There’s this 80-year-old book I pick up every few years called “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. Each time I read it, I devour its message, and actually believe I’m gonna apply its profound principles to my life. For real . Every time. But I never do.
Napoleon Hill is a legend, a journalist hired by Andrew Carnegie at the turn of the 20th century, to interview 500 of the country’s richest men, to try and figure out what they had in common. According to Hill, whose book has sold 100 million copies over the past 8 decades, if you want to be rich:
// You’ve got to dream big and take big risks.
// You’ve got to be willing to stake your entire future on this dream.
// You’ve got to have faith. Deep rooted faith.
// And you’ve got to be prepared to fail.
Disclaimer: Mr. Hill, may he rest in peace, might have a problem with the way I translate his theories, so forgive me for taking liberties.
According to this book, a bestseller 100 times over, growing rich starts with a dream and feeds on courage and self-confidence. It’s not about wishing for money to show up. It’s about making money show up.
Hill cites Edison’s 10,000 failed patents, and shares the story of Gugliemo Marconi. When the man who invented radio told friends of his plan, they had him committed to a psychiatric institution. But he didn’t give up. That’s because, according to Hill, rich people just don’t.
There are 13 principles upon which the “Think and Grow Rich” theory is based, and every one of them is spiritual in nature. Kinda shocking to think that the leaders of the Industrial Revolution built their empires on a wing and a prayer.
So this time around, I’ve been listening, and following the directions that come with this book. Reciting the mantras I created, dreaming big, pushing my boundaries, knowing deep in my soul that if I wanna be rich, I gotta start believing I’m gonna be.
There’s only one exercise in Hill’s 13 step theory that has me stuck: He calls it, “Building your Imaginary Council,” and it’s all about creating a panel of people to support your dream. People, dead or alive: advisors you would want sitting at your table. There is no limit to how many, as long as they are people who’ve impressed or inspired, or supported you.
My Council changes every time I read this book, and last week, trying to rebuild it once again, I was stuck, with just a few trusted carryovers: Eleanor Roosevelt, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Gary Kesl, my childhood tennis coach. I was stumped by who should fill those other imaginary seats.
Therein, I realized, lies my problem. I’m afraid to commit for fear of making the wrong choice. (Aren’t we all?)
As serendipity would have it, I was speaking to Marnie Nir, a very talented comedy writer who’s also a Senior Coach for The Handel Group and a brilliantly received Campowerment Life and Love Expert. Marnie and I were catching up when she casually mentioned her woman’s group was doing work around this “council” principle, by some old dead guy named Napoleon Hill. Seriously?
Cracking ourselves up over the irony, Marnie asked who I had picked to be the trusted advisors of my life. I had close to nothin’, but I promised to get back to her when genius struck. She wasn’t all that surprised. She coaches me and knows I’m kinda non-committal (case in point). I was pretty shocked to hear she picked me to be on her council, seated in between (get this) G-d and Louie CK.
“Why me?” I asked, sincerely humbled to be sandwiched between those two powerhouses. “Because you believe in me more than I believe in myself sometimes,” she told me, in no uncertain terms.
That was her criteria for a spot on her trusted council? That’s it? Maybe I was overthinking this…
And so, I rebuilt my council to include some unbelievable women on my Campowerment team. Women whose commitment to me and my dream makes them even more valuable than any leader in history, which, to be clear, I one day aspire to be.
When I created Campowerment, to help women live life better, like those rich old coots Hill writes about, I built my dream on nothing but a lofty imagination and some true grit, from a germ of an idea that ultimately got a push from some trusted strangers, moved by what I’d created. Their commitment, born out of their belief in me and this awesome program we’ve since built, together, is really what’s propelling this movement forward.
The wireframe of Campowerment looks a lot like the winning principles outlined a century ago by Mr. Hill in “Think and Grow Rich.” We are dreaming big. We have had some setbacks. But we have no doubt we will succeed. We are courageous and confident. And we have faith.
Finally, I have one helluva council assembled, with a couple of fascinating famous people (Golda Meir, Ben [Cohen] and Jerry [Greenfield], Gandhi, Sarah Silverman, Benazir Bhutto, Jerry Seinfeld), sprinkled between my people, the ones who’ve always had my back and pushed me ahead. (Thank you to so many invaluable camp girls, for busting your a**es and for believing).
It may only be in my imagination, but I don’t feel so alone anymore. And I’m thinking rich is right around the corner, just because failure is not even on our radar.
So, who’s on your Council? I invite you to think about who you’d want sitting at your table, supporting your dream. Reach out and ask those people you respect and admire to contribute something to whatever it is you’re working on. If you listen, and tell each one how much their support means to you, I’d be willing to bet they’ll give you even more. And so begins your journey to think and grow rich, with support you didn’t even know you could muster.
Want to share who’s on your council, and why? We’d love to know. Post to Facebook and tag @Campowerment to shout it from the rooftops…or send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org to clue me in.