The 16 Habits of Highly Unsuccessful People

The 16 Habits of Highly Unsuccessful People

failureWhat essential qualities are you lacking to be successful?  We are thrust into challenges daily from which either winners or losers emerge. What makes the winner win and the loser lose?  Persistence is key.  If you are persistent, in spite of how slowly you may have to move in the beginning, success will come. Without persistence, we cannot achieve noteworthy success.

In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill lists 16 symptoms of lack of persistence:

  1. Failure to recognize and to clearly define exactly what one wants.  If you are struggling in this area, you have not defined your purpose.  
  2. Procrastination, with or without cause (usually backed up with a formidable array of alibis and excuses).   Many people have “justifiable reasons” for not doing certain things (short on time; short on money, etc.). The only thing worse than an excuse is a GOOD excuse. Too many people have too many “good” excuses!
  3. Lack of interest in acquiring specialized knowledge.  What tends to prohibit people most in acquiring specialized knowledge is a low self-image. To learn anything requires a certain degree of confidence. You have to have a relatively decent self-image that you have the ability to learn what you need to. However, if you have too little confidence, you will think you are incapable of learning. If you have too much confidence, worse yet, you will think you do not need to learn anything! In all actuality, people who suffer from a low self-image do not need to know HOW to do the specific or specialized task. However, they do need to know how to find someone else who can.
  4. Indecision, the habit of passing the buck on all occasions instead of facing issues squarely.  (Also backed by alibis).  Indecision is one of the nails in the coffin of desire and achievement.
  5. The habit of relying upon alibis instead of creating definite plans for the solution of problems.  Many are in the habit of putting things off rather than taking care of them immediately. As previously discussed in Chapter 7 on “Decision”, Hill states that every successful person “had the habit of REACHING DECISIONS PROMPTLY and changing these decisions slowly, if and when they were changed. People who fail to accumulate money, without exception, have the habit of reaching decisions, IF AT ALL, very slowly and of changing these decisions quickly and often.”
  6. Self-satisfaction. There is but little remedy for this affliction, and no hope for those who suffer from it.  
  7. Indifference, usually reflected in one’s readiness to compromise on all occasions, rather than meet opposition and fight it.  This addresses our willingness to surrender or coward away from issues we may face related to our goals.
  8. The habit of blaming others for one’s mistakes, and accepting unfavorable circumstances as being unavoidable.  Many businesses are guilty of doing this (e.g.. “this thing happened and it was out of our control“. Although there are things that happen that are out of our control, many of us have relied on that excuse far too often during our lives. If we really want to be honest with and challenge ourselves, we need to take a long hard look at this habit.
  9. WEAKNESS OF DESIRE, due to neglect in the choice of MOTIVES that impel action.  People who are struggling or suffering from this need to refer back to Chapter 3 in Think and Grow Rich on “Autosuggestion”.
  10. Willingness, even eagerness, to quit at the first sign of defeat. (Based upon one or more of the six basic fears).
  11. Lack of ORGANIZED PLANS, placed in writing where they may be analyzed.
  12. The habit of neglecting to move on ideas, or to grasp opportunity when it presents itself.
  13. WISHING instead of WILLING.  Note that “willing” does not mean by force. It means to accomplish and move in the direction of whatever it is that we want by use of focused and concentrated effort.
  14. The habit of compromising with POVERTY instead of aiming at riches. General absence of ambition to be, to do, and to own.
  15. Searching for all the short-cuts to riches, trying to GET without GIVING a fair equivalent, usually reflected in the habit of gambling, endeavoring to drive “sharp” bargains.  Bob Proctor says that he never negotiates–he is not in search of a bargain.  He feels that he offers a fair price and others ask a fair price of him.
  16. FEAR OF CRITICISM, failure to create plans and to put them into action, because of what other people will think, do, or say. This enemy belongs at the head of the list, because it generally exists in one’s subconscious mind, where its presence is not recognized. 

Hill says that the above weaknesses are the real enemies standing between you and noteworthy achievement.  He also provides four simple steps to developing the HABIT of persistence:

  1. A definite purpose backed by a burning desire
  2. A definite plan EXPRESSED in continuous ACTION
  3. A mind closed to ALL negativity and discouragement
  4. A friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage you.  (This last point is really a Mastermind Group.  I form new Mastermind groups quarterly.  We are encouraging each other to set and achieve our goals. Anyone want to experience this for themselves? Simply drop me a line).

You will only uncover riches when you establish definite plans, back them by definite desires and inspired action, and being persistence. 


About Online Biz Boomer Babe

Rachel Lavern is a Certified Business Coach and founder of My Booming Online Business--a blog for middle-age, global, uptown women. She is on a mission to transform entrepreneurs' finances by teaching the action set, mindset and skill set needed to get launched + make money.


  1. Brilliant summary of points, and I know I can relate to a few!  Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Great Blog!  Napoleon Hill is one of my favourite authors.  I would like to read a bit of his work every day just to make it stick!  thank you!

    • Yes Cheryl!  I actually do read a bit from each day (well most days) because I am emulating Bob Proctor.  Bob said he has been reading a chapter each day for the last 40+ years!

  3. Enjoyed this Rachel! I have an audio version of Hill narrating his book. I love it. Might be time to resurect it for another listen.


  4. Sandi Tuttle :

    You are right on target with these! Love your insight!

  5. Have a few of them myself, sadly, but this is a great post, thank you!

  6. What a wonderful, thought-provoing post!  I have pinned it so I can re-read it again & let the points sink-in!  Thank you for such a wonderful summary!

  7. I love Napoleon Hill. His work was soo far ahead of its time. I would highly recommend his books to anyone wanting success in their lives. To me "The Secret" was an inferior rip off to Hill's "Think And Grow Rich". 

