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According to Napoleon Hill's "Think and Grow Rich" there are thirty-one major reasons or failure. As you go over the list, check yourself by it, point by point, for the purpose of discovering how many of these causes-of-failure stand between you and success.

  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-one causes of failure which may not be easily corrected by any individual.
  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 a 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 major cause of their failure. 
  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. (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 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. 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 describes 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 margin.
  13. Lack of a well defined power of decision. Men who succeed reach decisions promptly, and change them, 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" yo to the treadmill of failure.
  14. One or more of the six basic fears. These fears have been analyzed for you in a later in a separate blog. They must be mastered before you can market your services effectively.
  15. Wrong selection of a mate in a 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 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 on minds are afraid of nothing.
  19. Wrong selection of 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-trade seldom is good at any. Concentrate all your efforts on one definite chief aim.
  21. The habit of indiscriminate spending. The spendthrift 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. Over-indulgence 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 businessman 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.
  31. Under this, name any particular cause of failure from which you have suffered has not been included in the forgoing list. 
In these thirty-one major causes of failure is found a description of the tragedy of life, which obtains for practically every person who tries and fails. It will be helpful if you can induce someone who knows you well to go over this list with you, and help to analyze you by the thirty-one causes of failure. It may be beneficial if you try this alone. Most people cannot see themselves as others see them. You may be one who cannot.

When Henley wrote the prophetic lines, "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul," he should have informed us that we are the masters of our fate, the captains of our souls, because we have the power to control our thoughts.
He should have told us that our brains become magnetized with the dominating thoughts which we hold in our minds, and, by means with which no man is familiar, these "magnets" attract to us the forces, the people, the circumstances of life which harmonize with the nature of our dominating thoughts.
He should have told us that before we can accumulate riches in great abundance, that we must magnetize our minds with intense desire for riches, that we must become "money conscious" until the desire for money drives us to create definite plans for acquiring it.
But, being a poet, and not a philosopher, Henley contented himself by stating a great truth in poetic form, leaving those who followed him to interpret the philosophical meaning of his lines.
Little by little, the truth has unfolded itself, until it now appears certain that the principles described in Napoleon's book hold the secret of mastery over our economic fate.
Let's look at the story of Napoleon's listener Jennings Randolph in his speech in a college commencement address. In his address he emphasized the principle described in his book with so much intensity that one of the members of the graduating class definitely appropriated it, and made it part of his own philosophy. The young man became a congressman and an important factor in Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration. He wrote him a letter in which he so clearly stated his opinion of the principle outlined in the book that he had chosen to publish the letter as an introduction to one of the chapters. 
It gives you an idea of the rewards to come.

My dear Napoleon,

My service as a member of Congress having given me an insight into the problems of men and women, I am writing to offer a suggestion which may become helpful to thousands of worthy people.

In 1922, you delivered the commencement address at Salem College, when I was a member of the graduating class. In that address, you planted in my mind an idea which has been responsible for the opportunity I now have to serve the people of my state, and will be responsible, in a very large measure, for whatever success I may have in the future.

I recall, as though it were yesterday, the marvelous description you gave of the method by which Henry Ford, with but little schooling, without a dollar, with no influential friends, rose to great heights. I made up my mind then, even before you had finished your speech, that I would make a place for myself, no matter how many difficulties I had to surmount.

Thousands of young people will finish their schooling this year, and within the next few years. Every one of them will be seeking just such a message of practical encouragement as the one I received from you. They will want to know where to turn, what to do, to get started in life. You can tell them, because you have helped to solve the problems of so many, many people.

There are thousands of people in America today who would like to know how they can convert ideas into money, people who must start at scratch, without finances, and recoup their losses. If anyone can help them, you can.

If you publish the book, I would like to own the first copy that comes from the press, personally autographed by you.

With best wishes, believe me.

Cordially yours,

Jennings Randolph 

Thirty-five years after he made that speech, it was his pleasure to return to Salem College in 1957 and deliver the bacalaureate sermon. At that time, he received an honorary Doctor of Literature degree from Salem College.
Since that time in 1922, he watched Jennings Randolph rise to become one of the nation's leading airlines executives, a great inspirational speaker and United States Senator from West Virginia. 

