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Habits of Thought
By Dr. Napoleon Hill

© 2012 Nightingale-Conant Corporation

Drifters make no attempt to discipline or control their thoughts, and they never learn the difference between positive thinking and negative thinking. They allow their minds to drift with any stray thought which may float into them. People who drift in connection with their thought habits are sure to drift on other subjects as well.

In an allegorical account of an interview with the devil, it was stated that the devil said he feared nothing except that the world might sometime produce a thinker who would use his own mind, adding, significantly, that he controlled all drifters who neglected to use their own minds. The devil is not the only individual who exploits the drifter. And drifters are the victims not only of all those who wish to exploit them, but they are also the victims of all the stray, negative thoughts which park themselves in their minds.

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Non-drifters take full possession of their own minds through self-discipline, and organize definite plans and purposes. They direct their minds to whatever ends they desire, and they keep their minds occupied with the things they want and off the things they do not want.

A positive mental attitude is the first and the most important of the 12 riches of life, and it cannot be attained by the drifter. It can be attained only by a scrupulous regard for time, through habits of self-discipline. No amount of time devoted to one’s occupation can compensate for the benefits of a positive mental attitude, for this is the power that makes the use of time effective and productive.

A positive mental attitude does not grow voluntarily, like the weeds of the fields. It requires cultivation, through carefully disciplined habits of thoughts. And the greatest of all training grounds for the cultivation of a positive mental attitude is provided by your chosen occupation, where you spend the greatest part of your life. Here you may combine your efforts to make them financially productive and to develop a positive mental attitude.

When you get your own thought habits under control, you will have yourself under control, but you cannot do it by drifting. Organize your thoughts. Decide what you want, to what position in life you aspire. Then plan ways and means to express your thoughts, in terms of organized action. Follow through with applied faith and unremitting persistence. This is the means by which you can become the master of your fate, the captain of your soul.

Waste no time worrying about what others may think. The important thing is what you think and do.

The Power of a Pacemaker

Who are the heroes who inspire you? Whom do you emulate or want to be like? Whom are you interested in now, and whom were you interested in from the past? Which ancestors do you feel you have a close kinship with? Jot down a list of 10 individuals who guide your life. Select from your family, your culture, your nation, and your spiritual belief system. Now, ask yourself why these people are significant mentors for you, whether living or dead. As you begin to assess the reason you relate to them, you will begin to excavate the beliefs, values, attitudes, interests, ideas, and thoughts that propel you forward in life.

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Now that you have identified your pacemakers, consider whether you are learning all you can learn from each of them. By knowing whom you admire and what they are accomplishing or have accomplished in their lives, you begin to set a route for the journey you too are undertaking. Remember, if you want to arrive at your destination, you must first have one in mind. Otherwise, one destination is as good as the next. Just as a youngster plays “grownup” by stepping into Daddy’s or Mommy’s shoes that are too large for his little feet to fill, you too have to find some big shoes to fill before you can step to success!


Take a moment now to identify current individuals whom you want to label as pacemakers in your life. Watch them closely, and then follow their lead. Hopefully, you will not only catch up to them, but surpass them in the race to your finish line. By aspiring to greatness, you hitch your wagon to that specific star in the galaxy that has your name on it! Make certain that you reach that star and register it in your name before someone else beats you to it.

Choosing a Pacemaker

Choose as your pacemaker some prosperous, self-reliant person who is obviously successful. Make up your mind not only to catch up with this person, but to excel him or her; but do this silently, without mentioning to anyone what you’re doing.

A number of years ago, while I was teaching a class down in Long Beach, California, the value of a pacemaker was brought out in a very vivid lesson. It was one of those terrifically foggy nights, when you could not tell where you were while driving except in relation to the white lines painted on the highway. The lights of the car did not penetrate very far, and one had to creep along. A car was found that was equipped with fog lights and two high-candlepower spotlights that could light up the white lines for a considerable distance. This extra lighting enabled the pacemaker to travel at near-normal speed. We took advantage of his trail breaking and drove along behind him. It was evident that if he encountered any obstacles, he would give sufficient warning so that we could stop and avoid trouble.

So it is in life. If you pick out a man or woman who is traveling the same road you have chosen, he or she will light up the pitfalls for you, and thereby you may avoid some of them. Remember to carry your share of the load, however, and when you have passed your first pacemaker, assume the role for someone else.

When you select a pacemaker, be sure to choose one who keeps moving at the same speed, or faster, than you yourself wish to travel. If he or she slows down too much, or turns off on a side road, you had better switch to another trailblazer.

The Power of Autosuggestion

Émile Coué, the French psychologist, gave the world a very simple but practical formula for the maintenance of a health consciousness in one sentence: Every day in every respect, I am getting better and better. He recommended that this sentence be repeated many times daily until the subconscious section of the mind picked it up, accepted it, and began to carry it out to its logical conclusion in the form of good health.

The wise ones smiled not too tolerantly when they heard of the Coué formula. But many people accepted it in good faith, put it to work in earnest, and discovered that it produced marvelous results, for it started them on the road toward the development of a health consciousness.

Another term for this is autosuggestion. There are many articles about it and many convincing stories to be told on the subject. Seek them out if you feel the need of their support. Let me add one point. Do you recall that the subconscious mind can do only what the conscious mind believes? Belief is the most important ingredient in the functioning of the subconscious mind. Thus a word of warning: One moment’s doubt will destroy and paralyze the function of the subconscious mind. It is imperative that we remove all doubt, for it is like a door, and it slams shut instantly on the idea you were developing in your subconscious mind. This explains the failures of those who laughed at Émile Coué and all the doubters down through the endless progress of civilization. Edison, Marconi, and the Wright brothers didn’t doubt. The doubters do not contribute to civilization.

A Formula for Self-Confidence

1. I know that I have the ability to achieve the object of my definite purpose in life; therefore, I demand of myself persistent, continuous action toward its attainment, and I, here and now, promise to render such action.

2. I realize the dominating thoughts of my mind will eventually reproduce themselves in outward physical action and gradually transform themselves into physical reality; therefore, I will concentrate my thoughts for 30 minutes daily upon the task of thinking of the person I intend to become, thereby creating in my mind a clear mental picture.

3. I know through the principle of autosuggestion, any desire that I persistently hold in my mind will eventually seek expression through some practical means of attaining the object back of it; therefore, I will devote 10 minutes daily to demanding of myself the development of self-confidence.

4. I have clearly written down a description of my definite chief aim in life, and I will never stop trying until I shall have developed sufficient self-confidence for its attainment.

5. I fully realize that no wealth or position can long endure unless built upon truth and justice; therefore, I will engage in no transaction which does not benefit all whom it affects. I will succeed by attracting to myself the forces I wish to use and the cooperation of other people. I will induce others to serve me because of my willingness to serve others. I will eliminate hatred, envy, jealousy, selfishness, and cynicism by developing love for all humanity, because I know that a negative attitude toward others can never bring me success. I will cause others to believe in me because I will believe in them, and in myself. I will sign my name to this formula, commit it to memory, and repeat it aloud once a day, with full faith that it will gradually influence my thoughts and actions so that I will become a self-reliant and successful person.

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