The ladder to success

In 1921 Napoleon Hill, author of ‘Think and Grow Rich’ wrote the ‘Magic Ladder to Success’.

Here are those sixteen steps with a minor facelift for 2023

Have a definite aim in life

Without a destination and a plan on how to achieve it, you will not get anywhere. The lack of written goals is linked to low balance in the bank. If you want to have a healthy bank balance, have 5 year, 10 year, 20 year, and 50 year goals.

Have self-confidence

Self-confidence comes from having experience with something.  Know that you will be a beginner before you get to be an expert.  Staying humble and grounded in where you are will help you lower perfectionist tendencies and stay rational. 


“All great leaders must possess initiative. A man without initiative could never become a great general, either in warfare or in business and industry, because generalship, to be successful, must be based on intense action” I can’t improve on these words directly from Hill.


Our mind is the architect, the thoughts we think are the blueprints. Imagination has unlimited potential, using pure creative energy to expand on this unlimited potential will help you develop ideas and solutions that do not yet exist.


“The world pays for only one thing and that is for service rendered, or action! Stored-away knowledge is worthless. It benefits no one until it has been expressed in terms of action.”

People pay to have problems solved by other people, this can only be served by action. 


“Enthusiasm usually arouses one to action and therefore should be closely associated with it in the ladder.”

It is important to know the difference between enthusiasm and excitement.  Excitement can limit the ability to see problems, enthusiasm is its helpful cousin – not too much, not too little, just right amount.


“No person ever became a great leader of others until he first learned to lead himself, through self-control.”

Self-mastery is the first steppingstone to real achievement. This means controlling emotions, temperament, thoughts, and spending. 


The habit of performing more work and better work than you are paid to perform

An attractive personality

Your personality makes you unique. How you present, how you dress, your facial expressions, how you interact and how you speak.

Accurate thought

Your thoughts are the blueprint for your life.  Ideally you need a creative mind that is clear about what you want to achieve and relatively neutral in the process. 


“Concentration is the process of focusing the powers of thought upon a given subject.”

It takes about 27 seconds to activate a thought and if you can hold that for 90 seconds with a positive emotion behind it, even better.  Moving beyond that, your focus and concentration are what gets things done.  Be willing to get uninterrupted blocks of time in 30-, 60- and 90-minute intervals to focus on the tasks at hand. 


“Persistence is the quality that causes you to arise, when once you have been knocked down by temporary failure, and to continue your pursuit of a given desire or object.”

The saying persistence beats all resistance is true; this is also true for overcoming our own resistance to success and getting things done.


“Failure is the great law of resistance that makes a person stronger in proportion to the extent that he overcomes this resistance”

The idea that we fail our way to success will help overcome any fear around failure.  Edison himself is reported to have made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked: "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied: "I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."

If that approach was good enough for Edison then it can work for you too

Tolerance and sympathy

“In warfare, defeat usually comes from lack of organisation. The same is true in life. Intolerance and lack of harmonious effort, to a common end, has always left the door open so that a few who understood the power that comes from organised effort might step right in and ride the backs of the disorganised, intolerant masses.”

His words still ring true some 100 years later.


“As long as you exercise these qualities and keep them at work, they will be strong and healthy. But if you permit them to lie dormant, unused, they will wither into decay and finally into death.”

This still holds true, if you don’t use it, you lose it.  This is true of physical fitness, our mind, and our rights in general as a working people.

The Golden Rule

“The Golden Rule simply means that we must act toward others as we wish others to act toward us; that we must do unto them as we wish to be done unto us; that we must give in thoughts, actions, and deeds that which we are willing to receive from others.”

There are a few more that I have found to be true, and it is that some ideas have legs and some are born running.  This is particularly true for startups. If you have one of them, you will know it. It is like catching a wave, be prepared to ride it and keep it flowing by staying humble and focused.

Be wary of believing your own propaganda.  Check yourself and ideas and make sure you are believing what is true has real merit and not just something you have wholeheartedly convinced yourself of.

Learn how you learn so that you can acquire information quickly and then understand how your team members and investors learn. Are you visual, auditory or kinaesthetic?

Make it easy for people to spend money with you.

Develop the vision of the future person you are becoming and start to become it now.  People don’t act out alignment with their identity with themselves. You will want to address this before you even start.

Finally, the last one for now.  When selecting partners in business or in life – consider “what is the worst thing that they are capable of” when you have identified that then answer “is that something that I am willing to deal with” because at some point you will be dealing with it.