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In 1937 Napoleon Hill published one of the bestselling self-improvement books of the century called Think and Grow Rich. This book has been key to numerous people’s success and if you ask high performing and successful people who are lifelong learners more than likely have read this book. In chapter seven he outlines a short list of causes of failures. He later expanded this list to include 54 causes of failure.

1. UNFAVORABLE HEREDITARY BACKGROUND. There is but little, if anything, which can be done for people who are born with a deficiency in brain power. This philosophy offers but one method of bridging this weakness—through the aid of the Master Mind. Observe with profit, however, that this is the ONLY one of the thirty causes of failure which may not be easily corrected by any individual. (not sure if I agree with this one, especially at #1)
2. LACK OF A WELL-DEFINED PURPOSE IN LIFE. There is no hope of success for the person who does not have a central purpose, or definite goal at which to aim. Ninety-eight out of every hundred of those whom I have analyzed, had no such aim. Perhaps this was the…see #3
3. LACK OF AMBITION TO AIM ABOVE MEDIOCRITY. We offer no hope for the person who is so indifferent as not to want to get ahead in life, and who is not willing to pay the price.
4. INSUFFICIENT EDUCATION. This is a handicap which may be overcome with comparative ease. Experience has proven that the best-educated people are often those who are known as “self-made,” or self-educated. It takes more than a college degree to make one a person of education. Any person who is educated is one who has learned to get whatever he wants in life without violating the rights of others. Education consists, not so much of knowledge, but of knowledge effectively and persistently APPLIED. Men are paid, not merely for what they know, but more particularly for WHAT THEY DO WITH THAT WHICH THEY KNOW.
5. LACK OF SELF-DISCIPLINE. Discipline comes through self-control. This means that one must control all negative qualities. Before you can control conditions, you must first control yourself. Self-mastery is the hardest job you will ever tackle. If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self. You may see at one and the same time both your best friend and your greatest enemy, by stepping in front of a mirror.
6. ILL HEALTH. No person may enjoy outstanding success without good health. Many of the causes of ill-health are subject to mastery and control. These, in the main are:
a. Overeating of foods not conducive to health
b. Wrong habits of thought; giving expression to negatives.
c. Wrong use of, and over indulgence in sex. (really???? – lol)
d. Lack of proper physical exercise
e. An inadequate supply of fresh air, due to improper breathing.
7. UNFAVORABLE ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES DURING CHILDHOOD. “As the twig is bent, so shall the tree grow.” Most people who have criminal tendencies acquire them as the result of bad environment, and improper associates during childhood.
8. PROCRASTINATION. This is one of the most common causes of failure. “Old Man Procrastination” stands within the shadow of every human being, waiting his opportunity to spoil one’s chances of success. Most of us go through life as failures, because we are waiting for the “time to be right” to start doing something worthwhile. Do not wait. The time will never be “just right.” Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.
9. LACK OF PERSISTENCE. Most of us are good “starters” but poor “finishers” of everything we begin. Moreover, people are prone to give up at the first signs of defeat. There is no substitute for PERSISTENCE. The person who makes PERSISTENCE his watch-word, discovers that “Old Man Failure” finally becomes tired, and makes his departure. Failure cannot cope with PERSISTENCE.
10. NEGATIVE PERSONALITY. There is no hope of success for the person who repels people through a negative personality. Success comes through the application of POWER, and power is attained through the cooperative efforts of other people. A negative personality will not induce cooperation.
11. LACK OF CONTROLLED SEXUAL URGE. (Again – not sure if this applies to my list) Sex energy is the most powerful of all the stimuli which move people into ACTION. Because it is the most powerful of the emotions, it must be controlled, through transmutation, and converted into other channels.
12. UNCONTROLLED DESIRE FOR “SOMETHING FOR NOTHING.” The gambling instinct drives millions of people to failure. Evidence of this may be found in a study of the Wall Street crash of ‘29, during which millions of people tried to make money by gambling on stock margins.
