Napoleon Hill: Principles of the Mastermind


Is the power of our minds and their coming together in harmonious effort, the great key that can unlock our personal success and perhaps solve many of the problems we face in our world today? Napoleon Hill's legacy and the wealthy and powerful men he shadowed for decades say yes.

In our modern world, a month ago can feel like ancient history. Ninety years seems, to many, like the dawn of time. There are positives about this way of looking at the world. It allows us to quickly morph and remake ourselves - sometimes to the good and other times to the negative.

However, the true failing of this world view is that it considers old ideas as useless ideas, never for a moment realizing that many of the current ideas rest on the silent wisdom of those old ideas.

One such concept - the mastermind - celebrates its 90th year in 2018. The phrase was popularized by Napoleon Hill in his 1928 book The Laws of Success and later expanded upon in his 1937 global bestseller Think and Grow Rich.

Hill was the first to admit that he did not arrive at the mastermind idea, nor his other laws of success, alone. His work drew upon the scattered and random wisdom that preceded him and, more importantly, upon his connection with some the 20th century's most successful people.

As a young reporter in 1908, Hill was granted an interview with Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie took a liking to Hill and commissioned him to spend 20 years capturing the best practices of Carnegie and other powerful corporate and political luminaries of the day. These included Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan and Charles Schwab among others.

Carnegie arrived in the United States virtually penniless and built an empire that made him the wealthiest man in the world at one point. He passed little of his wealth on to his offspring. He believed in a kind ultimate survival of the fittest where the best outcome would happen when the smartest people had access to the resources and he did not consider the succeeding generations of wealthy families as the obvious best choice.


He wrote in an 1889 article, The Gospel of Wealth, that he would give away his wealth to build libraries and support the arts and sciences. He was quoted in 1887 as saying, "I should consider it a disgrace to die a rich man.'

It is against this backdrop that Carnegie asked Hill to share the secret of success and conscious wealth creation with the masses and Hill spent the rest of his life elucidating the principles Carnegie helped him gain access to and putting them in language that anyone with "reasonable intelligence and desire" could use them to create conscious wealth. Hill spent rest of his life doing exactly that.

Now some mainstream skeptics, as with any idea that doesn't follow a strictly materialist bent, have been critical of Hill. Inc. Magazine, of all publications, published an article wondering aloud if there was any truth in Hill's Carnegie story and using the old "He wrote a book to get rich" trope to criticize Hill.

Such tired and unfounded criticisms belie the fact that Hill's story fits with Carnegie's own known motives. It also ignores the fact that many, many people over many, many years have applied these principles successfully to their lives. I'd say the burden is on the skeptics to prove there's foul play here.

Many would argue, and with good reason, that the Rockefeller, Ford, and other massive fortunes have not always been used to serve the interests of the people. However, Carnegie, though Hill, armed any one of us with the tools needed to create conscious wealth that can be used for our own benefit and for that of society.

Late in his life Napoleon Hill made a series of video recordings, like the excerpt below, describing the versions of his Laws of Success that had been tried and honed through decades of practical application. The following clip is his explanation of the Second Law - the Mastermind.

The other principles are more common sense, but the Mastermind has a mystical element to it. Hill claimed that these wealthy and powerful people used this principle to create a kind of equation greater than the sum of its parts.

He wrote, "“No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind." He called the third mind the Mastermind. His detailed descriptions of its application in Think and Grow Rich border on metaphysical. Yet, the results gleaned from it can hardly be debated.

This recording may seem a bit outdated. Hill's language may seem anachronistic. Still, the nuggets are here. I'd encourage you to get past those barriers and listen closely. The benefits could be many for you.

Finally, to those who argue these principles have been used for great selfishness, greed, and harm to the planet; who can argue? However, like so many things in life, it is not the ideas that are good or bad, but their application. You can use these principles to achieve your ultimate good as well.