Andrew Carnegie’s 17 Principles of Success

STOP what you’re doing and LISTEN to Andrew Carnegie’s interview with Napolean Hill.

One principle at a time .. Andrew Carnegie .. SPELLS OUT SUCCESS .. spells it out.

There remains not a shadow of a doubt, not a question left unanswered.  Put all the principles into action and you will achieve your desired level of success as sure as the sun will rise and the stars will shine.

“It’s a shame that each new generation must find the way to success by trial and error when the principles are really clear-cut” – Carnegie.

listen closely.

Principle 1.

You MUST determine a definite sense of purpose.

It has been said the world makes a place for the man that know’s what he wants and makes a plan to get it.

What do YOU want so bad that it has become a burning desire?? If you don’t know, FIND IT. Hold on to it, seek it’s materialization for it will be inevitable after following the remaining 16 principles.

Principle 2.

You MUST inspire others to help you achieve your goal. Nothing noteworthy has ever been accomplished by one man.

There is nothing more powerful then two or more minds combined harmoniously acting towards a definite purpose, for you have access to the universal mind of the world and all it’s power.

Principle 3.

Use FAITH, for faith is nothing more than a state of mind.

The man who has a definite purpose, a clear plan to fulfill his purpose and is taking regular action to carry out the plan has definite faith in his success.

Principle 4.

If you wish success of any magnitude you MUST consciously develop your personality for you will be responsible for inspiring people to act on your goal.

Take the opportunity for your personality to be your greatest asset as it reflects everything you control; mind, body and soul.

Some traits that Carnegie suggests developing include the ability to..

always carry a positive mental attitude 😀
adapt to circumstances without losing poise
have patience
keep an open mind
promptly make decisions

Most importantly, see yourself as the person you wish to become and adopt those traits.

Principle 5.


Nature has shown us the law of increasing returns in many, many different examples. In every instance she rewards he who invests labour with the hope of getting a future reward greater than the resources initially invested. Thus defining the principle of always render more service than we are paid for. Your worth will ultimately be in direct proportion to the value you have brought the world.

Principle 6.

A prerequisite for even the most basic level of success is employing your own personal initiative.

The reason one would deploy personal initiative is directly related to Emerson’s Law of Compensation. This law is the operation of which a person may establish their own relationship with life, including the material possessions they accumulate. There is no escape from the acceptance of the reality of this law, for it is not a man-made law

The major difficulty of most people who go through life poverty stricken is that they neither recognize the power of their own mind, nor make any attempt to take possession of their mind. That which a person can accomplish with their hands seldom brings more than a mere living. That which a person can accomplish through the use of their own mind will give them whatever they ask of life!

No person is free until they learn to do their own thinking and gain the courage to act on their own merit.

Principle 7.

The ability to c-o-n-t-r-o-l  your attention.  

Are you able to focus all your brain power on one task for an extended period of time? If not you need to be able to train yourself to be able to do this.

You can keep your brain working for you even when you sleep (dreams) if you have complete control over your attention.

Principle 8.

Become a master of self discipline.

To master self discipline is to also say you have mastered your thoughts and emotions, without the control of these things there can be no control over action.

Therefore self discipline is what inspires someone to think first and act second. It also is the best indicator of whether someone is in control of the 14 emotions that rule the world.

love, sex, hope, faith, enthusiasm, loyalty – positive emotions

fear, jealousy, hatred, revenge, greed, anger, superstition – negative emotions

Direct your thoughts,

control your emotions,

ordain your destiny.

Principle 9.

Employ enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm is a tool that every person has access to and yet is rarely used to it’s fullest extent.

Carnegie mentions that without fail the level to which someone promoted themselves within his organization was the in perfect alignment with the amount of enthusiasm they displayed in their work.  

Do not over look this personality trait for it’s power can’t be understated. It is a heightened state of mind where you are given access to more of your brain than while using merely rationale thought. It is also projected in all that you do, from your writing to the spoke word. It is the single greatest builder of confidence and also denotes faith, courage and belief in ones self.