13. LACK OF A WELL DEFINED POWER OF DECISION. Men who succeed reach decisions promptly, and change them, if at all, very slowly. Men who fail, reach decisions, if at all, very slowly, and change them frequently, and quickly. Indecision and procrastination are twin brothers. Where one is found, the other may usually be found also. Kill off this pair before they completely “hog-tie” you to the treadmill of FAILURE.
14. ONE OR MORE OF THE 6 BASIC FEARS. Poverty, Criticism, Ill health, Jealousy, Old age, Death.
15. WRONG SELECTION OF A MATE IN MARRIAGE. This is a most common cause of failure. The relationship of marriage brings people intimately into contact. Unless this relationship is harmonious, failure is likely to follow. Moreover, it will be a form of failure that is marked by misery and unhappiness, destroying all signs of AMBITION.
16. OVER-CAUTION. The person who takes no chances, generally has to take whatever is left when others are through choosing. Over-caution is as bad as under-caution. Both are extremes to be guarded against. Life itself is filled with the element of chance.
17. WRONG SELECTION OF ASSOCIATES IN BUSINESS. This is one of the most common causes of failure in business. In marketing personal services, one should use great care to select an employer who will be an inspiration, and who is, himself, intelligent and successful. We emulate those with whom we associate most closely. Pick an employer who is worth emulating.
18. SUPERSTITION AND PREJUDICE. Superstition is a form of fear. It is also a sign of ignorance. Men who succeed keep open minds and are afraid of nothing.
19. WRONG SELECTION OF A VOCATION. No man can succeed in a line of endeavor which he does not like. The most essential step in the marketing of personal services is that of selecting an occupation into which you can throw yourself wholeheartedly.
20. LACK OF CONCENTRATION OF EFFORT. The “jack-of-all-trades” seldom is good at any. Concentrate all of your efforts on one DEFINITE CHIEF AIM.
21. THE HABIT OF INDISCRIMINATE SPENDING. The spend-thrift cannot succeed, mainly because he stands eternally in FEAR OF POVERTY. Form the habit of systematic saving by putting aside a definite percentage of your income. Money in the bank gives one a very safe foundation of COURAGE when bargaining for the sale of personal services. Without money, one must take what one is offered, and be glad to get it.
22. LACK OF ENTHUSIASM. Without enthusiasm one cannot be convincing. Moreover, enthusiasm is contagious, and the person who has it, under control, is generally welcome in any group of people.
23. INTOLERANCE. The person with a “closed” mind on any subject seldom gets ahead. Intolerance means that one has stopped acquiring knowledge. The most damaging forms of intolerance are those connected with religious, racial, and political differences of opinion.
24. INTEMPERANCE. The most damaging forms of intemperance are connected with eating, strong drink, and sexual activities. Overindulgence in any of these is fatal to success.
25. INABILITY TO COOPERATE WITH OTHERS. More people lose their positions and their big opportunities in life, because of this fault, than for all other reasons combined. It is a fault which no well-informed business man, or leader will tolerate.
26. POSSESSION OF POWER THAT WAS NOT ACQUIRED THROUGH SELF EFFORT. (Sons and daughters of wealthy men, and others who inherit money which they did not earn). Power in the hands of one who did not acquire it gradually, is often fatal to success. QUICK RICHES are more dangerous than poverty.
27. INTENTIONAL DISHONESTY. There is no substitute for honesty. One may be temporarily dishonest by force of circumstances over which one has no control, without permanent damage. But, there is NO HOPE for the person who is dishonest by choice. Sooner or later, his deeds will catch up with him, and he will pay by loss of reputation, and perhaps even loss of liberty.
28. EGOTISM AND VANITY. These qualities serve as red lights which warn others to keep away. THEY ARE FATAL TO SUCCESS.
29. GUESSING INSTEAD OF THINKING. Most people are too indifferent or lazy to acquire FACTS with which to THINK ACCURATELY. They prefer to act on “opinions” created by guesswork or snap-judgments.
30. LACK OF CAPITAL. This is a common cause of failure among those who start out in business for the first time, without sufficient reserve of capital to absorb the shock of their mistakes, and to carry them over until they have established a REPUTATION.

