Back in the 1920's, Robert L. Taylor, former Governor of Tennessee, commissioned Napoleon Hill to write "success stories" about famous men for his magazine. Hill's first assignment was to interview one of the richest men in the world, the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie.
Carnegie had embraced the thought that with a little bit of endeavour even the common man could easily unlock the key to the secret of personal success - he considered that achieving personal success was quite simple and required primarily loads of common sense. During the interview with Napoleon Hill, Carnegie was so impressed by his hard work and commitment that he gave him an assignment - Napoleon was asked to interview 500 of America's rich and famous people and find out what was it about their personality that made them successful.
Carnegie armed Napoleon with his personal letters of introduction to these rich and famous people. What followed was 20 years of interviewing successful men and women including Henry Ford, Thomas A Edison, John D Rockefeller, William Wrigley, William Taft, F W Woolworth, John Burroughs and Dr Alexander Graham Bell, but it was these interviews and their analyses that changed the way Napoleon looked at life. Both he and Carnegie referred to the interviews' results as the "Philosophy of Achievement", and both men were of the opinion that even the common man, if he knew what it was about personality that made men successful, could easily find success on his own strength, and by tweaking and fine-tuning his personality.
In the year 1928, the critical information from the "Philosophy of Achievement" was distilled into an epic masterpiece entitled "The Law of Success". The book was a huge success. Napoleon Hill designed and created The Law of Success as a study program consisting of 16 lessons. It wasn't designed to just be read -- like a book. It was meant to be studied and acted on -- like a course -- a course in success.
Because in my view, many of the central tenets and teachings of this course are as relevant to project managers and leaders today as they were in 1928 when this was published.
The Law of Success is full of "Ah Ha!" moments, such as the description of leadership in Lesson Five. Hill reprises a speech given to the student-officers at a Training Camp at Fort Sheridan, by Major C. A. Bach during World War One. These men were about to be commissioned and sent to the front in France. The parallels with the challenges of project management today are uncanny. Excerpts of his talk follow:
"In a short time each of you men will control the lives of a certain number of other men. ….When you join your organization you will find there a willing body of men who ask from you nothing more than the qualities that will command their respect, their loyalty and their obedience.
They are perfectly ready and eager to follow you so long as you can convince them that you have these qualities. When the time comes that they are satisfied you do not possess them you might as well kiss yourself good-bye. Your usefulness in that organization is at an end.
In a few days the great mass of you men will receive commissions as officers. These commissions will not make you leaders; they will merely make you officers. They will place you in a position where you can become leaders if you possess the proper attributes."
In much the same way, having the title "Project Manager" does not make you a project manager, nor a leader of a project. It goes on:
"But you must make good, not so much with the men over you as with the men under you."
I despair when I see Project Managers who focus all their efforts and communication towards senior management and the executives of a company, rather than working with their team to achieve the project objectives. Especially if they are brought into an established project team – an effective project manager spends more time with the team than with the "brass".
These fundamentals of leadership are as relevant in today's business as they were in the 1920's when written. As far as I am concerned, Lesson Five should be essential reading for anyone wanting to become a Project Manager!
The Law of Success course is basically a how-to manual of the skills and qualities required to become successful in whatever field one works. It is particularly relevant for those who achieve their success through the work of others.
Napoleon Hill himself states in the Introductory Lesson
"The purpose of the Law of Success course is to enable you to find out how you may become more capable in your chosen field of work......You may not like the work in which you are now engaged. There are two ways of getting out of that work. One way is to take but little interest in what you are doing, aiming merely to do enough with which to "get by." Very soon you will find a way out, because the demand for your services will cease.
The other and better way is by making yourself so useful and efficient in what you are now doing that you will attract the favorable attention of those who have the power to promote you into more responsible work that is more to your liking.
It is your privilege to take your choice as to which way you will proceed."
Among the topics covered in this course, you will find discussions on:
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The Law of Success Course is actually 15 lessons and an introduction. Here's what you'll learn from this 16 part course:
This lesson is an introduction to the Law of Success course and the 15 laws upon which it is based. It also introduces some of the terminology and ideas that are central to the whole course including the concept of a Mastermind and organised effort.
