Home Articles The Law of Success — Lesson Five: Initiative and Leadership

The Law of Success — Lesson Five: Initiative and Leadership


The Law of Success in Sixteen Lessons, Napoleon Hill’s 1,600+ page monstrosity published prior to Think and Grow Rich, contains a lot of useful information that can help you realise your potential. In this series, Joshua Moore covers each of these attributes in a practical way that you can apply to your life and work. Today he discusses Lesson Five: Initiative and Leadership.

Also in this series:

Two of the major components required to become a success in any field or endeavour are initiative and leadership.

We often hear these words but finding a way to turn them into actions is another thing entirely. In order to effectively take action in relation to initiative and leadership we need to define them appropriately.

What is initiative?

According to Napoleon Hill, initiative is ‘doing what needs to be done without being asked or told to do it’. This might sound like a simple statement, but so few people actually engage in this process. Several employees of companies wait until they are told what to do, rather than taking the initiative and doing it beforehand.

There is a benefit to taking action before being told what to do. An employer will see that you are able to self-manage (a quality of leadership) and will acknowledge in their mind that it takes less effort to organise you than other employees. If you are able to self manage and do not need to be reviewed every five minutes while conducting your work tasks, then you put yourself in a position that will give you a competitive advantage above your competition when it comes for a promotion.

The same is true for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs who take the initiative and prepare proposals for their clients that outline problems as well as a list of solutions they can implement have a definite edge over other businesses. A possibility may be not only to outline these solutions in a proposal but to actually begin taking action towards them before the proposal is accepted.

What are you doing today that is showing initiative (i.e. without being asked to do so)? If you are reading this post, chances are you are already conducting research and trying to improve yourself without being asked to do so. Find other ways to take initiative and leave a comment outlining your results.

Once you have mastered initiative you can then advance towards leadership.

What is leadership?

In his book the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell states that “Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.” I’m pretty sure that Napoleon Hill would have agreed with this definition wholeheartedly.

An interesting point that Napoleon Hill makes about leadership is that it is never found in someone who has not acquired that habit of initiative. Many people who have titles may feel that it is an entitlement but rarely will someone end up in a position of authority in any endeavour without having first become a master of doing things without being told to do so.

Napoleon Hill offers some steps in the Laws of Success to develop the skills of initiative and leadership. They are too long for the scope of this article, but in summary they are:

  • ‘Master the habit of procrastination.’
  • Embrace the philosophy that ‘the only way to get happiness is to give it to others’.
  • To become an effective leader, one must work to develop a co-operative attitude with others.
  • ‘Be an example to your own men.’
    ‘Be prepared to invest financially in your own men.’
  • ‘Give more than you expect to receive.’ This giving does not have to be only financial.
  • ‘Know your men, know your business, know yourself.’

Leadership is not developed in a day. It takes time and work on a daily basis to make connections, to touch people and to give freely of yourself for quite some time before you will begin to see the compounded results of your investment.

Anthill is a perfect example of this. The Editor in Chief James Tuckerman explains how when he first started Anthill he began with 150 subscribers after sending out emails to a 2,000 person database. From here, he has continued to expand and grow the business until a point where it serves tens of thousands of people each week. It was only through initiative and leadership that this was made possible.


  • Assess yourself in relation to your initiative. Are there things you could be doing without having to be asked to do so?
  • Do one thing to begin taking initiative in your employment, your business or your study today.
  • Find ways to kill procrastination. Haven’t finished an item on a to-do list? Break it down into smaller tasks.
  • Co-operate with others, always giving more to help them than you expect to receive.

Joshua Moore is the founder of Moore Thought, a website dedicated to helping people tap their mind and reach their potential in life.