Which failures have you/are you facing?

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

1. Have I attained the goal which I established as my objective for this year? (You should work with a definite for this year? (You should work with a definite yearly objective to be attained as a part of your major life objective.)
2. Have I delivered service of the best possible QUALITY of which I was capable, or could I have improved any part of this service?
3. Have I delivered service in the greatest possible QUANTITY of which I was capable?
4. Has the spirit of my conduct been harmonious and cooperative at all times?
5. Have I permitted the habit of procrastination to decrease my efficiency, and if so, to what extent?
6. Have I improved my PERSONALITY? and if so, in what ways?
7. Have I been persistent in following my plans through completion?
8. Have I reached decisions PROMPTLY and DEFINITELY on all occasions?
9. Have I permitted any one or more of the six basic fears to decrease my efficiency?
10. Have I been either “over-cautious” or “under-cautious”?
11. Has my relationships with associates in work been pleasant or unpleasant? If it has been unpleasant, has it been partly or wholly mine?
12. Have I dissipated any of my energy through lack of CONCENTRATION of effort?
13. Have I been open-minded and tolerant in connection with all subjects?
14. In what way have I improved my way to render service?
15. Have I been intemperate (excessive) in any of my habits?
16. Have I expressed, either openly or secretly, any form of EGOTISM?
17. Has my conduct towards others been in such that it has induced them to respect me?
18. Have my opinions and DECISIONS been based on guesswork, or accuracy of analysis and THOUGHT?
19. Have I followed the habit of budgeting my time, and expenses, and income? and have I been conservative in the budgets?
20. How much time have I devoted to unprofitable effort which I might have used to better advantage?
21. How many I REBUDGET my time, and change my habits so I will become more efficient this coming year?
22. Have I been guilty of conduct which was not approved my conscience?
23. In what ways have I rendered MORE SERVICE and BETTER SERVICE that I was paid to render?
24. Have I been unfair to anyone, and if so, in what way?
25. If I had been the purchaser of my own services for the year, would I have been satisfied with my purchase?
26. Am I in the right vocation, and if not, why not?
27. Has the purchaser of my services been satisfied with my service, if not, why?
28. What is my present rating on the fundamental principles of success? (Make this rating fairly, and frankly, and have it checked by someone who is courageous enough to do it accurately.)



Growing Yourself Enables You to Grow Others

What is your passion? What are your strengths? Do you think that knowing these two components could be essential to know what your contribution should be.

If my weakness is in math, what makes me think I should teach math, or do peoples taxes.

Once you find out what your strengths are, build upon them so that you can help others do the same.

Be a river, not a reservoir, whatever comes in needs to flow through you.

Ask these questions to identify someone who can encourage you to be your best:

  • Who mentors you and offers you a baseline of wisdom?
  • Who mentors you to aspire to be a better person?
  • Who challenges you to think?
  • Who cheers on your dreams?
  • Who cares enough to rebuke you?
  • Who is merciful when you have failed?
  • Who shares the load in pressurized moments without being asked?
  • Who brings fun and laughter into your life?
  • Who gives you perspective when you become dispirited?
  • Who inspires you to seek faithfully after God?
  • Who loves you unconditionally?

If you’re mentoring someone turn these questions around on yourself and reflect how YOU can be this person to someone else.

I think that in order to be a great contributor, you first have to be humble. Is it hard to truly give and not be humble? Or do you give to feed your ego? You need to have a giving attitude.

John lists a couple of things to do to cultivate an attitude of contribution;

  • Be grateful – Like I just mentioned about being humble, being grateful is the same. I like the quote from Zig Zigler;

“You can get everything in your life you want if you help enough people get what they want.”

  • Put people first – I can’t see how you can be a contributor if you don’t put people first. The real magic happens when you put people first and in turn, over time, they start to put you first.
  •  Don’t let stuff own you – What happens when stuff owns you? I think it makes you feel more entitled to what you didn’t work for and makes you greedy. It’s hard to be a contributor when you’re wondering what the other person owes you.

What happens when you make great contributions? I don’t think it gives you success but something even better, significance.

