Book Review: Napoleon Hill’s Golden Rules by Napoleon Hill

Golden Rules
The picture is taken from

Author: Napoleon Hill
Published: 1994

Goodreads: 4.2/5
Amazon: 4.7/5
(Feb 2020)

Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) is a famous author in the genre of self-help books. His popular writings include but not limited to Think and Grow Rich and The Law of Success. This book, Napoleon Hill’s Golden Rules is actually a collection of articles Hill wrote for the Success Magazine from 1919 to 1923 (this explains why the publication date is after Hill’s death). Each article elaborates on an insight Hill had distilled through his life experience and from hundreds of interviews he had conducted with successful people, with the aim of achieving success. The book consists of 12 chapters, which can then be summed up into 7 main points:

  • Self-Confidence and Consistence
  • Insinuation by Suggestion
  • Retaliation
  • Remember
  • Crowd Psychology
  • Compensation
  • Love

Self-Confidence and Consistence

One inherits from his parents and grandparents both physical and social heredity. While physical heredity (eye color, hair color, build, the resemblance to one’s parents, etc.) is transmitted through gene, thus it is hard to intervene and customize, the social heredity is learned from what one is taught and experienced in life, therefore it can be more feasibly modified and improved. This idea fully complies with and is supported by Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s old saying ‘Children are born as a blank slate‘. And to paint this slate, to be a masterpiece or a failure, is the work of the environment.

The 4 sources that build up one’s slate are:

  • Parents and family
  • Friends and advisors
  • School
  • Books, news, and other mediums

This book, and this review, are proud to sit in the last position listed above.

How one’s mind is built depends largely on the first 10 years from the day he entered the world. After that, his personalities become moderately solid and can be changed almost only when there is a big event that is strong enough to affect his perspective of life. However, if you DO spend time to read this book and this review, I hope you have enough motivation to make a change to yourselves, to make a better you. Making adjustments is fully feasible, everyone has an inner strength capable of renovating one’s mind, the only problem is we sometimes do not believe that fact.

To be better and to be successful, pack your confidence and consistency with you. You have to be confident enough to believe you are so powerful that making changes is just a piece of cake. You also need to be consistent with your plan of changing, as this process takes time and effort and it is not a wise choice to give up in the middle. Be confident to set up a goal to make yourselves better and be consistent with your commitment, then you can make everything you want to happen.

Each of us has the full power to control his life and he is the only one who can do that. We all have that power sleeping inside, be confident and consistent is the only way to wake it up.

Insinuation by Suggestion

The Insinuation by Suggestion (or just Suggestion) is a method of imitation that leads your imitation to reality.

As an example, when one thinks one is confident and acts like one is already confident, one will really become confident.

To be a bit more general, keep in mind the ideal model you want to become and gradually you will become one. This is a psychological effect that is popularly applied by many successful people and also be proposed in many other books.

The method of Suggestion is simple:

  • Write out the goal you want to achieve and read it out lout 5 times a day, including in the morning when you wake up and in the night before going to bed.
  • Acts like your goal had been achieved. Do persuade yourselves that you really achieved your goal, DO BELIEVE!

If you admire a great man and want to become like him, imagine (and fully believe) that you are already like him, so in each situation, you will do what he is supposed to do in that situation, and thus you become really similar to him.

This reminds me of this quote,

Watch your thoughts, they become your words;
watch your words, they become your actions;
watch your actions, they become your habits;
watch your habits, they become your character;
watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

Lao Tzu

This is a chain reaction from your thoughts, which gradually form your character and even your destiny. In short, think you are your model and you will really become one.

To give a real-life example of how insinuation by suggestion works, let’s look at the healthcare environment. In the modern world, more and more frequently patients are given placebos instead of real medicines. What these patients need are not medical care at all, but they need peace in their mind. When they believe that they are being cured by taking medicines, they will actually recover, even though in fact what they take in is just wheat flour.

Also, relating to medicines and placebos, do you know why, when testing a new drug, researchers always divide the patients into 2 groups, with one takes the real new medicine while the other takes the placebo? Why don’t the researchers give the second group nothing at all, instead of placebos? I think you know the answer, they are afraid of the suggestion, which might be strong enough to foil the research results.

