Think And Grow Rich – Chapter 2: Desire

Continuing my analysis of Think and Grow Rich.

This is for Chapter 2, Desire.

(Go here to start from the beginning.)

Quote and Analysis

“WHEN Edwin C. Barnes climbed down from the freight train in Orange, N. J., more than thirty years ago, he may have resembled a tramp, but his thoughts were those of a king!

As he made his way from the railroad tracks to Thomas A Edison’s office, his mind was at work. He saw himself standing in Edison’s presence. He heard himself asking Mr. Edison for an opportunity to carry out the one CONSUMING OBSESSION OF HIS LIFE, a BURNING DESIRE to become the business associate of the great inventor.

Barnes’ desire was not a hope! It was not a wish! It was a keen, pulsating DESIRE, which transcended everything else. It was DEFINITE.”

Here is an example of how definite the desire needs to be. Barnes is actually visualizing how his meeting with Edison is going to go. He sees himself, and hears himself doing what he plans to. He’s actually thinking through it in his head. He probably went so far as to seeing Edison giving him that chance.

Quote and Analysis

“The desire was not new when he approached Edison. It had been Barnes’ dominating desire for a long time. In the beginning, when the desire first appeared in his mind, it may have been, probably was, only a wish, but it was no mere wish when he appeared before Edison with it.

A few years later, Edwin C. Barnes again stood before Edison, in the same office where he first met the inventor. This time his DESIRE had been translated into reality. He was in business with Edison. The dominating DREAM OF HIS LIFE had become a reality.”

A description of the level of desire we’re talking about. Not a wish, but the dominating dream of his life.

Also another example of how success coming looks. It looks like nothing is happening for a long time, and then suddenly, success comes all at once.

Quote and Analysis

“Barnes succeeded because he chose a definite goal, placed all his energy, all his will power, all his effort, everything back of that goal. He did not become the partner of Edison the day he arrived. He was content to start in the most menial work, as long as it provided an opportunity to take even one step toward his cherished goal. Five years passed before the chance he had been seeking made its appearance. During all those years not one ray of hope, not one promise of attainment of his DESIRE had been held out to him. To everyone, except himself, he appeared only another cog in the Edison business wheel, but in his own mind, HE WAS THE PARTNER OF EDISON EVERY MINUTE OF THE TIME, from the very day that he first went to work there.”

Another example of how success looks. There might be no hint that it’s coming, but maintaining the desire is what is pulling it toward you.

Also here we see Barnes was assuming in his own mind that he was the partner of Edison every minute of the time. He saw himself as that, even if it wasn’t yet true. This is the kind of belief Hill is talking about. Barnes chose to hold this vision of himself.

Quote and Analysis


“Every person who wins in any undertaking must be willing to burn his ships and cut all sources of retreat. Only by so doing can one be sure of maintaining that state of mind known as a BURNING DESIRE TO WIN, essential to success.”

Burning bridges is a way to focus your attention. If you remove all sources of retreat, or alternative options, then you remove distractions. You remove sources of doubt. You remove things that could take away from your persistence, and distract you from keeping this one thing as your primary goal.

Also, he mentions again “state of mind”.

Quote and Analysis

“When the going was hard, and the future looked dismal, they pulled up and went where the going seemed easier.

Mark well this difference between Marshal Field and the other merchants, because it is the same difference which distinguishes Edwin C. Barnes from thousands of other young men who have worked in the Edison organization. It is the same difference which distinguishes practically all who succeed from those who fail.”

A reiteration of the idea of Persistence.

Quote and Analysis

“Every human being who reaches the age of understanding of the purpose of money, wishes for it. Wishing will not bring riches. But desiring riches with a state of mind that becomes an obsession, then planning definite ways and means to acquire riches, and backing those plans with persistence which does not recognize failure, will bring riches.”

Interesting point that every person who understands what money is wishes for more money. But wishing is not strong enough. Desire of the level of obsession is required.

Planning definite ways and means, which he later seems to say will come to you if your desire is strong enough.

And backing those plans with persistence, and ignoring failure as a reason to stop. So once you have the plans, just keep implementing them until the goal is fulfilled. Persist.

Also, again “state of mind”.

Quote and Analysis

“The method by which DESIRE for riches can be transmuted into its financial equivalent, consists of six definite, practical steps, viz: First. Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire. It is not sufficient merely to say “I want plenty of money.”

First. Be definite as to the amount. (There is a psychological reason for definiteness which will be described in a subsequent chapter).

Second. Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the money you desire. (There is no such reality as “something for nothing.)

Third. Establish a definite date when you intend to possess the money you desire.

Fourth. 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.

Fifth. Write out a clear, concise statement of the amount of money you intend to acquire, name the time limit for its acquisition, state what you intend to give in return for the money, and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it.

Sixth. Read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once just before retiring at night, and once after arising in the morning. AS YOU READ-SEE AND FEEL AND BELIEVE YOURSELF ALREADY IN POSSESSION OF THE MONEY.

