The Law Of Success By Napoleon Hill – Book Review


Best for:

Hill’s Law of Success is best for those who have explored psychology and self-development at length and want a historical look at what best-in-class advice was almost a hundred years ago.

Difficulty to digest:

This book’s tone is conversational. Some references or word choices will be a bit dated, but it’s not hard to understand at all.

Key Insights:

Napolean Hill’s Law of Success is a lengthy work that discusses fifteen principles for success. Hill argues that following these principles will lead to success both in monetary and personal realms. While the book contains some good points, it has definitely aged in a way that it should be a secondary or tertiary text for those on their journey toward happiness and personal development.

The Law Of Success

In the Law of Success, Hill goes through fifteen unique traits that when developed lead to personal success. Here’s the list:

1) Mastermind

2) Definite Chief Aim

3) Self-Confidence

4) Habit of Saving

5) Initiative and Leadership

6) Imagination

7) Enthusiasm

8) Self-Control

9) Do More than Paid For

10) A Pleasing Personality

11) Accurate Thinking

12) Concentration

13) Cooperation

14) Profiting by Failure

15) Tolerance

16) Golden Rule

Each chapter is relatively long and goes into quite a bit of depth. It would take far too much space for me to recount each chapter, but they are all easily digestible (though some explore territory that science now has debunked or that cannot be proven). While there is some information which should be taken with a grain of salt most sections contain multiple points and illustrations that are helpful for daily life.

As far as what’s both unique and useful, the chapters on doing more than paid for, accurate thinking and the mastermind are standouts. Though Hill discusses mastermind’s as some sort of nebulous woo-woo force, his underlying idea that the best ideas and creations come from combinations of human creativity sound true. If you don’t want to commit to the entire tome, this would be a good place to cherry-pick.

Success Is A Lifelong Process

There’s also an overwhelming theme of self-development as a lifelong process. Hill notes there’s not one perfect point where things suddenly come together. Much of the book is about repetition, attempts, and gradual growth. In adopting the right mindset and taking action, the process eventually produces good results.  There is much discussion of repeating lessons and building character, more so than any quick fix.

Each chapter in the Law of Success contains numerous stories, sometimes to the point of redundancy. While the sequence of stories can often illuminate a topic, other times it seems as though you’re seeing the same thing from page to page. In fact, there are several stories that actually duplicate from past chapters. For those who don’t like repetition, this can be extremely off-putting, as the content is exactly the same in multiple places.

Throughout the book Hill focuses mostly on the trait at hand, however, he often slips into unrelated topics, and there is quite a bit of overlap between chapters. For the most part, this isn’t too distracting, but in the later chapters, it can get significantly derailed from where it originally started.

All in all, Napoleon Hill’s Law of Success is a relatively useful book, with many concepts that are still applicable. With that being said, many concepts are unproven, proven wrong, or have not aged well. This book is for those who are interested in the history of personal development and those who can parse through aged ideas, not those at the beginning of their journey. 

Other considerations:

While useful concepts are peppered throughout the book, some sections have aged especially poorly. They could be described as racist and sexist, though the book’s underlying intent tries to be universally accepting. Some may consider this a product of the times, others will find it extremely disrespectful and hurtful.

In addition, the book is riddled with Christian philosophy, sometimes as subtle undertones and sometimes so in-your-face it’s borderline preaching. While Hill tries to explain the concepts are useful regardless of religion, some points are presented with religiously-based justifications. For those not of that faith, this can be extremely off-putting.

At several points, the book claims to focus on sales techniques. While there are some sales-related stories it would be a stretch to call this a sales book. Additionally, some of the tactics described may not feel morally sound to everyone. There are arguments to be made on both sides, and sections regarding sales should be read especially carefully. There is much to learn here, but also several pitfalls.

Finally, quite a bit of the book’s tone is self-aggrandizing.  Hill confusingly moves between being humble and aggressively suggesting that failure to achieve results through these methods is the fault of the reader. There are also many strange capitalizations and emphasis on words that don’t particularly need it.

If you decide to pick up this book, recognize that it’s quite long and there’s quite a bit to wade through to find the useful concepts. It’s definitely not recommended light reading, nor is it perfectly streamlined and edited. Instead, expect to get a full, broad understanding of the inner workings of one man’s mind, for better or worse.

Applicable Content:

  1. Of the sixteen concepts mentioned above, which two do you think would benefit you the most? What can you do today to start developing those traits?
  2. One useful concept in the Law of Success is conversing with a set of hypothetical advisors at the end of each day. Think of a few people you highly admire. If you consulted with them about your life right now, what would they recommend?

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