Think about how you can start to become a contributor and become more significant.

This concludes the weekly blog on John C. Maxwell’s book “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth,” Thank you to those who followed along.

      “If you’re not doing something with your life, it doesn’t matter how long it is!”

Growth Always Increases Your Capacity

Most people set their own capacity without even realizing that they are preventing themselves from growing to their next level. They convince themselves that they don’t have the ability or knowledge to do what they truly desire.

© Marek _ Fotolia

© Marek _ Fotolia

If they truly desire it then how come they can’t believe that they can do it?

Or is it that they don’t want to give up something in order to develop the knowledge and skills to do it. Basically they don’t want to give up to go up. Unfortunately these are the folks who lay in their death beds and have the, “could’ve, should’ve and would’ve” symptoms of life.

How do you not come down with those symptoms? You need to believe in, and give of, yourself.

The Law of Expansion requires you to get out of your comfort zone, which usually means change. If you don’t like change, you’ll struggle. But even more important is, if those closest to you don’t like change, you’ll still struggle.

In this Law John outlines some ideas on how to increase your thinking capacity.

A. Stop thinking more work and start thinking what works. You need to ask yourself these questions about what works:

  • What am I required to do?
  • What gives me the greatest return?
  • What gives me the greatest reward? 

B. Stop thinking can I? Start thinking how can I? This is one of the biggest roadblocks to people achieving their dreams, not believing that they can. Self-limiting beliefs start with the doubt others have in us. That could be our parents when we were still kids who said we would never amount to anything, or the controlling boss that tries to keep you in your place. 

C. Stop thinking one door and start thinking many doors. To many people get stuck on one course of action, and that rarely works. If you’re driving down the highway and hit a detour that goes around the road construction, do you wait for the construction to be over or take the detour? As long as your vision is strong your destination should be the same.

The next step to the Law of Expansion is to actually do it. You have to increase your willingness to do more in order to get more. There are no long term handouts in this world for the majority of us, you have to work to become successful.

Listening to some training the other day I heard Jim Rohn say, “Formal education gets you a career but self-education gets you rich.”

Expanding beyond your own potential is to first believe that you can. Take some time to think about what you want to do and what you need to do to do it, and then make it happen.

Growth Is Stimulated by Asking Why?

What really makes someone smart? Is it all the classes that they take, all the experiences they have, all the books they read?

© - Fotolia

© – Fotolia

Sure, you need to be exposed to the information in order for you to learn from it.

But I don’t think that information and experiences REALLY makes someone smart. Don’t you first need the desire to learn, and that desire starts with curiosity, doesn’t it?

So what makes a person want to be more curious? In The Law of Curiosity John lists ten ways to cultivate your curiosity;

1. Believe you can be curious – For some people it starts with just wanting to. More people need to understand that the difference between success and failure is curiosity.

2. Have a beginner’s mindset – Can you ever learn something new if you already thing you know everything about it?

3. Make why your favorite word – Believe it or not, Thomas Edison was kicked out of school for asking why so many times. (If not we may still be living in the dark)

4. Spend time with other curious people – If the people around you don’t like to ask why, you’ll drive them crazy asking them why.

5. Learn something new every day – Yes, everyday!

6. Partake in the fruit of failure – Why did it fail, why did you fail, why did they fail? If you don’t ask why, do you ever get the answer?

Stop looking for the right answer – Look for a different answer.

8. Get over yourself – If your ego won’t let you admit mistakes you won’t learn from them.

9. Get out of the box – Do what you’re afraid of, do something you’ve never done, learn something new.

10. Enjoy your life – Why wouldn’t you, you have only one, why live it in misery?

It all starts with action, away from activities that leaves you with little imagination.

What are you curious about? If you struggle to answer this then think back when you were a kid.

Once you figure that out ask yourself what can I do to live it?

“Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.”

   ~ George Bernard Shaw


You Have to Give Up to Grow Up

How many people think about what they need to give for more success?

© fotomek - Fotolia

© fotomek – Fotolia

How many people think about what they do give up for more success?