When you are stressed or worried, your body secretes a powerful hormone called adrenaline. The effects of adrenaline in the human body can be compared to those of rocket fuel in a missile or nitric oxide in a race car. Adrenaline is shot into your blood to give you an immediate boost of energy or strength in response to fear, excitement or extreme emotion. In other words, it gives you an energy blast to get you going fast.
Once when I was jogging, I passed a fenced yard that was the domain of two massive Doberman pinschers. I didn't see the dogs -"flesh-eating canines" would be a more accurate term - as I jogged past the yard. I guess they felt I was jogging too close to their boundary line, so out of nowhere, they charged me, with vicious, blood-curdling barking. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of the two demonic figures fiercely bearing down on me. Adrenaline shot through my body like a bullet through soft cheese. At the time of the attack, it never occurred to me there was a protective fence separating their ugly teeth from my pristine body. So I jumped three feet straight into the air and darted off faster than I had run since high school.
Adrenaline is a powerful chemical designed to be burned up immediately by the body. If it is not expended, however, it can affect you adversely. Your body doesn't know whether it is being attacked from without or within. Likewise, a critical attitude puts your body on all-points alert, and your internal systems go on the defensive. If I carry around a critical attitude, for example, small doses of adrenaline drip into my bloodstream all day long. With the presence of adrenaline in our system, and even with eight hours of sleep, we may still be tired when we awake.
Medical researches tell us that stress and worry cause more internal damage than we realize. Physiologically, we are affected by fear, insecurity and unresolved bitterness. These things weaken our immune system, causing us to become susceptible to viruses and diseases our bodies would normally be capable of fending off.
A dear friend of mine was once the picture of health. He ate only the best foods, exercised and monitored his cholesterol levels vigilantly. But he had one major malady - worry. He worried about anything he could not completely control, until it ate him up inside. He had a tough time trusting God for his future, his finances and his family. As his anxiety grew, so did the physical effects. He constantly fell victim to stomach ailments.
He appeared to be in his 60s in even though he was only 52.1. I also watched him go through a second divorce - the stress had cost him another loving relationship.
This dear friend recently passed away at an early age. Although he was a health nut, he succumbed to something much more devastating; terrible perspective on life. His attitude had stolen his best years.
I have heard it said that the presence of adrenaline in your blood system can increase your cholesterol count by 40 percent. We willingly go on exotic diets and take pills to reduce our cholesterol level, when what we really need is a better attitude toward life!
You could say that the state of your health is determined not so much by whay you're eating but by what's eating you.

(From Wayne Cordeiro's "Attitudes That Attract Success")

One sound idea is all that one needs to achieve success. The principles described in this book contain ways and means of creating useful ideas. 
When riches begin to come they come so quickly, in such great abundance, that one wonders where they have been hiding all those years.
This is an astounding statement, and all the more so when we take into consideration the popular belief that riches come only to those who work hard an long. 
When you begin to think and grow rich, you will observe that riches begin with a state of mind, with definiteness of purpose, with little or no hard work. You, and every other person, ought to be interested in knowing how to acquire the state of mind which will attract riches. I spent twenty-five years in research because, I too, wanted to know "how wealthy men become that way."
Observe very closely, as soon as you master the principles of this philosophy, and begin to follow the instructions for applying those principles, your financial status will begin to improve, and everything you touch will begin to transmute itself into an asset for your benefit. Impossible! Not at all!
One of the main weakness of mankind is the average man's familiarity with the word "impossible." He knows all the rules which will not work. He knows all the things which cannot be done. This book was written for those who seek the rules which have made others successful, and are willing to stake everything on those rules.
Success comes to those who become success conscious.
Failure comes to those who indifferently allow themselves to become failure conscious.
Another weakness found in altogether too many people is the habit of measuring everything, and everyone, by their own impressions and beliefs. Some persons who read this will believe that they cannot think and grow rich, because their thought habits have been steeped in poverty, want, misery, failure, and defeat.
These unfortunate people remind me of a prominent Chinese, who came to America to be educated in American ways. He attended the University of Chicago. One day President Harper met this young Oriental on the campus, stopped to chat with him for a few minutes, and asked what had impressed him as being the most noticeable characteristic of the American people.
"Why," the student exclaimed, "the queer slant of your eyes. Your eyes are off slant!"
What do we say about the Chinese?
We refuse to believe that which we do not understand. We foolishly believe that our own limitations are the proper measureof limitations. Sure, the other fellow's eyes are "off stand," because they are not the same as our own.

