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Book Review: The Law of Success- Napoleon Hill



Orne Publishing LLC 2010

Almost everyone interested in personal development has read or at least heard about Napoleon Hill’s great classic, Think and Grow Rich.  It’s arguably the most influential personal development book of the 20th century.

What few people realize is that this little book is just a diluted, much shorter version of a far more amazing original.  And now, for the first time in generations, you can actually get your hands on that original version!

The Law of Success– the unabridged, undiluted result of Hill’s research with many of the most extraordinary personalities of his time, from Rockefeller to the Roosevelts to Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell – is finally available again in its original form.

In case you don’t know the story, Hill, working under the patronage of Andrew Carnegie,  harvested from this remarkable group their secrets of personal success.  The principles he found were remarkably consistent.  And yet, when he sent copies of this work to the subjects of his research, they demanded he water it down for public consumption.  What this edition provides is the 1925 original.  Its life lessons are still as powerful today as they were then.

Here are a few of the success principles you will find in this book:

  1. Napoleon Hill’s self-confidence formula stipulates, “I will engage in no transaction that does not benefit all whom it affects,” “I will induce others to serve me because I will first serve them,” and, “I will eliminate hatred, envy, jealousy, selfishness and cynicism by developing love for all humanity, because I know that a negative attitude toward others can never bring me success.”
  2. There are two kinds of “people of action,” what Hill calls caretakers and promoters. To find a role in line with your talents, it is important to know which you are. “One of the outstanding tragedies of the world,” he writes, “is the fact that most people never engage in the work for which they are best fitted by nature.”
  3. Desire is the foundation of self-control. Self-control, or control of the thoughts one accepts, is the foundation of success.
  4. Concentration- “the ability to control your attention and focus it on a given problem until you have solved it”- is propelled by desire to attain our definite purpose and is necessary to achieve it.
  5. A definite purpose is what we will accept as the measure of a successful life- accept nothing less.
  6. “No man can attain success in its highest form without the aid of earnest prayer.”
  7. What Napoleon Hill calls the power of auto-suggestion but which we can more simply call the power of belief gives us the ability to reorganise our thoughts on the basis of whatever beliefs we adopt, and in so doing to attract those of like mind and ultimately, to make our beliefs physical reality.
  8. The results of optimism and persistence are infinitely superior to the results of pessimism. “Skepticism is the deadly enemy of progress and self-development.”

Also found in this book, a plan to end war and the power of laughter and song in clearing negative emotions- no, seriously!

Napoleon Hill had a sign in his office with the motto, “Day by day in every way I am becoming more successful.”  A skeptic asked him if he ‘really believed that stuff,’ to which he replied, “Of course not.  All it ever did for me was to help me get out of the coal mines, where I started as a labourer, and find a place in the world in which I am serving upwards of 100,000 in whose minds I am planting the same positive thought that this sign brings out.”

Hill’s Preface quotes one of the economics professors who reviewed the book, saying, “It is a tragedy that ever boy and girl who enters high school is not efficiently drilled on the fifteen major parts of your Reading Course on The Law of Success.  It is regrettable that the great university with which I am connected, and every other university, does not include your course as part of its curriculum.”  That pretty much says it all.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Leveraging the “Water Paradox” in Your Life

We’ve written a lot over the past year about bioenergetics and the importance of energy and intention in human life.  One of the great pioneers in this field has been Masaru Emoto, author of The Secret Life of Water.  His work is startling and simple.


Water, he discovered, can be imprinted with and remember human intentions that it has come into contact with.  Most famously, he has recorded the crystals formed by frozen water exposed to various intentions.  Each type of crystal has its own unique character and structure according to the intention it came into contact with.  Hado, which is his name for the energy fields that exist in all things, can imprint, transmit, connect through water.  The imprint can be a word, a piece of music, a prayer- anything that carries intention.  As Emoto writes, his work is about the power of prayer.

Water has always held a special place in spiritual traditions.

“Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

-John 4:7-14

“The highest goodness resembles water

Water greatly benefits myriad things without contention

It stays in places that people dislike

Therefore it is similar to the Tao”


“Nothing in the world is softer or weaker than water

Yet nothing is better at overcoming the hard and strong

This is because nothing can replace it”

-Tao Teh Ching, Ch.8 & 78


And this is the “water paradox” – that nothing in the world is softer or weaker than water, yet it has the ultimate RESILIENCE.  Now water has become a mirror for us to demonstrate how thought and intention influence material reality profoundly, in ways we could scarcely have imagined.  I personally believe that if you TRULY understand the staggering implications of what Dr. Emoto’s research has shown,  you’ll be too excited to sleep tonight.  This is nothing less than the destruction of the Newtonian worldview – that same worldview that has kept you anxious, imprisoned and disempowered all your life.

From an image of the Spirit to an image of the Tao, from baptism to holy water, from humility to nourishment, water is as ubiquitous spiritually as it is biologically.  We are mostly water.  As Emoto points out, when something troubles us or we want to relax, we go to places where we can look at water.  Water, he says, is the pathway and the witness of life.  It also has healing power.  To transmit healing intention, sending gratitude and balance into the water will bring those qualities to wherever that water goes.

Emoto’s hypothesis may also explain the mechanism behind an old and counter-intuitive form of medicine.

Homeopathy has always been one of those things that make scientists crazy.  Why should water that was once exposed to a certain kind of substance take on that substance’s medicinal properties?  Whereas the “scientific” objections to herbalism are nearly laughable, homeopathy is strange enough all on its own to evoke skepticism in even the most open minded people.  And yet, it works time after time.  Placebo effect?  Well, if so, then by definition, it should never have converted any skeptics, or been any more successful than standard medicine for a given condition, and most people would approach something like homeopathy with a degree of skepticism.

But let us consider that, as we have said in previous posts ( ), all living things emit energy, most notably coherent light.  This energy forms a field around us which our body uses measurably to communicate with itself and which measurably receives information from other living things.  Are the chemical properties of a herb, then, paralleled by energetic properties that can be stored and transmitted without the herb actually being present?

You’ve probably heard the gardener’s hypothesis that plants grow better when spoken to with appreciation, or when exposed to certain kinds of music- Emoto has done many similar experiments.  This was the subject of an episode of the television series Mythbusters.  Unfortunately, when it comes to questions like this, the Mythbusters are masters of missing the point.  They came up with a perfectly controlled experiment- by removing the human from the equation and recording soundtracks of compliments and abuse for the plants.  Naturally, the experiment didn’t work.  They removed the human element- the intention, the relationship was removed.  Intention can be stored in water and transmitted over time and distance, but to plants that hadn’t germinated or been sorted yet?  Neither the compliments nor the abuse had an object to be transmitted to.

Emoto’s research has also led him into many interesting experiments to do with intention and connectedness.  Intention, he discovered, can influence whether food ferments or rots.  But his real interest is in the uses of hado in healing, in connecting people with appreciation and love, and the subtle ways in which this can be used to transform the world.  By making use of the humble strategy of water, of letting go of resistance and instead opening up to life, love and appreciation, society itself will feel the effects and transform naturally.


~Dr. Symeon Rodger

The Optimism Trap (yes, really!)

Here is a  simple truth: you control your life.  And your thoughts and feelings color your experience like nothing else. How do you view your life?  Through rose-colored glasses or with a more negative outlook?  This is important because it affects your life in every possible sense.  Therefore, remain conscious of the emotions that you cultivate as you go through your day.   And you are always deciding which emotions to cultivate as you move through your day.  So do you think perhaps making those decisions consciously would be a good idea?

For a long time, we were advised to be optimistic. “Think positive!” was everywhere. Optimism does have some real merit. Research has shown that optimism has positive benefits when applied to ventures such as entrepreneurship  – it’s difficult to even imagine taking the risk of starting a new business venture in the face of harsh statistics such as that less than half of new businesses succeed beyond five years. But they do – thanks to optimism. Or take the job hunter who shows up to interview after interview despite the harsh economic climate  – he or she has to believe that this next job will be the one!  Who would ever take a chance if they didn’t think positively?

