The Greatest Lessons and Best Quotes from Napoleon Hill

October 8, 2018
James Whittaker
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“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

Napoleon Hill

The Napoleon Hill journey has become the stuff of legend. At the turn of the 20th century, the young reporter from Wise County, Virginia, was given a mission to interview the most successful people of his time. As Hill progressed, he quickly realized this pursuit would become his life’s work. It led him to interview more than 500 of the world’s most accomplished business leaders to unearth the secrets to their vast fortunes and identify whether any of their attributes could be modeled by everyday people.

Hill met with industry titans such as inventor Thomas Edison, automobile giant Henry Ford, and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie—who, despite arriving in the United States a penniless immigrant, managed to accumulate one of the greatest personal fortunes in existence.

After more than 25 years of research on these extraordinary figures, Hill published his findings in Think and Grow Rich. The book outlined a success formula known as the “achievement philosophy” and was an instant phenomenon.

Perhaps Hill’s greatest discovery was that success does not discriminate; it comes to all those who do what needs to be done. Irrespective of circumstances, through the consistent application of a proven set of success principles, ordinary people become extraordinary—potential is not predicated on age, education, financial starting point, or any other perceived misfortune.


Did you know:

Napoleon Hill’s publisher told him that if he couldn’t think of a good title for the book within 24 hours, it would be called “Use Your Noodle and Get the Boodle”. Finally, at 2:30am—with the book almost on the printing press and having brainstormed 600+ titles, Hill came up with “Think and Grow Rich”. The rest is history.


Despite passing away in 1970, Napoleon Hill continues to inspire ordinary people to do extraordinary things. His work has influenced people within every industry in the world and is the playbook that has enabled countless entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and cultural icons to rise above their circumstances.

Below, you’ll find a collection of my favorite Napoleon Hill quotes and timeless lessons to apply in your own life. In honor of Hill’s birthday on 26th October, thank you for transforming the world with your teachings. May your legacy continue to illuminate the potential inside all of us.

Onwards and upwards always,
James W.

PS – My comprehensive tribute to Napoleon Hill can be found in Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy, a collection of stories and action plans of people who used Hill’s lessons to rise above the unlikeliest (and, in some cases, most tragic) of circumstances to make their mark on the world.

65 of Napoleon Hill’s best quotes

• “Don’t measure your future by your past.”
• “A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.”
• “A state of mind is something that one assumes. It cannot be purchased, it must be created.”
• “There is no other road to genius than through voluntary self effort.”
• “Faith without action is dead.”
• “The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.”
• “Most great people have achieved their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.”
• “Use your mind to create the circumstances you want created.”
• “Definiteness of purpose automatically develops self-reliance.”
• “When you find out your plan is not right, immediately discard it and prepare another one. Keep going until you find one that will work.”
• “Definiteness of purposes makes one more alert in recognizing opportunity and inspires the courage to embrace and act on those opportunities.”
• “Nature hates idleness. She wants everything to be in action, especially the human mind. The mind is no different to any other part of the body—if you don’t use it, it atrophies and withers away until it gets to a point where anyone can push you around.”
• “All people are who they are because of their dominating thoughts and desires.”
• “Before we can master an enemy, we must know its name, its habits and its place of abode.”
• “The only thing better than embracing opportunity is making the opportunity.”
• “All impulses of thought have a tendency to clothe themselves in their physical equivalent.”
• “Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.”
• “There are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge. Both poverty and riches are the offspring of thought.”
• “Success comes to those who become success conscious.”
• “Any idea, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind through repetition of thought.”
• “When your desires are strong enough, you will appear to possess superhuman powers to achieve.”
• “A goal is a dream with a deadline.”
• “Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune or temporary defeat.”
• “Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
• “Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
• “Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice.”
• “Everyone faces defeat. It may be a stepping-stone or a stumbling block, depending on the mental attitude with which it is faced.”
• “If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self.”
• “Success is good at any age, but the sooner you find it, the longer you will enjoy it.”
• “It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project.”
• “Set your mind on a definite goal and observe how quickly the world stands aside to let you pass.”
• “Victory is always possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting.”
• “If you do not see great riches in your imagination, you will never see them in your bank balance.”
• “When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound. Rebuild those plans and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.”
• “There are no limitations to the mind except those that we acknowledge.”
• “Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power only when, and if, it is organized into definite plans of action, and directed to a definite end.”
• “Go the extra mile. The majority of people don’t even go the first mile.”
• “A positive mind finds a way it can be done. A negative mind looks for all the ways it can’t be done.”
• “Don’t wait. The time will never be just right. Start where you stand, and work whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.”
• “Most so-called failures are only temporary defeats.”
• “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.”
• “There is one quality which one must possess to win and that is: definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.”
• “Plan your work and work your plan.”
• “Tell me how you use your spare time and how you spend your money, and I will tell you where and what you will be in ten years from now.”
• “Imagination is the warship of your mind, capable of turning mind energy into accomplishment and wealth.”
• “Awake, arise, and assert yourself, you dreamers of the world.”
• “Action is the real measure of intelligence.”
• “You can think your way into or out of almost any circumstance, good or bad.”
• “Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done yesterday.”
• “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”
• “Keep you mind fixed on what you want in life; not on what you don’t want.”
• “To be a star, you must shine your own light, follow your own path, and don’t worry about darkness, for that is when the stars shine brightest.”
• “Never be satisfied with existence. Aim for abundance.”
• “Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.”
• “Your wife or husband should be your first mastermind ally.”
• “When you are able to maintain your own highest standards of integrity—regardless of what others may do—you are destined for greatness.”
• “If you must speak ill of another, do not speak it … write it in the sand near the water’s edge.”
• “More gold has been mined from the minds of men than the earth itself.”
• “Our only limitations are those we setup in our own minds.”
• “Talk about a person’s virtues rather than their faults.”
• “You can’t fail, unless you think you can.”
• “Put your foot on the neck of criticism by reaching a decision not to worry about what other people think, do or say.”
• “Faith is the only known antidote to failure.”
• “You may be hurt if you love too much, but you will live in misery if you love too little.”
• “Tell the world what you intend to do. But, first, show it.”

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