Truthful Living: A book review by Bob Morris

Truthful Living: The First Writings of Napoleon Hill
Napoleon Hill with Jeffrey Gitomer
Amazon Publishing (October 2018)

Timeless but timely advice for personal growth and professional development

Henry Ford once observed, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.” During the 20 years prior to the publication of Think and Grow Rich in 1937, Napoleon Hill began to develop his thoughts about how to help his students at the George Washington Institute in Chicago to succeed. He agreed with Ford that the key to success is self-confidence, and, having/following a plan to achieve it.

A few years ago, the Napoleon Hill Foundation uncovered Hill’s original 23 lessons as well as lectures and notes. It selected Jeffrey Gitomer to edit and annotate this material because he adds “real-world strategies that are easy to implement, and will have a huge impact on life, family, business, and earnings.” Quite true.

The word “grow” in Hill’s classic work correctly suggests that he has an ongoing process — rather than an ultimate destination — in mind. In horticultural terms, don’t plant seeds today and expect to have “corn as high as an elephant’s eye” tomorrow. As for the term “rich,” Dickens indicates that Bob Cratchit was rich and Ebenezer was poor. By the end of A Christmas Carol, Scooge was both.

With regard to the title of this volume, it correctly emphasizes the same point that Shakespeare’s Polonius makes to his son Laertes in Hamlet: “To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” In this context, here’s what Hill has to say: “Believe in yourself! The reason so many people fail is because they set so small a value on their ability to accomplish anything they undertake. Self-confidence is the very warp and woof of success.”

The term “self-help” correctly suggests that those who read books and articles, attend lectures, and participate in programs that discuss how to accelerate personal growth and professional development will determine the value of them [begin italics] to them [end italics]. This is precisely what Thomas Edison had in mind when asserting that “vision without execution is hallucination.”

More than 100 years ago, Hill fully understood that the, “lessons on life” he shared with his students were essentially worthless unless and until they were applied effectively every day, within and beyond the workplace.

Gitomer provides a Foreword, “Actions” (i.e. recommendations for implementation), and annotations to Hill’s original material. I also want to commend Mike Wolff and Jeff Miller for designing the framework within which to present the material, and, Jennifer Gluckow for her brilliant editing of it.

Truthful Living would be an excellent gift for those now preparing for a career in business or have only recently embarked upon one. It would also be helpful to others whose careers, thus far, have stalled or wandered off-course. I also highly recommend Alan Watts’s The Book.


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