Self Confidence: Lesson 2 of The Law of Success in 16 Lessons by Napoleon Hill

Self confidence is crucial to success and belongs at the beginning of this list of lessons on success because it is foundational. According to Hill, there are six basic fears faced by all people:

  • The fear of poverty
  • The fear of old age
  • The fear of criticism
  • The fear of loss of love
  • The fear of ill health
  • The fear of death

These fears exist inside us, and at the end of the day, the main thing that holds us back is our own mind.

The Source of All Fears: Social Heredity 

All of these fears are learned from our society. Hill calls this “social heredity”. Society tells us a lot of things about how we should be and what we should be afraid of. There are plenty of other fears you could probably list. But the point is that you have the ability to overcome any fear you inherit from society if you choose to. Self-Confidence starts by overcoming societal pressures and living your own truth. 

The Key Self-Confidence: Struggle

If Self-Confidence starts with overcoming social pressures, it grows and manifests in your life through struggle.  When achieve an objective through struggle, you learn the lesson that you CAN achieve through struggle. The harder you struggle, the deeper you learn this lesson. 

My Greatest Struggle Lead to my Greatest Achievement

In college, I was afraid of math because it was hard for me. I chose my degree program based partially on this fear. I did not like to struggle back then, and the coursework for the degree I ended up pursuing was very easy to me. But it turns out there was a price to pay for not having to struggle. I couldn’t get a job after I graduated. After a few months of manual labor jobs and zero career prospects, I decided to face my fear of math and get a degree that might be useful in getting the kind of job I wanted. 24 months after that decision, and many late nights studying, I had passed my first actuarial exam and was working full time as an actuarial student for a large insurance company. 

It was a hard two years. I felt like a failure. All my other friends had started their careers and were prospering. They all struggled more than I did in college, and what I was struggling through now was something I should have done years before. I remember feeling embarrassed about my situation, and I blamed the dot-com bubble bursting, the attacks of 9/11 that hurt the economy and some other circumstances outside my control.  But ultimately, I took ownership of my choices and sought to overcome my circumstances. 

Self Confidence Formula

In the text, Hill proposes a “formula” for building and maintaining self-confidence. The formula is an exercise in what Hill refers to as “auto-suggestion”. It is a series of statements intended to foster self-confidence of the person reading it. Committing the formula to memory and repeating it to yourself will make it come true. The author proposes this specific language, but I think you could re-write this with more modern language and to make it specifically applicable to your circumstances. A great resource discussing the power of of auto-suggestion is the book, Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. It’s a top 5 read in all of self-help or professional development for me.

Proposed Formula

First: I know that I have the ability to achieve the object of my definite purpose, therefore I demand of myself persistent, aggressive and continuous action toward its attainment. 

Second: I realize that the dominating thoughts of my mind eventually reproduce themselves in outward, bodily action, and gradually transform themselves into physical reality, therefore I will concentrate My mind for thirty minutes daily upon the task of thinking of the person I intend to be, by creating a mental picture of this person and then transforming that picture into reality through practical service. 

Third: I know that through the principle of Auto-suggestion, any desire that I persistently hold in my mind will eventually seek expression through some practical means of realizing it, therefore I shall devote ten minutes daily to demanding of myself the development of the factors named in the sixteen lessons of this Reading Course on the Law of Success. 

Fourth: I have clearly mapped out and written down a description of my definite purpose in life, for the coming five years. I have set a price on my services for each of these five years; a price that I intend to earn and receive, through strict application of the principle of efficient, satisfactory service which I will render in advance. 

Fifth: I fully realize that no wealth or position can long endure unless built upon truth and justice, therefore I will engage in no transaction which does not benefit all whom it affects. I will succeed by attracting to me the forces I wish to use, and the co-operation of other people. I will induce others to serve me because I will first serve them. I will eliminate hatred, envy, jealousy, selfishness and cynicism by developing love for all humanity, because I know that a negative attitude toward others can never bring me success. I will cause others to believe in me because I will believe in them and in myself. 

I will sign my name to this formula, commit it to memory and repeat it aloud once a day with full faith that it will gradually influence my entire life so that I will become a successful and happy worker in my chosen field of endeavor. 

Signed ________________________________________________

Make This a Habit

The purpose of writing out and repeating the self-confidence formula every day is to form the habit of making belief in yourself the dominating thought of your mind until that thought has been thoroughly embedded in your subconscious mind, through the principle of habit. – pg 142

Habits are formed by repetition. Habits can be powerful tools if we deliberately create and deploy them. (For a deeper dive into habits, check out the book Atomic Habits by James Clear.) Reciting the formula every day will surely develop the confidence you need to accomplish your definite chief aim!


The Human mind is constantly unfolding, like the petals of a flower, until it reaches the maximum of development. What this maximum is, where it is, or whether it ends at all or not, are unanswerable questions, but the degree of informed fold that seems to vary according to the nature of the individual and the degree to which he keeps his mind at work. – pg 143

Keep your mind unfolding every day by challenging yourself with new thoughts. You can build self-confidence by reminding yourself daily of what you want and focusing your efforts on achieving it.