It took Napoleon Hill about 25 years of his life to studying the most successful people on the planet, figure out what made them successful and what makes the other 98% of the world either mediocre or average.
There are thirty major reasons for failure, as you go over the list check yourself by it, point by point, for the purpose of discovering how many of these causes – of – failure stand between you and success.
It is very significant that Napoleon Hill pointed these causes out because if you aren’t yet successful, you can go down the list and figure out which of the causes apply to you, so you are aware of them and can address them.
Here are the 30 major causes of failure
1. Unfavorable Hereditary background
If you have some kind of deficiency of brain power because of a disability or some sort, there is not much you can do about it. This is the only one of the 30 causes of failure that cannot be easily corrected.
2. Lack of a well-defined purpose in life
If you don’t have some kind of goal that you are aiming for, how are you supposed to achieve anything or therefore be successful? Have a clear, defined goal that you want to achieve and know why you are working to reach it.
3. Lack of ambition to aim above mediocrity
People who don’t want to get ahead in life can never be successful. This when you just don’t want to even try to improve your life and would rather stay at a mediocre level. I doubt most people actually intend to stay mediocre their entire lives.
4. Insufficient education
A lack of the right education can be overcome with ease. In Think And Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill explains that it is not so much the most highly educated people in school that are the most successful, but the ones who self educate themselves.
School cannot teach you experience. It is not all about knowledge, but knowledge that is applied that is important.
5. Lack of self-discipline
If you step in front of the mirror and feel like you see your greatest enemy, this may be one of your biggest causes of failure. You must learn self-control to avoid letting any negative qualities overtake you. You must develop your mind and become your own best friend to conquer yourself this way.
6. Ill health
If you aren’t healthy, you probably don’t ever feel like getting much work done. This is another aspect of self-control that many people struggle with. The 5 main causes of ill health outlined in the book are:
- Overeating of foods that don’t promote good health
- Wrong expression of thought; giving expression to negatives
- Wrong use of and overindulgence in sex
- Lack of consistent physical exercise
- Improper breathing, causing an inadequate supply of fresh air
7. Unfavorable environmental influences during childhood
One thing you definitely cannot do is live in the past.
“If you drive with a rearview mirror, you’re going to crash.”
Most people that become criminals had pretty bad childhoods or just grew up in a bad environment. Many have been through this and overcome it though, so others must learn to do the same to be successful by surrounding themselves with the right supportive people.
This is definitely one of the biggest causes of failure. It’s actually one of the ones I struggled with the most when I was starting out as an entrepreneur. In seems in today’s society, people are becoming more and more lazy as technology progresses.
This does not promote success. Hard work and consistency are what will get you to where you want to go.
9. Lack of persistence
It’s a lot easier to start something than it is to finish it. Especially in entrepreneurship, people tend to be excited about getting started, but then quit at the first sign of defeat. The most successful people in the world had to go through many failures before their first successes.
Failure cannot cope with persistence. As long as you keep consistently working towards something, you will get past every bump in the road you hit and eventually reach success.
10. Negative personality
You must attract people to you with your personality, not repel them. When people are attracted to you, they want to do business with you and just be around you. Become a more positive person and you will develop better relationships with people that can help you.
11. Lack of controlled sexual urge
Sex is the most powerful stimuli that moves people to action. It has to be controlled and the emotional energy must be converted into other channels.
12. Uncontrolled desire for “something for nothing”
To reach success or achieve any goal, you must provide something in exchange. To always want something for nothing is to have a gambler’s mentality that will never reward you in life consistently. You must give value to get value in return.
An example of how the gambling instinctive causes failure is the stock market crash of 1929.
13. Lack of a well defined power of decision
The reason business owners can make the toughest decisions under pressure is because they make quick decisions and change their mind slowly. Failures make slow decisions if any at all and change their mind too easily.
You can’t stay consistent if you keep changing your mind on the direction you’re going in.
