A Lifetime of Persistence Part 3

Posted on December 9, 2008. Filed under: People to Follow | Tags: , |

Who recognizes this pattern:

Finish education “by the skin of your teeth”.  Use charm and outgoing personality to develop some amazing contacts.  Through great contacts, get prestigious, if safe,  job.  Get bored at job and blow it off to start an exciting new venture.  Put together a team of people to help with new venture, only to watch it all blow apart when and partners don’t get along.  Make lots of money quickly, and lose it all just as quickly.  Write encouraging letters to family, saying “Money is on its way, really!”

This was the pattern that Napoleon Hill followed for many years.  At just 24 years old, he’d already tried his hand at law school and at managing a coal mine, but neither of these pursuits fit with his restless, ambitious nature.  Fortunately, writing for Bob Taylor’s Magazine was pretty good fit, though it didn’t provide a full-time income.  This magazine was written in the same spirit as our current “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series – inspiring stories of the famous and not-so-famous. 

In particular, the writing gig put Napoleon in contact with some of the most successful people of the time, and one contact in particular would have a profound impact on Napoleon’s life.  This contact gave him an overarching purpose even as he struggled through some huge personal ups and downs over the years.

The man’s name was Andrew Carnegie.  Napoleon Hill was commissioned to interview him for Bob Taylor’s Magazine in 1908, when Carnegie was one of America’s richest men.  In a Friday afternoon interview that ended up lasting the whole weekend, Carnegie shared his philosophy of success with Napoleon, and ultimately issued the young man a challenge.  Here’s a quote from the book, “A Lifetime of Riches”:

“All it would take, Carnegie believed, was sharing that knowledge – the philosophy and the steps to success – that had been gained by those who achieved greatness.  Carnegie knew this could be a priceless gift to millions of people: an opportunity to learn from those who had started out no differently than any other person, but had through the infinite power of their minds transformed their lives and the lives of millions of others.”

Carnegie thought this challenge would take 20 years to complete, and he wasn’t offering pay – just letters of introduction and travel costs.  The rest was on Napoleon Hill’s shoulders.  It took Napoleon only 29 seconds, the book says, to say yes.  And despite jumping from job to business venture to another job or venture every two years for almost the whole twenty years, regardless of the fact that very shortly after his pivotal meeting with Carnegie, Napoleon met and married Florence Horner and started a family, he kept up his research and interviews.  Occasionally, his committment to the project seemed to threaten the fabric of his family life.  For almost their entire marriage, Napoleon lived apart from Florence and their children, preferring to seek his fortune away from their home of Lumberport, VA.  And also for most of their marriage, it was Florence’s family money, and even money from Napoleon’s father James Hill that kept a roof over their heads.  The “riches” promised in both Napoleon Hill’s most famous book and in his biography were still a long way off.

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2 Responses to “A Lifetime of Persistence Part 3”

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well, great post I must say. keep writing for more.

god bless napoleon hill and andrew carnegie! nothing quite like ’em for making the heart pump that little bit faster. if there was ever two people you needed for friends it was they.
however ,for all the advice they have given i wonder if they were ever held back by such incompetent bosses as i seem to be blighted by. people who have a mere fraction of my acumen,knowledge and intelligencebut by the perverse laws of life seem to rise to the top. the thing is i can only rise as far as my immediate superior. this is my problem.petty rubbish to all the successful people in life. but my experience and frustration. these are the real situations faced by most of us. responsibility keeps us in place and bitter. i would be grateful if anyone could show me the way out of this dilemma that has always blighted my life.


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