Mistakes of Napoleon Hill, the O.G. Bulletproof Executive

Napoleon Hill is the author of “Think and Grow Rich,” one of the top-selling and most influential books on executive performance ever written. The book was commissioned years ago by Andrew Carnegie who employed Napoleon Hill to spend years discovering what makes people highly successful and wealthy.  He wanted to know best practices, techniques, anything that moved the needle.

Legend has it that twenty years after the first copy of “Think and Grow Rich” was published, a reporter surveyed millionaires and asked what they single most influential factor was in their success.  More than half of new millionaires named the book.

I became a “Think and Grow Rich” fanboy more than 20 years ago when I was 16.  I wrote a goal down on a torn-out piece of notebook paper and taped it to my mirror.  I wrote, “I will be a millionaire when I turn 23.”  Friends laughed when they saw it, and for good reason.  After all, I didn’t meet that goal until I was 26, but I wouldn’t have met it at all without some of the techniques in “Think and Grow Rich.”

The Secret” is a new age interpretation of a more than 50 year old book.

I was so pleased when Andrew Jeffs, one of my readers blessed with two first names, sent me a newsletter from the Napoleon Hill World Learning Center at Purdue University because I didn’t know anyone was actively promoting Mr. Hill’s work anymore.

Experience has taught me that to get your brain and motivation in order, you simply have to optimize your underlying health and fitness, or your brain won’t do what it’s meant to do.  You don’t need to spend very much time keeping your “infrastructure” running well , but you *must* do the right things.  “Think and Grow Rich” techniques work better on a high-octane, well-tuned brain in a body that won’t collapse when it’s pushed.

Napoleon Hill agrees, breaking these domains into physical, mental, emotional, social, financial, and spiritual.  More modern influences, including my professor Stew Friedman from Wharton and author of “Total Leadership,” use similar categories to this day.

That’s why I was saddened to see completely backwards advice in the Napoleon Hill 21-day challenge.  In the physical domain, they recommend swapping junk food for a zero-fat bag of sugar called “fruit” and exercising with a walk for 15 minutes a day.

Outcome-driven Napoleon Hill would be turning over in his grave if he saw this.  The fact is that in 21 days, you can transform your physical infrastructure – like gaining 10 lbs of muscle and losing 10 lbs of fat, or making your cells 7 times more efficient at making energy – but you can’t do it by eating empty fruit calories or going for a stroll.  You CAN do it with healthy high octane foods like grass-fed steak, eggs, butter, avocado, and nuts, and with, at most, three 10-minute high intensity workouts per week.

Tim Ferriss does it, I have done it for 15 years, often without any exercise required, John Durant does it,  Cross-fit people get it. Paleo people get it, and some of the best executives I know are paleo, Cross-fit, meditating unstoppable balls of fire.

Add Napoleon Hill’s advice to a foundation like that, and you can’t help but shine at what you do.

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Dave Asprey

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