Book Summary

Outwitting the Devil – Napoleon Hill


Not too many people have the wits to puzzle over their relationship with the infinite Source.

In the same category, we can put those who can’t seem to spot the difference between good and bad thoughts.
Society is compelled into adopting this negative mindset, which is fueled by the Devil.

We cast positive features aside, labeling them as silly.
Let’s see how to break the spell.

Napoleon Hill is probably the founding father of the self-help genre. Some might argue otherwise, but we wholeheartedly believe that he perfected the philosophy.
In his books, he elaborates on the path one must cross in order to come out a winner.

Born in the late 19th century, he was struck by a series of unwanted events.
During that time, Napoleon conducted the largest success study ever undertaken by someone. Most of its findings are incorporated into his bestselling books:
• Think and Grow Rich
• The Law of Success
• Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude


Napoleon Hill is renowned for his endeavors in the pursuit of truth and finding the formula for success.

In 1908, he met Andrew Carnegie (one of the world’s wealthiest people throughout history) and expressed a desire to enroll in Law School.

Mr. Carnegie was surprised to hear that Hill planned to get his degree by interviewing successful people and writing their stories in magazines.

Mr. Carnegie pointed out that if he wants to be of service to all people, and posterity as well, he must also underline the causes for failure.

The world is in need of a practical and philosophical explanation of achievement and loss.

If you are eager to undertake this job, you must interview not only those who succeeded but also those who have failed.
A real wake-up call for young Napoleon.

Ambition, without the courage and knowledge, is like a boat on dry land.
In the following years, Napoleon managed to interview approximately 25,000 people (perceived as failures), and around 500 (successes).

During that time, he also became aware of the concept of an emergency.

Mr. Carnegie taught him that somewhere along the path, he’d get a glimpse on how people’s habits change in case of crisis or tension.
And that was the missing link in his research.

It all was predicated on the fact that any emergency will lead to an opportunity. It’s safe to say that at the end of the research Napoleon had his Eureka moment.

You can call this the “Other Self” but bear in mind that it cannot do the work on your behalf. It can only guide you through the stream of thoughts and help you to understand the natural impulses of nature.

The faith yet again rests on your shoulders.

Do you know that the darkest hour is just before the dawn? – Don’t give up, even when things get unbearably difficult.

It came clear to Napoleon that finding and understanding the “Other Self” can alleviate us from all the pain and suffering.
Everything you need will come to you; it seemed that way for Napoleon Hill.
It all boils down to the reality that the whole world is driven by fear, cultural limitations, and meaningless education.

Doubt and negligence are at the core of our decision-making, and we don’t seem to care.

I am not a prophet, but I can, with all due modesty, predict that every individual has the power to change his or her material or financial status by first changing the nature of his or her beliefs.

If you don’t conform to this law, and If you disregard the notion of the “Other Self” you’ll be left in blindness. It’s impossible to galvanize a person into action, who espouses beliefs that are limiting human creativity.

The state of one’s mind, known as faith, circumvents the restrictive nature of the five physical senses and communicates with the infinite source of power.

This book gives us a run-through of the whole process, and how the Devil exerts influence over you.


During the interview with the Devil, you’ll be dragged into an inner discussion. Knowing how to outmaneuver this skillful opponent is going to be decisive. In the meantime, you’ll catch a glimpse of the Devil’s nature, and its bag of tricks.

Interviewer: Are you ready for the interview Mr. Devil?
Mr. Devil: Yes, but only if you address me as “Your Majesty”?

Interviewer: Why on Earth would I do that?
Mr. Devil: Because I control 98% of the world, and there’s nothing you can do! I am the majority, that’s why.

Interviewer: Alright! Let’s begin. Where do you live?
Mr. Devil: I am not bounded to any form, and have no physical appearance. I accumulate all of the negative energy consisting of fears, beliefs, and limitations.
Above all else, I occupy ½ of every atom.

Interviewer: You are saying that without your influence, there would be no world, changes, emotions, stars?
Mr. Devil: Exactly!

Interviewer: I’ve been led to understand that you occupy only half of everything. To whom does the second half belong to?
Mr. Devil: My enemy or the opposition should you prefer.

Interviewer: Your Majesty, could you tell us a little bit more about the process of controlling 98% of the earthbound creatures?
Mr. Devil: It all started thousands of years ago when people began to think. I plant my seeds of fear in the minds of people and force them to perceive these sensations as if they are their own creation. Someone might call it a deft maneuver, but it’s simply a good strategy to maintain control.

Interviewer: Time and space are completely irrelevant, is that correct?
Mr. Devil: By all means! I choose the place of battle, and because of my abstract nature, I cannot be wiped out, not in a million years.

Interviewer: What about your opponent, isn’t he a threat to your existence?
Mr. Devil: Well, not quite, since the opposition controls the positive forces which society deems unrealistic. You see, I don’t want to control the Universe, just my human slaves, by pulling the strings.

Interviewer: Who is your greatest adversary on Earth?
Mr. Devil: Those who inspire earthbound creatures to think outside the box. I can even name a few: Socrates, Emerson, Thomas Paine, and Abraham Lincoln.

