The 30 Major Causes of Failure By Napoleon Hill

Have you ever read the book ‘[easyazon_link identifier=”193787950X” locale=”US” tag=”w0f8f-20″]Think & Grow Rich[/easyazon_link]’?

If you’re a regular visitor to Wealthy Gorilla, then you definitely should have read the book by now!

Think & Grow Rich was written by Napoleon Hill, and is considered to be one of the best self-development books of all time.

The book teaches the 13 principles of turning your desires into riches, and contains hundreds of golden nuggets you can use to transform your life…


The 30 Major Causes of Failure

Within one of the chapters of Think & Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill lists the 30 major causes of failure. These are the reasons why 99% of people are failing in their lives.

The purpose of featuring and explaining these ‘major causes of failure’ within this article, is to show you why people fail, and how you can avoid doing the same thing in your own life.

Here are the 30 major causes of failure as described by Napoleon Hill:


1. Unfavourable Hereditary Background

The reason why this was put first on the list, was because Hill says it’s one of the toughest issues for people to overcome.

This basically means that someone who is perhaps not naturally intelligent, and lack’s a certain brainpower. They can take all the measures needed to improve their knowledge and become smarter, but they are still at a disadvantage.


2. Lack of a Well Defined Purpose in Life

If you don’t have a definitive goal that you’re setting out to achieve, a purpose that you’re trying to fill, you won’t become successful. You have nothing to hit, nothing to aim at. And therefore your direction is unidentified.


3. Lack of Ambition to Aim Above Mediocrity

There’s many reasons why people might not have the ambition to aim above mediocrity. Whether it’s that they’re too lazy, too comfortable, too spoilt, or have no belief in “success”.

If you never have the ambition the aim higher, you never will aim higher than average. Which means, you guessed it, you will never achieve more than average.


4. Insufficient Education

Another one of the major causes of failure is insufficient education. Don’t get this wrong. This does not solely mean lack of formal education leading up to adulthood.

In many cases, and especially various parts of the world, formal education is an issue. However, another big issue is that many individuals leave school and decide that they’ve done all the learning they needed to do.

When it comes to your career, specialized knowledge is a must, and it can only be learnt through experience on the job, and studying outside of working hours. Just turning up to work everyday isn’t enough education.


5. Lack of Self-Discipline

Becoming successful isn’t easy. It takes a lot of discipline to consistently work hard at something until you finally start to achieve success from it.

There’s a lot of productive habits that need to be adopted in order to get the most out of your day, and therefore your week, month, and year.


6. Ill Health

Nobody can enjoy their success without good health, and in fact poor health can still hold you back from achieving it in the first place.

Here’s what causes ill health:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Over-eating junk foods
  • Poor daily habits
  • Over-indulgence in sex

    7. Unfavourable Environmental Influences During Childhood

    This essentially means that many people fail due to the environment they grew up in. Poor parenting, bad neighbourhoods, born into poor families etc.

    It’s not a death sentence, but more people than not let these circumstances dictate their future. Something can be done, no matter what.


    8. Procrastination

    Everybody has a dream, but when it comes to taking action, most procrastinate. They wait until they’re ‘ready’, or until the ‘perfect time’.

    Time goes by, but they’ve gone nowhere. Truth is, that they’ll never be a perfect time to start working on your dreams. You have to stop procrastinating, and create a sense of urgency within your life.


    9. Lack of Persistence

    You won’t get anywhere without persistence. And persistence can be tough when you’re not seeing immediate results from all the hard work you’re putting in.

    The truth is. Persistence is the key to everything. Every successful individual has had their own failures during their lifetime, but persistence meant that they got back up, and didn’t have to remain a failure.


    10. Negative Personality

    You know those people that always seem to complain about things, but never change them? How about the people who always tell you that they can’t do something?

    Thinking negatively will only ever bring you a negative life. This is one of the biggest causes of failure, and changing your mindset from negative to positive should be a very high priority.


    11. Lack of Controlled Sexual Urge

    Most people will deny that this one affects them, but it does. Sexual stimulus has the power to influence people into action more than any other type of energy.

    Which means you’re likely to be spending a lot of your time chasing this, becoming distracted, and losing sight of your goals.


    12. Uncontrolled Desire for ‘Something for Nothing’

    Ever come across people who want something for nothing?

    They believe that they can try and get what they want without helping anyone else get what they want. And that’s a big mistake.

    You see, you only start to get the things you want in life, when you’re able to help other people. Every business that succeeds, does so because it is helping enough people to be profitable.


    13. Lack of a Well Defined Power of Decision

    Napoleon talks about how good decision makers are able to make quick decisions and then change them slowly, as apposed to the other way around. The ability to make quick decisions is incredibly important for success.

    After all, if you’re unable to make decisions, then you’re not going to be able to build a business, that’s for sure. We make thousands of decisions everyday, so this ability is key.


    14. One or More of the Six Basic Fears

    In Think & Grow Rich, Hill also describes the basic fears that all humans have in life. The basic fears are:

  • Fear of poverty
  • Fear of criticism
  • Fear of ill health
  • Fear of loss of love
  • Fear of old age
  • Fear of death
  • Possessing one of these six basic fears may also be one of the major causes of failure. It’s important to remember in this circumstance, that we all eventually die. Therefore we have nothing to lose, and the fear above should not keep us from living our dream life.


    15. Wrong Selection of a Mate in Marriage

    Your marriage is going to affect your career. That’s a given. If you’re in a marriage where your partner supports you, and you are both happy, then it’ll be beneficial to your career.