Think of the geniuses of recent centuries: from Nicola Tesla to Beethoven, there is one particular trait they had in common. They kept trying where others gave up. Only blind optimism could have led to the discoveries and the music they produced. Here’s a video that details some other famous people who failed at first:

The final line from the above youtube clip, “life = risk”, is the truth. Optimists turn their gaze away from the big possibility “of crashing and burning” and focus instead on the gleaming trophy of success they hope to attain.

Yet as absolutely vital as optimism is to your overall health and to your ability to bring about positive change in your life, there is such a thing as stupid, naive optimism, an optimism that’s self-destructive.  This false optimism may give you a false sense of security. Have you ever heard of the expression, “Plan for the worst, hope for the best”? It’s harder than it sounds. Many people just do the second part, and optimistically expect to lose weight or to find their dream job without putting concrete steps into action that will make it happen.  The New Orleans politicians knew the levies wouldn’t hold against the sea water in a hurricane, but optimistically thought it couldn’t happen to them.  Likewise, many in the current younger generation assume that a fulfilling, well-paying job and a beautiful home will fall into their laps. After living with high expectations all their lives, they grow up to confront a harsher reality in their twenties. Just google “new generation entitlement” to see what I mean.

Optimism can work against us – an MRI scan showed that optimistic people’s brains lit up when told positive statistics, and barely processed negative ones. In many ways, it makes sense that the brain works this way, otherwise how could we get through our daily lives with mortality staring us in the face? But thinking that disaster won’t happen to you can actually endanger your health and safety! Thinking about the worst that could happen can help you think twice about doing that cliff dive or trying a drug “just this once”.

Martin Seligman, psychologist and author of Authentic Happiness, says that, “The idea that optimism is always good is a caricature. It misses realism, it misses appropriateness, it misses the importance of negative emotion.” A huge financial scandal at the head office of my Church is a great illustration.  This scandal, which turned out to be a 2 million dollar embezzlement of funds that had been earmarked for victims of 9/11, the Beslan massacre and the Armenian earthquake, was reprehensible and yet many were afraid to stand up and demand justice and transparency.  We were told we should “forgive” the perpetrators and “move on”.  Well, in that situation, anger was a most appropriate emotion!  It was the people who were NOT angry that you had to worry about!  And there was one member of the clergy who would just smile and say, “It’s all good” and refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation.  So inappropriate “positive” emotion, if you can call it that, can actually be a sign of complacency, sycophancy and an appalling lack of personal integrity.   When confronted with injustice, tyranny, genocide and other hideous and obvious evils, righteous anger is the appropriate response of a true human being.

However, not all so-called “negative” emotions are not necessarily synonymous with pessimism.  Pessimism is often intertwined with crippling and truly negative emotional states such as self-doubt, shame, guilt, a sense of unworthiness, self-image issues and more.  Whereas stupid optimism can blind you to real danger, “stupid” pessimism is often a self-fulfilling prophecy that leads to self-created disastrous outcomes.

Yes, it’s true that no matter how intelligently optimistic you are, you will suffer occasional “reversals” of fortune.  The funny thing is, though, that for those who are intelligently optimistic, these reversals almost always turn out to by huge blessings in disguise.  Hence the wisdom of an ancient Taoist parable where the neighbors of a certain farmer continually pronounce every event in the farmer’s life to be unequivocally “good” or “bad”.   The farmer, though, is a wise man, so when his son breaks a leg he says “maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad”.  Then, when the emperor’s soldiers come by a week later, they find the lad unable to walk and do not draft him into the army.  So what had appeared to be a purely negative event had a very positive outcome.

People who have enjoyed success use pessimism to avoid becoming lazy and overconfident about their situations, and to prepare and motivate themselves.  But on the other hand, optimism can also motivate, by helping you forget about all the things that could go wrong and helping you keep your eyes on the prize. As a 2011 article in Psychology Today put it: “Optimism can buoy us up when things go wrong; deluged by feelings of hopelessness and despair, optimism is the raft we cling to until the skies clear.”

