In 1937, after more than twenty years interviewing the wealthiest tycoons of the industrial revolution, writer Napoleon Hill published what has since become of of the best-selling business books of all time: Think and Grow Rich. During his research Hill interviewed Andrew Carnegie, J.D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, and Thomas Edison, along with hundreds of other industrial era luminaries in order to develop a set of immutable rules that all wealthy men seemed to follow. The following are the five biggest take-aways from Hill’s findings.

1) Take Responsibility For Your Life

The only person who can determine the ultimate destiny for your life is you. The sooner you accept this fact, the sooner you will start to make of your life what you want it to be. It doesn’t matter what handicaps you have, you are the only person in control of your life. You can not always control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it, and therein lies the power to choose. This is a difficult concept for many people to grasp, but by accepting this fact, we take responsibility for our own lives and can move one step closer to attaining the life we want.

2) Our Thoughts Determine Everything

This is the ‘think’ part of Think and Grow Rich. Your mind is truly a amazing thing. Whatever we orient our minds to we can manifest. Thus if we’ve truly taken responsibility for our lives, then we must take responsibility for our thoughts as well. We must accept that every moment of our lives we are in charge of our own thoughts. If we have truly taken responsibility for our lives we know it is our responsibility to orient our minds to the lives we want to lead.

Hill was one of the first to put this succinctly in stating, ‘What the mind of a man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.’ To put it another way we recount the words of one of Hill’s interview subjects Henry Ford, when he stated, ‘Whether you think you can, or think you can’t you’re right.’ It is thus our responsibility to make of our lives whatever we truly want them to be by setting our minds to it.  But in order to determine what we truly want them to be, we must be in touch with the next step of Hill’s plan. We must…

3) Find Our Burning Desire

It’s not enough to merely want something. As Napoleon Hill stated, ‘There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.’ In a word, we need an obsession. The only way we will ever get what we truly want is to have the white hot, burning desire to possess it. It is this desire, once set upon, that the mind will move mountains to achieve. But first, you must really, truly, want it. If you do, and you hold to this desire steadfastly, anything can be achieved. But, in order to achieve this object of our desire we must first…

4) Have Faith

That’s right. But this is not some type of hippie, new age faith. This is the real thing. Once you have affixed in your mind the object of your ceaseless, burning, desire you must then have absolute faith that you will achieve it. Whatever it is you have to believe, truly believe, and have faith that the thing you want with a burning passion will be yours. This loops back to the ‘believe’ part of Hill’s statement, ‘Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.’ In order to accomplish the object of your desire, you must first have an unshakable belief that you are going to. But belief is simply not enough. In order to achieve anything, you must finally…

5) Plan Your Work, and Work Your Plan

This goes without saying. If you want to accomplish anything, you need a strategy. You need a plan. And you need to follow that plan. While this whole process may seem at times metaphysical and new agey, this is the practical part of it. While having an unstoppable desire may be seen as the engine to drive the attainment of the life you want, your plan on how to make that life possible is the road map to get you there. This is not to say that everything can be planned for, or that every step before this is less important, but once you get to this step, once you’ve decide what it is you really want out of life, this is the practical step where you actually get there.

Whether it’s The Secret, Tony Robbins, As A Man Thinketh, or any of the countless other self-help books which have come along since, the lessons Napoleon Hill hit upon in his seminal work ring as true today as they did back then. In almost any self-help book you read, these five lessons remain amazingly present. This is likely due to the fact that if they are applied they will take you that much closer to the leading the life you truly want to live.