Truth? Or New Age Fiction?
“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) wrote this famous line in his classic 1937 book, Think and Grow Rich. Hill drew on stories of Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and other millionaires of his generation to illustrate his principles called the “Law of Success.”
It was the first book to ask, “What makes a winner?” But of course, a “winner” requires a game to win. The game that Hill reports on (and is a cheerleader for) is the capitalist game of materialism and imperialism, the acquisition of more regardless of its effect on others. By making these men paragons of modern virtue, he granted permission for an “ego takes all” approach to life. This has resulted in great harm to much of humanity and the ecology of the planet.
But is his quote true? Yes and no. Truth is not an axe that divides the world into True or False. It is a scalpel that, used skillfully, can heal and educate. So what is true about this quote? And what is not?
It is true that our beliefs create our experience of reality. They act as a filter, a colored lens in front of our attention. Whether you believe “I’ll never succeed,” or “I always succeed,” you will prove yourself right, because that is the nature of beliefs – they are always self-verifying. The sunglasses we wear color the whole world — everything we look at – we see some colors, and not others. Our beliefs do the same.
Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. People dreamt of flight, and using the human mind’s ingenuity, we now have jet aircraft flying around the world. People dreamt of automating manufacturing, and today we employ robots in place of people in many factories. But humans have also dreamt of a peaceful world, the end of hunger, prosperity for all, and equal opportunity – and we haven’t yet created those states of affairs. Are these dreams possible? Yes, if we were unified in our dreams, and had the political will. And if the wealthy and powerful among us did not control our media, congressmen and political leaders, we could.
In your own life, can you achieve anything you can conceive and believe? Here, the answer is clearly “No.” Otherwise, you would have already achieved it. Conceiving and believing take place in the mind. From the perspective of the Chakra system, the 7th and 6th chakras are operative. In order to bring anything into reality, you need to move your energy and attention down through the other five chakras: Communication (5th), Relationships (4th), Will and Power (3rd), Passion (2nd), and Step-by-step Actions (1st). In other words, in addition to an affirmation, you also need a plan, resources, the cooperation of others, the willingness to do whatever it takes to get it done, and daily actions that move your forward to your goal.
In my book, Creating On Purpose (co-authored with Anodea Judith, Ph.D.), we discuss the entire downward flow of energy in the manifestation pathway. The Law of Attraction is partially true (it’s one of about 50 “magical laws”), but if you just tell the universe what you want, and wait around for it to appear, you will probably wait a long time. Beliefs do create our experiential (personal) reality, but we also live inside a social universe and a physical universe, each of which has its own unique laws of creation. You can create the “reality” of the experience of abundance (“I see and feel the abundance of the universe around me.”), but that personal experience will not automatically transfer to more money in your bank account. If you want more money, you need to take action, and create something of value that others will pay for.
Inside of our head, we have conflicting beliefs about many subjects. “I want to lose weight,” and “I don’t want to give up sweets.” Whenever we make a commitment (to a diet, for example), and take a step forward, the voices of those old beliefs jump up and make their opinions known. This automatic function confuses us, keeps us stuck, or ambivalent, or fearful, and we quit moving forward. In order to make consistent progress, you have to work consistently on deleting those old beliefs.
Conceive, and believe, and you can achieve. But don’t forget to make a plan, follow through, take action, persevere, and work on clearing whatever gets in the way.
For information on our Manifestation Mastery program, visit LionGoodman.com/manifestation-mastery2