Also included in the Introductory Lesson is a Personal Analysis Chart the student is encouraged to complete after they have finished studying the whole course. As a point of comparison, Hill includes the chart rankings for 10 famous (and infamous) leaders in history.
In this lesson, Hill explains and gives examples of his concept of a MasterMind, which is the bringing together of multiple minds, using organised effort, and focused towards achieving a definite (chief) aim.
In each of the lessons, Hill doesn't just describe what these concepts and ideas are - he shows you how to create or formulate these for yourself, through the use of exercises and practical learning.
Lesson Two "is intended as a mind stimulant that will cause the student to organize and direct to a DEFINITE end the forces of his or her mind, thus harnessing the stupendous power which most people waste in spasmodic, purposeless thought.
Singleness of purpose is essential for success, no matter what may be one's idea of the definition of success. Yet singleness of purpose is a quality which may, and generally does, call for thought on many allied subjects."
Hill believes that if you fix a definite chief aim in your mind, hold it there, focus your efforts towards it, are determined to realise it, and saturate your subconscious mind with the thought of this chief aim, then you will automatically influence the physical acts of your body towards attainment of that aim.
According to Hill "The development of self-confidence starts with the elimination of this demon called fear, which sits upon a man's shoulder and whispers into his ear, "You can't do it - you are afraid to try - you are afraid of public opinion - you are afraid that you will fail – you are afraid you have not the ability."
This fear demon is getting into close quarters. Science has found a deadly weapon with which to put it to flight, and this lesson on self-confidence has brought you this weapon for use in your battle with the world-old enemy of progress, fear."
We learn, in this lesson, about the six basic fears of mankind, the fear of Poverty, Old Age, Criticism, Loss of Love of Someone, Ill Health and Death.
We also learn about the Law of Attraction, and the self-confidence formula for attracting what you want into your life.
Hill explains the Law of Habit, and explains how our habits shape our personality. Hill states that cultivating a habit of saving will not limit what we earn, but allow us to conserve resources, and this will place us in the way of greater opportunities.
This lesson will teach you how to distribute your income systematically so that a definite percentage of it will steadily accumulate, thus forming one of the greatest known sources of personal power.
He also discusses the slavery of debt, and teaches us how to master the Fear of Poverty.
Following on from the lesson on Self-Confidence, Hill expands this belief in self to the areas of initiative and leadership. According to Hill:
"This lesson, on Initiative and Leadership, follows the lesson on Self-confidence for the reason that no one could become an efficient leader or take the initiative in any great undertaking without belief in himself.
Initiative and Leadership are associated terms in this lesson for the reason that Leadership is essential for the attainment of Success, and Initiative is the very foundation upon which this necessary quality of Leadership is built. Initiative is as essential to success as a hub is essential to a wagon wheel."
Initiative is described as that rare quality that impels one to do what ought to be done without being told to do it. Leadership is not found among those who do not have initiative.
In this lesson, Hill gives you procedures to follow to build your skills in initiative and leadership.
Material achievements grow out of the organized plans that you create in your imagination. First comes the thought; then, organization of that thought into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning is in your imagination.
Imagination can be both interpretive and creative, and Hill explains both of these types of imagination, and explains why having both of these styles in your "armory" are important.
Hill teaches us that enthusiasm is a vital moving force that impels action:
"ENTHUSIASM is a state of mind that inspires and arouses one to put action into the task at hand. It does more than this - it is contagious, and vitally affects not only the enthusiast, but all with whom he comes in contact". He also demonstrates how our state of mind influences others - not just their thoughts but their actions.
He also goes on to explain that no one can express, through words or acts, that which is not in harmony with their own beliefs, and if you do so, you will pay through a loss of ability to influence others.
In this lesson we learn how to direct our enthusiasm to constructive ends, and are taught not to let our emotions place our happiness in the hands of another person.
Thoughts influence emotions, emotions influence deeds, and deeds attract money. Hill teaches us that we have the power to control our thoughts and make them do our bidding. Self control is basically thought control, and controlling your thoughts allows you to become the Master of Your Own Fate.
Hill postulates that we will succeed more quickly if we do work that we love, however he also believes that struggle and resistance will develop strength, so all is not lost if you are not currently doing your "dream job".
