February 24, 2008

The Final Basic Fears #3-6 (Napoleon Hill)

We've been looking at the six basic fears that Napoleon Hill identified 70 years ago.

1. Poverty
2. Criticism
3. Ill Health
4. Loss of Love
5. Old Age
6. Death

We focused on poverty and criticism already. This time we'll delve into the rest. Some of the symptoms may seem dated.

#3 Fear of Ill Health
Fear of disease can produce physical symptoms of the disease feared.

  • negative self-talk
  • “enjoying” imaginary diseases, treating them as real
  • favouring “quack” treatments over professional help
Hypochondria (imaginary disease)
  • concentrating the mind upon disease
  • negative thinking --> expecting disease to appear
  • body’s resistance breaks down --> easier to contract a disease
  • can lead to too much time preparing for sickness
  • using an imaginary illness to seek sympathy (and get out of work)
  • hides laziness and lack of ambition
  • use of alcohol and other drugs to destroy pains, rather than eliminating the causes
#4 Fear of Loss of Love
This may be the most painful fear. At least it seems that way if you listen to popular music.

  • suspicion of friends and loved ones without reasonable evidence
  • suspicion of everyone --> no absolute faith in anyone
Fault Finding
  • with friends, relatives, colleagues, and loved ones
  • without any cause
  • thinking love can be bought
  • gambling, stealing, cheating, over-spending
  • leads to insomnia, nervousness, lack of persistence, lack of self-control, lack of self-reliance, bad temper
#5 Fear of Old Age
Old age can take away freedom and independence (physical and economic).

Slowing Down
  • feeling the best years are past

Apologizing for Being Old
  • rather than expressing gratitude for being alive
Narrow Thinking
  • no longer taking initiative, using imagination or maintaining self-reliance
  • dressing and acting like much younger people --> ridiculed by friends and strangers
#6 Fear of Death
This fear can be the cruelest fear for some. Is there life after life? The question of what happens after death can be troubling.

Thinking About Dying
  • instead of making the most of life
Lacking Purpose
  • too much time to worry when not busy
Burden on Loved Ones
  • could leave loved ones in poverty due to death or illness prior to death

February 18, 2008

#2 Fear: Criticism (Napoleon Hill, 1937)

I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain. It's laughter and it's loving I disdain. -- Simon & Garfunkel, I Am A Rock
Some readers of The Six Basic Fears From 70 Years Ago wanted to know more about the fear of criticism. While we don't like being criticism, it doesn't seem that bad.

Napoleon Hill found that criticism steals initiative, destroys our power of imagination, limits our individuality and takes away our self-reliance. Yikes! Let's explore more.

Here are the main symptoms

  • nervousness
  • timidity in conversation and meeting strangers
  • awkward hand and limb movements
Lack of Poise
  • lack of voice control
  • nervousness in the presence of others
  • poor body posture
  • poor memory
  • indecisiveness; side-stepping issues
  • lacking personal charm
  • unable to express opinions definitely
  • agreeing with others without first examining their opinions
  • spending beyond income to keep up with others
Inferiority Complex
  • expressing self-approval by words or actions to hide a feeling of inferiority
  • using big words to impress others
  • imitating others in dress, speech and manners
Lack of Initiative
  • failing to embrace opportunities for advancement
  • reluctant to express opinions
  • lacking confidence in own ideas
  • giving evasive answers to superiors
  • hesitation in manner and speech
  • deceit in words and deeds
Lack of Ambition
  • mental and physical laziness
  • lack of self-assertion
  • slowness in reaching decisions
  • easily influenced by others
  • giving up
  • criticizing the absent and praising the present
  • lacking tact in manner and speech
  • unwilling to accept blame for mistakes

February 10, 2008

The Six Basic Fears From 70 Years Ago (Napoleon Hill)

[Update: It's now 2012, which means the fears are from 75 years ago. Here's a new video summary:

Now back to the original post]

In his classic 1937 book Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill identified the six basic fears:

1. Poverty
2. Criticism
3. Ill Health
4. Loss of Love
5. Old Age
6. Death

Are we really that different 70 years later?

We're living longer, healthier and with more money. That doesn't mean the fears are gone. Let's look at the primary fear.

#1: Fear of Poverty

"(Warren) Buffett had planned to hold onto his money until his death, but he changed his mind after his wife, Susie, died in 2004." --- Fortune, Jan 2008
The fear of poverty is widespread. Even for those with lots. Warren Buffett didn't want to donate the bulk of his wealth until his death. In contrast, Bill and Melinda Gates plan to give away 95% during their lifetimes, which is causing their children to fear there won't be enough left for them.

Here are the symptons that Hill identified

  • lack of ambition
  • tolerance for poverty
  • mental and physical laziness
  • lack of initiative, imagination, enthusiasm, self-control
  • letting others do the thinking
  • sitting on the fence
  • excuses to cover up, explain or apologize for own failures
  • envy or criticism of the successful
  • finding fault with others
  • spending beyond earnings
  • neglect of personal appearance
  • frowning; nervousness; lack of poise
  • self-consciousness
  • excess use of alcohol or other drugs
  • seeking out negatives
  • knowing all roads to disaster but none to avoid failure
  • pessimism leads to indigestion, bad breath and a bad disposition
  • putting off until tomorrow what should have been done last year
  • working on excuses rather than finishing the work
  • refusing to accept responsibility
  • compromising
(You can download Think And Grow Rich for free. However, many sites use the book as a lure to sell you something. I couldn't find a link to recommend.)

February 4, 2008

Donating: Do The Reasons Matter?

When the idea came up, (Newman's Own) I said, "Are you crazy? Stick my face on the label of salad dressing?" And then, of course, we got the whole idea of exploitation and how circular it is. Why not, really, go to the fullest length, and the silliest length, in exploiting yourself and turn the proceeds back to the community?
--- Paul Newman

What matters more? What you do or why you do it?

As you know from last time, I'm not good at sleeping at a decent hour. The family's in bed. The house is quiet. And I'm pondering a philosophical question about why we donate.

A charity my wife likes is coming to our house tomorrow to pick up stuff we don't need. This time we're giving old clothing and a humidifier. I lugged the stuff upstairs and put the clothing in bags. Nine coats and jackets. All in good condition but no longer used by us. We just got tired of the stuff or moved beyond it.

Our donations will help others but we're really donating to clear up space in our house. The motivation isn't altruistic but the results are good. Is that okay?

Not Taking Credit Where Credit Is Due

The deed is everything, the glory naught.
--- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
By walking a few minutes, I see buildings emblazoned with the names of donors. Business schools (e.g., Ted Rogers), hospital emergency departments (Schwartz-Reisman) and theatres (e.g., Roy Thompson). Facilities like these are intended to help others. Since the donations were not made anonymously, public recognition must be a factor. Is that bad?

Donating Distance
You've got more air miles than time to use them. So why don't you let the terminally ill vacation on your behalf? That's what one print ad says. The goal is good but what a convoluted message. You need a vacation when you've got no time for a vacation. Otherwise you can get ill too.

The Right Reason or The Right Result
There are different degrees of altruism. Yet the giving seems more important than the reason (or trying to infer the reason).