It is important that you follow the instructions described in these six steps. It is especially important that you observe, and follow the instructions in the sixth paragraph. You may complain that it is impossible for you to “see yourself in possession of money” before you actually have it. Here is where a BURNING DESIRE will come to your aid. If you truly DESIRE money so keenly that your desire is an obsession, you will have no difficulty in convincing yourself that you will acquire it. The object is to want money, and to become so determined to have it that you CONVINCE yourself you will have it.”

This is the 6 step plan. I think it’s better explained in a later chapter, so I won’t spend too much time analyzing it now, and will just note a few things.

“Definite” is mentioned again and that there is actually a psychological reason for it.

The idea of giving something for what you want. In this case, I think he means some service or product that you will provide.

Again, the plan, which I think he says will come to you through your subconscious in a later chapter. So you don’t need to try to create the plan.

And the idea of visualizing yourself in the circumstances you want. Like Barnes visualized himself in Edison’s office, and then visualized (or saw himself as) the partner of Edison.

And we see what the purpose of a burning desire is. It gives you the ability to convince yourself that you will acquire what it is that you want. So if you aren’t convinced that your desire is coming true, the desire needs to be intensified.

Quote and Analysis

“The steps call for no “hard labor.” They call for no sacrifice. They do not require one to become ridiculous, or credulous. To apply them calls for no great amount of education. But the successful application of these six steps does call for sufficient imagination to enable one to see, and to understand, that accumulation of money cannot be left to chance, good fortune, and luck. One must realize that all who have accumulated great fortunes, first did a certain amount of dreaming, hoping, wishing, DESIRING, and PLANNING before they acquired money.”

Again, no hard labor. No difficult work. Just an intensifying of desire.

Also, he makes the point that all who have accumulated great fortunes, first did a certain amount of dreaming, hoping, wishing, desiring, and planning before they acquired money. So it would be time well spent to start doing some of that dreaming, hoping, wishing, etc if you are just starting out and don’t already have this burning desire.

Quote and Analysis

“If you do not see great riches in your imagination, you will never see them in your bank balance.”

Another vote for visualizing what you want.

Quote and Analysis

“If the thing you wish to do is right, and you believe in it, go ahead and do it! Put your dream across, and never mind what “they” say if you meet with temporary defeat, for “they,” perhaps, do not know that EVERY FAILURE BRINGS WITH IT THE SEED OF AN EQUIVALENT SUCCESS.”

Reiteration of “ignore impossible”. Determination. Persistence. And another way of talking about using failure as a stepping stone…a seed of an equivalent success.

Quote and Analysis

“Practical dreamers DO NOT QUIT!”

More persistence.

Quote and Analysis

“The oak sleeps in the acorn. The bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul, a waking angel stirs. DREAMS ARE THE SEEDLINGS OF REALITY.”

This caught my eye because of the difference between an oak and an acorn. Let’s say your desire is an oak. And you are not aware that acorns turn into oaks.

It’s not immediately obvious. Acorns look very little like oaks. And for much of the year oaks don’t even have acorns on them. So it’s a leap of faith (belief/confidence) to associate receiving an acorn with receiving an oak.

This is the same leap of faith that needs to be made from what you see in everyday life to the idea that your desire is coming. The small hints that your desire is coming may not look at all like the final desire fulfilled will look.

Quote and Analysis

“A BURNING DESIRE TO BE, AND TO DO is the starting point from which the dreamer must take off. Dreams are not born of indifference, laziness, or lack of ambition.”

Another calling out of indifference. And also associating it with laziness or lack of ambition. Another word for ambition…desire.

You need to be deliberate in choosing a definite specific desire.

Quote and Analysis

“You have been disappointed, you have undergone defeat during the depression, you have felt the great heart within you crushed until it bled. Take courage, for these experiences have tempered the spiritual metal of which you are made-they are assets of incomparable value.

Remember, too, that all who succeed in life get off to a bad start, and pass through many heartbreaking struggles before they “arrive.” The turning point in the lives of those who succeed, usually comes at the moment of some crisis, through which they are introduced to their “other selves.””

More temporary defeat and failure inoculation. And more of the idea that failure brings with it stepping stones to success.

Quote and Analysis

“Strange and varied are the ways of life, and stranger still are the ways of Infinite Intelligence, through which men are sometimes forced to undergo all sorts of punishment before discovering their own brains, and their own capacity to create useful ideas through imagination.”

This is the first mention of Infinite Intelligence. In a later chapter we find out that Infinite Intelligence communicates to us through our subconscious and imagination. So here he’s actually giving a hint as to those ideas. These are those plans that he keeps telling us we’ll need.

Quote and Analysis

“…and this, because most people never learn the art of transmuting their strongest emotions into dreams of a constructive nature.”

The phrase “art of transmuting” sounds very similar to “art of changing minds from FAILURE CONSCIOUSNESS to SUCCESS CONSCIOUSNESS” and also to “art of converting defeat into stepping stones to opportunity”. Both of which I think are related to his “secret”.

So this ability to turn strong emotions into dreams of a constructive nature may also be related.

