After the first lesson in The Laws of Success in 16 Lessons, Napoleon Hill treats us to an ‘after lesson’ in which he says that “Every person on Earth is afraid of something.” And then he lists the six worse enemies (fears) we have to conquer before we can achieve success.
Since he goes on to make the point that the most powerful people in the world fear nothing and also that it is possible to defeat these fears, I guess he slightly contradicts himself by making the above remark or am I perhaps being a bit nit-picky?
Anyway, Hill’s answer to dealing with these six ‘basic fears’ is to educate ourselves because, he says, they exist because some of the superstitions of the dark ages has been passed down to us, via the mechanisms of social heredity, and they persist today. We get a little dose of the law of cause and effect in this section and the basic message is that by application of what he calls ‘auto-suggestion’, we can eradiate these fears completely.
Here is his list; which of the following basic fears do you think is most applicable to you?
- Fear of Poverty
- Fear of Death
- Fear of Ill-Health
- Fear of the Loss of Love
- Fear of Old Age
- Fear of Criticism
He says that powerful people fear nothing and – possibly controversially – he adds, not even God, so I think I should just add here that there is a difference between the meaning of the word in this context and the meaning used within the Bible as applied to the fear of God. Hill is using the word to mean: considering or anticipating something with a feeling of dread whereas the use of the word as applied to God has a different meaning i.e. reverential awe.
His antidote for defeating these fears is to plant the ‘seed of determination’ in your mind today because, by the law of cause and effect, the person you will be in the future will resemble the thoughts you think today. His point is that you can defeat these fears simply by thinking because they exist only in your mind.
He finishes his after-lesson by quoting Shelley:
Man is of soul and body formed for deeds
Of high resolve; on fancy’s boldest wing
To soar unwearied, fearlessly to turn
The keenest pangs to peacefulness, and taste
The joys which mingled sense and spirit yield;
Or he is formed for abjectness and woe,
To grovel on the dunghill of his fears,
To shrink at every sound, to quench the flame
Of natural love in sensualism, to know
That hour as blest when on his worthless days
The frozen hand of death shall set its seal,
Yet fear the cure, though hating the disease.
The one is man that shall hereafter be,
The other, man as vice has made him now.
The quote is taken from Queen Mab and it perfectly echoes Hill’s philosophy that the future is, to a large extent, created by the thoughts that we think in the present. Mary Shelly made the following comment about Shelley’s motivation for writing the piece:
He was animated to greater zeal by compassion for his fellow-creatures. His sympathy was excited by the misery with which the world is bursting. He witnessed the sufferings of the poor, and was aware of the evils of ignorance. He desired to induce every rich man to despoil himself of superfluity, and to create a brotherhood of property and service, and was ready to be the first to lay down the advantages of his birth.
It was Shelley’s first major poem in which he postulated the possibility of mankind achieving a utopian future if and when enough people changed their mental attitudes to accommodate its evolution. It is interesting to note what Mary Shelley said about the role of the rich in bringing this utopian society into being.
Giving away their fortunes to fund worthwhile projects is something that many rich people, including Andrew Carnegie, who commissioned Hill’s investigations, have actually done (see Andrew Carnegie’s Philanthropy) and it seems, it is a tradition which is alive and well today.