Book Review – Outwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and Success
Outwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and Success by Napoleon Hill is a book that has been hidden since 1938. Outwitting the Devil reveals its important message in a unique and controversial way. Basically, Napoleon Hill interviewed the devil to find out how to live a better life.
Outwitting the Devil is 270 pages long. It is divided into 12 chapters along with a forward, a summary, and other elements.
This book has been hidden away for over 70 years. Sharon Lester, the editor, helped to get it published. Personally, her commentary was distracting, however, I did find the book tremendously fascinating.
The first couple chapters talk about Napoleon Hill’s life and the struggles that he had. Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich, was challenged by Dale Carnegie to write Outwitting the Devil. Carnegie tasked Hill to interview the leaders of industry, find out their secrets for success, and to write a definitive book. As he was proceeding on this journey, he had a number of ups and downs that he described. In a journey of self-discovery, he learned to trust his intuition and finally wrote this book on how to be successful.
As you read the book, you will see that Napoleon Hill is a man of faith and at times questions his faith.
Beginning with chapter three and continuing to the end of the book, Napoleon Hill conducted an interview or discussion with the Devil. In this interview, he learned how the devil is able to control so many people. More importantly, he learned what to do to stay out of the devil’s control and lead a successful life.
At the beginning of the interview, the devil indicated he controls 98% of the people of the world. Most of the discussion focused on how to increase the remaining 2%. The book is laid out in a question and answer format. There are many lessons found throughout the book. Here are some of the highlights.
One of the primary lessons in this book is that fear and negative thought are what the devil uses for control. It’s interesting that this book was written in 1938. This was at the end of the depression as we were heading into World War II. During that time, there was a lot of fear. There was a lot of anxiety which caused people to do irrational things. If we look around right now, there a lot of folks who are fearful. They’re fearful of things they don’t understand. One of the ways to combat fear is to stay educated and to continually read for understanding.
Other ways the devil maintains control is by keeping people in poverty and ensuring they are unhealthy. The devil went into great depth talking about habits negative habits such as smoking, drinking, eating poorly, etc. These are habits he uses for control. A way to counter his control is to put good habits into place. The devil explained bad habits leads to drifting. When you start drifting you are fair game. It is, therefore, essential to have a plan, develop good habits, and do not drift.
During this interview, they spoke at length about parents, church, and school. What I found fascinating was that this discussion did not necessarily hold these elements in the most positive light. What the devil indicated was these institutions and people prevented children from thinking for themselves. Thinking for yourself and having a definitive plan are key elements for keeping the devil at bay. The discussion about education was very reflective of what John Dewey said about education. On pages 174 through 178, they discussed how to make public schools better for children and to help ward off ignorance.
In addition to maintaining positive control is surrounding yourself with the right people. This is the idea of a mastermind group. Another way to gain positive control and to become smarter is using libraries. They stressed that this was a great way to fight off ignorance and to be able to think for yourself. They added a non-drifter “has a mind of his own and uses it for all purposes.”
In the book, Hill discussed seven principles for gaining freedom from the devil. These principles are:
- Definiteness of purpose
- Mastery over self
- Learning from adversity
- Controlling environmental influence
The principles begin with definiteness of purpose. It is important to know what your intent is and then start controlling your actions to meet this intent. This means having a plan as opposed to walking around aimlessly. Surround yourself with good people who can help you control your environment. As Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Also, everything takes time to develop, you must wait patiently and keep putting the work in.
Lastly, I found the concept regarding thoughts interesting. If you do not think positive thoughts, you will be influenced by negative thoughts. As with the Pygmalion effect and Golem effect, you can set into motion what you think of. Your brain doesn’t understand the difference between negative and positive thoughts. It just knows to put into motion what you are thinking. So you have to clear your mind of negative thoughts and use positive thoughts. This will lead you to a positive life.
Napoleon Hill’s Outwitting the Devil is a fascinating book with lots of great lessons, even though, it brings them to light in a controversial way. Let me know what you think. I think you will enjoy this book and find it as interesting as I did.
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