The “Supreme Secret” of success: “Anything the human mind can believe, the human mind can achieve.”
Those who have read one or more of the volumes that comprise Tom Butler-Bowdon’s 50 Classics series already know that he possesses superior reasoning and writing skills as well as a relentless curiosity when conducting research on history’s greatest thinkers and their major works. For these and other reasons, I cannot think of another person better qualified to provide the introductions to the volumes that comprise a new series, Capstone Classics.
Think and Grow Rich was based on two decades of research conducted by Napoleon Hill (concluded in 1928) after being retained by Andrew Carnegie to complete an analysis of 500 of the most successful people in the United States and elsewhere. The title of his original report, Laws of Success, consisted of 1,500 pages in a series of seven volumes, in which Hill lists and discusses 17 “principles of achievement.” It is worth noting that this volume in the Capstone Classics series also contains both the “Publisher’s Preface to Original Edition” and the “Author’s Introduction to Original Edition” (published in 1937) and a list of those interviewed by Napoleon Hill over a 20-year period.
Unlike so many others, Butler-Bowdon provides more, much more than a flimsy “briefing” to the given work. For this volume, he creates a context, a frame-of-reference, for Napoleon Hill’s insights in a 16-page introduction in which he addresses subjects, themes, and issues such as these:
o A brief but remarkably insightful review of pertinent details in Hill’s circumstances when retained by Carnegie
o His magazine ventures, notably Hill’s Golden Rule and Napoleon Hill’s Magazine
o Hill’s DRAFT of a book, The 13 Steps to Riches, based on material introduced in Laws of Success
o Original title of DRAFT was changed to Use Your Noodle to Win More Boodle and then, finally and thankfully, to Think and Grow Rich
o Hill’s “four clear elements of success” (i.e. desire, faith, plans, and persistence)
o The moral and spiritual foundation of Think and Grow Rich
o 31 reasons why people fail
o The self-defeating aspects of personality that many (most?) people do not recognize
So what is “The “Supreme Secret” of success revealed by Hill in a later work, Grow Rich with Peace of Mind, published in 1967, three years before his death? “Anything the human mind can believe, the human mind can achieve.” Although it may now be fashionable to dismiss (often with ridicule) all such aphorisms, the fact remains that every success in life does indeed require an idea, an insight, that someone then makes a reality.
Thomas Edison was right: “Vision without execution is hallucination” but execution without purpose is merely effort without value. As Butler-Bowdon suggests, “Hill was saying that there were no limits to what a person can do [unless self-imposed], and history has proved it so thousands of times with the stories of any remarkable person.”
As indicated earlier, Tom Butler-Bowdon’s purpose in this introduction is to create a context, a frame-of-reference, for Hill’s insights. He does so brilliantly in this instance and in each of the other volumes in the Capstone Classics series that have been published thus far.
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, and sign up for a subscription to HBR email alerts, please click here.
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In our experience, it’s rare for a diverse group of headstrong Executive Education participants from around the globe to agree on anything. Yet earlier this month, when we surveyed a group of leaders who attended the Driving Performance Through Talent Management program at Harvard Business School, 92% agreed that the practice of internal communication “has undergone a lot of change” at their companies “in recent years.”
While the sample size in this case isn’t large — about three-dozen leaders took part in the survey — these participants make up a highly representative group. They hail from every part of the globe, and from organizations small and large (with head counts that range from about 200 to more than 100,000). They occupy senior positions in fields that include sales and talent management, and they work in industries that range from manufacturing to health care to financial services.
That survey result reinforces a finding that we’ve observed elsewhere in our research: in company after company, the patterns and processes by which people communicate with each other are unmistakably in flux. The old “corporate communication” is giving way to a model that we call “organizational conversation.” That shift is, for many people, a disorienting process. But it also offers a great leadership opportunity.
Our research has shown that more and more leaders — from organizations that range from computer-networking giant Cisco Systems to Hindustan Petroleum, a large India-based oil supplier — are using the power of organizational conversation to drive their company forward. For these leaders, internal communication isn’t just an HR function. It’s an engine of value that boosts employee engagement and improves strategic alignment.
Broadly speaking, there are four steps that you can take to make your approach to leadership more conversational. (In future posts, we will address each of these points at greater length.)
[Here are two of the four steps Groysberg and Slind recommend.]
1. Close the gap between you and your employees. In our survey, we also asked respondents to name the biggest employee communication challenge at their company. In response, one participant cited the need to “move away from top-down communication.” Another highlighted a “disparity between the senior management team and middle management due to low transparency.” Trusted and effective leaders overcome such challenges by speaking with employees in ways that are direct, personal, open, and authentic.
2. Promote two-way dialogue within your company. One survey respondent lamented “a lack of understanding in management of the need for communication,” adding that “the traditional practice” of communication at his or her company “has been one-way.” Leaders can show that they appreciate the value of real communication by adopting channels that allow ideas to move in multiple directions across their organization, and by working to create a truly conversational culture within that organization.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
Boris Groysberg (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. Michael Slind (email@example.com) is a writer, editor, and communication consultant. They are co-authors of the book Talk, Inc.: How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power Their Organizations (HBR Press, 2012).
Here is an excerpt from another outstanding article featured by The McKinsey Quarterly, published by McKinsey & Company. It was co-authored by Matthew Guthridge, Asmus B. Komm, and Emily Lawson. Granted, this article appeared several years ago but what it reveals and explains is, if anything, even more relevant — and more valuable – now than it was then.
To read the complete article, learn more about the firm, check out other resources, sign up for email alerts, and obtain subscription information, please click here.
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Talent-management processes can’t work if managers don’t think it’s important to develop their people.
Increasingly, companies view the ability to manage talent effectively as a strategic priority. [Note: Steven D. Carden, Lenny T. Mendonca, and Tim Shavers, "What global executives think about growth and risk," The McKinsey Quarterly, 2005 Number 2, pp. 16–25.] Yet our research finds that senior executives largely blame themselves and their business line managers for failing to give the issue enough time and attention. They also believe that insular “silo” thinking and a lack of collaboration across the organization remain considerable handicaps. Moreover, executives who think that their companies’ succession-planning efforts are deficient don’t, on balance, see talent-management processes and systems as the chief problem.
The results of our research—which included in-depth interviews with 50 CEOs, business unit leaders, and human-resources (HR) professionals from around the world—suggest that the obstacles preventing talent-management programs from delivering business value are all too human. [Note: The respondents represented 29 multinational companies operating in a range of industries and regions spanning Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America.] As one leader commented, “Habits of mind are the real barriers to talent management.”
Nearly half of the interviewees expressed concern that the senior leadership of their organizations doesn’t align talent-management strategies with business strategies. “This is a real blind spot for our leaders—they don’t realize the importance and significance of it,” commented one HR executive. Furthermore, 54 percent of those interviewed agreed that senior managers don’t spend enough time on talent management. “Senior managers aren’t managing their time well or don’t see the point of managing people and getting the best out of them,” lamented one respondent.
Business line managers—the group responsible for a company’s day-to-day operations—were found equally culpable. Fifty-two percent of the respondents identified an insufficient commitment to developing talent on the part of line managers as a critical barrier. Moreover, 50 percent observed that line managers were unwilling to categorize their people as top, average, or underperforming, and 45 percent felt that line managers failed to deal with chronic underperformance by employees. As one interviewee noted, “We recognize underperformance, but the challenge is what to do about it. We find it difficult to have the ‘hard’ conversations.”
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To read the complete article, please click here.
Matt Guthridge is a consultant and Emily Lawson is a principal in McKinsey’s London office, and Asmus Komm is a principal in the Hamburg office.