Sure, you may need student loans to get a college degree, you agree to the trade-off when you sign the student loan documents. But in reality, are you really giving up to go up? Not immediately, but eventually. The real tradeoff is working enough to pay your tuition without having to rely on student loans. (Something I wish I would’ve put more thought into.)I think the real impact in tradeoffs is what you give up daily.

Do you get up an hour early to work out?

Do you read for an hour at night instead of watching an hour of television?

Tradeoffs really force us to make difficult personal changes and sometimes those around us don’t like those changes. So there’s another piece of the tradeoff that we sometimes forget.

Are those around us willing to make tradeoffs for your growth?

You see this happening when the spouse works an extra job so the other one can go back to school, or they watch the kids every night for two hours so the other one can study. That’s a tradeoff supporting couple’s make.

When you look at the following list of commonly made tradeoffs, which one would you like to become more intentional about making and why?

  • Financial stability today for potential tomorrow
  • Immediate gratification for personal growth
  • The fast life for the good life
  • Security for significance
  • Personal achievement for partnership with others

When you look at the list, or your own list, think about what you won’t ever trade for.

Sometimes people trade their values for what they think is growth, which usually involves self-interests. For me, those tradeoffs are never worth it.

When I see people rise to success quickly, I wonder what values they may have changed in order to get there. What were their tradeoffs?

What values will you not give up for what looks like success?

What do you need to give up to grow to the next level?

Growth Stops When You Lose the Tension Between Where You Are and Where You Could Be

Have you ever found a rubber band that hadn’t been used in a while? Was it stiff and brittle, did it break when you tried to stretch it?

© Xuejun li - Fotolia

© Xuejun li – Fotolia

It failed to stretch because it lost its resilience. If it was used frequently it remained flexible and was able to handle additional stress when needed. Isn’t that how we are? If you stop stretching in your profession, don’t you get old, brittle and useless? Times and professional requirements change, when you don’t stretch to grow in your profession you become less useful.

What happens to things that become less useful?

What happens to you when you can only hold together what you have and the boss gives you something else that makes you stretch? Does the extra work or going outside your comfort zone make you stretch, or cause you to snap?

Once again you need to research yourself and define your own potential.

What are your strengths?

What are you passionate about?

There are roadblocks in people’s lives that hamper their success and they don’t even know it, they are habits. What habits have you developed that have hindered your progress toward your potential?

What productive habits can replace the unproductive ones?

The harder question is, “What productive habits do you have that need to change to take you to the next level? This may be listening to an audio book instead of music when you walk or drive.

Once you start to see the areas of your life that have untapped potential and start to develop them, possibilities will emerge in those areas?

So where do you need to stretch?

Once you figure that out design a plan to grow in that area. If not you may just become old, brittle and useless.

“Only a mediocre person is always at his best.”

~ W. Somerset Maugham

Character Growth Determines the Height of Your Personal Growth

I don’t believe people give much consideration to the level of their own character. LadderThey also wonder why they struggle to improve their life.

What do you think your level of character is? Which one(s) would you not sacrifice?

Is it being honest to others? But you’re not honest with yourself when you sneak that dessert/cigarette/beer, when, “I’m the only one who’ll know.” I’m sorry, if you can’t be honest with yourself, isn’t it hard to be honest with others?

Do you get upset at someone for doing something to you but you’ve done the same thing to them?

Character development doesn’t just happen intentionally, you have to pay attention to your actions, and how those actions affect others. John has a ‘Character Ladder’ that has helped him increase his character height.

Rungs On The Character Ladder 

  1. I will focus on being better on the inside than the outside – Character Matters
  2. I will follow the Golden Rule – People Matter
  3. I will only teach what I believe – Passion Matters
  4. I will value humility above all virtues – Perspective Matters
  5. I will strive to finish well – Faithfulness Matters

Have you ever sat and listened to someone complain why they didn’t get hired for a position? Did you think to yourself, “I can see why the complainer didn’t get the job?” If you failed at something, the first step is to see what you did or didn’t do. People with low character blame others first for what they did not get or do not have.