Principle 10.

The use of imagination.

Using synthetic imagination your mind has the ability to use old ideas and established facts to reassemble them into new uses. This is primarily the imagination used by inventors to solve problems. (Carnegie tells the story of how Thomas Edison was working towards the idea of the lightbulb sending an electric current through different pieces of material but each one would eventually get to hot and burn. His breakthrough only came when he was reminded of the way that coal was made by smouldering logs (ie. starving them of oxygen).

Alternatively, creative imagination is when the finite mind of man has access to the universal mind and consequently the power of infinite intelligence (which Carnegie references numerous times throughout the interview).

Challenge your mind for the use of imagination is the exercise needed for it to grow and become more useful.

Principle 11.

Learn from adversity and defeat.

Another example of challenging your mind is always forcing yourself to push through adversity and never accepting defeat. This principle is extremely important because failure, poverty and even worry can easily become a habit. It has became a habit when you accept the condition you’re in. You signify you’re acceptance by not making a plan to change your situation. That is to say the man you has yet to make a definite plan to acquire riches has accepted poverty as a habit.

Carnegie can be quoted from the interview saying, “every adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit”.

Principle 12.

Budget both your time+money.

Successful people know themselves, not as they think they are, but as their habits have made them. How you use your time and money are the most important habits you can build.

Most people break up their time in three phases sleep/work/recreation. You need 8 hours of sleep and most people work for 8 hours a day that leaves you with the 8 hours of recreation time to work towards your definite purpose if you aren’t already doing it full time. The important thing isn’t that you use the full 8 hours but that you dedicate at least some amount of time daily to the attainment of your definite purpose.

You do not choose to be successful, you choose your habits and your habits determine your level of success.

Principle 13.

Live with a positive mental attitude.

Whatever the mind dwells upon it brings into existence. Carnegie claims that the same way a negative attitude will make enemies and surely result in failure a positive attitude of prosperity will surely bring riches.

Of course thought alone won’t materialize these desires it will take using all 17 principles in harmony with each other.

Principle 14.

Learn to think accurately.

The accurate thinker recognizes all the facts of life, both good and bad, and assumes the responsibility of separating and organizing the two, choosing those which serve his needs and rejecting all others.

The power of thought is a projected version of infinite intelligence with which each person has the ability to appropriate towards the attainment of definite ends. Infinite intelligence is really just access to the subconscious mind through which habits are automatically executed.

Principle 15.

Take care of your Physical Health.

Carnegie says that good health, a sense of well-being and a purpose for living make any day beautiful.

The same way that the development of your personality is visible in everything you do your physical health is a display of your self discipline and the extent of your positive mental attitude.

Principle 16.

Practice cooperating with other people.

Cooperation is the medium through which great personal power may be attained. Coordinating effort to achieve a specific objective is to access a heightened sense of mental activity and give your group access to the universal mind.

Harmonious cooperation is a priceless asset that you can acquire in proportion to your giving.

Principle 17.

Leverage the power of Cosmic Habit Force.

Carnegie calls the phenomena of what brings definiteness to the entire world cosmic habit force. It may seem slightly more believable if you remove the word ‘cosmic’ and just refer to it as a universal habit force. This universal habit force is what binds every living thing with what we call instinct. For example a grain of wheat always produces two grains of wheat, one carbon and two oxygen always produce water. What is most important about this idea is that humans are the only creature with the power to break the chain and create their own habits.

It is your duty to create a positive fixation on your definite purpose for it will eventually fall under the same governance as everything else that is ruled by cosmic habit force. This principle uncovers the reason for which positive mental attitude is so important because this force works with a negative attitude the exact same way. It’s the reason why a sick person who believes himself to be sick can not be cured.

Ultimately there is no simpler truth than you become a manifestation of your daily habits and the mental attitude that you carry, make sure those align to your definite sense of purpose. For a summary of these principles with actions that you can take to exemplify each one check out this review of the interview.