In another point of view, the insinuation by suggestion can be branched into self-suggestion and the suggestion on other people. Believing and acting like the one we admire is of the first type while giving patients placebos instead of medicines is of the second type.

For self-suggestion, we first need to persuade ourselves, which is actually way easier than persuading another person in cases you want to apply the suggestion on him. To have the suggestion to work out, the objective of suggestion must be entirely convinced, we must clear all precautions and make him wholly open for what we say. In case you are a doctor, your title, expertise, and ethics are enough to make patients believe what you give him are medicines (even though you actually give them placebos), however, in other cases, things might not work that well. As one’s mind tends to be aggressive and rebellious when being forced, the skill of persuasion is essential in this situation.

Applying insinuation by suggestion on other people is not always bad, although it might be bad depending on the conductor. Most frauds are made with the suggestion, in which cases the victims are tricked by imposters to give them what they want. However, we can also use suggestion positively, for example, by giving compliments, we make the other one more confident and productive.

In conclusion, the insinuation by suggestion has an immense power that can thoroughly transform one’s life and make impossibility possible. We introduced to you the most vigorous tool you need, now, it is up to you to utilize this tool to revamp yourselves and the others, creating better lives, better destinies.


The rule of retaliation says that the human mind tends to reflect what it takes, even if it is a good or bad signal. This rule is important as it points out what you should do to have people being kind to you: that is, you should be kind to people in the first place.

Knowing this rule, so when people are being bad to me, should I repay them what I get? Of course not, unless you want to get into trouble again and again. Instead, be nice to them and you will get their kindness in return.

This rule also encourages collaboration. Try to collaborate with others and they will, in turn, collaborate with you. So forth, it is a mutual-benefit since collaboration generates effectiveness, as the value created by a group exceeds the sum of values each individual can produce.

Angst and hatred, on the other hand, bring damage to no one except the people who carry them. Time is wasted thinking of ways to take revenge, the mind is filled with rotten thoughts, the stomach is damaged by wine, the lung is hurt by cigarettes, etc. Modern research also reveals that negative thoughts cause the body to release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which gradually harm our internal organs.

All the above reasons jointly indicate that the good habit of spreading positive energy not just benefits others but also, actually, results in good impacts on ourselves, first and foremost.


Another secret of success, according to Hill, is the skill of memorizing things.

It is not so complex to remember well, here is a simple 3-steps method:

  • Analyze. We are not able to remember things when they are too vivid in our minds. Hence, the first step in remembering involves analyzing to fully understand those objectives. For example, if you are trying to put into your brain the neighbor’s dog, think, or even better, speak loudly his name, his owner’s name, his fur’s color, which dog breed he is, if he has any special marks (e.g. a scar), etc. It is best to be specific, and also, remember to use as many senses as possible to analyze. Besides how he looks, pay attention to his roar (using your sense of sound), his smell (using your sense of smell), he is soft or hard (sense of touch), how he tastes – just kidding.
  • Relate. Next, we should relate the new objective with the ones we have already known. By wiring them together, we have a system of facts and each of these facts is easier to recall when we remember the others that are nearby in the system. For the above example, you may relate that dog to your own dog and compare the resemblances and differences, you may also relate him to a police dog if he has ever spotted a thief, etc.
  • Repeat. There are times that we happen to memorize things for so long, usually when they are attached with utmost feelings of surprise, fright or humor. However, these experiences are extremely rare. In fact, almost all our memory, no matter how perfectly we analyzed and related them, still gradually fade with time. Thus, in order to have information retained, we have to remind us of it on a timely basis. The book does not mention it, however, research suggested a repetition scheme as follow: repeat right after the first time, repeat after 20 minutes, repeat after a day, repeat after 2-3 week, repeat after 2-3 months.

The most important advice for remembering is to practice. Practice with the method we have given above and you will see its effectiveness, which then gives you confidence and faith to be practicing even more. Memorization, like most other skills, cannot be mastered in a day or two, instead, we need a frequent training schedule to become proficient.

Again, we have given you the tool you need and it is now up to you to transform yourselves.

Crowd Psychology

Crowd psychology is a branch of social psychology that focuses on the thought processes of both the crowd as an entity and each individual crowd member. In the modern world where we are not working alone but rather in collaboration with others, to understand and utilize crowd psychology and behavior should be considered a necessity leading to success.