Bottom line?  Both intelligent optimism and intelligent pessimism are positive psychological states and you can use them to improve your daily life now.  All you have to do is discern and distinguish them carefully from their counterfeit equivalents – a naive and stupid optimism and a self-defeating pessimism. In the end, this viewpoint will be much more helpful to you than the simplistic idea that all optimism is “good” and all pessimism is “bad”.

As an exercise, try taking stock of your own internal optimistic and pessimistic states over the next week or so – are you using them wisely or destructively?

Good luck!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Four Unusual Resilience Strategies You Must Not Ignore

What is resilience? Resilience defined literally means the ability to “snap back”, so to speak, after being stretched out or bent out of shape. The ability to overcome challenges, or to “snap back,” can be applied to nearly every aspect of your life: repairing a relationship after being hurt, applying for another job after losing one, looking at a failed test and working hard to ace the next one.

Resilience is about turning failures into successes. But how do we find the drive to pick ourselves up off the ground after we’ve fallen? Here are four unusual tips to become a stronger, more resilient you.

1) Make Every Failure a Learning Experience

Every time you make a mistake or experience a failure, instead of immediately trying to put it out of your mind, pause and think about how it could have been averted. Try to  look back on your negative experiences not as failures, but as opportunities to learn. In this way, your mistake becomes simply another experience that moves you closer to your goal.  Of course, this implies a willingness to feel the pain rather than repress it, as illustrated in the following encounter…

I was talking with a high school student recently about this very issue.  She said, “I would get a report back, and see the failing grade, and all I could think about was that it meant I was worthless (i.e., false interpretation). So I would throw it into the trash, or fold it up and tuck it away. And then I would distract myself in any way I could (i.e., repression of the uncomfortable emotion). And so it became this very unhealthy cycle: bad test, not studying because I was so busy recovering from the previous bad grade, another bad grade. But then I started doing something new. As painful as it was, I’d smooth out the tests and look at every single red ‘X’, every single thing I did wrong (willingness to be with the uncomfortable emotion). I kept the tests, and reviewed them. And failure became okay. I learned something with every mistake. And before long, things started getting better.”

Making mistakes is how we learn. It sounds trite, but it’s important to remember when the lemon meringue won’t come out right and the dinner party is in an hour. Next time, give yourself more time. Use a tried and true recipe, or buy your dessert from a bakery. (No one will know!)

Having failed and moved on, you’ve created resilience within yourself, because when you realize that you can make mistakes and move forward, that’s when you start to take risks and trust yourself. The most successful people are able to accept that sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t, and the important thing is to pick up that pieces and move on.

If you research a little into the background of almost every highly successful person, they almost always overcame so many challenges to get to where they are it’s a little mind-boggling. Take Henry Ford, whose early business starts left him broke five times before he started his successful Ford Motor Company. Or Beethoven, whose music teacher once wrote, “as a composer, he is hopeless.” Perhaps one of the most astonishing stories I read was Stephen King’s, whose first novel, Carrie, was rejected thirty times before he became the publishing phenomenon he is today. As Robert Kiyosaki’s mentor used to tell him in Rich Dad, Poor Dad, “Losers are people who think losing is bad.”

The key here is to recognize the mistake, learn, and try again.

2) Use Music to Overcome Negative Experiences

The effects of music on the brain are profound. This is Your Brain on Music, by Daniel J. Levitin, contains the following passage: “Through studies of people with brain damage, we’ve seen patients who have lost the ability to read a newspaper but can still read music, or individuals who can play the piano but lack the motor coordination to button their own sweater. Music listening, performance, and composition engage nearly every area of the brain that we have so far identified, and involve nearly every neural subsystem.”

This phenomenon accounts for the sense of calm and well-being that can wash over your whole body when you close your eyes and listen to music that you love.

Have you ever wondered why you are unnerved by silence? How many times have you walked into a room and by default turned on the TV or radio? Strange as it may seem, this may be a modern spin on a genetic predisposition: as an animal living in the forest, sounds of other animals would be intensely reassuring. As soon as the birds fall silent, it’s a sign there is something wrong, that a large predator is about. This is why one of the scariest moments in a horror movie is not when the music is playing, but in the deep silence when you just know there’s going to be a pop out! Listening to music can calm you down and make you feel like the world is right again.

