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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A Lifetime of Persistence, Pt I

Posted on December 5, 2008. Filed under: People to Follow | Tags: , , , , |

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve”. 

“Thoughts are things”. 

 “You become what you think about”. 

These are concepts made popular in the last century by Napoleon Hill, and for the past week, I’ve immersed myself in his biography.  Why would I be interested in the life of an early 20th century self-improvement prosletyzer?  His name keeps coming up as I delve into the teachings of more recent “mentors” – people like Chicken Soup for the Soul author Jack Canfield, and Bob Proctor.  And you can learn a ton from the life of Napoleon Hill – especially if you are one of those people diagnosed and struggling with ADHD. 

I actually started my research as a speaking project for Toastmasters, and was actually amazed at what I found out about him.  Who knew we would have so much in common?

I’m not saying that Mr Hill had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  But reading his life story, he shows many of the symptoms.  Very bright and active, he was sent to school at age four (in 1887) to “get out of his parents’ hair”. Once in school though, it was very hard to keep him in his seat, or his attention focused on what was going on in class.  He was much happier exploring the woods around his home, packing a six-shooter, hunting small game and starting fires.  Not exactly a promising start for a future philosopher and lecturer.  I liked him already!

The key to his success, though, began with the unwavering support and belief in his talents shown to him by his stepmother, Martha Hill.  She was the widow of a school principal who married Napoleon’s father, James, when “Nap” was nine.   Martha’s deal with her stepson was this:  “Turn in your gun and I will give you a typewriter”.  Bear in mind that this was around 115 years ago, and a typewriter was as new and as coveted as an XBox 360.  Napoleon took the bait, and he sat and struggled to learn how to type.  It was to become a key tool in his transformation from young hoodlum in training to young man with a big goal and the means to get there. 

To be continued!

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Getting Back On Track After You’ve Been Derailed

Posted on December 1, 2008. Filed under: Where Work meets Life | Tags: , , , |

Here’s an article that I wrote for work – particularly for a MoneyMinding affiliate and supporter, Julie Taylor of Rebuilding You.  As a registered clinical counsellor, she helps people put their lives back together after trauma – particularly physical injury. 


Here’s the article!


Train wrecks.  Derailments.  From where I write this in British Columbia, occasionally our newscasts feature images of a chain of heavy train cars lying on their sides, spilling their contents into a river canyon or a ditch, looking both ungainly and fragile as their small wheels spin helplessly in the air.  It’s never pretty, and clean-up is often difficult.  Is it any wonder that when crises happen in our life, we sometimes talk about being “derailed”?


For long periods of time we chug along the track that’s been set out before us, delivering our goods, sheltering our passengers.  Then, WHAM!  A rockslide on the track, or a cow, or even the “wrong kind of snow” causes us to lose our grip, or get jerked off the rails.  Whether your metaphorical derailment is a physical injury, a relationship breakup, a sudden financial loss, loss of a job, or death of a family member… these are the circumstances that life throws at us, and putting ourselves back on track often takes time and a series of small steps.


Ironically, often the “life crises” are compounded by money crises.  When you can’t work because you are sick or injured, or you are caring for someone else, that can hit you right in the wallet.  So what are the steps you need to take get moving forward again?


The first step, and it’s not an easy one when you are knocked over, is to be grateful for where you are.  Unlike trains, you are a human being, capable of love, appreciation and gratitude even in the most unlikely circumstances.  It might just be “Thank heaven I’m not dead!”  or “I’m so glad I have family members who love me,” or “Well, I’m grateful that this lousy thing is done.  Let’s see what I have left to work with.”  When you know what you are grateful for, take the time to record your thanks – in a notebook, on index cards, or on sticky notes by your bedroom mirror.  Don’t let those items of gratitude slip out of your life.  Recreate your moment of thanks daily.


This is the perfect time to reflect, reassess, and to make new goals that take into account the life event that you have just been through.  When you have your goals, write them down and carry them with you. 

Obviously, these first two steps are much broader in scope than you will find in most financial repair “how-tos”.  But the truth is, financial health is built on a foundation of overall well-being. When you have these first two priorities in place, then you can ask yourself, “What is the next baby step I can take to reach my goal?”  That next step may be to record your daily expenses, so you know where your money is going as well as where it is coming from.  It may be to start putting aside your change, so you can use it later for “guilt-free” purchases.  Do that one next step consistently for 30 days, so it becomes a part of who you are.  If you try to change too much at once, especially when you are already dealing with the larger change of your “derailment”, your new habit may not stick. 


Expect success, at least in this one manageable area of your life.  Taking charge of your money does not have to be a struggle, provided you approach it in a step-by-step fashion.  You may even find it to be one area of calm and control in an otherwise turbulent situation.

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It’s a newborn baby blog!

Posted on November 27, 2008. Filed under: In My Experience | Tags: , , , |

Welcome to Out of the Fog, my blog for exploring solutions  when living with Attention Deficit Disorder, especially those, like me, who are adult women.  More than that, it’s a journal dedicated to personal success, however and wherever you find it.

In fact, I hardly feel like it’s a “disorder” I’m living with at this point, partly because it’s as much a part of me as my green eyes and left-handedness, and partly because in the last few years I’ve learned to use some terrific tools and strategies that enhance my strengths and minimize the, uh, “foggy” side of me.

In this blog, I’ll look at the characteristics of ADD as it often manifests in girls and women, how I came to be classified with this “label”, what I’ve worked to overcome, and the many treatments, both medical and behavioural, that we can choose from as individuals living and even thriving with ADD.

It will go beyond ADD as well, and explore the potential of the human mind, the plasticity of our remarkable brain, and the infinite possibilities that absolutely are still the birthright of you and every person, whatever your situation and whatever struggles you work to overcome.

I’m sure I’ll find a place on this blog for the requisite disclaimers.  I’m not a doctor or a psychologist, and of course I recommend that you consult with your own medical professional in the process of diagnosing, treating and ultimately living with ADD or any other condition that resembles it (and believe me, ADD comes in many packages.  What works for me won’t work for everyone, and vice versa).

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