    If however, you’re always arguing, then it’s going to affect your performance during work. Choose your life partner wisely.


    16. Over-Caution

    In order to get far in life, you have to take risks. You’ll only get so far by playing it safe. Risks are often necessary, and they don’t always work out. But eventually they do.

    Those who are too cautious, and afraid to venture into the unknown, will often fail.


    17. Wrong Selection of Associates in Business

    Who you choose to do business with can often be another huge cause of failure. Choosing someone who lacks the right qualities can often end up in them making the wrong decisions, and ruining all your hard work in business.

    Another choice you need to make wisely.


    18. Superstition & Prejudice

    Superstition is big issue people face with their mindset. In fact, if you follow Tai Lopez, you’ll know that he likes to give away free cars every so often.

    Many of the people who have won the free cars, did not believe they’d really won. They thought it was fake. So guess what? Tai gave the car to someone else.


    19. Wrong Selection of a Vocation

    So many people make this common error. Picking the wrong line of work. Unless it’s something you can’t go a day without thinking about, then you shouldn’t be doing it.

    However, 95% of people hate waking up on Monday because they have to travel to jobs they do not like. They are only there to get that paycheck. Why?

    I’ll never understand. Find something you love.


    20. Lack of Concentration of Effort

    Do you know how long the human attention span is?

    It’s not very long at all. Which means concentrating on something for a long period of time is ridiculously hard. And it’s even harder if you’re trying to concentrate on something you don’t like.


    21. The Habit of Indiscriminate Spending

    Do you often buy things you don’t really need?

    How much money has that new T.V made you recently? $0? That’s strange…

    Wasting money instead of investing it in yourself, is what separates the rich from the poor. Think about that the next time you want to buy a whole new wardrobe.


    22. Lack of Enthusiasm

    Enthusiasm is a key to achieving success with any thing you do. Without enthusiasm, or a real passion for your work, you will be unable to go the distance.

    This is the same reason for why people who chase money will never find it. When money is a driving force, instead of passion, you will give up on the activity long before you become successful at it.

    Passion for something means you want to do it every single day, regardless of how much money you’re earning, or the number of setbacks you’re experiencing.


    23. Intolerance

    Being open-minded is something every good businessman should be. Open to new ideas, new ways of thinking, new types of people.

    Intolerance of others, and their ideas, is going to hurt your reputation. Especially when the people you’re intolerant of are people you work with, or do business with.


    24. Intemperance

    Intemperance, similar to intolerance in many ways, is another one of the major causes of failure. If you’re someone who has a tendency to get angry, you’re going to end up annoying a lot of people. You’re also going to end up ruining your productivity.


    25. Inability to Cooperate With Others

    Collaboration with others is inevitable. After all, every business is in the business of people. If you are unable to cooperate with other people, then you won’t get very far at all.

    The only way to get what you want, is to help other people get what they want; and that won’t happen for anybody who refuses to cooperate with others.


    26. Possession of Power Not Acquired Through Self-Effort

    People who have been given power, and not earned it themselves, are destined to fail.

    They are destined to fail because in most cases they will not have adopted and mastered the essential habits and skills required to earn this power in the first place.

    They also most likely lack the experience and knowledge required to use their power properly.

    People who acquire power without this effort will not be able to control it, use it efficiently, nor should they be trusted with it.


    27. Intentional Dishonesty

    It doesn’t matter whether you’re lying to yourself or to other people. A lack of honesty will come back to haunt you in the end. People won’t want to work with you. They won’t trust you. You won’t be true to yourself.

    The whole thing’s a house of cards.


    28. Egotism & Vanity

    Ego often gets in the way of people improving their knowledge and education. It also gets in the way of collaboration.

    I’ve come across many people who are either too stubborn to understand why they’re wrong, or collaborate with other people because they think they’re bigger than everyone else.


    29. Guessing Instead of Thinking

    If you’re guilty of this, you’re just asking for failure. Guessing instead of thinking? Come on.

    There are a lot of people who start arguments because they have this type of mindset. They just assume, and then forget to actually do the research before forming their opinion.

    Don’t be one of these people.


    30. Lack of Capital

    Lastly, lack of capital is 30th on the list of major causes of failure. Money is obviously an issue for many people who have dreams and ideas, in most cases to build the business they desire.

    Often, if their business plan is good enough, they’ll be able to seek investors, or be able to start smaller with lower costs.



    Here’s a recap on the 30 major causes of failure from Think & Grow Rich:

  • Unfavourable Hereditary Background
  • Lack of a Well Defined Purpose in Life
  • Lack of Ambition to Aim Above Mediocrity
  • Insufficient Education
  • Lack of Self-Discipline
  • Ill Health
  • Unfavourable Environmental Influences During Childhood
  • Procrastination
  • Lack of Persistence
  • Negative Personality
  • Lack of Controlled Sexual Urge
  • Uncontrolled Desire for ‘Something for Nothing’
  • Lack of a Well Defined Power of Decision
  • One or More of the Six Basic Fears
  • Wrong Selection of a Mate in Marriage
  • Over-Caution
  • Wrong Selection of Associates in Business
  • Superstition & Prejudice
  • Wrong Selection of a Vocation
  • Lack of Concentration of Effort
  • The Habit of Indiscriminate Spending
  • Lack of Enthusiasm
  • Intolerance
  • Intemperance
  • Inability to Cooperate With Others
  • Possession of Power Not Acquired Through Self-Effort
  • Intentional Dishonesty
  • Egotism & Vanity
  • Guessing Instead of Thinking
  • Lack of Capital
  • How many major causes of failure have you been guilty of? Leave a comment below.

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