It has been so valuable to me. I listened to the audio book version. I kept replaying certain passages, but it was really the information about “drifting” that made me realize how much time I’ve wasted. That having fun was…fun…but for what purpose? I realized the happiest times in my life were times I was making a positive difference in life; when I overcame challenges or met goals I set for myself.
You've heard the old saying: "When in doubt, read the instructions." Well - here it is: The Owner's Manual on how to live a meaningful and successful life.
This book, written in 1938, written by Napoleon Hill over 70 years ago, but "Outwitting the Devil" was not published until 41 years after his death. The concern was that his community and family would reject him for printing the bold things that his conversation with “the devil” brought to light.
Some parts of the book are no longer relevant in the light of some of the advancements made in 70 years. However, and this is one of the most important things I’ve realized: the laws of nature never change. Just as H2O will always be water. The causes of failure and unhappiness will never change.
Regardless of what you may think of the way it's written, you'll take something enormously valuable from it, something that could change your life.
I believe the devil in the book is really a metaphor for those who exploit and profit from fear –, before you think this is a religious book, you'll be interested to know that the devil reveals the biggest, best way he has to take control of people is through religion. This book does not bash religion in anyway, it simply points out that some people use religion as a method to control. Just like some people use the government as methods to control.
The devil confides in Hill: “I break down independent thought and start people on the habit of drifting, by confusing their minds with unprovable ideas concerning a world of which they know nothing. It is here also that I plant in the minds of children the greatest of all fears --- the fear of hell!"
Now, you can think of other things, not just religion, that plays on our desire to “know” and on our fears of being left behind (status!) or “out of the loop” or isolated – and once you realize that all the “drifting” we do when reading Science News, or Behavioral Breakthroughs, or Justice Revolutions, is really just someone (or a group of people) profiting by appealing to our desire to learn, to be just a bit better than others. If we don’t have a solid, firm, understanding of life, it’s easy to drift, to become confused, and to lose focus on the basics of happiness.
This book is one of the most important I’ve read about personal development. Many of the ideas that Napoleon Hill conveys about how our society has allowed itself to be influenced, pacified, or angered, and conditioned into submission. The part I was most stunned by was the simple yet profound way Hill tells us exactly why we deprive ourselves from our own initiative and courage to accomplish what we desire.
The concept of 'drifting' hit so close to home with me that I have had to re-listen to the interview over and over again to catch the details that clearly describe the things we do that set us on a path of apathy and hopelessness.
I have read many books that tell us what we need to do to be successful, but few that tell us what the signs are that you are beginning to drift and how you can prevent those from happening.
Think and Grow Rich was one of the first books written by Napoleon Hill and sold 80 million copies and positively impacted the lives of so many of that generation. However, many younger people today don't even know who Hill is, let alone have an understanding of the powerful principles he gifted to the world. The release of Outwitting the Devil (in 2012) is timely because we who are surrounded by the smothering troubled state of today's world need and this is like throwing a kind of a life-line to pull ourselves up.
The points that influenced me the most:
“Drifting”- The danger of drifting aimlessly in life. If I'm watching 6 hours of TV a day or spending my time on facebook or playing video games, any other timewaster which is not helping me achieve my goals, I'm drifting. The antidote is focus and maintaining a Definite Chief Aim which keeps me on track and out of the drifting paths.
“Fear”- Fear as one of the great tools of the adversary. Fear is confidence in reverse. Focus on your chief aims to the exclusion of all doubt and fear is replaced by empowering confidence.
“Hypnotic Rhythm”- If you drift long enough, you will be unable to break the habit of drifting. Eat too much and too often, and your stomach expands and you need more and more to fill you up. Watch “porn” and you need to watch more and you need to watch worse and worse in order to become aroused. Drink a few beers or do a few drugs and soon you tolerate a few and need to consume more and more. You get stuck in a continuous cycle. The cycle causes you to feel bad, your confidence plunges, your courage plunges, and you lose sight of any goals. You become a prime targets for exploiters: people who will sell you more of what is crippling you (making them realize THEIR goals) and people who will vow to “save you” (again, other people will be profiting off your continuous cycle of drifting).
The upside of this is that when you consistently focus on your definite chief aim, on a positive purpose; the power of Hypnotic Rhythm hastens your progress and help you maintains success.
The list of recommendations to transform education in the world from failed institutions of mediocrity to producers of self-directed, self-thinking, and empowered (not entitled) individuals is simple common sense.
Napoleon Hill’s Seven Principles for Outwitting the Devil in Your Life:
1. Definiteness of Purpose
2. Mastery over Self
3. Learning from Adversity
4. Controlling environmental influence (associations)
5. Time (giving permanency to positive, rather than negative thought-habits and developing wisdom)
6. Harmony (acting with definiteness of purpose to become the dominating influence in your own mental, spiritual, and physical environment)
7. Caution (thinking through your plans before you act)
Hill asks the Devil:
“WHAT PREPARATION MUST ONE UNDERGO before being
able to move with definiteness of purpose at all times?”
The Devil replies: “One must gain mastery over self. This is the second of the
seven principles. The person who is not master of himself can
never be master of others. Lack of self-mastery is, of itself, the
most destructive form of indefiniteness.”
I’ve found this to be so true. It’s why it’s so important to remember that self control, self determination, leads to confidence, courage, and character.
Truly a remarkable book that will have you feeling a bit guilty for watching Netflix, and more determined to make a positive difference and aim toward a goal/purpose in your life.