The 12 types of wealth according to Napoleon Hill – and what to learn from it

Wealth is a word that most people have mental pictures of. Some people hear the word and think of stacks of hard, cold, cash or gold. Some think of winning the lotto and becoming millionaires. Maybe they picture treasure chests from fairy tales, or maybe a heap of gold and jewels (and a dragon on top of it of course).

Despite this, we all know that wealth is not bound to physical resources only. Wealth could also be shares, bonds and other financial means. Even some kinds of information work as a currency and could easily be exchanged into cash.

However, we are still only thinking in terms of money.

Sure, in today’s societies almost anything can be sold and bought. But although most people instantly connect wealth with money, there are things which we can assign massive value to, but we can’t put price tags on them.

Most forms of wealth are much closer to us than we think, but their true nature of overflowing value remain unrecognized and invisible to the public consciousness. In truth, there are great riches within our reach. Still many people fail to see them.

If anyone wants to be wealthy, he or she should first understand what wealth is.

Wealth is abundance of value


This abundance can be reached only when the mind is ready for it.

This message is very much present in Napoleon Hill’s philosophy. In the first chapter of his classic bestseller from 1937, Think and grow rich, he mentions 12 things which he claims constitute “real riches”. I am inclined to agree with him. His list is perhaps not the ultimate truth, but it is very useful for those seeking to understand wealth. To overlook Napoleon Hill when studying the arts of success, is like skipping Newton while studying physics; some of the details are outdated in modern contexts, but the general principles are still fundamental.

Below I have listed the 12 types of wealth using Napoleon Hill’s own words.

The 12 types of wealth

  1. A positive mental attitude

  2. Sound physical health

  3. Harmony in human relations

  4. Freedom from fear

  5. The hope of future achievements

  6. The capacity for applied faith

  7. Willingness to share one’s blessings with others

  8. To be engaged in the labor of love

  9. An open mind on all subjects toward all people

  10. Complete self discipline

  11. Wisdom with which to understand people

  12. Financial security

There you have it! I recommend for everyone to study this list and first try to arrive at their own conclusions.

Napoleon himself alerts his readers to two things. First, a positive mental attitude is item number one on the list. Secondly, financial security (which doesn’t technically have to be heaps of gold) is at the bottom.

Mr. Hill studied and talked to many extremely rich people (as in having earned a lot of money), over a long period of time. This led him to draw many conclusions. He also got rich at some point. One of his conclusions was that financial success readily would come to someone who wished for it, if they already had acquired the other types of wealth as well.

However, although Napoleon is relevant, it is important to remember that he too was just a man. There are many stories and rumors concerning his life, told by himself as well as by others, but perhaps fewer sources to confirm them. Still, his books remain among the best selling in the world.

True wealth

The order of Napoleon’s list is not arbitrary. Still, it is the items on the list that matter most. Let us settle for arriving at one major conclusion from Napoleon’s list:

Mental and spiritual values outweigh material values in their own right.

Mental wealth: A woman sitting on a rock looking up to the beautiful sky
Abstract image created by Jcomp –

This seems logical to me. If we only refer to material riches, we can quickly conclude that excess here not is necessary for enjoying life. You can, actually, enjoy life without being rich.

However you cannot become rich before you have thought the idea of trying – and developed the right mindset to actually try. This is one reason for why my blog is called Rich Young Minds and not something like Rich Young Bank Accounts.

Furthermore, influence and power can come without material riches. Look at Gandhi or Jesus. Both of these men gained great influence and had many loyal followers. They achieved this without money, although they most likely could have raised substantial amounts of capital if they had wanted to.

There are also several examples I could give to why the ordinary notion of wealth (valuable material resources), is the least valuable on its own. Let us look at some of them.

Why you need more than money

  1. Partners, friends, family and a good work environment are examples of things we care immensely for, but we can’t buy or sell them. (Some things are invaluable, money never is)
  2. How much is a successful business worth to you, if you ruin your health in the process? Or what if you suffer a mental breakdown? Not to mention ethics vs. profit.
    (Money at what cost?)
  3. No one can make it big without decent self-discipline. So think about what you could achieve with complete self-discipline.Furthermore, even if someone without any self-discipline  somehow got rich, that person would lose either the wealth or himself in no time anyway. This is the fate of several musical artists. They put in some initial effort and make it big, only to get high on their success and spoil it all. Often they spoil it on crack, too. This lack of imagination might indicate something.
    (Can you even maintain and use a fortune wisely?)
  4. Let us say that you have inherited a factory magazine containing 10’000 functioning sun chairs from your uncle Steve. Wow! Those must be worth something, right? Now how many of them can you sell for about the same price a re seller might give, if you don’t have the skills to understand or connect with people? Hm.
    (Price can fluctuate and depend on circumstances)
  5. Ok, let’s get really imaginative now.Say that you are a high ranking member of a mob. You have a fortune of 200,000 dollars, a fancy car, an apartment and the respect that comes with your position.However, one day the head of your mob gets assassinated by much bigger rivals. They are looking to expand their territory. During the raid, you happen to shoot someone who turns out to be the son of the kingpin. This one mistake, hard to foresee in the heat of the moment, is critical. It makes kingpin hate you forever.The criminal network you belonged to is falling apart after the raid and suddenly there is a price of 1000,000 dollars on your head. You flee, leaving the apartment and your country behind.

    You spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder, living in fear while having to deal with the consequences of your previous lifestyle. You lack an education. You never cared to develop your social skills, which is why you ended up where you ended up. Now you are unable to land a decent job. You don’t dare to expose yourself to the underworld while Kingpin lives either and you can’t go to the police unless you want to spend 20+ years in jail. And how long will your money last?

    (Material resources come and go, but a rich mind stays rich.

When you put things this way, it becomes quite obvious that you need more than just money to be happy and successful, right? At the same time one realizes, that an abundance of material wealth not is a requirement for a happy life!

This does not mean that I advise you to stay away from cash. Absolutely not! The points are that

1) money is only money and

2) you need to understand wealth before you can have it.

When you get your priorities straight and when you understand these things well enough, you are certainly ready to go after that sweet cash every day, if that is what you want.

Dollar bills are falling from the sky

Final words

If you choose to study Napoleon’s list carefully and if you diligently make your own observations, you will eventually learn the true meaning of every item on that list.   However, grasping these insights might take some time, at least if you haven’t considered these things in detail before. Why not start by reading Think and grow rich for yourself? It is not enough (the book might give you that impression,) but a good start.

I acknowledge each item on Napoleon’s list as real wealth, although it is more than that. I strive to have it. As I write this, I have already acquired four of the riches mentioned by Napoleon. I am hopeful that I will have them all someday. I wish the same for you.

Jesper Lindholm

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