Lesson 8 from Napoleon Hill’s Law of success course is about self-control.
It’s obvious that a lot of people who are involved in the world of goal-setting and self-development try and use willpower to bring about change in their personalities, behavior and feelings.
But how often do we declare we are going to do something from a place of willpower, and then fail to carry it out?
Could it be that Napoleon Hill had somehow identified an easy way to achieve success using greater self-control than can be summoned up using willpower?
And if he had, how would that relate to our ability to manifest reality using the law Of Attraction?
A great deal of this chapter appears to be about people who could not control their emotions, particularly anger, and as a result lost opportunities, or were indeed blind to opportunities as they present themselves.
So far, so natural: very little has changed since Napoleon Hill wrote his book. Emotional instability, or lack of emotional balance, is one of the most fundamental reasons why people fail to achieve success. As Hill said, “A person with well-developed self-control does not indulge in hatred, envy, jealousy, fear, revenge, or any similar destructive emotions. A person with well-developed self-control does not go into ecstasies or become ungovernably enthusiastic over anything or anybody.”
Well, interestingly enough, what I know about manifestation is that it requires emotional energy, and that emotional energy can very well be made up with anger – it’s intense, effective, and seems to bring about results almost more quickly than any other emotional energy injected into the process of manifestation.
But this detail aside, there certainly are things that we can take from Lesson 8 on self-control: they are more general principles of personal development, but I have extracted the ones that are relevant to the process of manifestation.
To start with, Hill talks about focusing your emotional energy where it can do most good – for example, not attacking somebody who is trying to belittle you, but instead knowing that “if your deeds are constructive and you are at peace with yourself, in your own heart, you will not find it necessary to stop and explain your motives, for they will explain themselves.”
Manifestation & Emotional Control
I think what I get from this chapter more than anything else is the conservation of energy, and the focus of that energy into those things that conserve the process of manifestation most powerfully.
To start with, focusing your intellect on a particular objective is definitely a good idea: one of the reasons that people fail to manifest anything is because their attention is all over the place, and they lack the power or ability to focus their thoughts on one particular outcome or objective.
Equally, since you need focused emotional energy that is directed towards your goal to ensure that it manifests, it makes sense to ensure that you’re not wasting your emotional energy on distractions.
As Napoleon Hill quite rightly observed, “Thought is your most important tool; the one with which you may shape your worldly destiny according to your own liking.”
Controlling your thoughts is essential for success. It’s also essential for successful manifestation. Again, to quote Hill: “[the successful person] understands how to control his own thoughts. Instead of being a person who accepts, with meek submission, the suggestions of others, he is a person who persuades others to accept his suggestions. By controlling himself by placing only positive thoughts in his own mind, he thereby becomes a dominating personality…”
And all of this is absolutely true: for successful manifestation, you don’t need to be particularly intellectual, or able to understand complex intellectual issues. What you need is to be able to focus on an objective, and then direct your energy towards its achievement.
Lesson 9: The Habit Of Doing More Than Paid For
Now this is where Napoleon Hill’s writing from the 1920s seems to be really relevant to what we’re talking about here today.
One of the things that comes across repeatedly in work around manifestation is the need to offer something worthwhile in return for what you’re trying to manifest – particularly if it’s money!
Yet it’s not very clear whether this is based on a deep belief in our culture about karma or whether there really is some spiritual equation at work here.
What I mean by that is the lot of people think you can’t get “something for nothing” – I recognize that as a deeply ingrained cultural belief rather than a truth.
The truth of the matter is that with skill and information and the right kind of circumstances, it may actually be possible to get something for nothing.
But we are accustomed in our society to the belief that “you give something, you get something”.
So in manifestation terms, this properly equates to the assumption that if you’re trying to manifest, let us say, $1 million, then clearly it’s to your benefit if you offer something of real value in exchange – service, or some kind of material goods, or information, or something else that people need.
And somehow this idea appears to have been distorted into the assumption or the belief that if you’re trying to manifest, the more you “over-deliver” the more likely you are to succeed in obtaining whatever it is that you want.
I have to say that I don’t actually believe this.
Like many other things around manifestation, and Law Of Attraction principles, people write about what they believe to be true, or have experienced for themselves (which of course is directly dependent on their beliefs), rather than objective reality.
And no wonder! Because in fact there is no objective reality around manifestation: while the principles are similar from one experience of manifestation to another, much of the detail depends on what you believe about the process.
There is, as always, another way of looking at this, and I think it comes down to this: that if you are working at something that makes your heart “sing with joy” and is in line with your basic values, and might even reflect your purpose in existing on this planet, then you are much more likely to be in an emotional frame of mind where you can make manifestation work for you.
If that’s true, it may mean that there is absolutely no connection whatsoever between “over-delivering”, or perhaps even delivering anything, and the outcome of your attempts to get what you want through manifestation.
Napoleon Hill himself experienced hard times while he was writing about success – a suitably ironic postscript to his life story – and then when he finally found a manager who started turning his work and achievements into money, he ascribed it to him doing more than he had been paid for over many years!
Yet in actual fact, it’s entirely possible that the reason the tide began to turn in his financial favor was because he actually had a manager who was intent upon turning his work into profit.
Even so, let’s take from moment the thesis that “over-delivering” somehow represents an adjunct to the process of manifestation.
Why might that be? Hill put forward two ideas: first of all, he said, by establishing a reputation as being a person who “Always renders more service and better service than that for which you are paid, you will benefit by comparison with those around you who do not render such service… And there will be keen competition for your services, no matter what your life work might be.”
He also said “By far the most important reason why you should render more service than that which you are paid for may be described in this way: by performing more service and better service than that which you are paid for, you not only exercise your service-rendering qualities, and thereby develop skill and ability of an extraordinary sort, but you build a reputation that is valuable stop you will eventually develop sufficient strength to enable you to remove yourself from any undesirable station in life, and no one can or will desire to stop you.”
Napoleon Hill also referred to “The Law of Increasing Returns”. What this appears to mean in practical terms is that positive energy attracts more positive energy. That’s hardly a great discovery! I think we all know that like attracts like!
Indeed, one of the most interesting aspects of Lesson 9 is the comments that Hill makes at the end about a mastermind group.
Despite the fact that this is an incredibly powerful force for anybody trying to manifest anything, very few people appear to have actually ever taken up the opportunity to run a mastermind group to their own advantage.
Hill speaks of the power that is created through the blending, in a spirit of harmony, of two or more minds.
He speaks in fact of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firestone. We all know, because of our study of history, how these three great men achieved their success. Or do we?
In fact it turns out that these men were great friends, and would go away together once a year for a vacation together. Consciously or unconsciously, Hill said, the three men had created a mastermind group, which was actually the cause of the success of each of them.
Hill attributed their attainment of great power, their far-reaching success, to the fact that they worked together in a spirit of harmony.
To Hill, success was achieved by consciously or unconsciously applying the principle of co-ordinated effort that he believed arose from co-operation between individuals of like mind, working in harmony.