Last Friday I picked up a copy of Napoleon Hill’s “new” book “Outwitting the Devil; The Secret to Freedom and Success”. The original manuscript was written in 1938, the year after he published his landmark book “Think and Grow Rich” but due to the misgivings of his family, remained unpublished until 2011. Hill claimed that he had interviewed the Devil and his wife felt that this crazy idea and much of the controversial statements made in the “interview” would taint his legacy. As a result the manuscript remained unpublished for over 70 years.
After having read the book I agree with Hill’s wife. The political and religious climate of the 1930s would not have looked favorably upon much of what he as the Devil had to say. Even today there are number of religious and bible fundamentalist who will try to dismiss this work as the ramblings of a delusional man possibly writing while under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. No matter, this book is profound and it holds many keys to unlocking a better understanding of our own minds and the excuses we all use as reasons not to live up to our God given potential.
I had never read any of Hill’s work before although I am familiar with his Law of Attraction as recently popularized by Rhonda Byrne and the rest of the contributors to the book and DVD “The Secret”.
To be honest, I was never very impressed by “The Secret”. I’ve always found the Law of Attraction to be a bit simplistic and hokey and the whole “name it and claim it” philosophy that it spawned to be damaging to the health and wellbeing of uneducated, unwise and imperfect humans. People are too prone to taking the easy way out and the way in which the Law of Attraction is presented in “The Secret” and other similar modern interpretations is just too easy. It leaves out what I believe to be the most important aspect of things. It’s not enough to meditate on a problem, eventually you have to get off your ass and do something.
So knowing that the original Law of Attraction was conceptualized by Hill as early as 1918 I was reluctant to give too much credence to anything else he might have to say.
However; by 1938, in his interview with The Devil, Hill had stopped calling it the Law of Attraction and had reconceptualized it as the Law of Hypnotic Rhythm. This new interpretation changes everything and I dare say had it not been suppressed for some 70 plus years, “The Secret” may never have been published.
Simply put, while the Law of Attraction says you are what you think about, the Law of Hypnotic Rhythm says you are what you refuse to think about.
How many times have you observed people that simply drift through life, reacting strongly only when negative input such has job loss, marital breakdown or illness makes it too uncomfortable to continue without putting in some effort?
Think of the thermostat in your house. A thermostat is happy to sit and do nothing forever until the temperature in your house gets too cold, at that point it switches your furnace on and is once again happy to sit and do nothing until it gets too hot. Human behavior is a lot like a thermostat. As long as our basic needs are met, most people never see the need to change their behavior. That’s hypnotic rhythm. Sure we may say we want different things, but just like that thermostat, there are very few influences strong enough to push us out of our comfort zone and force us to make the necessary changes to get us there.
And what hold’s most people in a state of hypnotic rhythm?
Fear that making changes to our behavior would not only fail to get us what we want but would make our lives so uncomfortable that we would also lose the things we rely on to make our lives bearable. So instead we compromise, carving out a comfortable little niche that is neither too hot nor too cold and drift through life never completely happy or satisfied but content enough not to have to make any serious effort to change anything. To stretch the thermostat analogy a bit, it’s as if we are afraid that if we change our behavior before the thermostat says we should we’ll break it and the house will get either way too hot or way too cold and then we will have no choice but to work at changing it.
According to Hill this is exactly the state of mind the Devil wants us to have. When we drift along through life, governed by fear of the unknown it’s the Devil who calls the shots. Slowly but surely we compromise away our inner most dreams and desires until we are trapped in a Hell of our own making.
The process is started in childhood by well meaning parents and teachers who just want us to be safe and happy but unwittingly stifle creativity and discourage self discovery. Children who buck the system are called “free spirits” or “reckless” and although some go on to stunning success, most are beaten down by a system that fears them as much as it envies them.
How many genius children have been flunked out of school and shunned by society because the system didn’t know what to do with them? How many Einstein’s, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have been lost to us forever simply because their parents and teachers, and later police, social workers, prison guards and parole officer’s didn’t recognize and nurture their creativity? I shudder to think what we may have lost.
But there is hope. We must stop drifting and live with purpose. Take control of that thermostat and tell it who’s boss!
Sure you might get cold – put on a sweater! Too hot? Get naked!
The point is to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT! Nobody ever made their mark in the world by seeking comfort and drifting. The Devil knows it, God knows it and deep down you know it too.
Toward the end of the book Napoleon Hill asks the Devil what he fears. His response sums up the entire message perfectly;
Q – You seem to hold nothing sacred. A – You are wrong. I hold sacred the one thing which is my master – the one thing I fear. Q – What is that? A – The power of independent thought backed by definiteness of purpose. – [The Interrogator and The Devil] Napolean Hill; Outwitting The Devil, The Secret to Freedom and SuccessIndependent thought and definiteness of purpose, not fear and drifting are what “outwits” the Devil.
The apostle Paul put it another way.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. [1 Timothy 1:7]Stuck drifting? Face your fears, use your brain, you’re better than “this”!