Napoleon Hill

The Master Key to Success


Ninth Principle: Personal Initiative



We come now to the ninth visit, where we shall analyse the ninth principle of success, which is personal initiative.


Personal initiative is the dynamo, which starts the Faculty of imagination into action in the process of translating one's definite major purpose into its physical or financial equivalent.


If you aim for success above mediocrity you will need to learn to act on your own personal initiative. Because your success is something which you must achieve for yourself without someone telling you what to do or how to do it.


Incidentally Cyrus HK Curtis the former owner of The Saturday Evening Post and one of my collaborators in organizing the science of success philosophy was responsible for a motto on personal initiative of such great importance, that I want you to have it said he :


There are two kinds of men who never amount to much: Those who cannot do as they are told and those who can do nothing else.


Of course mister courtesies implication is very clear. He implied that those who amount to something worthwhile in life are those who move on their own personal initiative without being told what to do or why they should do it.


The men who stand out in the minds of the public as the greatest successes from the days of George Washington on to the present are those who chose their own occupation, business or profession and moved on their own personal initiative in achieving their preference.


And those who are getting ahead most rapidly today no matter in what position they began, are those who promote themselves to a higher place in life by acting on their own personal initiative.


The habit of personal initiative not only inspires one to move on his own responsibility, but it also influences him to carry it through until he completes that which he undertakes in a manner pleasing to all concerned.


Because he knows that a winner never quits and a quitter never wins.


And right here is an appropriate place to say something I perhaps should have said before. Namely that a big success is made up of a great number of little circumstances, each of which is so small and seemingly insignificant that most people pass it by as not worthy of notice.


Some may think for example that the habit of personal initiative is an unimportant, but we have only to take a look at the record of some of our greatest successes to recognize that personal initiative was an important factor without which they never would have achieved success.


For example no one told F W Woolworth to start a five-and-ten-cent store. The idea was his own. He acted on his own personal initiative in putting his idea to action and to live to see a field in the fortune well above 100 million dollars.


My distinguished business associate W Clement Stone started his insurance business on his own personal initiative with an operating capital of only $100. But he followed through on that same personal initiative and made his humble beginning yield an annual gross income of many millions of dollars.


And it was that same habit of acting on his own personal initiative of doing the thing he wanted to do which inspired mister stone to join forces with me in taking the science of success philosophy to millions of people throughout the world.


An undertaking, which it is believed may help more people to find their places in the world than has any other influence during the past hundred years.


The habit of personal initiative was the chief trait which helped Henry J Kaiser to build a great industrial empire and raise himself to a higher position in the industrial world.


It was this trade of personal initiative which inspired mister Kaiser to pile up such an enormous record in the building of ships during World War two, despite the fact that he had never built ships before.


One day when I was lecturing to one of my classes, I mentioned Henry J Kaisers wonderful record and building ships more cheaply and quickly than experienced shipbuilders had been able to do, when one of my students woke up and said mister Kaiser's having been a friend of Jesse Jones of the Federal Reserve Bank did not hurt his chances of success having, did it? Well for a moment it looked as if that question had placed me on a spot, but I soon recovered my composure and came back with this reply. No, his knowing mister Jones did not hurt his chances, but think of the thousands of industrialists many of whom may also have known mister Jones but did not use their personal initiative in getting his financial



Personal initiative is one quality, which inspires one to form friendships and to make contact with people who can be a aid to them in times of need.


It was my personal initiative which influenced Andrew Carnegie to give me an opportunity to organize the science of success philosophy.


I now wish to give you an outline of the more important attributes of the person who has sufficient personal initiative to give him leadership in his chosen occupation.




First of all, the person who follows the habit of personal initiative has a definite major purpose in life and a plan for entertainment.



And a mastermind alliance with those whose help is essential in achieving his major purpose.



He has the necessary persistence and the will to win to carry him along when the going is hard and he meets with obstacles.



He makes decisions promptly when he has the necessary facts on which to base them and changes them slowly if at all.



He follows the habit of doing more than he is paid for and he does so in a pleasing positive mental attitude.



He accepts full responsibility for everything he undertakes and never faces the book when things go wrong.



he can take friendly criticism without resentment because he has learned to profit by it



He knows what the nine basic motives are which inspire all human endeavors and never requests anyone to do anything for him without giving that person an adequate motive for doing so



He never expresses an opinion anything unless he has thought the subject through and is prepared to state how he came by his opinion.



He follows the habit of listening much and talking only when he has something to say which may benefit himself or others.



He has a well-developed sense of observation of small details and knows his job from the smallest detail to the greatest



He never tells anyone to do anything without suggesting why it should be done and how it may be done best



He follows the habit of concentrating his full attention on one thing at a time



His mental attitude is positive at all times when he is in communication with other people



If you ask him a question he will give you a direct answer, even if he has to tell you he does not know the correct answer.



Last but perhaps most important of all. He never puts off until tomorrow that which should have been done last week. Because he knows that the habit of procrastination is near the top of the list of the causes of failure.


If you can rate okay on each of these 16 traits of personal initiative you are a leader in your field of endeavour.


When you come to examine yourself on the subject of personal initiative, just remember, that your success or your failure depends very largely on the action you take in connection with your occupation.


No one will tell you what you should do no one will tell you what not to do. The decision must be your own and you must follow through and carry out your decision on your own personal initiative.


If you work for wages or a salary, you should decide to promote yourself through your own personal initiative to the top of the scale in your occupation. And remember that your promotion is entirely in your hands.


In my previous visits I have given you a blueprint of the steps you should take in promoting yourself to whatever station in life you desire.


Now let me give you a brief review of eight principles we have covered previously:



Definiteness a purpose. By now you should know what you want most from life and you should have a plan for getting it.


Here is the most important circumstance of your whole life where you must move on your own personal initiative. Because no one else can tell you what you should want most.



The mastermind principle. If you have not already formed a friendly alliance with those who can help you in attaining your major purpose in life, you should move on your own personal initiative and form this alliance at once.



Going the extra mile. This is a must, if your major purpose is anything above mediocrity.



Applied faith. This is the principle which gives you power in carrying out your definite major purpose and all minor purposes.



A pleasing personality is an asset of priceless value and it too is something you must acquire through your personal initiative.



Self-discipline. The sixth principle of success is also something you acquire through your personal initiative.



A positive mental attitude, which is the most important of the 12 great riches of life, is also the product of your own personal initiative.



Enthusiasm, is a state of mind which only you can generate through your personal initiative.


You see therefore, that personal initiative enters into every one of the success principles.


And now, until our next visit, may I remind you that there are two types of people who never amount to anything: those who will not do what they are told and those who will do nothing else.


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