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A Key to Success: Defeat Driftingby@rimaeneva
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A Key to Success: Defeat Drifting

by Rima EnevaMarch 5th, 2024
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Too Long; Didn't Read

Napoleon Hill was onto something with his insights on purpose, mindset, and mastering habits.
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Despite the woo-woo-seeming presentation of ideas in this and his most popular book Think and Grow Rich, I think Napoleon Hill was onto something, even if it was expressed in a delulu way.


The following is the summary of the main concepts of a lesser-known Napoleon Hill book: Outwitting the Devil. First things first - Hill didn’t think he was talking to the actual devil. He wrote it as a parable about human nature and how we sabotage ourselves.


What you’ll learn:

  • What happens to the mind when it has no purpose?
  • Mental habits and behaviors for success.
  • How to use human nature to your advantage.

The key concept of the book - drifting.

Drifting refers to a state of mind that lacks aim or purpose - essentially going through the motions.

9 thought habits that lead to drifting:

  1. Fear
  2. Superstition
  3. Avarice
  4. Greed
  5. Lust
  6. Revenge
  7. Anger
  8. Vanity
  9. Laziness

Success - drifter vs non-drifter

In Hill’s terms, the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful person is a set of habits. If you’re not successful, it’s because you’re unwilling to train your mind.


  • Drifting ≠ Success. Non-Drifting = Success.
  • Successful people carefully choose the people they surround themselves with because we download the thought habits of the people we interact the most with.
  • Drifter always complains that the world has run out of opportunity and there's nothing to do while the non-drifters will create opportunity no matter the circumstances.
  • Non-drifters provide a service that's useful to as many people as possible; the attitude is to give before you get.

How to protect yourself against drifting

  1. Value time as your greatest asset.
  2. Recognize that the emotion of fear is self-sabotage. Resist it.
  3. Decide what you want from life and create a plan to achieve it.
  4. Form the habit of being decisive. Don’t leave things unfinished.
  5. If temporarily defeated or failed, analyze it to extract the knowledge and advantage it has given you.
  6. Your thoughts guide your actions. Be wary of what/how you think.

Human nature

Hypnotic rhythm - the unconscious part of your mind that tends to solidify your habits and behaviors. These automated behaviours can be good or bad: brushing your teeth, compulsively checking social media, exercising, eating poorly etc.


But hypnotic rhythm refers to thinking patterns, too. Do we ruminate or gossip? Are we grateful and forgiving? Do we look for opportunities or focus on what doesn’t work? These mental habits usually form early on and then become solidified beliefs that produce the illusion that that’s what the world is.

How to stop drifting

You need to develop:


  1. DEFINITENESS OF PURPOSE
  • Definite aims, goals, and purpose.

  • Have a plan for how you're gonna achieve them.

  • Plans can change, but the definiteness of purpose doesn’t. If a plan fails don't be discouraged, devise a new plan.


  1. MASTERY OVER SELF
  • Master your desire for 1) food 2) sex 3) desire to express loosely organised opinions.

  • The person who talks less has the opportunity to learn more by listening to and observing others.

  • Expressing loosely organized opinions is a destructive habit; don't give opinions unless you’re asked.


  1. CONTROLLING ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCE (ASSOCIATIONS)
  • Your environment feeds your thought habits. We unconsciously adopt the habits of those we associate with closely.

  • Association through romantic relationships has very strong powers because the minds are connected spiritually.


  1. TIME
  • Time converts thought habits into outcomes and either penalizes or rewards you depending on them.

  • Time allows human beings to cultivate wisdom, but wisdom only comes to non-drifters who proactively use their minds for positive thought habits.


  1. HARMONY
  • Like attracts like - nature seeks things of a similar nature.

  • Successful people 1) make sure to have harmony among their business associates 2) require their associates to have definiteness of purpose.


  1. CAUTION - THINKING THROUGH YOUR PLAN BEFORE YOU ACT
  • Think first act second. A drifter reacts before thinking.
  • Has a plan if things go wrong to avoid unnecessary stress.

How the mind works, according to Hill

  • We receive thoughts from the collective consciousness and the Infinite Intelligence (God, Universe, Consciousness - whatever it means to you).
  • All negative desires are nothing but frustrations of positive desires.
  • Thoughts tend to invoke similar thoughts so if you're thinking positively, more positive thoughts will come up and vice versa.
  • The thoughts that we keep having become a part of the hypnotic rhythm law. That's why it's so important to choose your thoughts.

Wrap up

Would I recommend you read the book? Yes, if you’re not bothered by spiritual-speak. Outwitting the Devil offers a deep dive into the psychology of success through a dialogue with the sabotaging part of ourselves.


Key takeaways:

  1. Have purpose and vision for your life and guide your actions accordingly.
  2. Master self-discipline, both through thought habits and curating the people/information you surround yourself with.
  3. Value your time and use it to your advantage by creating positive mental habits that compound over time and bring you ‘luck.’

Also published here.