4 Long-Lost Lessons From “Outwitting the Devil”

Last updated on February 19, 2024

Outwitting the Devil Summary

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What’s the story of Outwitting the Devil?

Napoleon Hill’s Outwitting the Devil, originally penned in 1938 and brought to light in 2011 through Sharon Lechter‘s editorial efforts, unveils a treasure trove of wisdom on achieving success.

This manuscript, held in obscurity for over seven decades, now emerges as a timeless guide, thanks to Lechter’s insightful annotations that bridge the gap for contemporary readers.

Hill, a trailblazing American entrepreneur and author, shares profound insights into the barriers hindering success and unveils principles to overcome these obstacles.

Join us as we delve into Hill‘s perspectives on navigating life’s challenges and unlocking the path to triumph.

Who’s the author of Outwitting the Devil?

Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) stands as a pioneer in the self-help genre, notably renowned for his groundbreaking work, Think and Grow Rich (1937).

With over two decades of dedicated research, Hill’s contributions have left an indelible mark on personal development literature, solidifying his position among the top ten best-selling self-help authors of all time.

Sharon Lechter, an esteemed American businesswoman, and advocate for financial education, breathes new life into Hill’s work.

Beyond her role as a spokesperson for the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, Lechter is the founder of Pay Your Family First, a financial education organization.

Her commitment extends to fostering financial literacy among the younger generation through initiatives like Thrive Time for Teens, an award-winning financial board game.

Together, Hill and Lechter offer timeless insights into achieving success and financial well-being.

Who’s Outwitting the Devil summary for?

Anyone fascinated by the dynamics of success, money, and investments. 

And for those wishing to learn how to maximize their power to their greatest benefit.

Why read Outwitting the Devil summary?

Embark on a journey into the wisdom of Napoleon Hill, a beacon of positivity in the challenging era of the Great Depression.

Despite being written in 1938, Hill’s transformative work, “Outwitting the Devil,” remained concealed until 2011, held back by the author’s controversial views on institutions like churches and schools.

According to Hill, these establishments hindered individuality and ensnared people in a web of fear.

Now, seven decades later, Hill’s insights are unveiled, echoing his belief in perseverance and the refusal to succumb to adversity.

The core principles revolve around the potency of positive thinking, discovering silver linings in setbacks, and surrounding oneself with positive influences.

In this summary, you’ll learn:

– How to avoid the pitfalls of aimlessness
– How to break free from detrimental habits
– And how to persevere through the lens of jockeys

Outwitting the Devil Lessons

1️⃣ Kill fear with faithCultivate faith and positivity to counteract fear. Acknowledge fears, challenge them with optimism, and maintain a belief in your ability to overcome challenges.
2️⃣ Have a clear goal and a positive mindDefine a clear life goal and maintain a positive mindset. Regularly reassess your goals, stay focused on the positive aspects, and choose optimism when faced with challenges.
3️⃣ Surround yourself with people with positive habitsFoster a supportive environment by associating with individuals who exhibit positive habits. Be mindful of the influence of your surroundings and seek out positive influences to enhance your habits.
4️⃣ Learn from failuresView failures as stepping stones to success. Embrace setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow. Analyze the lessons from failures, adjust your approach, and persist in your pursuits.

1️⃣ Kill fear with faith

Many of us harbor dreams we’ve hesitated to pursue, often held back by the pervasive influence of fear.

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Napoleon Hill contends that approximately 98 percent of individuals allow fear to govern their minds, leading to a life of aimless drifting without true self-determination.

The roots of this fear are deeply embedded, nurtured by institutions like churches and schools. Churches caution against the lurking “Devil,” instilling a sense of apprehension from an early age.

Meanwhile, schools, according to Hill, fall short in preparing children for individuality in the real world, focusing more on rote memorization than fostering independent thought.

Napoleon Hill himself grappled with this paralyzing fear while working toward his ambitious goal of crafting the first philosophy of individual achievement.

Despite years of interviewing people about their successes and failures, Hill found his notes meandering and lacking a cohesive philosophy.

Stuck and consumed by fear and indecision, he experienced a transformative moment during a solitary walk.

In this pivotal moment, Hill encountered a commanding voice, akin to his “other self,” urging him to conquer fear and doubt to complete his manuscript.

This voice, which Hill identifies as Infinite Intelligence, represents an inner reservoir of faith and positive energy accessible to all.

