Why I Created a Gender-Neutral Edition of Think and Grow Rich

Is it heresy to update a self-help classic?

“One sound idea is all that one needs to achieve success.” — Napoleon Hill

I strongly believe that just about everyone should read Think and Grow Rich. The “get rich” pitch of the title may put off some prospective readers. But, as you will discover in Napoleon Hill’s opening pages, his book is about more than money getting. It is about putting your ideas into action, concretizing your deepest wishes and principles, and setting your projects to flight. This is true whether you are a student, artist, soldier, teacher, business leader, or activist.

For all that, some are deterred by the book’s occasionally dated language. Contemporary seekers may chafe at the author’s antiquated terms. For this reason, I decided that the time is right for a gender-neutral edition of Hill’s 1937 text.

Written in the age of the Great Depression, Hill’s classic is inevitably marked by references that reflect the social, cultural, and sexual outlook of its age. That language, and its attendant assumptions, can move some to avoid or cast aside this profoundly useful book. Although no alternative text can ever replace Hill’s original — which I’ve treasured for many years — there is, in today’s world, both the room and the need for a version of Think and Grow Rich that honors contemporary mores and modes of expression as far as language is concerned.

In order to honor that need and remain true to Hill’s work, I have preserved almost every point, aspect, idea, and example of his original text — indeed, you will find virtually the entire and unabridged narrative in the gender-neutral edition, including the prefatory material immediately following this introduction, as well as Hill’s stylistic choices (such as capitalizations for emphasis, etc.). At the same time, I have, where appropriate, neutralized most gender-restrictive pronounces, terms, and cultural descriptors. I have not altered proper names pertaining to Hill’s historical examples, or their accompanying pronouns. Likewise, financial references and dollar amounts of Hill’s era are let be, as are quotations from other published sources.

* * *

What’s in a name? For some of us, a great deal. I honor the wishes of those who want to approach Think and Grow for its ideas and methods, but who reject antiquated terms and social framing. As alluded, not every such element can, or should, be removed from this guidebook. Hence, I believe that everyone, from every walk of life, will find this reading experience suited to current values while also encompassing all of Hill’s original insights, which have made Think and Grow Rich the template for much of today’s motivational literature.

Again, this edition is not intended to replace the original; it is a supplement, so that no ephemeral or time-bound language keeps anyone from reading this work. My wish is to lower barriers to entry. I believe that that effort honors the author’s expressed aim to place his “philosophy of success” in front of the broadest possible audience.

Whatever your “one sound idea,” Think and Grow Rich will help you hone it and act on it. You’ll also discover that great execution is at least, and probably more, important than a great idea.

An adventure awaits you in this book. I say that without reservation or hyperbole. If followed with dedication, the methods in Think and Grow Rich bridge the gap between “what if” and what is. May you find your highest sense of self-expression and possibility within its pages.

This article is adapted from the introduction to the gender-neutral edition of Think and Grow Rich.

"Treats esoteric ideas & movements with an even-handed intellectual studiousness"-Washington Post | PEN Award-winning historian | Censored in China

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