIRE: knowing what one wants. Remember this Ford story as you read, and pick out the lines in which the secret of his stupendous achievement have been described. If you can do this, if you can lay your finger on the particular group of principles which made Henry Ford rich, you can equal his achievements in almost any calling for which you are suited.”

Long quote, but it’s a hefty chunk of meat. First we are told that the “secret” is in there. I’m assuming he’s talking about the same Carnegie “secret”.

We are told that the secret is too simple or modest for people to speak of it. So when we find it, we should be prepared that it might appear “simple”…so simple it might not look like it will or should work.

We see Ford decide specifically what he wants…an 8 cylinder engine cast in one piece. He is being “definite” in what he wants.

We see him ignore the “experts'” claims of “impossible”. He persists in what he wants.

We see a chunk of time pass with apparently nothing happening. Success doesn’t have a measured pace plodding toward the goal. It’s often an illogical progression. But he persists.

We see him affirm that “I want it, and I’ll have it”. He has faith/belief/confidence that what he wants will happen.

And then suddenly “as if by a stroke of magic” the engine is created. No hard work required.

This is labeled “DETERMINATION”, but I think it’s better to view it as selective hearing. He’s ignoring the declarations of “impossible”, and just continuing on with the vision of success that he has in his mind. He is “success conscious”…only conscious of the success that he’s going toward and ignoring any apparent failure, or “temporary defeat”. Or another way to look at it, delays in his success arriving.

Quote and Analysis

“When Henley wrote the prophetic lines, “I am the Master of my Fate, I am the Captain of my Soul,” he should have informed us that we are the Masters of our Fate, the Captains of our Souls, because we have the power to control our thoughts.”

“The power to control our thoughts” sounds very reminiscent of “the art of changing their minds from FAILURE CONSCIOUSNESS TO SUCCESS CONSCIOUSNESS”

Quote and Analysis

“…the ether is filled with a form of universal power which ADAPTS itself to the nature of the thoughts we hold in our minds; and INFLUENCES us, in natural ways, to transmute our thoughts into their physical equivalent.”

So basically, our thoughts are what shape physical reality. If we are only conscious of success (and ignore the parts of our experience that feel like failure) then those are the thoughts that will be transmuted into their physical equivalent. Success thoughts attract success. And failure thoughts attract failure.

There’s a piece here that I don’t want to gloss over. Specifically “and INFLUENCES us”. I’m not sure I understand the importance of that statement. Later in the book there is the idea of receiving “inspiration”, ideas, and plans from Infinite Intelligence. Maybe that’s the “influence” that he’s referring to here.

Quote and Analysis

“…this power makes no attempt to discriminate between destructive thoughts and constructive thoughts, that it will urge us to translate into physical reality thoughts of poverty, just as quickly as it will influence us to act upon thoughts of riches.”

Back to consciously choosing your thoughts and being aware that the failure/pessimism side of things is the default. If we want to consciously make the choice, then we can, but if we don’t make the choice, it’s made for us in favor of failure and poverty.

Interestingly though, he says “just as quickly”. We know that success doesn’t come quickly, and can sometimes look like nothing for months or years. So on the flip side, failure could look exactly the same. We might be sitting there dwelling on the idea of failure for a good long while before it actually shows up. So don’t assume you’re “safe” if you have been pessimistic a while and still nothing really bad has happened. Consider switching it around and looking for some silver linings.

Quote and Analysis

“…our brains become magnetized with the dominating thoughts which we hold in our minds, and, by means with which no man is familiar, these “magnets” attract to us the forces, the people, the circumstances of life which harmonize with the nature of our dominating thoughts.

He should have told us, that before we can accumulate riches in great abundance, we must magnetize our minds with intense DESIRE for riches, that we must become “money conscious until the DESIRE for money drives us to create definite plans for acquiring it.”

Back to “state of mind”, “success conscious”…the “dominating thoughts which we hold in our minds”. These are magnets that attract those things to us. Failure attracts failure, success attracts success.

Keeping these thoughts of success…the things that are going right for us…in mind will bring more of them. The forces, people, and circumstances which harmonize with the nature (success-focused or failure-focused) of your dominating thoughts.

“Forces” is an interesting choice of word. There might be something more there. I’m not sure.

People will show up and be willing to help without you needing to go looking for them. They will be attracted to you.

Circumstances will just work out in your favor. Lucky timing. Flukes. Coincidences. When these happen, notice them…become conscious of them…they are small hints…successes.

Then, we have again “money conscious” also known as “success conscious”. And the idea that our desire (our want, our need, the thing we are thinking constantly about) is strong enough WHEN we create definite plans to acquire our success. Again the word “definite”.

Later in the book he talks about receiving those plans from Infinite Intelligence through your subconscious. So you don’t need to work on coming up with the plans. You just have to continually intensify your desire to the point that this happens on it’s own.


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