By embracing this force and banishing doubt, fear, and worry, individuals can tap into their own Infinite Intelligence.

Hill’s journey showcases the transformative power of overcoming fear.

He became the inaugural luminary in the self-help genre, demonstrating that mastering one’s mind is the key to success, making him a non-drifter—someone who navigates life with purpose and self-mastery.


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2️⃣ Have a clear goal and a positive mind

Achieving success in life requires a potent combination of positive thinking and a clearly defined purpose.

Napoleon Hill’s own breakthrough came from having a crystal-clear life goal, emphasizing the pivotal role of identifying one’s purpose in the journey toward success.

The responsibility of determining life’s path lies squarely on each individual’s shoulders, as neither school nor church can dictate this personal journey.

The fundamental privilege we all possess is self-determination, regardless of external circumstances.

Amidst the challenges of the Great Depression, individuals faced a choice—succumb to negative thoughts or foster positivity.

Take Henry Ford as an example; despite the prevailing negativity, he maintained a positive mindset, leading to the creation of one of America’s largest automobile companies.

Ford’s determination and positive thinking were instrumental in revolutionizing manufacturing through assembly-line production and realizing his vision of an affordable car for the middle class.

The crux of success, according to Hill, hinges on the choice between negative and positive thinking.

Combining positive thinking with a well-defined life goal serves as a powerful antidote against becoming a drifter, someone lacking purpose and direction.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency during the Great Depression exemplifies the potency of a clear purpose.

His mission was to eradicate fear, shifting the nation’s focus from depression to recovery.

Roosevelt’s decisive plan, centered on replacing fear with faith, allowed him to take immediate control and guide America towards recovery.

In essence, the saying “You reap what you sow” encapsulates this principle. Results mirror the effort invested.

Positive thinking, coupled with a defined purpose, becomes a dynamic force propelling individuals towards effective and purposeful living.

Moving on.

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3️⃣ Surround yourself with people with positive habits

The path to success involves not only positive thinking and a clear purpose but also the cultivation of positive habits and surrounding oneself with individuals who embody such habits.

Napoleon Hill underscores the significance of habits, emphasizing the impact they can have on one’s life, whether positive or negative.

The law of hypnotic rhythm, as described by Hill, highlights the danger of habits transforming from occasional activities into regular, ingrained behaviors.

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This law applies to both constructive and detrimental habits, with particular caution advised against negative ones due to their potential to inflict profound harm.

Negative habits, such as poor eating choices or unhealthy sleep patterns, can have adverse effects on well-being, productivity, and the pursuit of goals.

Successful individuals recognize the critical importance of fostering positive habits to avoid the detrimental consequences associated with negative routines.

Surrounding oneself with individuals who exhibit positive habits becomes a strategic move in the pursuit of success.

The influence of those in one’s immediate environment is powerful, and associating with people who embody positive behaviors can significantly impact personal growth and success.

Andrew Carnegie, a mentor to Napoleon Hill, serves as a notable example of someone who actively shaped his environment for success.

Carnegie, a philanthropist and business magnate, deliberately surrounded himself with successful individuals, leveraging the positive influence of his connections to achieve remarkable accomplishments.

In essence, Hill advocates for a proactive approach to shaping one’s social circle.

If negative influences from friends or colleagues start impeding progress, it becomes imperative to seek out peers with more positive attitudes and habits.

This strategic alignment of connections contributes to a conducive environment for personal and professional development.


4️⃣ Learn from failures

Successful individuals grasp the invaluable lessons embedded in failure, recognizing that setbacks are temporary challenges on the journey toward achieving their goals.

Napoleon Hill highlights the significance of learning from failure, illustrating this key principle with examples of renowned figures who turned adversity into triumph.

Thomas Edison, the prolific inventor behind groundbreaking innovations like the light bulb, encountered numerous failures before realizing his visions.

Edison’s story serves as a testament to the power of perseverance in the face of setbacks.

Rather than succumbing to defeat, he used each failure as a stepping stone, ultimately leaving an indelible mark on history.

During the Great Depression, Hill authored “Think and Grow Rich” (1937), offering guidance to individuals navigating challenging times.

The enduring relevance of the book underscores the universal truth that setting goals in the midst of adversity is crucial for personal and professional growth.