Each crowd member is surprisingly different from when he is alone. Being in a crowd, he is much less rational, he allows himself to dispose of his own psychological process, but rather tends to follow a common process of the mass. To be more specific, group members are linked by their feeling, not by rationality. That said, each individual may have his own personality, however, as being a member, their thinking, reactions, and experience changed drastically to adjust to the common think, reactions, and experience of the crowd.

From another point of view, being in a group is like being hypnotized. Members follow the leader and may do something they would never do if being alone. And be cautious, these actions may be either good or bad. It is up to the group leader to decide in which direction we are going to go, the better or the worse. Furthermore, the leader should not be the most brilliant one, but the one who is adept in controlling and manipulating crowd psychology.

So be careful. If you are a member, as long as you are watchful, hypnosis (that makes you do bad things) can not succeed. If you want to be the leader, and being a leader is a faster way to succeed, learn how to control the crowd and lead them to go the best path that benefits you, the crowd, as well as the whole society.


The rule of compensation is also known as the law of cause and effect. Hill reminds us that life is fair and balanced, and we are all treated equally.

When you experience agony, please don’t think of negative thoughts. Out of difficulty, we always learn some lessons that benefit our remaining life. Our failure indicates a higher chance of success next time. Peace will not be sought after if there were no wars. From this point of view, even war is not a bad thing as it recalls us of how bad it is and thus makes us love peace more. Think about yourselves, your relatives and everyone you know including the greatest men in history. Who has achieved glory without suffering? Who are born to be happy until death? No one. Everyone suffered and achieved. The news is that you likely do not know it when they were broken. Even if there is someone who is happy/broken the whole time, believe that in their next life, the opposite will happen.

Never try to take advantage of the others, harm some others or trick another one. Things will find their ways to get back to you the way you send them out. The foremost judge you are going to face and you can never escape is your conscience. Your conscience, as of its natural function, is the one who possesses the strongest power to assess your actions and execute the judgment. The second consequence, which also comes from your inside, is your change in thoughts and habits, which will gradually make you become a worse version of yourselves (refer to the quote from Lao Tzu in the section about Suggestion).

While we are very powerful that can change almost everything, this law of compensation, however, is out of humans’ reach. We have to accept the fact that we cannot control it and thus, never escape the after-effect we are supposed to take for our actions.


A person is like a cell and the society is as a living body. Each cell has its own role and when all the cells cooperate and have their work done well, the body is healthy and thrive. However, when some cells are rotten, that is, when some people have problems with each other, society is divided into 2 halves, not helping but fighting against the other, the body is dying and the whole collapses. This metaphor is indeed exact. Remember the last 2 world wars when several nations collided, leading to 2 parties fighting against each other that made millions perished. To be precise, after the 2 wars, human society has not collapsed yet, however, what happens if there is a world war 3 might not be that positive.

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

Albert Einstein

Zoom in and look at it from a smaller scope, not as big as the society, but being inside a nation, a state, a city, a company, a family or just a group of friends. When members in a batch conflict, the whole batch will break, and the ones who suffer are all members of that batch. Therefore, the advice is to spread love, not hatred. We are reading to find ways to success, however, without love, no one can ever succeed. The one who fails to give love to others will never be able to find true accomplishment and happiness.

Hence, the most important rule we need to follow is to live well, to love the others. In this way, we will all succeed. Can you imagine a world where people share smiles, help, and love with every other? Isn’t that an ideal world?

My final thoughts

Overall, I think this book transmits the right messages in an impressive manner. Despise writing these articles more or less 100 years ago, Napoleon Hill was absolutely ahead of his time. Almost all his insights are still applicable and invaluable after a century.

However, as a reader, I still have some comments on how this was written. First is, there is less scientific proves in his writings, which may make readers be in doubt. I suspect this is due to the fact that research was not so publicly available at that time, which is not Hill’s fault at all. Secondly, I feel the part about suggestion is a little too extreme, furthermore, he tends to reason it by a mysterious law of the universe instead of using a psychological point of view. Lastly, the book seems to be wordier than necessary, when many concepts are repeated needlessly.

Nevertheless, this is still a good book with lots of useful insights that worths a read.

The book: Napoleon Hill’s Golden Rules: The Lost Writings by Napoleon Hill.

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