10 Rules of Self Discipline from the 1930 Self Help/Business Guru Napoleon Hill

It seems ridicu­lous to refer to the Gold­en Rule as a “weapon,” but that is just what it is—a weapon that no resis­tance on earth can with­stand! —Napoleon Hill

Napoleon Hillwhose ear­ly books The Law of Suc­cess (1928), The Mag­ic Lad­der To Suc­cess (1930), and Think and Grow Rich (1937) helped estab­lish the self-help genrewould be con­sid­ered a life coach or moti­va­tion­al speak­er in today’s par­lance.

And were he alive today, he’d like­ly he’d be fac­ing charges, or at the very least, can­celled for some of the behav­iors, schemes, and whop­pers Matt Novak details in an exhaus­tive­ly researched essay for Gizmodo’s Pale­o­fu­ture blog.

We think it’s impor­tant to tip you off to that shady side, because Hill’s “10 Rules for Prof­itable Self Dis­ci­pline,” above, are so sun­ny, they could spur you to dis­sem­i­nate them imme­di­ate­ly, leav­ing you vul­ner­a­ble to harsh words from bet­ter informed friends and, more cru­cial­ly, social media fol­low­ers, who are already het up about any num­ber of things in this elec­tion year, and who enjoy the cathar­sis a good call out affords.

Ergo, if you’re inclined to share, inves­ti­gate the well from which they sprung, and then decide whether or not you want to pro­ceed.

Why did we pro­ceed?

Because prac­ticed with the purest of inten­tions, these rules con­sti­tute extreme­ly human­is­tic advice from a man whose out­ward phi­los­o­phy con­tin­ues to be a touch­stone for many in the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty.

And as evi­denced by the com­ments left by grate­ful YouTube view­ers, many of whom stum­bled across his words by acci­dent, peo­ple are thirsty for such explic­it­ly pos­i­tive guide­posts to inter­per­son­al deal­ings.

(A good num­ber also seem quite tak­en with the Vir­ginia native’s old timey speech pat­terns and vin­tage lin­go.)

If noth­ing else, apply­ing these rules could sweet­en your next argu­ment with some­one you love, or serve as inspi­ra­tion if you’re ever called upon to give a com­mence­ment speech:

Napoleon Hill’s 10 Rules for Prof­itable Self Dis­ci­pline

  1. Keep a cool head around hot heads. Rage doesn’t have to be con­ta­gious,.
  2. Believe that there are three sides to every argu­ment. If you’re in a dust-up, don’t assume that the fault lays with the oth­er per­son, but rather that you both shoul­der a por­tion of the blame. This is a pret­ty com­pas­sion­ate way of ensur­ing that everyone’s ass will be par­tial­ly cov­ered for both bet­ter and worse.
  3. Nev­er give direc­tives to a sub­or­di­nate when you are angry. Giv­en that swift and deci­sive action is often required of those in lead­er­ship posi­tions, you’ll have to learn to ice your own hot head pret­ty quick­ly to put this one into con­sis­tent play.
  4. Treat every­one as if they were a rich rel­a­tive who might leave you a siz­able inher­i­tance. Which is kind of a gross way of putting it, but oth­er­wise, we agree with Napoleon Hill that treat­ing oth­ers with respect and lov­ing atten­tion is a real “hon­ey” of a con­cept, espe­cial­ly if the oth­er per­son can offer lit­tle beyond their friend­ship.
  5. When you find your­self in an unpleas­ant cir­cum­stance, imme­di­ate­ly start search­ing for the seed of an equiv­a­lent ben­e­fit with­in the expe­ri­ence. If Novak’s Giz­mo­do essay is any indi­ca­tion, Hill prob­a­bly had a lot of oppor­tu­ni­ty to put this one into prac­tice, squeez­ing lemon­ade from lemons of his own mak­ing.
  6. Ask ques­tions and lis­ten to the answer. If you find your­self inclined to dis­agree with a state­ment, employ the phrase, “How do you know?” to get the speak­er to do all the heavy lift­ing. For exam­ple, Napoleon Hill might say to Matt Novak, “How do you know?” which would be Matt Novak’s cue to pro­duce a moun­tain of doc­u­men­ta­tion.
  7. Nev­er say or do any­thing before think­ing if it will ben­e­fit some­one or hurt them. The goal is to refrain from hurt­ing oth­ers. Let those of us are with­out sin cast the first stone here. Hill’s karmic spin on this rule is that any injuries you cause that don’t imme­di­ate­ly come around to bite you in the ass, will bite you in the ass much hard­er at some future point, a la com­pound inter­est.
  8. Learn the dif­fer­ence between friend­ly analy­sis and unfriend­ly crit­i­cisms. His not entire­ly fool­proof method for dis­tin­guish­ing intent is to con­sid­er the nature of your rela­tion­ship with the one offer­ing the obser­va­tions, their tone of voice, man­ner of deliv­ery, and some­what quaint­ly, whether or not they throw in any epi­thets. If it’s friend­ly, you can set some store by it. Oth­er­wise, dis­re­gard.
  9. A good leader knows how to take orders cheer­ful­ly. This pairs nice­ly with Rule Num­ber 3, don’t you think?
  10. Be tol­er­ant of your fel­low humans. Always.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

What Are the Keys to Hap­pi­ness?: Take “The Sci­ence of Well-Being,” a Free Online Ver­sion of Yale’s Most Pop­u­lar Course

How Much Mon­ey Do You Need to Be Hap­py? A New Study Gives Us Some Exact Fig­ures

Har­vard Course on Pos­i­tive Psy­chol­o­gy: Watch 30 Lec­tures from the University’s Extreme­ly Pop­u­lar Course

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join Ayun’s com­pa­ny The­ater of the Apes in New York City  for her book-based vari­ety series, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain, and the world pre­miere of Greg Kotis’ new musi­cal, I AM NOBODY (March 5 — 28) Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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