Music can boost the immune system, help you recall memories, enhance exercising and increase spatial reasoning. Why not harness the power of music to prevail over negativity? Listening to songs you loved as a teenager can make you feel happy and nostalgic, classical music can open your mind, and nature sounds, such as birdsong, can relax you.

3) Use Humor

When there is a problem in your life that needs solving, don’t become mired in frustration and impatience. Try looking at the problem with humor! You may find that trying to solve problems with an open mind and a little creativity can blow your challenges out of the water!

When Antanas Mockus became mayor of Bogotá, Columbia, in 1996, he introduced some pretty humorous strategies to bring order to the crime-ridden city. They were surprisingly effective! To combat the problem of jaywalkers, Mockus hired 420 mimes to gently mock pedestrians who didn’t follow the rules. For example, a person who ran across the road would be followed and imitated by a costumed mime. “It was a pacifist counterweight,” Mockus said. “With neither words nor weapons, the mimes were doubly unarmed. My goal was to show the importance of cultural regulations.”

This may be an interesting method to try to get your child to stop playing video games …

The Columbian mathematician and philosopher also introduced measures such as a “Night for Women” where men were encouraged to stay home and look after the children, and went about asking people to call his office if they found a kind and honest taxi driver (the 150 drivers found were invited to meet with Mockus and discuss how to improve the behavior of inappropriate taxi drivers – they later would form a club called “Knights of the Zebra”). He also appeared in a commercial in which he demonstrated proper water conservation – while in the shower. “The distribution of knowledge is the key contemporary task,” Mockus said. “Knowledge empowers people. If people know the rules, and are sensitized by art, humor, and creativity, they are much more likely to accept change.”

If you’re interested, you can read more about Mockus in this article:

4) Your Emotions Affect the World Around You – Make Use of This

In 1991, Dr. Masuru Emoto of Japan began taking photographs of water crystals – and discovered something absolutely amazing! When he played beautiful music next to a container of water, the water crystals that formed when the water was frozen created beautiful shapes. The same also occurred when he channeled positive emotions at the water. However, when he focused negative emotions at the water, such as hatred and disgust, the crystals that formed were random, misshapen and ugly.  You can get a feel for his research in this excerpt from the famous docu-drama, What the BLEEP Do We Know?

This shows that we can change the world around us using positive emotions as tools for change. When we consider how 90% of our body is water, then we realize the possibilities for changing our own physical makeup into something more beautiful and positive.

Dr. Emoto had this to say in his book, The Hidden Messages of Water: “We must first and foremost live life to the fullest. Our consciousness is what will purify water, and through this we send messages of beauty and strength to all life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could cover the world in the most beautiful of water crystals? How do we go about this? The answer is love and gratitude. I’d like to ask you to take another look at the beauty of the crystals. If all the people of the world can have love and gratitude, the pristine beauty of the world will once again return.”

Using your emotions to make yourself and the world healthier and happier is certainly a pathway to success.

And Here’s the Subtext to All This…

You may have noticed that all four of these unusual and effective methods focus primarily on your mental-emotional resilience.  And yet they can also have a measurable impact on your physical well-being.  Even better, by training you to develop a positive outlook and overcome your inherent tendency to see the glass as half-empty, you’ll find over time that more and more wonderful persons, events and things seem to be drawn into your life.  Don’t believe me?  Just try it!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Does God Really Want You to Be Healthy and Wealthy?

Hi all,

This great question just came in from one of our members:

“The pentecostal ‘health and wealth’ gospel emphasizes the idea that God wants us to be healthy and wealthy. Does God actually want us to be healthy and wealthy, or is this based on some flawed presuppositions?” – Jason C.

When it comes to the Law of Attraction (LOA), you have some pretty sharp disagreements out there – I suspect most Christian groups would denounce it as a demonic fabrication, whereas at least some Protestants and lots of people with New Age inclinations claim it’s true.