Let me share to you Napoleon Hill's concept of thought turning into things. This is an excerpt from his book with which he gave a concrete and real example of "thought(s)" that eventually turned into "thing(s)".
Truly "thoughts are things," and powerful things at that, when they are mixed with definiteness of purpose, persistence, and a burning desire for their translation into riches, or other material objects.
Some years ago, Edwin C. Barnes discovered how true it is that men really do think and grow rich. His discovery did not come about one sitting. It came little by little, beginning with a burning desire to become a business associate of the great Edison.
One of the chief characteristics of Barnes' desire was that it was definite. He wanted to work with Edison, not for him. Observe carefully the description of how he went about translating his desire into reality, and you will have a better understanding of the principles which lead to riches.
When this desire, or impulse of thought, first flashed into his mind he was in no position to act upon it. Two difficulties stood in his way. He did not know Mr. Edison, and he did not have enough money to pay his railroad fare to Orange, New Jersey. 
These difficulties were sufficient to have discouraged the majority of men from making any attempt to carry out the desire. But his was bo ordinary desire!
He presented himself at Mr. Edison's laboratory, and announced he had t come to go into business with the inventor. In speaking of the first meeting between Barnes and Edison, years later, Mr. Edison said:
"He stood there before me, looking like an ordinary tramp, but there was something in the expression of his face which conveyed the impression that he was determined to get what he had come after. I had learned, from years of experience with men, that when a man really desires a thing so deeply that he is willing to stake his entire future on a single turn of the wheel in order to get it, he is sure to win. I gave him the opportunity he asked for, because I saw he had made up his mind to stand by until he succeeded. Subsequent events proved that no mistake was made."
It could not have been the young man's appearance which got him start in the Edison office, for that was definitely against him. It was what he thought that counted.
Barnes did not get his partnership with Edison on his first interview. He did get a chance to work in the Edison offices, ar a very nominal wage. 
Months went by. Apparently nothing happened to bring nearer the coveted goal which Barnes had set up in his mind as his definite major purpose. But something important was happening in Barnes' mind. He was constantly intensifying his desire to become the business associate of Edison. 
Psychologists have correctly said that "when one is truly ready dor a thing, it puts in its appearance." Barnes was ready for a business association with Edison; Moreover, he was determined to remain ready until he got that which he was seeking.
He did not say to himself, "Ah well, what's the use? I guess I'll change my mind and try for a salesman's job. " But He did say, "I came here to go into business with Edison, and I'll accomplish this end if it takes the remainder of my life." He meant it! What a different story men would have to tell if only they would adopt a definite purpose, and stand by that purpose until it had time to become an all-consuming obsession!
Maybe young Barnes did not know it at the time, but his bullsog determination, his persistence in standing back of a single desire, was destined to mow down all opposition, and bring him the opportunity he was seeking.
When the opportunity came, it appeared in a different form and from a different direction Barnes had expected. That is one of the tricks of opportunity. It has a sly habit of slipping in by the back door, and often it comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat. Perhaps this is why so many fail to recognize opporunity.
Mr. Edison had just perfected a new office device, known at that time as the Edison Dictating Machine. They did not believe could be sold without great effort. Barnes saw his opportunity. It had crawled in quietly, hidden in a queer-looking machine which interested no one but Barnes and the inventor.
Barnes knew he could sell the Edison Dictating Machine. He suggested this to Edison, promptly got his chance. He did sell the machine. In fact, he sold it so successfully that Edison gave him a contract to distribute and market it all over the nation. Out of that business association Barnes made himself rich in money, but did something infinitely greater. He proved that one really may "Think and Grow Rich."
How much actual cash and original desire Barnes' was worth to him, I have no way of knowing. Perhaps it brought him two or three million dollars, but he amount, whatever it is, becomes insignificant when it is compared with the greater asset he acquired in the form of definite knowledge that an intangible impulse of thought can be transmuted into material rewards by the application of known principles.
Barnes literally thought himself into a partnership with the great Edison! He thought himself into a fortune. He had nothing to start with, except the capacity to know what he wanted, and the determination to stand by that desire until he realized it.