Interviewer: Do you have another thing to add, Your Majesty?
Mr. Devil: Cigarettes are also a tool that helps me to hold society in a stranglehold and keep it there permanently.

Interviewer: Your Majesty, you are the worst thing that has ever descended upon the Earth. However, I am keen to know, are you are willing to cut those people loose?
Give up on your power?
Mr. Devil: In that regard, I am helpless, and it’s not up to me! It’s the minds of my prisoners which have to reject me, not vice versa.
Here are the seven principles you need to adhere to in order to attain spiritual, financial and emotional maturity:

1. Definiteness of purpose
2. Mastery over self
3. Learning from adversity
4. Controlling environmental influence (associations)
5. Time (giving legitimacy to positive, rather than negative sensations and developing wisdom)
6. Harmony (acting with audacity and purpose to take control and influence over your mental, spiritual, and physical environment)
7. Caution (thinking through your plan before you act

Don’t get too analytical over these principles.
If you digest their essential message, you wouldn’t be compelled to memorize them. Above all else, you must not roam around aimlessly!
Only then, you’ll be able to think about environmental, and sociological hurdles that may hamper your progress.

Interviewer: What one has to do in order to find its life purpose?
Mr. Devil: One must strive hard not to lose control over itself. But I can say with some confidence that most people succumbed to the negative pressure, and took a psychological beating.

Interviewer: So, how can one be in a position to regain power? What is required of him/her to do?
Mr. Devil: Let’s start with the most basic ones:
Three appetites are impeding your progress:

• The desire for food
• The desire for expression of sex
• The desire to express loosely organized opinions

Interviewer: So what can we do about them, is there an antidote to this chaos?
Mr. Devil: I would say that there’s no greater enemy than yourself. Even I have no power over those who clearly understand the power of positive thought.

Interviewer: Does the youth possess the wisdom to resist you?
Mr. Devil: Mostly not, because insights come from experience, and experience comes from time. So, you have to cling onto something, other than fear in order to overpower the negative force.
The only dependable power available to any human being. The power of their own thoughts. The only power they can control and may rely upon.”


A unique approach to understand the issues we possess as a nation and also on an individual level. By interviewing the Devil himself, Napoleon Hill describes what is holding us back. The reason we’re depressed, overweight, addicted to narcotics, drugs, cigarettes, sex. During the conversation with the Devil, the curtain for a happy and successful life slowly uncovers.


In the face of the Devil, the author is placing thoughts, habits, surroundings which are making us prisoners, slaves to his Majesty. Napoleon Hill helps us understand that “going to hell” doesn’t happen after we’re dead, it’s happening at this very moment – while we’re living. The insights from the conversation with the Devil hold the key to overcome the negative things that are happening in our own lives. Convince us that having a clear idea of where we want to go is crucial for slaying our inner demons and thriving as individuals.


• Lesson #1: Hesitant – The Worst Disease Ever
• Lesson #2: The Six Deadly Fears
• Lesson #3: The School System Sucks – Personal Education Is Key
• Lesson #4: Set Goals To Defeat The Devil
• Lesson #5: Faith – The Foundation Of All Great Achievements

Lesson #1: Hesitant – The Worst Disease Ever

Have you ever felt paralyzed from not being able to make a simple decision? I have. You rethink the same thing over and over again and never end up with a final solution. Some people struggle with this throughout their whole lives.

Sometimes you know what to do, but you’re not sure how to act or how exactly to apply what you know. In most of the cases, we end up postponing a simple task and eventually acting on the safe side. We do this because we’re afraid that doing something new will lead to something we can’t predict. And things we can’t predict are usually things we’re afraid of.

That’s why people never go to talk to the girl on the train. They never start their own businesses. Never do something new. They want to feel safe and feel in control.

But outside of our own security bubble lies something else. A world full of new emotions and adventures. Yes, there are times when doing something bold will lead to a dead end. But if you live your whole life playing on the safe side you’ll never truly live.

In short, being hesitant is not a quality you want in your skillset. If you are insecure, others will notice this pretty much immediately after you meet them.

And other people don’t adore boring people that are predictable. Act boldly more often and you’ll build up your confidence and start making different decisions. Who knows, maybe one of those decisions will lead to a successful venture or a romantic relationship.

Lesson #2: The Six Deadly Fears

Fear of poverty, criticism, ill health, loss of love, old age, and death. These dreadful emotions are what the Devil uses to keep us prisoners while we’re alive.

All of the things above are slowly installed in our brains while we interact with the outside world. By the age of 12, we can be already mentally damaged by the other kids our age, or even by our parents. If this is not noticed in time, we will probably grow up having all sorts of issues: low self-esteem, fear of the opposite sex, not having a clear direction in life, not able to handle even the most basic problems.

The worst, by my experience, is having low self-esteem resulting in really awkward conversations with the opposite sex, tragic job interviews, constant anxiety while attending social events. Your inability to communicate with other people will most certainly screw your life and keep you away from evolving as a person.

