The Wisdom of Andrew Carnegie as told to Napoleon Hill

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I find this book to have a long and weird title. This book records the interview that Napoleon Hill did with Andrew Carnegie, which talks about the 17 success principles. Let me share with you the striking philosophy that I picked up from the book. To make sure no meaning is lost, I shall quote Andrew Carnegie’s words in verbatim.

The importance of knowing your purpose in life, and how it translates to tangible benefits,

“Definiteness of Purpose involving a hundred dollars, for example, might be translated into its financial equivalent in a few days, or even a few hours, or a few minutes, whereas, desire for a million dollars might call for considerably more time, depending to some extent on what one has to give in return for the million dollars… The best way I can think of to describe the time necessary for the translation of a definite purpose into its physical or financial equivalent, can be accurately stated by determining the exact time necessary to deliver the service, or the equivalent in value one intends to give in return for the object of that purpose.”

Wealth is a process of providing valuable service to others,

“riches and material things that men get are the effect of some form of useful services they rendered. My fortune did not come to me until I had delivered to others definite values in the form of large quantities of well-made steel.”

Money has no use when in possession, money need to be used constructively,

“…men seldom profit by money except that which they earn… The good there is in money consists of the use to which it is put, and not in the mere possession of it. Generally speaking, the man who earns his own money, acquires, along with it, some of the necessary wisdom as to its constructive use.”

Embrace responsibilities and work,

“Of the thousands of men who work for me, I hazard the guess that not more than a score of them would be willing to assume my responsibilities and work the hours I work, if I gave them all the money I possess for doing so. A few of the men who work for me have been willing to assume such responsibilities, and it is significant that every one of these is as rich as he desires to be.”

Teach wealth principles and not merely give away money. Teach a man to fish and not just give him the fish.

“… the very best method of distributing wealth is that of distributing the principles of achievement by which wealth is procured.”

The importance to leverage on other people’s expertise and experience,

“I have surrounded myself with more than a score of men whose combined education, experience, and ability, give me the full benefit of all that is known, up to the present time, about the making and marketing of steel. My job is to keep these men inspired with a desire to do the finest possible job.”

Definition of power and knowledge,

“… success is the power to get whatever one desires in life, without violating the rights of others… Knowledge is not power but the appropriation and use of other men’s knowledge and experience, for the attainment of some definite purpose, is power; moreover, it is power of the most beneficial order.”

In forming a Master Mind group…

“…seldom does anyone has the ability, to induce others to serve as members of a Master Mind group, without giving something in return for the service received. The motive may be financial reward, or it may consist of some form of return favors, but it must be something which is of equal value to or greater than the service expected.”

A leader is a servant,

“Every leader’s motto should be “The Greatest Among You Shall Be the Servant of All!”

Understanding your motive and others’ motive,

“… no one ever does anything without a motive. Men lend their experience, their knowledge, and their aid to other men because they have been given a sufficient motive for doing so.”

Your thoughts dictate your actions,

“… every man is where he is and what he is because of his won mental attitude as it is expressed through his personality.”

The importance of the ability to deliver an effective speech,

“we can see by examining the history of mankind, the entire trend of civilization has been influenced by men who could dramatize an idea with the spoken word.”

Know your subject well!

“No amount of dramatic technique will ever take the place of the self-assurance a speaker feels when he knows his subject!”

“We have no trouble in giving feeling to speech when we believe what we are saying!”

Don’t be afraid of failing,

“Examine the records of the truly great leaders in all walks of life and you will discover that their success is in exact proportion to their mastery of failures.”

Difference between an obsessional motive and a wish,

“… one’s motive must be obsessional. That is, it must be so strong that it impels a man to subordinate all his thoughts and efforts to its attainment. Too often people become confused between motive and a mere wish. Wishing will not bring success. If it did everyone would be successful, because all people have wishes.”

Move on to nobler motive,

“In the beginning I was motivated by a desire for self-expression and the desire for financial influence with which to make that expression widespread in its influence. But, in carrying out my original motive I happily hit upon a bigger and nobler motive – the motive of making men instead of making money.”

“I caught the vision of that greater motive as the result of my having discovered, in the process of making money, the great need for better men. If civilization is to evolve to still higher standards of living, or hold even the gains it has made, men must be taught higher standards of human relationship than those which now prevail.”

Direct your emotions and not try to eliminate them,

“The emotions of man are something like a river in that their power can be dammed up and released in whatever proportions and whatever directions one desires, but they cannot be eliminated. Through self-discipline a man can organize all his emotions and release them, in a highly concentrated form, as a means of attaining the object of his plans and purpose.”

Do what you love,

“A man will always be more effective when engaged in sort of work he likes best. That is why one’s major purpose in life should be of his own choice. People who drift through life, performing work they do not like, merely because they must have an income as a means of living, seldom get more than a living from their labor.”

Impart knowledge,

“… I am giving away the money I have accumulated, but this is not the solution of any part of the problem you mention. What the people need is not a gift of money, but a gift of knowledge with which they may become self-determining, including not only the accumulation of money, but the more important matter of learning how to find happiness in their relationships with others.”

Derive happiness from providing a service,

“I have never heard of anyone finding enduring happiness except by some form of personal action of benefit to others. You see, the business of accumulating riches, if it is carried on in the right spirit, not only provides a man with the necessities and the luxuries his nature requires, but he also finds happiness in his activities.”

Riches is not just materials,

“… real riches consist not in material things, but in the use one gives to material wealth. But, mind you, I am not giving it away to individuals, but I am placing it where it may inspire individuals to help themselves.”

You determine your promotion,

“An employer has but little to do with the promotion of such a person. If one employer neglects to recognize his ability, he finds another who will, but he manages to keep growing and advancing in any direction he chooses.”

People influence the environment, and environment shapes the others,

“The psychologist with a keen sense of perception can walk into any home, get the “mental feel” of the place, and tell precisely whether the home is dominated by the spirit if bickering and friction. The mental attitude of people leaves its permanent influence on the very atmosphere of their environment.”

Find what you love to do,

“A man will succeed best in that which he likes best, all else being equal. It is advisable for one to change provided he does not get into the habit of changing every time the work he has chosen becomes difficult, or he meets with temporary defeat… The successful person must reach the stage of specialization, sooner or later; the sooner the better.”

For most people who are clueless in what they want to do in life, it is more worthwhile to work for others, and allow the management to direct them. They will also become better people because they are pushed to work and forced out of their comfort zone.

“… an able coordinator not only serves the interests of a business as a whole, but he aids the individuals who work in the business as a whole, but he aids the individuals who work in the business to so direct their efforts that they can earn more than they would be worth if they lack this guidance. Men require discipline, guidance and supervision, in order to make their efforts of the greatest value to themselves and to others. If you doubt this, observe what happens when the management of any business becomes inefficient, selfish or dishonest.”

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