This is part of our Rockstar Book Review series.
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“Think and Grow Rich” is THE Guide to Generating the Thoughts and Actions That Lead to Success
Most of my book reviews offer a summary of a book’s contents so you have an overview of the main ideas it contains. I’m afraid I can’t do that with this book, because I would be doing it, and its author, a disservice. Insights pervade every page so densely that many of the themes it contains are substantial enough to merit their own books to fully explore them.
We could think of this book as the tip of the iceberg that makes us aware of both:
- the power of our thoughts, and
- the potential we have within ourselves, to redirect our thinking and actions in order to change our circumstances.
Hill’s personal proof of these concepts was derived through comparative observation of the successful to the unsuccessful people he’d been exposed to over the years, starting with Andrew Carnegie. Hill often quotes Carnegie in the book because he is the man who inspired Hill to dedicate much of his life to exploring and communicating the concepts of how managing our own thoughts and energy can be life-changing.
The following are three themes in the book that most resonate with me:
- The Power of Thought
- The Power of the Subconscious
- The Power of Purpose
#1. The Power of Thought
We are what we think. Our thoughts affect how we see the world and how we see ourselves. As a result, our thoughts have a great deal of impact on how we feel and on how much energy we have to deal with a required action or situation. Our thoughts can also make us more or less observant of the things, circumstances and people around us. In short, our thoughts affect our behavior and our behavior affects how the world responds to us. Hill goes as far as stating that this extends to the material world:
Thoughts = Things
#2. The Power of the Subconscious
Where do you get your best ideas? I can almost guarantee you that it’s not while you’re at work. We usually get our best ideas when we’re not consciously thinking about the problem we’re trying to solve or the idea we’re trying to come up with.
Eureka moments hardly ever occur while we’re “working hard”, but rather when we’re “hardly working”.
Unfortunately, our way of life seems to invite us to ignore both the power of the subconscious and the breathing room we need to give it. In order to feed our subconscious, we need to give it:
- the raw materials it needs to work through (including a clear picture of what problem or opportunity we’re trying to address),
- little-to-no time pressure, and
- no attention whatsoever, as it does its work.
When we’re busy working long hours, multi-tasking and burying ourselves in endless to-do lists, we lose the connection to our subconscious. When we take time to rest, play, engage in conversation with others (including mastermind groups), learn from and about the experiences of others, we make room for the powerful subconscious to work its magic. The magic? To make connections to ideas that offer solutions we could never have come up with consciously.
You cannot entirely control your subconscious mind, but you can voluntarily hand over to it any plan, desire, or purpose which you wish transformed into concrete form. (pg. 198)
#3. The Power of Purpose
Deep down, we know what we want and need to accomplish over the long-term. It might not be crystal clear, but we have a good idea of the direction we want to pursue. Unfortunately, rationalization, self-justification, avoidance, fear and doubt leads us to second guess it or explain it away, to our peril.
People who do not succeed have one distinguishing trait in common. They know all the reasons for failure, and have what they believe to be air-tight alibis to explain away their own lack of achievement. (pg. 249)
When we focus on what we know we need to do, we can more easily establish an action plan and forge ahead. We feel driven, alive, passionate. We have the energy to invest in ourselves and others. We have the energy to grow as a person. We learn what we need to know to be successful, not what others say we should know. We ignore the naysayers and objectors. We’re curious and engaged.
Purpose as a Guide = A Fulfilling Life
And yes, the author does talk about money, and offers many concrete tools and references to allow us to be increasingly introspective and take explicit action. But I think we can all appreciate the broader insights shared above also serve to help us in that aspect of our lives. For more on the money concepts within it, I would suggest reading Chapter 2 titled “Desire”, “The Thirty-One Major Causes of Failure” in the middle of the book and the “Fear of Poverty” section toward the end of the book.
Despite its title, this influential classic is about far more than being successful with money. It’s about mastering the self so that we may be as successful as we choose to be.
Other suggested books of this type: “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrnes.
Books on topics and research related to this book:
- Scarcity vs. abundance mindset: “Scarcity” by Sendil Mullainathan & Eldar Shafir and “The Millionaire Mind” by Thomas J. Stanley.
- Self-deception: “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely and “Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)” by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson.
- Meaning and purpose: “Tribes” by Seth Godin, “The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg & John David Mann, “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek, “Man’s Search for Meaning“, “The Element” by Ken Robinson and “Born Standing Up” by Steve Martin.
- Forming and changing habits: “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, “Rich Habits” by Thomas C. Corley, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey and “The Power of Full Engagement” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz.
- Education: “The End of Education” by Neil Postman and “Out of Our Minds” by Ken Robinson.
- The inexplicable nature of the subconscious and its connection to the unknown: “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield and “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.
- Desire (professional achievement and material wealth): “Deep Work” by Cal Newport and “Enough” by John C. Bogle.
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