“Nurture your mind with great thoughts. To believe in the heroic makes heroes.”
Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich, one of the world’s most popular primers on success, grew up in terrible poverty. As a young man, he realized that he had been conditioned to believe that he would always be poor and to harbor low expectations about his future life. He also knew that it was up to him to change his mental attitude about his potential and capabilities and to give himself a higher standard — and higher expectations — to live up to.
With this goal of altering his own mental landscape, Napoleon began studying the principles of success. He soon realized that great people become great by thinking great thoughts — by feeling themselves to be capable of accomplishing worthy objectives. So he began saturating his mind with positive thoughts about his talent and potential. He used words to change his world, just as we do.
He also adapted another useful technique that he called the “master mind” principle. This involved created a kind of internal cheerleading squad or team of coaches. By reading the writings, biographies, diaries, and letters of great people he admired, he began to see how human they were, how many failures they encountered, and to break down the barrier between himself and them. He began to think of them as friends and engaged them in imaginary conversations, seeking their advice and direction. Slowly, he began to expect of himself the kinds of behavior they had expected of themselves.
Sometimes, though it may sound strange, I use this technique with Oscar Wilde. I don’t know why he’s my guy, but he is. He and I chat back and forth on paper. Fascinating what comes up! Shakespeare, Hemingway, Pasternak, Tolstoy — take your pick! Napoleon Hill would tell you that all the great minds are available to you if you’re willing to seek them out and listen. Would love to know if you’ve ever tried this technique and what the results have been. If note, the next time you hit a rough patch, why not dialogue for a while on paper with a writer you admire and see what happens. It might surprise you!