My favorite part of the book was the section, “30 Major Causes of Failure”. The title is self-explanatory and it blew my mind at how well these reasons were chosen, organized and articulated. Out of those thirty, here are the seven that I personally believe are most damaging.
1) Lack of a well-defined purpose in life. It’s like Lewis Carroll said – “If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there.” Napoleon Hill said that 98% of people will go through life as failure. 98% of the people he analyzed had no central purpose or definite aim. This is probably the most difficult trait to acquire, although some have it almost naturally. He also says your purpose cannot be to make the most money or any other vague and superficial goal. It has to be specific and well-defined.
2) Lack of ambition to aim above mediocrity. This is definitely a dream killer. People believe that if they didn't go to college, they can't get a good job. They believe that if they grew up in poverty, they're destined to remain there or at least lower middle class. Not true! Many of today’s millionaire’s are self-made. They had a well-defined purpose in life and stopped at nothing until they achieved their goal.
3) Insufficient education. If you don’t know about what you want to do, you won’t succeed in it. Period. Education does not stop when you leave high-school/college/grad school – it is a lifelong process! Derek Bok says, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” Stay current in your industry, develop specialized knowledge and apply it. Remember that men are not paid for what they know, but what they do with what they know.
4) Lack of persistence. Too many people start projects without finishing them. They give up at the first sign of defeat and live life never knowing how close they were to succeeding. It’s critical to understand that many men’s biggest success came right after their biggest failure. There is absolutely no substitute for persistence. If you are not willing to persevere in your endeavors, Old Man Failure will win. If you are persistent, Old Man Failure eventually becomes tired and leaves. Failure CANNOT cope with persistence.
5) Lack of concentration of effort. One of the greatest business lessons entrepreneurs must learn is that they can’t do everything. The “jack-of-all-trades” is seldom good at any. In order to truly take your financial life to the next level, you must focus chiefly on the things that make you money. This ties into “lack of a well-defined purpose” but it deserves its separate spot because it highlights many people’s inability to focus on a particular task. Imagine this – Contractor A does everything from bathrooms to kitchens. Contractor B specializes ONLY in kitchen remodels. You need an updated kitchen – who are you going to call? Who makes more money? Yup, Contractor B.
6) Intentional dishonesty. If you wish to obtain wealth, NEVER be intentionally dishonest. Sooner or later your deeds WILL catch up with you and you will pay for them. This is especially true if you run a service business, because your reputation will be destroyed. People will not wish to associate with you, so you can kiss your network goodbye. Napoleon Hill states “there is NO HOPE for the person who is dishonest by choice.”
7) Guessing instead of thinking. Don’t be too lazy to get the facts behind your endeavors! This applies to all businesses and life in general. Don’t just guess that a certain stock is a good pick – do your research! What’s the P/E, EPS and dividend yield? Many people prefer to act on their opinions instead of facts. The crazy thing is that people often waste more effort fixing their mistakes than what it would’ve taken to avoid them in the first place. Put forth the effort and make sound decisions.
What other causes of failure do you believe are damaging? Leave them in the comments below!