In which of the following areas do you see the most room for improvement in yourself? How would your life be better if you grew in this area?

  1. Being Humble
  2. Being Teachable
  3. Being Willing to Serve
  4. Being Grateful

The stronger your character, the greater your potential.

“Achievement to most people is something you do… to the higher achiever, it is something you are.”  
~ Doug Firebaugh

Good Management of Bad Experiences Leads to Great Growth

© masterzphotofo - Fotolia

© masterzphotofo – Fotolia

How do you react to bad experiences? Knowing that everyone has bad experiences and no one likes them, how do you turn them into positive experiences? First, you need to face them. I think it’s too easy to put our bad experiences past us, but unless we learn from the experience, the chances of them happening again are greater.When you face the pain if a bad experience, what is your response?

  • I do anything and everything possible to avoid pain at all.
  • I know pain is inevitable, but I try to ignore it or just block it out.
  • I know everyone endures pain, so I just endure it when it comes.
  • I don’t like pain, but I try to remain positive despite it.
  • I process the emotion of painful experiences quickly and try to find a lesson in them.
  • I process pain, find the lesson, and make changes proactively as a result.

Of course your reaction to different situations may be different, but overall what is your reaction? I think people generally avoid reflecting on their bad experiences because they don’t see value in it. John lists a couple of ways you can turn your pain into gain;

  • Choose a positive life stance
  • Embrace and develop your creativity
  • Embraces the value of bad experiences
  • Make good changes after learning from bad experiences
  • Take responsibility for your life

It is vital for the longevity of the business for the leader to learn from bad experiences. An example could be how some of the automobile manufacturing companies failed to change and needed large government loans to stay operational. One company didn’t because they already made some of those hard decisions.

Whether it’s a personal or business bad experience, think of a problem and use the same process John uses when he encounters a painful experience:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Understand your emotion
  3. Articulate the lesson
  4. Identify a desired change
  5. Brainstorm numerous pathways
  6. Receive other’s input
  7. Implement a course of action

Remember, personal change requires action and sometime you need someone to help you along. You can do this with the help of a trusted friend or a personal coach.

What does the quote, “Every problem introduces a person to himself,” mean to you?


To Maximize Growth, Develop Strategies

This may be one of the hardest things to do to keep growing. No, not to develop a plan, the hard part is to believe that you need one.

© luna2631 - Fotolia

© luna2631 – Fotolia

When you stop planning your life, you stop growing and you start regressing. Nothing stays the same, if you stop growing everything around you is still changing and improving, and you’re not.When looking at the following list of areas in a person’s life, I would think that most of us plan our careers. But how many people plan other areas of their life? Here’s a list of life activities, do you let them happen by chance and which areas of your life should receive the most planning for growth?

  • Career
  • Faith
  • Family
  • Health
  • Hobby
  • Marriage
  • Personal Growth
  • Free Time

We know (or must people know) why you need to work, to fill our basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. Everything else is optional after that and the level of your basic needs is determined by your expectations. Some people are comfortable living on government subsidies, others would rather work to death then accept a hand out.

Both of these groups of people need to design systems to grow, but the first group either has a self-limiting mindset or just lazy. The second group doesn’t have time to design a growth system beyond work, and if they’re not advancing then that plan isn’t working either.

I think there are two basic reasons people don’t develop growth plans. Some people don’t believe that they should or need to and others think that it’s too complicated. In order to design a system that works for you John lists five questions to ask yourself when designing or refining your systems for growth.

  • The Big Picture – Will this system help you reach your big-picture goals?
  • Your Priorities – Is this system consistent with your goals?
  • Measurement – Does this system have a tangible means of determining your success?
  • Application – Does this system have a built in bias toward action?
  • Organization – Does this system make the best use of your time?
  • Consistency – Will you repeat this system on a regular basis?

I think another question you need to ask yourself before these five questions is; “Why?”

Why is it important for you to have a growth plan in specific areas of your life?

What are the benefits if you do? What are the consequences if you don’t?

Take some time this week to explore these thoughts.

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they may have planned for you? Not much.”   ~ Jim Rohn