Could someone write a book in 1938 about what is essential to live your full potential, accurately describe the state of the men in the world and still be relevant in 2021? My answer is yes! ‘Outwitting the Devil – The Secret to Freedom and Succes’ is highly intelligent and powerful book written by Napoleon Hill, author of one of the world’s most read self-development books Think and Grow Rich.

The book, written in the form of an interview with the devil, was not published until 2011, some 30 years after Hill had passed away. The fact that in his book the devil is confessing about how he controls 98 percent of mankind, and that Hill makes some hard statements about society, religion and education is probably why it took so long to reach the public.

It’s an interview with the devil who shares all his tricks that keep men ‘drifting’ and failing to realize their full potential. Hill also forces the devil to confess what men can do to escape his influence (which is fear, basically) and live a (inner) rich and successful life.

Applying these principles may force life to provide you with spiritual, mental, physical and economical freedom, Hill writes. I am not going to describe all of them in detail. Instead, I will focus on the first two, since these play a key role and Hill gives them the most prominent place in his book.

Definiteness of purpose

We are born with a blank slate, writes Hill. Pretty soon in life, we start imitating what important people around us do: our parents, teachers, people we look up to. So it begins, slowly but surely, we lose our capability to think independently. How many years do we spend in school repeating what others tell us that’s important and what’s not?

If you have definiteness of purpose, you are moving consciously, you are taking action that YOU have chosen. It’s not even about the content of your habits, it’s about you owning your habits instead of your habits owning you, says Hill.

Important to add here: Even of your plan is not the strongest, if it has definiteness of purpose and you are being in action of it, your chances of success are high, writes Hill. So, it’s definiteness of purpose AND definiteness of plans. When you have definiteness of purpose, you know when you need to adapt your plan, while remaining true to your purpose.


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Are you your own master? Can you exert self-discipline? Hill describes three important domains that we need mastery over: the desire for food, the desire for sex and the desire to share loosely organized opinions.

Already in 1938 Hill clearly saw that not being disciplined in what you put in your mouth causes you to remain stuck. He was well ahead of his time in establishing a link between food habits and wellbeing.

Uncontrolled sexual desire is also very dangerous to in this respect. Hill says that if people would spend the same energy that they put in chasing their sexual desires, in creating their own life, nobody would be poor anymore. But he also states: a controlled sex drive can be an extremely useful source of creative energy and help you to keep a high level of mental and physical health.

Hill also introduces the concept of accurateness of thought. He was very much aware of the role of our subconsciousness. If we are unable to manage our own thoughts, our subconscious will take over. We become powerless victims, triggered by patterns that are not even ours, he writes.

Seeing that we live in a world where porn is only available around the clock to everyone and that we receive hundreds of messages a day that cause our thoughts to go in all sorts of directions, I believe what Hill wrote in 1938 still is relevant today.

What do you think about definiteness of purpose and self-discipline? Do you feel these are the most crucial aspects that bring success in your life?


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