Something I read the other day really struck me. “Thoughts are things”. At least part of the point being made is that thoughts are not meaningless, but that every achievement begins with a thought, an idea, a dream. And that once we truly accept this, then we can use our thoughts to drive achievements, rather than negativity, complaints, excuses, etc. The quote is found in Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
The book is often quoted, if not recommended, by business and self-improvement authors and speakers. There is certainly a very useful truth in focusing our thoughts on achieving value rather than whining and complaining. Interestingly enough, Hill’s book was published in 1937, during the Great Depression. The concept of turning thoughts away from dwelling on problems and in the direction of fixing them must have been timely encouragement. The secret to success revealed in this book was originally revealed to Hill by none other than Dale Carnegie. Thomas Edison had also confirmed the secret and its truth. In fact, Hill studied over 500 millionaires to corroborate the central ideas he shares.
Well, that’s what he says. Apparently all the evidence that he knew, spoke to, and received wisdom from these folks was lost in a fire. He claimed to be a lawyer, but was not. He was accused of and/or arrested for fraud a number of times. Even much of the money he earned from Think and Grow Rich was lost to his second wife in their divorce, as it turns out that she had quite a hand in the manuscript. Actually, she was really his third wife if you count his marriage when he was 15, which ended in annulment. As we say in the South, now ain’t that special.
So, why am I bringing up such negative thoughts about a guy who wrote about positive thinking? In fact, Norman Vincent Peale (pastor, author of The Power of Positive Thinking) highly recommended Think and Grow Rich, as does John Maxwell (pastor, author, leadership guru) and many others. My point is that even a rogue can speak truth and wisdom. Or, someone with great wisdom can still make lots of mistakes. It is no more possible to be wrong 100% of the time than it is to be right 100% of the time. And maybe the person you disagree with the most only differs from your views a small percentage of the time, or to a small degree. This may be worth considering before pouncing on a “friend” on Facebook.
As it turns out, although Hill claimed to have interviewed/studied over 500 millionaires in order to write his book, it may be more true that well over 500 millionaires have studied Hill and his book. That’s another thing to think about.