From Hobo to Business Leader Thanks to Self-Confidence Tip from Napoleon Hill …

John Wood here, taking over this week of The Writer's Life.

I'm going to focus on two key factors to your success as a freelancer.

One is "likeability."

The other is personal excellence. And today, I'd like to start by sharing a story that explains the only way you can achieve it.

In his book Napoleon Hill's Golden Rules, Napoleon Hill talks about the day a hobo came into his office.

Cap in hand, the tramp looked like he was about to apologize for being alive.

Hill was about to offer him a quarter when the tramp pulled out a copy of a booklet Hill had written a few years prior, How to Build Self-Confidence.

The tramp said he was on his way to "punch a hole in Lake Michigan" when someone gave him the booklet. Reading it, he told Hill, "caused me to stop and think, and now I am satisfied that, if you will, you can put me back on my feet again."

Hill looked the tramp over. He was unshaven. Clothes were wrinkled and ragged. Both shoes run down at the heels.

But Hill thought to himself that the man had come to him for help and he couldn't refuse him.

So he asked the man to come in and sit down even though he didn't have the slightest idea on how he could help him.

Hill asked the man to tell him his story.

In a nutshell, this is what he said …

He had been a successful manufacturer in upstate Michigan, but the war had caused his factory to fail. It wiped out his business and his savings.

It had broken his heart.

He'd lost his faith in himself.

He left his wife and children and became a beggar.

Hill said to him …

"I have listened to your story with a great deal of interest, and I wish I could do something for you, but there is absolutely nothing that I can do."

The man turned white and looked like he was about to faint.

Hill continued …

"But, there is a man in this building to whom I will introduce you, and that man can put you back on your feet in less than six months if you will rely upon him."

The tramp said to Hill, "For God's sake, lead me to him."

Hill took him into his laboratory and parked him in front of what looked to be a door with a curtain covering it. He reached over and pulled the curtain aside and revealed a mirror.

Hill said to him …

"There is the only person on earth who can help you, sir; and unless you sit down and become acquainted with the strength back of that personality, you might just as well go ahead and 'punch a hole in Lake Michigan' because you will be no good to yourself or to anyone else."

The tramp thought for a minute. Tears started to stream down his face.

Hill led him to the elevator and sent him away, never expecting to see him again.

About four days later, Hill, by chance, met the tramp on the streets of Chicago.

He was completely transformed. He was walking at a rapid pace with his chin up. He was dressed from head to toe with new clothes. The former tramp spotted Hill and came over and shook hands.

He said to Hill …

"Mr. Hill, you have changed the whole course of my life. You have saved me from myself by introducing me to myself – to my real self – the one I did not know before – and one of these days, I am coming back to see you again. When I do, I am going to be a successful man. I am going to bring you a check. Your name will be filled in at the top, and my name will be filled in at the bottom. The amount will be left blank, for you to fill in, because you have marked the biggest turning point in my life."

The ex-tramp turned and disappeared into the crowded streets of Chicago.

As Hill watched him go, he wondered if he would make a success of himself.

It turns out he did.

And he came back to Hill and kept his promise to him.

Although Hill doesn't mention his name, he says that if he did reveal it, the reader would know instantly who he was talking about as he was now the head of a business that is known from coast to coast.

Hill says he tells this story in hopes that others may benefit from this man's example. It's just as applicable today as it was 60-plus years ago. And you don't have to be in dire straits to apply the lesson. You can draw inspiration for any big goal or life change you're striving for.

As a freelance writer, it means you are the only one responsible for your success in achieving the writer's life. And ultimately, only you can give yourself the self-confidence you need to make it happen.

Tomorrow, I'm going to share with you what Napoleon Hill calls a "chart" that will help build your self-confidence each and every day.

Have you ever had situations where your self-confidence was tested? Do you have any tips to share? If so, please post your comments below.

The work Hill did over his lifetime helped put countless people on the path to personal excellence. Do you have the right mindset for personal excellence? If you could use a boost, check out my article 16 Tips for Establishing the Right Mindset for Living a Life of Personal Excellence

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Published: April 2, 2012

6 Responses to “From Hobo to Business Leader Thanks to Self-Confidence Tip from Napoleon Hill...”

  1. One thing I have learned through Rotary is that when we do something to improve the life of one person it creates a ripple effect and we also improve the lives of others we will never meet, and in ways we could never imagine. This is a true story that made this concept very real to me.

    When I attended the Rotary President Elect training I made it a point to get outside my comfort zone and meet new people. One day had lunch with Creesie Page, President Elect of the Crenshaw-Watts Club. Creesie is a delightful lady and we had a great conversation. During lunch she described how she grew up as one of five children in Louisiana. Her father had a limited education and worked as a laborer. However he was determined that all of his children go to college. He would not have it any other way and against all odds he made it happen. I was deeply moved by her father’s determination and the way he gave his children the advantages he never had. Today, Creesie is an educator and is

    Guest (Jon Morse)

  2. Hello John,

    That was a neat anecdote re Napoleon Hill, and an inspiring one too, no matter whether you're a hobo or a hero.

    A lot of people dismiss Hill's stuff because he was around aeons ago,but they forget that huuman psychology is pretty much the same today as it was back then.

    That's why Hill's lessons in the book you mentioned and T&GR are still so valid.

    Thanks again, I look forward to tomorrow's edition, I think we all need a boost from time to time don't we?

    Andrew Harkin

  3. Excellent post John. What a story. Dying to know who the person in the story is though! :-)

    I wonder if that booklet, How to Build Self-Confidence, is still available anywhere? I'm sure everyone would love to read it.



    Guest (Jim Rodante)

  4. When I was 19 I wanted to be a writer. I was told that they only way was to get published in a magazine and I had not lived enough yet. True. Fast forward 40 years and I wanted to become a writer. The lived long enough part was no longer an issue. The problem was I was person who wanted to. One day someone told me to say I am a writer. I said it to myself over and over again and to anyone who asked. A year later I was making my living as a writer. Now I will say I am a highly paid writer.

    Guest (Gary)

  5. As an economic developer I had to speak in front of any groups of people - community and business groups. Initially I was scared to death but forced myself to face the fear head on. Eventually the fear evaporated. Facing your fears with confidence, fearlessness works!


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