The habit of doing more than paid for is linked to the Law of Increasing Returns, which will eventually ensure you a return in money, peace of mind and happiness far out of proportion to the service you render.
Hill believes that it is personality that attracts others to us. People with a pleasing personality take a genuine interest in others, and speak forcefully and with conviction. He encourages us to make it our business to take a keen interest in other people and in their work, business or profession.
This lesson will teach you how to transform your personality so that you may adapt yourself to any environment, or to any other personality.
In this lesson, we learn the importance of separating facts from information, and then how to separate those facts into those which are relevant and those which are irrelevant.
Hill explains deductive reasoning, creative thought, sub-conscious thought, and auto suggestion, and how you can harness these to work for you. Your thoughts attract to you those things which are in harmony with the nature of your thoughts.
Hill teaches us how to focus our mind on a given desire until ways and means for realisation of that desire are worked out and successfully put into operation.
He delves further into the Law of Auto-Suggestion and the Law of Habit, and shows us how to master our habits and set them to work for us. He also explains the Magic Key to Success - concentration leads to self-mastery.
This lesson includes practical assignments to break bad habits and create new ones which will lead us to attaining our goals.
Hill describes the two forms of co-operation: the Co-operation between people who group themselves together or form alliances for the purpose of attaining a given end, under the principles known as the Law of the Master Mind; and the Co-operation between the conscious and the subconscious minds, which forms a reasonable hypothesis of man's ability to contact, communicate with and draw upon infinite intelligence. As an example, Hill recommends:
"Before going to sleep at night impress upon your mind the desire to arise the next morning at a given hour, say at four A.M., and if your impression is accompanied by a positive determination to arise at that hour, your sub-conscious mind will register the impression and awaken you at precisely that time.
Now the question might well be asked: "If I can impress my sub-conscious mind with the desire to arise at a specified time and it will awaken me at that time, why do I not form the habit of impressing it with other and more important desires?"
Hill provides many examples of cooperation including friendly societies, working groups, professional associations, as well as informal cooperation between people of a similar mindset, and goes on to demonstrate that cooperative effort produces power.
In this lesson, Hill explains the difference between failure and temporary defeat. Temporary defeats can be a blessing in disguise, as they bring us to a stop and allow us to redirect our energies along more different and desirable lines. Failure is Nature's way of preparing us to do work.
According to Hill "neither temporary defeat nor adversity amounts to failure in the mind of the person who looks upon it as a teacher that will teach some needed lesson. As a matter of fact, there is a great and lasting lesson in every reverse, and in every defeat; and, usually, it is a lesson that could he learned in no other way than through defeat."
Many of our deep held opinions and beliefs are based on what other people think (our parents, teachers, friends, the newspapers and TV). In general, Hill believes that only those who are fighting for their lives truly display tolerance. Intolerance makes enemies of those who should be friends. It destroys opportunity and fills the mind with doubt, mistrust and prejudice.
Hill teaches us that cooperation and tolerance are the foundation for enduring success.
The Golden Rule is the final lesson in this course, and perhaps the most profound. Whilst many of us have heard of the saying "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". In the Golden Rule, Hill takes this a step further, and encourages us to "think of others as you would have them think of you".
Given how powerful our mind is, Hill reasonably argues that we should always look for the good in other people, and maintain positive thoughts at all times.
"There can never be success without happiness, and no man can be happy without dispensing happiness to others. Moreover, the dispensation must be voluntary and with no other object in view than that of spreading sunshine into the hearts of those whose hearts are heavy-laden with burdens."
This final lesson also includes a Code of Ethics which neatly encapsulates all of the learning from the 15 Laws.
This is simply a brilliant work written in a simple, practical way that everyone can understand. Although some of the examples can seem a little dated (it was written in 1928) the fundamental truths are still valid.
If you are only going to buy one book about leadership or management skills, then I strongly suggest that you make it this one. It will change your life.
This is the original Law of Success Course, updated and reformatted to make it more 21st century friendly. It is available as a set of 16 PDF files and you can download the course immediately upon payment through PayPal. The Manage That Project price for The Law of Success is only $29.95.
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