However, the truth here may be more complex than either of those groups believes:

In my book, The 5 Pillars of Life, I introduced you to “Authentic Ancient Traditions” (AATs), spiritual traditions that can prove they get the results they claim. The original Christian tradition, preserved in the East, and several other traditions worldwide fit the criteria of Authentic Ancient Traditions.

One thing AATs have in common is they see the whole purpose of human life as “self-transformation” – a total transformation of mind, body and spirit that goes beyond anything we can imagine in our current state, a transformation that is itself union with God, with the “Absolute Reality” behind our visible universe.

In fact, everything they teach has only one purpose – to bring about this transformation.

A logical corollary of this is the teaching that in our current, untransformed state, we’re not “normal” at all. Quite the opposite; we’re suffering from serious delusions about the nature of reality based on a chronic self-aborption and ego-centrism.

Since this is the case, it would be ludicrous to believe that God, the Absolute, wants us to get what we want all the time, since many of our wants are going to be self-destructive in the long run, no matter how good they would make us feel right now.

All these AATs teach from their own experience that love and compassion are fundamental to the very fabric of reality. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that if the Absolute IS love, then giving us what we “want” all the time would not be a loving act. We don’t do that for our own kids and parents who do this are actually harming their children.

So contrary to what certain Christian and New Age authors will tell you, “what God wants” is not necessarily identical to what you “want” at any given moment and certainly isn’t restricted to a particular idea like wanting everyone all the time to be healthy and wealthy. If the real purpose of human life is self-transformation, then what people need at any given moment is what leads them in that direction.

Obviously, health or wealth could be spiritually helpful to some people at certain stages of their spiritual development and spiritually harmful to others. Like nearly everything in human life, health and wealth are neutral – the use we make of them determines whether they help us or harm us.

The GOOD news here, though, is that God doesn’t have an agenda to keep you sick, miserable and impoverished either. And that’s really important to know, since some Christians think a pious Christian life has to be sick, broke and miserable and that suffering is somehow the purpose of human life. There’s a whole mistaken theology behind this I won’t get into now.

Now, the Flip Side…

Does the LOA actually exist? Well, everyday experience suggests it does. So without getting into the latest discoveries of quantum physics and all that, we can definitely say this: anyone with any experience in counselling people will come to the ironclad conviction that how we think about ourself and our life determines what our reality looks like.

We are all the victims or beneficiaries of deeply ingrained belief systems from early in life. Some of these beliefs propel us to our greatest successes while others make us miserable. What examples can you come up with from your own life?

So, not surprisingly, AATs put a huge emphasis on faith, on believing in the reality of your spiritual work so that it has the intended effect. This is not “faith” as in an abstract belief in the invisible that you can only confirm when you die. No, this is faith as in trusting in the Absolute until you come to a genuine and irrefutable experience of It.

If you look at some of the ancient spiritual teachings on prayer and meditiation from various traditions, you’ll be struck by how similar they look to the LOA. Take these words on prayer by St. John of Kronstadt from late 19th century Russia:


“The main thing in prayer is a lively and clear faith in the Lord. See him vividly before you and in you, and then ask Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit for whatever you desire and you will obtain it. Ask simply, without the slightest doubt, then God will be everything to you, instantly accomplishing great and marvelous things.”

“When we pray, we must believe in the power of the words of the prayer, so as not to separate the words from the deeds they express. We must believe the deeds follow the words as surely as a shadow follows a body, for the word and the deed of the Lord are indivisible: ‘He commanded and they were created.’ And likewise, you must believe that what you ask for in prayer will be done.”

“To God all things are possible and nothing is difficult. So when you pray, be firmly convinced the Lord can do everything you ask in a moment. Do not ascribe your own inability to God.”


Bottom line? Reality is very complex and we simplify it at our peril. On the one hand, the universe is not a cosmic vending machine designed to fulfill your every whim. On the other, the universe will deliver what you think about most of the time, for good or for ill, and it IS set up to look after your long term welfare. And God is most definitely not out to keep you sick, broke and miserable.

So there is far more truth to the LOA than its detractors claim, but much more nuance involved than its proponents are often telling you.

Hope that helps!

– Dr. Symeon Rodger

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