Napoleon Hill’s Keys to Positive Thinking

n_hillNapoleon Hill’s Keys to Positive Thinking by Michael J. Ritt Jr.

A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy 

Synopsis of Content:

Napoleon Hill was one of the most prolific and influential success writers of the 20th century. As a very young man he interviewed Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie was so impressed by the young Hill he commissioned him to undertake a study of success for 20 years and then publish a book on the subject. Carnegie offered no payment but did introduce Hill to nearly every successful business man and politician of the first half of the 20th Century.

Hill went on to publish newsletters and books and eventually gained fame and fortune through his book Think and Grow Rich and the Law of Success. Nearing retirement age Hill met insurance typcoon W. Clement Stone and the two of them went on to publish a number of books and tapes on success, sales and a positive mental attitude.

The concepts in this book are all Napoleon Hill’s work. Ritt brings it together in a somewhat more modern version and removes some of the more controversial parts of Hill’s work.

Ritt reduces Hill’s 17 original principles of success to ten essential ones:

1. Taking Possession of your Own Mind.

2. Focusing on what you want and not on what you do not want.

3. Living the Golden Rule.

4. Eliminating all negative thought.

5. Be Happy.

6. Form the habit of tolerance.

7. Use positive self-suggestions.

8. Use the power of prayer.

9. Set Goals.

10. Study, Think and Plan Daily.

Weaved through all of this is the essential element of doing it all with a positive mental attitude, or what W. Clement Stone called PMA.

At the end of each chapter Ritt offers some summary material and a suggestion for actions for the reader to take to implement the lessons of that chapter into life.

Readability/Writing Quality:   

This book is very readable. He offers many stories and examples. Pages are broken into logical sections and text boxes are used to highlight key ideas. 

Notes on Author:

Michael J. Ritt, Jr. became a protégé of Stone and Hill and went on to become executive director of the Napoleon Hill Foundation. He wrote Napoleon Hill’s Keys to Positive Thinking which he described as Ten Steps to Health, Wealth and Success. Ritt also wrote a biography of Hill entitled A Lifetime of Riches.

Napoleon Hill’s background is described above however it must be noted that some reviewers have cast some doubts on his claims. There appears to be no verification about his commission from Carnegie and we have only Hill’s word that he ever met the great man. Hill had many failed businesses and schemes during his life. He may have been involved in some unsavory activities and was being hunted by organized crime mobs for some time. Whatever one may conclude about Hill’s entire life he did engage in a lifetime study of success and interviewed many men of great accomplishment. He had the photographs and letters to prove that. Many people have found Hill’s thinking to be largely sound and a good basis for success.

Related Website:

Michael Ritt has no website. There is a foundation dedicated to the work of Napoleon Hill and it is found at:

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:                                      

1. Nothing succeeds like success. People are drawn to positive successful people and not to negative people. Positive attitude allows you to win friendship and cooperation from others which is essential to success. No one does it all alone.

2. We really do become what we think. We direct our own fate through our thoughts and attitudes. It is not magic. However philosophers and others have observed this reality for centuries.

3. As many other success teachers have preached setting and following goals is a key to success. Hill taught to apply a process to goal setting involving a determination of what you wish to accomplish, followed by an evaluation of what it will take to accomplish it. You then set your goal, identify a date when it will be accomplished, identify a plan to make it happen and repeat the steps in writing each day. He called this the Determine, Evaluation, Set, Identify, Repeat process. He stresses that long and short term goals must be set, reviewed and implemented on a daily basis. 

Publication Information:  

Napleon Hill’s Keys to Positive Thinking by Michael J. Ritt, Jr.

©1998 Napoleon Hill Foundation

Published by Penguin Books

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.