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This article was first published 4 years ago  » Getahead » Must read: 15 reasons why people FAIL to succeed

Must read: 15 reasons why people FAIL to succeed

By Napolean Hill
May 08, 2019 10:00 IST
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The vast majority of people are afraid they'll lose what they have.
Afraid they'll lose their job; afraid they'll lose their home.

Why people fail to succeed

Image published for representational purposes only. Photograph: Arko Dutta/Reuters

What is success?

The opposite of failure.

Or in simpler terms, the ability to see and rise beyond one's fears.

Once you accept your flaws and work on your strengths, it becomes a habit, a part of your life.

In his latest book Success Habits: Proven Principles For Greater Wealth, Health And Happiness, author Napolean Hill shares interesting anecdotes and experiences to help readers fight their fears and achieve success.

Presenting an excerpt that talks about the 15 major causes of failure, the road blocks that stand between you and success.

Book cover: Success HabitsThere are fifteen major causes of failure.

The first one is the habit of drifting through life without a definite purpose or a definite plan for attaining it.

You may be surprised that ninety eight out of every hundred people belong in that category, as drifters.

They're like goldfish in a bowl: they go round and round, always coming back to the starting point, but never getting anywhere.


Number two is unfavorable physical heredities at birth.

That's something the individual cannot control, but it has been proved, over and over again, that an unfavourable physical condition at the time of birth need not necessarily be a cause for a permanent failure and defeat.


Number three as a cause for failure is meddlesome curiosity in connection with other people's affairs.

You'd be surprised to know how much brainpower, how many hours of brainpower, are spent every day by millions of people throughout the world, through pure meddlesome curiosity.


Number four as a cause of failure is the lack of a definite, major purpose as a life goal.

If you're going to succeed in life, you've got to have a major goal, an overall objective, an overall purpose.

You've got to put the best of your efforts behind that purpose.


The fifth major cause of failure is inadequate schooling -- inadequate education I should have said, instead of schooling, because schooling and education are two separate and distinct terms...


If you're looking for an educated person, you'll have to find a person who has discovered himself.

Generally speaking, when you find him, you'll find that he graduated from the greatest of all universities, the one in which I hold a master's degree: the University of Hard Knocks.

It's one of the greatest schools upon the face of this earth, and if you can survive it, if you can take the tests and go through it, the chances are that you will become truly an educated person, not merely a schooled person.

A schooled person usually is just a person who has a good memory and can remember facts long enough to get by at examination time.


The sixth cause of failure is lack of self-discipline, generally manifesting itself through excesses in eating, drinking, and sex, and indifference toward opportunities for self advancement.

Lack of self-discipline.

What does self discipline mean?

It means that you'll take entire control of your own mind, and make it do whatever you want it to do, instead of being influenced by the minds of your neighbors or those nearest to you, or by those who criticise you. That's what self-discipline means.

It means you will run your own life. That doesn't suit a lot of people.


Number seven is lack of ambition to aim above mediocrity.

There's one of the outstanding causes of failures: lack of the ambition to aim above mediocrity.

People come into the world without their consent. They spend a little time going to school, and they take a job.

What kind of job?

Why, any kind of job they can make a living from.

A job that they like?

No, not necessarily, but they have to eat and they have to sleep under a roof, and have to wear a few clothes.

They go all the way through life, never aiming at anything other than just enough merely to keep soul and body together, and practically always, that's just about how much they get out of life.


Number eight is ill health, generally due to wrong thinking, improper diet, and lack of exercise.

Ill health can be a cause for failure. But if you live right and you eat right and exercise right and think right, the chances are that you'll not be bothered with ill health.

Most ailments are due to bad thinking and wrong eating and wrong exercise -- particularly bad thinking.

Do you know that many of the people who go to doctors' offices, I don't mean those who are hospitalised or who are bedridden, but many of those who are on their own two legs, and can walk down to the doctor's office, are suffering with nothing more serious than a certain $64 word called hypochondria, which means imaginary illness. Think of that.


The ninth major cause of failure is unfavorable environmental influences during childhood.

I have met with many a person who was a failure and never will be anything else because of certain negative influences experienced during childhood.

I had a flock of those influences to overcome. I know what they can do to people.


Number ten is lack of persistence in carrying through to a finish that which one starts.

Persistence. You know, we are all good starters, but very few of us are good finishers.


The person who succeeds uses defeat, not as a stumbling block but as a stepping-stone, and rises from it with a greater urge, greater willpower, greater determination, and greater faith.

Quitting, whether before or after meeting with adversity, guarantees failure

The eleventh cause of failure is a negative mental attitude... a negative mental attitude.

Take the average person and put any kind of a proposition before him, a new proposition, maybe one in which there exists a great opportunity for him to benefit.

What is his reaction? I can tell you what it is.

Immediately he begins to think about all the things in connection with it which he can't do and can't manage.


The twelfth major cause of failure is lack of control of the emotions of the heart.

You know and I know that the emotion of love is the most precious, the most outstanding, and the most desirable thing of all, and the most dangerous.

The most dangerous, underscored, exclamation point, two exclamation points. It's dangerous if you let go of both ends of the strings of your heart.

If you don't have a string around your love emotions, if you let go of both ends of the strings, it's dangerous, and I do not care to whom you may release those strings.

You will always run the risk of loss of control over your emotions.


The number thirteen cause of failure is the desire for something for nothing, usually expressed in some form of gambling.

Think of all the energy that people waste in this world trying to get something for nothing, or trying to get it for less than its value.


Number fourteen is procrastination, the lack of the habit of reaching decisions promptly and definitely.

Lack of the habit of reaching decisions promptly and definitely, especially when we have all facts in hand.

People tend to put things off until tomorrow, or next week, or never.


The number fifteen cause of failure is giving in to one or more of the seven basic fears.

I wonder if you know what the seven basic fears are?

The first one is the fear of poverty.

Why a person in a great country like this, where opportunity is abundant for every living being, should be afraid of poverty, I don't know.

But I do know that the vast majority of people are afraid they'll lose what they have.

Afraid they'll lose their job; afraid they'll lose their home.

Afraid of this, afraid of that, afraid of the other thing.

Number two of the seven basic fears is the fear of criticism.


The third basic fear is the fear of ill health, the fourth is the fear of loss of love, the fifth is the fear of old age, the sixth is the fear of the loss of liberty, and the seventh is the fear of death.

Excerpted from Success Habits: Proven Principles For Greater Wealth, Health And Happiness by Napoleon Hill, with the kind permission of the publishers, Pan Macmillan India.

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