Napoleon Hill's "13 Steps to Success"Napoleon Hill never dreamed an interview with Andrew Carnegie, industrialist and steel magnate, would change his life. Nor could he predict that his book, Think and Grow Rich (1937), would change the lives of so many people who yearned for success.

Carnegie encouraged Hill to collect stories of the country’s greatest business leaders and entrepreneurs. He promised to introduce Hill to the wealthiest and most successful people he knew if Napoleon committed 20 years to document their stories of success.

Throughout the next two decades, Hill met with more than 500 self-made millionaires, including Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, and Alexander Graham Bell. Carnegie believed “the man who knows exactly what he wants has no difficulty in believing in his own ability to succeed.” This definiteness of purpose became the foundation of Hill’s book, Think and Grow Rich, and his professional focus throughout the rest of his life.

Kathleen Elkins, Business Insider personal finance reporter, explained that Hill was not consumed with thoughts of money; he focused on “breaking down the psychological barriers that prevent many people from finding their own fortunes.”

Hill insisted, “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” He summarized common attributes shared by successful men and women into 13 steps. Elkins believes his advice is as true today as it was more than 70 years ago.

1.  Desire: You have to want it.

Elkins explains that successful people dream, hope, and plan for success long before they experience it. They do more than want wealth to accumulate in their bank accounts – they expect it.

Wishing will not bring riches,” said Hill. “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.

2.  Faith: Believe that you can achieve your goal.

Success begins with a positive attitude. Faith in one’s ability to attract wealth is a necessary requirement to attracting it.

“Riches begin in the form of thought!” insisted Hill. “The amount is limited only by the person in whose mind the thought is put into motion. Faith removes limitations!

3.  Auto-suggestion: Use affirmations to reach your goal.

The success you want transforms into your reality when you focus thoughts with positive words that reflect your goals. Elkins said, “You have to repeat out loud what it is that you want and how you plan to get it so you become obsessed with your purpose.”

Hill wrote, “Your ability to use the principle of auto-suggestion will depend, very largely, upon your capacity to concentrate upon a given desire until that desire becomes a burning obsession.”

4.  Specialized knowledge: Gain experiences and continue learning.

Elkins agreed that knowledge is power, but only when individuals apply what they learn to solve problems in their daily lives. Hill believed successful men and women are committed to lifelong learning. This is particularly important in this technological era where new information constantly changes.

5.  Imagination: Be open to new ideas and visualize your success.

Visualization allows you to imagine a desired outcome or what you want to see manifested in your life. This practice allows you to “see” yourself experiencing success through the power of imagination. Visualization is a mental rehearsal of success; it is a technique of performance improvement consistently supported by scientific evidence and used by many successful people across professions.

Hill maintained, “If you can imagine it, you can create it.”

6.  Organized Planning: Take action.

The process of visualization allows you to imagine the success you want to experience, but you will not experience it until you do the work to transform what you want into reality.

“Opportunity has spread its wares before you,” said Hill. “Step up to the front, select what you want, create your plan, put the plan into action, and follow through with persistence.”

7.  Decision: Defeat procrastination with decisiveness.

Hill believed successful people do not procrastinate. They know what they want – and they get what they want because they are decisive. “Decisiveness is not just a trait of the wealthy,” explained Elkins, “but one of the most important qualities a leader needs to possess.”

Hill wrote, “People who fail to accumulate money, without exception, have the habit of reaching decisions, if at all, very slowly, and of changing these decisions quickly and often.

8.  Persistence: Don’t stop until you get what you want.

Persistence demands will power. Successful men and women believe challenges are important directional arrows that lead them closer to their goals. They are not distracted by disappointments.

“Riches do not respond to wishes,” wrote Napoleon Hill. “They respond only to definite plans, backed by definite desires, through constant persistence.”

9.  Power of the Mastermind: Surround yourself with successful people.

Elkins explained that the most successful people surround themselves with talented friends and colleagues who share their vision. She adds, “The alignment of several smart and creative minds is exponentially more powerful than one.”

Hill described a Mastermind group as “a friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose.”

Members of Mastermind groups challenge one another to set individual and collective goals. They hold one another to be accountable. Participation in a Mastermind group requires commitment, confidentiality, openness to input from others, honesty, and respect.

Find a compatible group of individuals who share your passion and your desire to experience success. Jack Canfield offers a wonderful Mastermind Planning Guide if you want to form your own Mastermind group.

10.  Relationships:  Choose a compatible partner.

Elkins maintained there is a direct relationship between success in one’s career and a relationship with a supportive partner. Although we can certainly experience success outside of a partnership with another person, our lives are enriched through relationships. Hill believed it is important to find a compatible partner who shares your desire and passion.

11.  The Subconscious Mind: Master positivity and dismiss negative emotions.

It is impossible for positive and negative emotions to occupy the same space in your mind at the same time. Your thoughts attract the kind of reality you want to experience in your life.

“If you truly want to be rich,” said Hill, “you have to plant that desire, and then your plan, into your subconscious mind.” He insisted that the subconscious mind will not remain idle for long.

Be mindful of the thoughts you choose to think. You have the power to replace old tapes with new messages. The process of positive thought invites positive change and new opportunities into your life. 

12.  The Brain: Associate with other successful people and learn from them.

It’s been said that we are the product of the most five important relationships in our lives. We tend to share the same beliefs, values, and principles with those we spend the most time.

Elkins encourages you to use the members within your network or Mastermind group to find solutions to brainstorm ideas and find solutions to problems. Napoleon Hill called this “blending of several minds into one.”

13.  The Sixth Sense: Trust your instincts.

Napoleon Hill's "13 Steps to Success"Elkins adds, “The final principle — the “sixth sense” — occurs only after you’ve mastered the other 12 principles.” As you develop the habits of successful men and women, you will master a positive mind set and more productive habits. You will more fully trust your instincts and decision-making skills.

“Through the aid of the sixth sense,” said Hill, “you will be warned of impending dangers in time to avoid them, and notified of opportunities in time to embrace them.” The knowledge, skills, and experiences you gain will add to your seasoned wisdom.

Continue to network with those who support you and your vision. Be open to learning new information. Look for resources that will help you refine your skills.

Passion fuels dreams. Commitment fuels action. Get clear about what you want to do and why you want to do it. Allow time to regularly reevaluate and refine your goals. And, most importantly, commit to the work of pursuing the life you want. Take action. Your time is now!

What are you doing to plan for success?


Check out the free downloads from my goal-setting book, Dreams to Action Trailblazer’s Guide (a preview is available on Amazon).

Napoleon Hill believed all successful men and women have a definite chief aim. Discover Why You Need a Definite Chief Aim and how to create it.

Learn how to Write a Personal Purpose Statement with these simple tips.

Make your goals work for you. Get clear with these suggestions from How to Write SMART Personal Goals.

Would you like to belong to a Mastermind group?  Find more information about starting or joining a Mastermind group here:


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