napoleon hill think and grow rich book article

“Human Happiness & Contentment”- 100 year old Buzzwords of the Future…

That OG Napoleon Hill Had Wicked Insights About Work-Life Balance. They’re More Relevant Than Ever!

“This insurgent, all-encompassing digital age in which we live in, has taken the soul out of man. Its leaders have driven men as if they were the pieces of cold hardware on which they work and watch. They were forced to do so by employees who bargained at the expense of all concerned to get and consume…and not give. Their work-life balance was imbalanced. The watchwords of the future will be “Human Happiness & Contentment.” And when this balance between work and life is finally realized, the “production” will take care of itself more efficiently than it ever did.” -NOT Napoleon Hill

Yeah, what you just read is kind of a bastardized appropriation that I’ve concocted. (Actually, if you’ve ever read into Hill’s, umm, interesting life, it’s oddly appropriate.) I’ve slightly updated the original to better fit into our current narrative. Recently, as I was again listening to “Think And Grow Rich,” the timeless self-improvement book by Napoleon Hill, his actual written quote stopped me in my tracks.

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The Original Quote From Napoleon Hills, In Its Entirety

“This stupendous machine age in which we live and from which we are just emerging, has taken the soul out of man. Its leaders have driven men as if they were pieces of cold machinery. They were forced to do so by employees who have bargained at the expense of all concerned to get and not to give.

The watchword of the future will be “Human Happiness & Contentment.” And when this state of mind shall have been attained, the production will take care of itself more effectively than anything that has ever been accomplished where men did not and could not mix faith and individual interest with their labor.”

– Napoleon Hill, “Think and Grow Rich” (published 1937)

Yep, those words may have been written nearly 100 years ago. Napoleon Hill stated multiple times that it took him nearly 20 years to research and pen “Think And Grow Rich”, allegedly inspired by Andrew Carnegie. In his research Hill stated that he interviewed visionaries like Carnegie, Henry Ford, Charles M. Schwab, and others before and during the Great Depression.

Seeing Into The Future: Was Napoleon Hill Clairvoyant?

Now look. I’m not even smert enough to competently compare the roaring 20s, the decade that saw the Ford Model T’s emergence, with today. Nor can I properly formulate a comparison between the actual work-life balance of people between the two times.

But this isn’t about those specifics, necessarily, it’s about the explicit correlation and validity of words written nearly 100 years ago when held up against our lives today.

We still live in something of a “machine age”, with “cold machinery” and many parallels between the times Hill referenced. Yes, we’ve obviously added the computer age and more mechanized manufacturing aspects to it. But when I took away the inferences to the exact means with which people got shit done, an underlying message rang resoundingly in my brain. Especially having grown up or through and viewed all sides of the work “collar” over the years.

Let me attempt to wax poetic some new flavor in your eyes. With Napoleon Hill’s words in mind, I offer an updated manifesto for work-life balance.

The race to keep up with the Joneses and “the Dream”, combined with an addiction to the digital screen, is taking the soul out of us. We’ve started to confuse what we see with what we want, and sometimes what we want to be.

If the watchwords of the future are truly to be “Human Happiness & Contentment”, we must look inward for balance & fulfillment instead of outward for comparison & approval.

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That’s All Well And Good, But It’s Kind Of Lofty…

No doubt my friend, no doubt. I’ve said it before, my brain is kind of an asshole sometimes. It comes up with some stuff that I don’t necessarily know what to do with. But remember, this thing called life is definitely more of a marathon than a sprint.

If you’re anything like me, you need many reminders to stay the course, or even redirect you back to it when you’ve veered off. Work-life balance, and all the goals that intersect, will always be shifting.

I’m a big proponent of constantly attempting to find your own personal equation to happiness. The equation that’s found when you truly block out the constant barrage of outside noise. The one found when you listen to your inner voice for guidance. Or in my case, voices. 

So I guess this is what I’m trying to get at here: The similarities between Hill’s 100-year-old quote about work-life balance are eerily valid, today. Clearly, there has always been a battle between balancing desires, social pressures, making income, and personal time. It’s just the means to the end that change.

Keep Looking At What’s Driving You, And Challenge It Regularly

My challenge, for both of us, is to continue to challenge our respective trajectories regularly. Question whether it’s based on our conscious choices or evolving voices. Not on something that was programmed into us since birth.

Are we making our own decisions, or is fear stopping us from making better ones?

Is a spouse or partner driving our vision more than we are? Are we chasing “all the things” and missing out on the moments that could be made if we instead chose not to be subservient to the power of the coin, and by that, the work that supplies it? 

These are heavy questions. But they all need to be asked so that we can maintain some sanity and work-life balance. We need to avoid complacency while years fly by in a work-engulfed blink of an eye. (I use regular personal reviews to keep on that…) Again, I write a lot of these words so that I can hear them as much as to encourage you to keep your eye on your prize.

Honestly, I hope you’re slaying it at this adulting thing. I hope that you didn’t actually make it this far into this lengthy diatribe. But since you’re still here, we probably both needed this moment under the microscope.

Keep up the good work my friend. And don’t forget, it’s a marathon.


— Jason

By the way, if you want some more current, timeless lessons, check out what I learn at the Barbershop…

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