Successful people adopt a mindset that views failure as a temporary state of mind, recognizing that every problem has a solution.

This perspective empowers them to overcome obstacles and persist in the pursuit of their objectives.

The story of Julie Krone, a champion jockey, exemplifies the resilience needed to transform rejection into triumph.

Despite being repeatedly told that horse owners were unwilling to hire a female jockey, Krone persevered with her mantra, “Keep showing up!”

Her determination eventually broke down barriers, and she emerged as one of the toughest athletes in history, according to USA Today.

In essence, Hill encourages individuals not to be swayed by the negative attitudes of others.

Holding onto one’s dreams and persevering in the face of adversity allows individuals to harness the transformative power of failure on the path to success.

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Outwitting the Devil Review

The central message of this summary is that within each of us resides a duality of thoughts – positive and negative.

Our inner dialogue alternates between urging us to persevere and, at times, nudging us to surrender.

The fortunate reality, however, is our ability to make a conscious choice: to heed the encouraging cadence of positivity while disregarding the discordant notes of negativity and the paralyzing grip of fear.

By acknowledging our fears, harnessing the potency of positive thinking, and adhering to a well-defined plan, we possess the capacity to triumph over setbacks and realize the profound fulfillment of our most cherished aspirations.

Outwitting the Devil Quotes

Napoleon Hill Quotes
“Remember that your dominating thoughts attract, through a definite law of nature, by the shortest and most convenient route, their physical counterpart. Be careful what your thoughts dwell upon.”
“You are entitled to know that two entities occupy your body. One of these entities is motivated by and responds to the impulse of fear. The other is motivated by and responds to the impulse of faith. Will you be guided by faith or will you allow fear to overtake you?”
“The capacity to surmount failure without being discouraged is the chief asset of every person who attains outstanding success in any calling.”
“Failure is man-made circumstance. It is never real until accepted by man as permanent.”
“Your only limitation is the one which you set up in your own mind.”
“The person who moves with definiteness recognizes the difference between temporary defeat and failure. When plans fail he substitutes others but he does not change his purpose. He perseveres.”
“Nature will not tolerate idleness or vacuums of any sort. All space must be and is filled with something… When the individual does not use the brain for the expression of positive, creative thoughts, nature fills the vacuum by forcing the brain to act upon negative thoughts.”
“FEAR is the tool of a man-made devil.”
“Men and women who come to the closing chapter of life disappointed because they did not attain the goal which they had set their hearts upon achieving, they teach you what not to do.”
“Failure always is a blessing when it forces one to acquire knowledge or to build habits that lead to the achievement of one’s major purpose in life.”
“From what you say, I infer that time is the friend of the person who trains his mind to follow positive thought-habits and the enemy of the person who drifts into negative thought-habits.”
“Then accumulated knowledge is not wisdom? A Great heavens, no! If knowledge were wisdom, the achievements of science would not have been converted into implements of destruction.”
“You may not be able to control other people… but you can control how you react to them and their actions. This is an easy thing to say but much more difficult to do.”
“The majority of people who acquire wisdom do so after they have passed the age of forty. Prior to that time the majority of people are too busy gathering knowledge and organizing it into plans to spend any effort seeking wisdom.”
“Be definite in everything you do and never leave unfinished thoughts in the mind. Form the habit of reaching definite decisions on all subjects.”
“One’s dominating desires can be crystallized into their physical equivalents through definiteness of purpose backed by definiteness of plans with the aid of rhythm and time.”
“Failure is a blessing when it forces one to depend less upon material forces and more upon spiritual forces.”
“Anyone who submits to annoyance by things he does not want is not definite. He is a drifter.”
“Children are sent to school to make credits and to learn how to memorize, not to learn what they want of life.”
“Failure brings a climax in which one has the privilege of clearing his mind of fear and making a new start in another direction.”
“Life gives no one immunity against adversity, but life gives to everyone the power of positive thought, which is sufficient to master all circumstances of adversity and convert them into benefits.”
“Despite the fact that I had learned from Andrew Carnegie and more than five hundred others of equal business and professional achievements that noteworthy achievements in all walks of life come through the application of the Master Mind… I had been laboring as a ‘lone wolf’ instead of allying myself with other and superior minds.”
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Don’t covet the other fellow’s job if you are not prepared to accept the responsibility that goes with it.

— Napoleon Hill
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