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Summary of Outwitting the Devil 

Short summary

“Outwitting the Devil” is a narrative of Napoleon Hill’s belief in perseverance and resisting the urge to give up. Napoleon Hill was an American self-help author who is known for his book “Think and Grow Rich”. In “Outwitting the Devil,” Hill emphasizes the need for positive thinking, finding the silver lining of every temporary setback, and surrounding yourself with good influences. Originally written in 1938 but wasn’t published until 2011, “Outwitting the Devil” teaches how to avoid becoming a drifter, the importance of working on bad habits, and lessons in perseverance.

Key points


Identify the antics of the Devil so that you can outwit him

According to Hill, 98% of us are giving fear the power over our minds. We have dreams we don’t pursue because we are afraid. The result of this fear is that we drift through life without thinking for ourselves or following our own desires. He describes the person responsible for all this as the Devil and he reveals the tricks of the Devil in the form of a dialogue. In this dialogue, there are certain principles that can help each person (who dares to think independently) break free from the Devil to become truly successful.

Failure becomes inevitable when one is led by fear rather than faith. Our society instills this fear in us. Churches remind us of the need to beware of the devil. Schools hardly teach children what they need to function in the real world. Rote memorization of facts and figures is what is rampant in schools. While attempting to create the first philosophy of individual achievement, Hill realized this overwhelming fear and a lack of individuality in society. He conducted several interviews about successes and failures but he found that the responses didn’t add up to a concrete philosophy. Indecision and fear got him stuck and confused. One day, while taking a walk, he had an epiphany. He found that by counteracting fear and doubt, he could complete his research on the philosophy of individual achievement. He calls it Infinite Intelligence.
Infinite Intelligence is an abundance of faith and positive energy that we can always tap into as long as we keep doubt, fear, and worry from our minds.
Hill became the first great writer of the self-help genre as a result of his ability to put fear aside and finish his book. He became a non-drifter. A non-drifter is someone who knows that the key to success is becoming the master of your own mind. When you master your mind, then you must apply this mastery to the real world through your actions.

There are 7 principles for outwitting the Devil in your life:
• Definiteness of purpose
• Mastery over self
• Learning from adversity
• Controlling environmental influence (associations)
• Time (giving permanency to positive, rather than negative though-habits and developing wisdom)
• Harmony (acting with definiteness of purpose to become the dominating influence in your own mental, spiritual, and physical environment)
• Caution (thinking through your plan before you act)
• These principles may help you identify and reveal what is holding you back from achieving your greatest success.

Yes, nature uses hypnotic rhythm to make one's dominating thoughts and one's thought-habits permanent. That is why poverty is a disease. Nature makes it so by fixing permanently the thought-habits of all who accept poverty as an unavoidable circumstance. Through the same law of hypnotic rhythm, nature will also fix permanently positive thoughts of opulence and prosperity. ~ Napoleon Hill

Did you know? Outwitting the Devil is a message Napoleon Hill wanted to share with the world in the 1930s but was not released until 2011.

The Devil uses fear and ignorance to enslave people by causing them to become drifters

There are two secret principles that the Devil uses to enslave people. The first is called the habit of drifting. When a person begins to drift on any subject, he is on his way to hell. Simply put, people who are unable to think for themselves are drifters while those who are capable of independent thought are non-drifters.
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The Devil uses the environment into which you are born to weaken and control your mind


Clarity of purpose and positive thinking are vital to getting what you want from life


Break the habit of drifting before nature makes it permanent


Surround yourself with people who possess positive habits if you want to develop positive habits


The major distinguishing feature of the non-drifter is that he has a mind of his own and uses it for all purposes


The drifter works harder to get out of thinking than most others work in earning a good living


The habit of drifting, the law of hypnotic rhythm, and the element of time are three forces that determine the destinies of all men



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