14. One or more of the 6 basic fears
You must overcome any fears that may hold you back from taking action to achieve a goal.
Here are the 6 fears:
- Fear of poverty
- Fear of criticism
- Fear of ill health
- Fear of loss of love of someone
- Fear of old age
- Fear of death
15. Wrong selection of a mate in marriage
It’s a sad statistic, but more people in the U.S. are now divorced than married. Many people just do not have a harmonious marriage and that can definitely affect your business or work performance. Being unhappy in your personal life will usually kill your ambition for achieving great things in your career.
Although you don’t want to be too hasty, you don’t want to be overly-cautious either. You have to take some chances to achieve big things, but don’t go for the hail mary everytime. Make logical decisions and you’ll have a good balance of caution and risk.
17. Wrong selection of associates in business
If you’re going to work with others in your business, you want them to be people to uplift you. If you are choosing an employer, try to choose one that is an inspiration and will set a good example for you to learn from.
18. Superstition and prejudice
Superstition is a form of ignorance and so is being prejudice. Superstition is also a form of fear. People who are successful keep open minds and are afraid of nothing.
19. Wrong selections of a vocation
It’s pretty hard to want to strive to achieve great things in a field that you aren’t very passionate about. It’s amazing to me how many people settle for less and take a job they don’t even like because they think they have no choice.
20. Lack of a concentration of effort
You don’t want to try and master too many things all at once. Become a specialist before you branch out into other things because a “jack-of-all-trades” isn’t very good at anything.
“I fear not the man who practiced 10,000 kicks once. I fear the man who practiced 1 kick 10,000 times.”
– Bruce Lee
21. The habit of indiscriminate spending
Especially in business, you need to have a budget. You need to be able to manage money in all aspects of life really. Indiscriminate spending will create a fear of poverty because you won’t ever have much money left over in the bank.
Without much money in the bank, you won’t have much courage to push for better business deals. You just take whatever you are given when you have a fear of going broke.
22. Lack of enthusiasm
Have you ever tried to do a business deal or sell something when you didn’t even have any enthusiasm about what you were selling? If so, you know it never goes very well. People don’t like downers. Get around people that are enthusiastic about what they’re doing and it’ll rub off on you .
You definitely don’t want to be closed-minded when trying to achieve success. You need to be open to new strategies and knowledge that comes from those who have already reached the level you want to be at.
Napoleon Hill states that if you overindulge in things like food, sex or drinking, it could be fatal to your success. Control yourself and don’t give in to little temptations that could throw you off track.
25. Inability to cooperate with others
If you have ever watched the TV show Shark Tank, you know that the business investors never want to make deals with people that don’t seem like they would work well with others. You’re not going to always be right.
You’re not going to always get your way. Learn to accept that and be tolerant of other people and you’re already way ahead of countless others in the journey to success.
26. Possession of power that was not acquired through self effort
Have you ever noticed that the majority of people that get large inheritances at an early age or people that win the lottery tend to just blow all the money, only to be broke again? Successful people stay successful because they earned their success and so should everyone else.
27. Intentional dishonesty
When trying to move up in life, your word and your reputation can be your biggest assets or your biggest faults. Being dishonest with people on purpose is a good way to get in peoples’ “dog house” and end up losing everything.
28. Egotism and vanity
These two things are just fatal to success. When people see these traits in you, they are red flags that are hard to look past.
29. Guessing instead of thinking
Have you ever known one of those people that automatically makes arguments and forms opinions on the spot without even taking the time to learn the facts? That won’t win you much respect in life either. Be logical and know the facts before making decisions or forming opinions.
Laziness and not doing your homework will lead to a lot of bad judgements.
30. Lack of capital
Especially when it comes to starting a business for the first time, it helps to have some capital in the bank to absorb the mistakes you’re likely to make and keep you from getting into debt, killing your credit or anything like that. Those types of problems are hard to recover from in today’s world.
This book is so powerful. I definitely recommend you read Think And Grow Rich if you haven’t already.