Outwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and Success By Napoleon Hill

“Outwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and Success”, written by Napoleon Hill in 1938, is actually one of the foremost literature illuminating how people base their entire lives on either love or fear. The devil in the book is a symbolic representation of the internal obstacles and negative influences that hinder personal growth and achievement.

In this context, the devil represents negative forces such as fear, doubt, procrastination, and other forms of self-sabotage that prevent individuals from achieving their goals and realizing their full potential. 

Through a fictionalized dialogue between Hill and the devil, depicted as a metaphorical entity that seeks to control and manipulate people’s thoughts and actions, keeping them trapped in a state of “drifting” where they lack purpose and direction in life, the book explores how these negative forces operate in individuals’ lives, as well as strategies for overcoming them.

With the devil symbolizing the inner demons and self-imposed limitations that hold individuals back from success and happiness, by outwitting the devil, individuals can break free from these limitations and take control of their destiny. And this is done, by basing thoughts and actions on faith, which is an expression of love, and not fear. 

The Controversy Behind “Outwitting the Devil”

The Controversy Behind “Outwitting the Devil”

Napoleon Hill was the author of “Think and Grow Rich” which, written in 1937, remains to be one of the most popular self-help books of all time”. 

Shortly after, in 1938, Hill wrote the book  “Outwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and Success”, however its content was deemed too controversial by his family at the time due to its unconventional approach and the potential backlash it may receive. It wasn’t until 2011, more than 70 years later and after Hill’s lifetime that the book was released to the public posthumously, published by the Napoleon Hill Foundation, which was established to preserve and promote Hill’s teachings.

Despite the long delay in publication, the teachings in “Outwitting the Devil” remain extremely relevant and it has since gained popularity for its thought-provoking ideas and unique perspective on personal development and success.

While Think and Grow Rich is more about obtaining financial abundance through goal setting and perseverance, Outwitting the Devil is about tackling the obstacles in the mind that hold us back from attaining personal freedom.

“The only thing over which you have complete control is your own mental attitude.” – Napoleon Hill

About the book “Outwitting the Devil”

In “Outwitting the Devil”, Hill engages in a fictionalized conversation with the devil, whom he refers to as “Your Majesty.”

Through this dialogue, Hill explores the various ways in which individuals allow themselves to be controlled by fear and self-doubt, placing them in a state of “drifting” and preventing them from reaching their full potential.

The book delves into topics such as the importance of definiteness of purpose, the power of faith and belief, and the role of personal initiative in overcoming obstacles. The book’s message lies in its emphasis on taking control of one’s thoughts and actions, rather than allowing external forces to dictate one’s fate. In it, Hill provides seven principles to unlock the door to fulfillment, which is to not drift in life.  

The 7 principles in Outwitting the Devil

The 7 principles in Outwitting the Devil

1. Define Your Purpose

Have a clear and specific purpose in life, such as a grand aspiration and pursue it relentlessly. Without a definite aim, individuals are more susceptible to drifting through life without achieving meaningful goals.

2. Self-Mastery

Control the body and mind through cultivating daily habits that lead to what you desire and away from what you don’t want.

3. Learn From Adversity

See challenges and failures as opportunities to learn and improve.

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Hill

Related post: How “Eat That Frog” is Love Not Fear in Action

4. Control Environmental Influences

Remember the phrase, you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. Their values and fears will infiltrate yours. Set yourself up for success through your environment.

5. Time

We spend our time in either negative or positive emotional states. Time is wonderful when in the right frame of mind and time is what makes us better at our habits and is what gets us to our goals.

6. Harmony

The law of harmony is this: a person’s acts in harmony with the thoughts in their mind.

“A man is what he thinks about all day long.” – Hill

Related post: What the Taultecs Taught About Choosing Love Not Fear

7. Caution

Act, but always act with caution and awareness and make your choices wisely. 

What is Drifting Vs. Not Drifting

In “Outwitting the Devil”, drifting refers to a state of aimlessness and passivity, where individuals lack a clear purpose or direction in life. Drifters are easily influenced by external circumstances, other people’s opinions, and their own negative thoughts and emotions. They may lack motivation, initiative, and the determination to pursue meaningful goals.

On the other hand, not drifting implies having a definite purpose and direction in life. Non-drifters are proactive, decisive, and take responsibility for their actions and decisions. They have a clear vision of what they want to achieve and are committed to taking the necessary steps to make it happen. Unlike drifters, non-drifters are less susceptible to external influences and are more focused on realizing their potential and fulfilling their aspirations.

In essence, the difference between drifting and not drifting lies in the level of control individuals have over their lives and the extent to which they actively pursue their goals and aspirations. While drifters may feel adrift and powerless, non-drifters are empowered by their sense of purpose and agency, driving them towards success and fulfillment.

Why We Drift

According to Napoleon Hill’s philosophy in “Outwitting the Devil,” there are several reasons why individuals may drift in life.

Overall, drifting occurs when individuals lack a sense of purpose, succumb to fear and doubt, allow external influences to control their actions, lack self-discipline, remain within their comfort zone, and are plagued by negative thought patterns.

Overcoming drifting requires individuals to cultivate self-awareness, set meaningful goals, confront their fears, develop self-discipline, challenge limiting beliefs, and take proactive steps towards personal growth and fulfillment.

“Self-discipline begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don’t control what you think, you can’t control what you do.” – Hill

The book “Outwitting the Devil” highlights the significance of the power of thought and how our thoughts shape our reality. Readers are encouraged to take responsibility for their own lives, to have faith in oneself and to take initiative and be persistent to achieve success. It is about not letting fears dictate our actions, but to instead recognize and rid oneself of them to freely pursue what we want in life with love. 

author avatar
Leyla Ergil