Quote and Analysis

“Before passing to the next chapter, kindle anew in your mind the fire of hope, faith, courage, and tolerance. If you have these states of mind, and a working knowledge of the principles described, all else that you need will come to you, when you are READY for it.”

Again with “states of mind”.

And also here he says you need a working knowledge of the principles (the chapter titles), and all else that you need will come to you. Which includes plans, people, resources, etc.

Quote and Analysis

“There is a difference between WISHING for a thing and being READY to receive it. No one is ready for a thing, until he believes he can acquire it. The state of mind must be BELIEF, not mere hope or wish. Open-mindedness is essential for belief. Closed minds do not inspire faith, courage, and belief.”

And here he defines what “being READY” means. You must believe that you can acquire it. Not just hope or wish, but believe it is possible. And so you need to be open-minded about what is actually possible for you.

Quote and Analysis

“Remember, no more effort is required to aim high in life, to demand abundance and prosperity, than is required to accept misery and poverty.”

Another point about “little effort”. And also kind of one about “indifference”, since you would be “demanding” abundance, but indifferently “accepting” poverty.

Quote and Analysis

“Our only limitations are those we set up in our own minds.”

Another admonition to ignore those who say something is impossible. If you don’t believe it will happen, you are right. If you do believe, you are also right.

Quote and Analysis

“…DESIRE BACKED BY FAITH knows no such word as impossible.”

Again, ignore impossible. And pulling in “faith” (belief/confidence), which is the next chapter.

Quote and Analysis

“I soon discovered that the child enjoyed bedtime stories, so I went to work, creating stories designed to develop in him self-reliance, imagination, and a keen desire to hear
and to be normal.”

This is a practical example of instilling both desire and faith. He finds out what the child likes, and then uses that as a way to install the desires and beliefs he wants to pass on. In this case he is using stories.

We could use anything to do this. Pictures on the wall. Songs. People we spend time with. TV shows we watch. Radio programs we listen to. Book/magazines/blogs we read. Things other people say to us. Objects that are around our living or work spaces or cars. The towns/cities we live in. The foods and drinks we eat and taste. The background noises. The clothes we wear. The smells we have around us. The feel of our furniture, bed, chair, and other things that touch our skin. And the attitudes of the people around us.

Now, consider that each of those can also “indifferently” affect us if we don’t take steps to craft them to support our desire and faith. So we should stay away from people that make us feel we aren’t able to achieve our desire. Ideally we would be able to ignore those people’s opinions even in their presence, but why not slant things in your favor.

Look at the environment that you are in, and ask if each thing is supporting or detracting from your desire and your faith in attaining that desire.

You could even go so far as to build habits or skills into your life that you will need when your desired goal arrives. Every conceivable way that you can tell your brain that you are expecting this thing to happen.

Quote and Analysis


More stepping stones. And a subtle hint that any failure will be replaced with a success that is at least as good as the failure was bad.

Quote and Analysis

“…handicaps can be converted into stepping stones on which one may climb toward some worthy goal, unless they are accepted as obstacles, and used as alibis.”

More stepping stones. And also a warning about using these handicaps as alibis and accepting them as obstacles. It’s a choice that you can actively make, or indifferently accept.

Quote and Analysis

“…he had come into possession of a Changed World.”

I like the calling out of “Changed World”. It reminds me of the hockey stick arrival of the desired goal. Nothing happening for a long while and then suddenly the world changes and riches rush in to you.

Quote and Analysis

“DESIRE had commenced to pay dividends, but the victory was not yet complete. The boy still had to find a definite and practical way to convert his handicap into an equivalent asset.”

More stepping stones. And also a little stronger. He says it wasn’t enough to get something from the handicap or failure. You have to keep pushing to convert that failure into an equivalent asset. Something that completely wipes out the disadvantage of the initial failure.

Quote and Analysis

“It consisted of three very definite facts; first, I MIXED FAITH with the DESIRE for normal hearing, which I passed on to my son. Second, I communicated my desire to him in every conceivable way available, through persistent, continuous effort, over a period of years. Third, HE BELIEVED ME!”

3 definite facts.

Mixed faith with desire. You want this, and you will have it. Or “you get what you want.”

Communicated in every conceivable way. As above, every conceivable way can even involve the many facets of your environment.

He believed him. I’ll push on this in the next chapter, but consider how powerful it was for his father to be telling him this stuff. The son wasn’t just telling himself it, his dad was saying it. A person of authority. I think this is one of the greatest benefits of having a coach or a mentor. They are an authority that you get to borrow faith and confidence from. They tell you how the future is going to look and you believe them because they are the expert, and so your faith is that much stronger for it.

Quote and Analysis

“…all achievement, no matter what may be its nature, or its purpose, must begin with an intense, BURNING DESIRE for something definite.”

Back to definite. Specific.

Quote and Analysis

“Through some strange and powerful principle of “mental chemistry” which she has never divulged, Nature wraps up in the impulse of STRONG DESIRE “that something” which recognizes no such word as impossible, and accepts no such reality as failure.”

So your desire needs to be so strong that it ignores impossible, and moves forward through failure to success.


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