    • I agree Jon (although I did not know that the intention of The Secret was to be modern day TAGR). 

  8. Rachel,

    thanks for reminding me to go back to reading Think and Grow Rich.  It's on my kindle and I need to be consistant at reading a little every few days.

    Great topic


    • Hi Bonnie,

      I have committed to read at least a section from Think and Grow Rich every week day…and will read a bit on the weekends also whenever I am still long enough to do so.  It’s a great goal…you probably will not even recognize yourself a year from now 🙂

  9. Ouch Rachel,

    As sad as this is all of your points are so true.  Now in the beginning I had no clue what I wanted.  I can honestly say that I'm still fighting with this at times.  I'm being told what I should do instead of me deciding on my own what I want to do.  

    Now the rest doesn't really pertain to me but I recognize these in some of the people I've run across having met here online.  Hope everyone will recognize these and decide it's time to do something about it.

    Thanks for these and have a great week.


    • Hi Adrienne,

      I suspect that all of us are going to be working on some aspect of ourselves until the day we die…the work will never be done 🙂

      You have a great week also!

  10. Rachel, your post is AWESOME!!! I can definitely see how some of those attributes have caused problems for me in the past. And I am resolved to be on watch for them in the future, so I can move them out of my way. Those four ingredients were great, too! I'd love to know more about your mastermind groups.

    • Thank you Jeanine 🙂

      I conduct Think and Grow Rich mastermind groups and You Were Born Rich mastermind groups once per quarter.  I have not yet scheduled Think and Grow Rich this quarter.  The best way to be notified of them is via my newsletter.

  11. Great info! Shows us the habits we should not cultivate if we aspire to be successful!

  12. What a great list Rachel!

    I'm a huge believer in taking responsibility for our actions, and this is covered in your list. It's something I see over and over, and it's too easy a cop out for too many people!

    Thanks for the reminder,



  13. Rachel,

    Great summary of the 16 unsuccessful habits. I think everyone should reread Hill's book at least once a year. I know I always find something new every time I read it:) Sheri

  14. Chery Schmidt

    Great Post Rachel, Napolean Hill 🙂  I really enjoyed how you put this post together. It has been a while since I read these Perhaps I need to pull them back out.. Keep up the good work, Thanks for sharing.. Chery 🙂

    Chery Schmidt recently posted…Helping People Find Their WayMy Profile

    • Hi Chery.  Think and Grow Rich is well worth reading repeatedly.  Bob Proctor has read it at least once per year since he was in his early 20s–he is 73 years old now (or there abouts).

  15. Arla DeField - :

    I think it is absolutely correct to put #16 – Fear Of Criticism at the top of the list.  Making decisions about your actions based on what others MIGHT think, (NOT even what you know they think, but might)  will hold anyone back. 

    Napoleon has some timeless wisdom, gleaned from many people who learned the hard way.

  16. Leslie Denning

    Hi Rachel.  I enjoyed this post so much that I emailed my Think and Grow Rich book to my Kindle.  It's time to read it again.  That is such a long list of bad thinking habits to overcome, and some of them have to be tackled more than once.  Thanks so much for posting this.

    All the best,



    • Hi Leslie.  I am following the lead of two of my mentors, Bob Proctor and Paul Martinelli, and reading Think and Grow Rich once a year. There is enough content for me to implement for the rest of my life LOL

  17. I absolutely agree with every one, especially number 16!!! Following your blog on Bloglovin'.

    • Thanks for following the blog Michelle.  Feel free to let me know what you would like to see here.

  18. I'm so glad I opted to read this blog! I've never heard of Think and Grow Rich, but I have heard of The Secret. I don't really believe much of it, it just seeems to 'out there' for me, but after reading multiple stories of people creating successful lives from following the advice in books like those, I'm willing to give it a go. Sadly, I relate to many of your 16 traits, but the nice thing about all this is that I can change! Thank you for postiing an excelling list of traits, and for referencing a book that I definitely need to get to know.

  19. I loved number 13 — we wish and yet, we never want to take action! And I love number 8 too!  I think that taking accountability for your life, actions and what you want to do are huge when it comes to successfully working from home.

  20. Thanks for visiting my blog. Great post. I recognise a few of my flaws! Look forward to reading more of your material 🙂

  21. You nailed it by people don’t succeed in this article. I so didn’t catch these when I read Think and Grow Rich the first time, did this come from another Think and Grow Rich resource or did you compile them based off of his book.
    Joanne recently posted…Do You Have Your Clients Sign a Contract?My Profile

  22. I’ve been in a mastermind group that was based on the principles of Napoleon Hill, but we never actually read the book. I have it and I will dust if off and start reading. It’s amazing that those principles are still in practice today as he wrote it in 1937.

    • Lots of mastermind groups are based on Think and Grow Rich Holly and I believe that is because that book pretty much introduced the power of the mastermind.

  23. Hi Rachel,

    Great post. Unfortunately I saw myself in a lot of these points that I am working very hard to overcome. Thanks for the reminder.

    Have a great evening. Monna
    Monna Ellithorpe recently posted…How To Improve Your Alexa RankingMy Profile

  24. Hi Rachel,

    I love Think and Grow Rich. Probably read the book, half a dozen times, and listened to the audios at least 20 times. It never gets old and each time, I always learn something new. Thank you for sharing the list! Have a great week ahead. 🙂
    Nate Leung recently posted…5 Simple Ways to Earn Money Online While You SleepMy Profile

  25. Hi Rachel,

    Thank you for the wonderful reminder.

    I also find a mastermind group to have been the most helpful thing I had in my business. Accountability and support is key to succeed in the online world, where we can easily get distracted and discouraged.


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