Fear of poverty is even worse. We are so drastically scared of losing our jobs that we never do anything out of the safe zone. A lot of us start a job, thinking that is going to be a temporary one, but eventually we never have the balls to quit so we can pursue our true calling. Worried that we might end up living on the street, we salute our bosses and obey their every command.

Fortunately, you can overcome these fears. Believing in yourself and your skills, honing your craft, connecting with the right people, finding your true calling and never stop pursuing what you want in life. These will make you more confident and give you the strength to confront whatever life throws at you.

Lesson #3: The School System Sucks – Personal Education Is Key

We go to school to get grades and to memorize facts by heart. Not to understand what we want from life.

Ever since I can remember, my mother was constantly repeating that I have to get good grades, to graduate – “How else you will find a good job?” – she was saying. Well, I graduated from school, high-school, I even got a master’s degree. Did I get a good job? Not thanks to what I’ve learned in school. Actually, I developed in a completely different area than what

I’ve studied for so many years I school. I lived with this false expectation for so many years – that when I graduate I’ll be a CEO, a real boss, a success.

Our current educational system is focused only on filling our brains with facts, data, information that don’t really help us in real life. The things we learn don’t give us solutions, answers, what to expect and most importantly how to handle real-life cases and issues. We tend to learn these things the hard way – after we experience them.

School stops kids from finding, developing their true talent. So, don’t rely solely on the school system for your education. To be honest, true mastery comes from outside resources – reading books, talking with people, attending conferences. Your college diploma won’t get you high in the hierarchy and get you a good job, your willingness to keep educating yourself will though.

Lesson #4: Set Goals To Defeat The Devil

By defining and clearly stating your goals, you will gain control over your life.
There is nothing more powerful than understanding what you really want in life and doing the necessary steps to achieve it. The process by which you can really accomplish the previous is by setting clear, well-defined goals.

Probably the best way to understand the importance of goal-setting is when we relate this to cooking. To prepare a dish, we need to obtain a list of ingredients. Once we acquire them, we have to strictly follow the defined steps in a recipe. When we do everything as mentioned in the receipt, we’ll eventually end up with a meal.

This explanation perfectly relates to settings goals. If you don’t have an idea of what you’re going to do, become, you’ll become something. It might be good or bad, you can’t really know from the start. However, when you know what you want – you have a goal. You know what path to take, what skills to learn, what things to acquire. The combination of all these things will lead you to the desired place.

When tackling life, set a goal that resonates to your persona. After that, list all of the things that you will need to reach that goal. Lastly, do what’s in the list.

The Devil hates people who have goals. He doesn’t have power over them. He can’t control them because they know what they are doing.

Lesson #5: Faith – The Foundation Of All Great Achievements

Faith and self-believe are the real fuel that keeps the creator, entrepreneur, innovator, pushing, trying to accomplish his goals no matter the temporary failures.

The world’s greatest achievements become a reality only after a series of defeats.

One of the most mentioned examples is the journey Thomas Edison took. He failed more than 10,000 times till he finally figured out how exactly to harvest electricity from the mother nature. This miracle was revealed to him thanks to his firm belief, that he can accomplish his goal.

It takes some real balls to keep trying after so many failures. The people who will keep pushing after so many obstacles are the ones who really believe in their craft and the ones that will truly succeed. Napoleon Hill refers to these people as such who found and revealed their “Other Self”.

According to him, everybody has two identities. One of which is motivated and responds to the impulses of the fear. The other, find inspiration and momentum in faith.

As you can imagine, the first identity won’t accomplish anything till it connects to her other, better part.


Gain self-control: Before any admirable achievement, your persona might accomplish, you need to gain control over yourself – your actions and thoughts. Well, even though total self-domination won’t be possible – we tend to drift away and think about stupid things all the time – we should at least try to become better at controlling our emotions and doings. You can start with seizing your hunger. Often our appetite for stuff, sexual partners, junk food, money, more in general, is what fails us

• Learn from failure: Failure totally sucks, I know. A lot of times it’s hard to believe that we can learn something from the misfortunes that inevitably occur in our lives. Emotions blur our mind and inappropriate language takes over when something doesn’t work out the way we planned. Yet, the adversities we tend to loathe are the greatest teacher in life. Next time a project fails, don’t blame the universe, think about what you can do better.

• Focus on your goals: The devil exists. He exists in our minds and he controls the ones who are weak. Weak to take control of their lives. Those of us who don’t have a plan about what will happen next, next year, tomorrow, constantly complain and wait for good things to happen to them but never act. If you want to cleanse the devil you don’t necessarily have to be a believer and worship a God. You just need to wake up and take control over yourself. Make a plan for your life and stop overdosing on celebrity gossip, the News, and low-quality information. Focus on yourself and your ambitions.


Although the book was written more than 70 years ago, the content inside is completely true nowadays and it will be true for many years to come.

Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon was a wake-up call for me. It changed my perspective and made me rethink the way I want to live my life. While I was reading the book, I was still smoking, drinking, spending money like crazy. Once I was done though, I began to change. I realized how “The Devil” was all over me. And the only way to escape his insidious grip was to stop going with the flow and start living purposefully.