I grew up in a Chicago suburb. One summer, my parents decided I should take the train to Richmond, Virginia to visit my grandparents who lived about 25 miles away in Chester.
I boarded the train in Chicago and changed trains in Cincinnati. In the early morning, I got up and left my seat. In the short time I was up, the train had stopped and a large group of boy scouts boarded, leaving no seats. I stood the rest of the way. It was a long, long trip.
During my stay with my grandparents I was bored beyond belief. I didn’t really know anyone other than my cousin and his friends and there were no parks with baseball fields like there were at home.
My grandfather had an entire wall with shelves filled with old books. The majority of the books were either historical or self-help books. My grandfather had lost everything in the depression and I think he read the self-help books in the hopes of making a comeback.
I remember reading books by Dale Carnegie including, How to Win Friends and Influence People (here is a good summary.) and I especially remember reading books by Napoleon Hill, including Think and Grow Rich (here is a good summary).
Hill was born in poverty in the coal fields of Wise County, Virginia. I once tried a case in Wise County. It was a unique experience.
Hill started as a news reporter and later went to law school. As a reporter, Hill was given the assignment to write stories about successful people. Andrew Carnegie was one of the people Hill interviewed.
According to the legend, Carnegie believed there was a formula for success and he commissioned Hill to interview successful people and write a book about what they shared in common. The project took over 20 years. In the midst of the depression, Think and Grow Rich was published.
Reading Napoleon Hill’s book influenced my thinking about my future. Hill convinced me there was a formula for success and I was determined to follow it.
In the very first chapter, Napoleon Hill told readers they needed to have a clear major definite purpose. He said:
There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.
When your desires are strong enough you will appear to possess superhuman powers to achieve.
So, the starting point for your life and career success is knowing definitely what you want at this point in your life and having a burning desire to achieve it. I am living proof that kind of focus can motivate you.