Lesson 5: Initiative and Leadership
Hill says that lesson 5, about initiative and leadership, follows on from lesson 4, about self-confidence, because self-confidence is necessary for you to become an efficient leader.
Great leaders will take the initiative in any great undertaking. And initiative is a rare quality that compels someone to do the thing that ought to be done without having to be told to do it.
Initiative is, in Napoleon Hill’s eyes, a key element of success and achievement. A key element of being able to get what you want.
For me, it’s about seeing and seizing opportunities when they arise.
So what’s the essence of good leadership?
Well, Hill correctly observes that leadership is never found in people who haven’t developed the habit of taking the initiative. Leadership, he says, will never thrust itself upon you — you are the one who needs to develop the self-confidence and initiative that will make you a good leader.
Keys To Manifesting Success
Interestingly, Hill makes the observation that he never saw his Laws of Success course as a shortcut to success: he said that the real value of it was in giving you the ability to develop the personal qualities necessary to achieve success and master the eternal law of attraction.
In keeping with this philosophy, initiative opens the door to opportunity. And Hill sets out his own vision of how anyone can overcome a lack of initiative and become a good leader: once again, he advises the use of autosuggestion (see below in lesson 6 how to do this), mainly to eliminate procrastination, improve decision making, and provide service of value to others.
His next piece of advice is to surround yourself with people who are also interested in the same kind of personal development: people who are good at taking the initiative, avoiding procrastination, making decisions confidently, and providing service over and above what is expected from them.
And then Hill mentions the principle of co-operation, the quality necessary to leadership and strong decision-making ability and moral courage.
His theory is that basically anybody who enters into disagreement and competition is going to destroy either themselves or their enterprise. While he sees that competition is a natural biological impulse, his advice is to lock hands instead of “locking horns” because locking hands is a demonstration of cooperation and perhaps even love.
Hill is right, of course, because cooperation and love rather than intolerance are the ways to avoid futile combat and encourage corporate cooperation.
Lesson 6: Imagination & Manifesting Success
Here we can see how imagination is necessary for success to manifest. Napoleon Hill made the perceptive, if rather obvious in hindsight, observation that every thing around us, every event, every object, every achievement, every aspect of the human condition, begins with a thought in somebody’s mind.
You can translate that statement into a very simple maxim: every single thing that mankind has manifested on this planet began with a thought in somebody’s mind.
Once again in this lesson we come across the slightly old-fashioned nature of Hill’s writing, but the lessons that he teaches are lessons for all time, and they are still true even for a modern audience.
What he says is simple: if you go beyond the ordinary, if you extend your efforts by the use of your creative imagination, if you come up with plans and ideas and thoughts and acts of service that go beyond the average, then you set yourself up with an immediate advantage.
Sure, in a way this is an obvious statement: we all like to be treated well when we are served in a shop or by some other service provider, but how rarely this seems to happen. In a way we’ve almost become conditioned to accept the commonplace, to accept poor service – so those who offer good service, and those who extend their imaginations to provide better service than the average, do indeed have an advantage.
Hill offers a whole load of examples to show how people can see opportunities in their imagination where no one else has: these are old-fashioned examples from his own time, but it’s interesting to observe that the same kind of thing is still happening, even in our day and age.
Yes? You accept that certain men and women see an opportunity in the marketplace where no one else has because they have the power of imagination, and they exploit it to the full?
This is where Hill’s “law of extra service” pays off: if you have the imagination to offer more than the next man or woman, or you have the imagination to come up with a better way of doing things, then you put yourself at an advantage, and you almost immediately find people turning to you rather than to the company or the individual offering average service.
If you examine the story of Virgin Atlantic, an airline which fought bitterly against British Airways for a share of the transatlantic route between Britain and America, you soon see how Virgin Atlantic not only survived some bitter attempts to put it out of business but also thrived….. and it did so by differentiating itself on the very concept of service.
To this day, if you fly on Virgin Atlantic the staff are noticeably friendlier, the service better, the food more palatable, and so on.
But what lay behind the amazing success story of Virgin Atlantic, pitching itself against an established brand which had almost a monopoly on the route for decades was the imagination of the founder, Richard Branson.
Of course Richard Branson was best known for Virgin Records – his record label had signed major names like the Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson, and the Human League. Even when he was running the record business, Richard Branson had imagination, the imagination to go beyond what looked possible and imagine the impossible as possible.
In 1984, he simply announced that value for money airline would begin operating within three months: and as a tribute to the power of determination and foresight, and his imagination, in three months’ time his first airliner did indeed fly across the Atlantic, packed with celebrities. The power of imagination to manifest reality!
A mere 10 years later, Virgin Airlines had flown 1 million passengers, and its founder continued to show the imagination that ensured continued success: for example, an early development was to offer individual television sets to business class passengers.
When Branson sold Virgin Music, he invested the money he received into Virgin Atlantic, and improved on what was seen by all involved in the airline industry as an already great service.
He launched the super economy service that later became premium economy and offered people an opportunity to fly in greater comfort at fantastic value prices. He expanded the route network, and in 1999 sold 49% of the airline to Singapore Airlines, valuing the company at around $2 billion.
The same year, Richard Branson received a knighthood for “services to entrepreneurship”.
But in actual fact, didn’t he really receive the award for his imagination?
This was a man who dared to envision the possibilities where others had only limited vision. They were sticking to a slow process of evolution of what had gone before; Branson was adventurous, emboldened and imaginative.
In the early 2000’s, there was yet more development by Virgin Airlines to distinguish itself from its competitors, who followed lamely behind: first the launch of upper-class suites, where people could actually lie flat on a bed ad sleep as they flew across the Atlantic in business class.
A new lounge for Virgin passengers opened at Heathrow Airport in London including a cocktail bar, hair salon, spa, brasserie and a games room. And so it rolled on: new check-in facilities with private security facilities. The opportunity for upper-class passengers to have a massage as they flew in the planes…. I don’t think I need to go on!
My point is this: Napoleon Hill was able to describe how the imaginative businessmen of his era, the 1930s, succeeded by offering something that differentiated them from their competitors. Right now, as they always have and always will, people of imagination succeed where others fail.
Can you imagine how Richard Branson feels when he looks at his achievements? Joy, happiness, delight? Do you think that he suffers from any self-doubt or lack of confidence? Do you think he’s a good leader, that his staff are so loyal to him? Do you think he has imagination and vision?
Make Success Manifest !
You observe, perhaps, in the story of Virgin Airline, which may be greater than anything you or I ever achieve in our lives, that the qualities necessary for success are just the same now as they always have been.
That is to say, one needs to stand out from the crowd, and do things differently, to do it confidently, with a spirit of good leadership, and in the knowledge that your imagination and vision will take you beyond the limits that other people run up against.
Imagination truly is the basis of manifestation. Without the vision, without the imagination to see what you can achieve, you’ll manifest very little in your life.
Go beyond the ordinary! Manifest the extraordinary, by using your imagination.