Thoughts + Articles

The Sound of Success

Napoleon Hill, author of Think And Grow Rich shares the Story of his son Blair.  

 Napoleon Hill’s son came into the world without any physical sign of ears, and the doctor admitted, when pressed for an opinion, that the child might be deaf, and mute for life.

Silently, “I challenged the doctor’s opinion as the child’s father. I, too, reached a decision.” He decided he would find the right words to heal his son so he would be able to hear.  

Mr. Hill said, “As Blair grew older, and began to take notice of things around him, we observed that he had a slight degree of hearing. When he reached the age when children usually begin talking, he made no attempt to speak, but we could tell by his actions that he could hear certain sounds slightly. That was all I wanted to know! I was convinced that if he could hear, even slightly, he might develop even greater hearing capacity.” 

Victrola (record player):

Mr. and Mrs. Hill “bought a Victrola. When the child heard the music for the first time, he went into ecstasies, and promptly appropriated the machine. He soon showed a preference for certain records, among them, “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.” On one occasion, he played that piece over and over, for almost two hours, standing in front of the Victrola, with his teeth clamped on the edge of the case. The significance of this self-formed habit of his did not become clear to us until years afterward, for we had never heard of the principle of “bone conduction” of sound at that time.”

Mr. Hill, “Shortly after he appropriated the Victrola, I discovered that he could hear me quite clearly when I spoke with my lips touching his mastoid bone, or right behind where the ears should be. Having determined that he could hear the sound of my voice plainly, I began, immediately, to transfer to his mind the desire to hear and speak. I soon discovered that the child enjoyed bedtime stories, so I went to work, creating stories designed to develop in him self-reliance, imagination, and a keen desire to hear and to be normal.”

Mr. Hill continues, “As I analyze the experience in retrospect, I can see now that my son’s faith in me had much to do with the astounding results. He did not question anything I told him. I sold him the idea that he had a distinct advantage over his older brother, and that this advantage would reflect itself in many ways.” 

Blair’s mother, Florence Elizabeth Horner Hill visited his teachers and arranged with them to give the child the extra attention necessary.

 (“His teachers in school observed he had no ears, and, because of this, they showed him special attention and treated him with extraordinary kindness. Theyalways did.”)

Say Positive Good Things:  Believe in your Child:

Napoleon Hill, “I sold him the idea that when he became old enough to sell newspapers, (his older brother had already become a newspaper merchant), he would have a big advantage over his brother, for the reason that people would pay him extra money for his wares, because they could see that he was a bright, industrious boy, despite the fact he had no ears. Gradually we noticed, “the child’s hearing was improving. Moreover, he had not the slightest tendency to be self-conscious, because of his affliction.”

Blair was Determined to sell newspapers:

At 7 years of age,  Blair “begged for the privilege of selling newspapers, but his mother would not give her consent. She was afraid that his deafness made it unsafe for him to go on the street alone. Finally, he took matters into his own hands. One afternoon, when he was left at home with the servants, he climbed through the kitchen window, shimmied to the ground, and set out on his own.” 

Borrowing “six cents in capital from the neighborhood shoemaker, he invested it in papers, sold out, reinvested, and kept repeating until late in the evening. After balancing his accounts, and paying back the six cents he had borrowed from his banker, he had a net profit of forty-two cents. When we got home that night, we found him in bed asleep, with the money tightly clenched in his hand.”

“His mother opened his hand, removed the coins, and cried. Of all things! Crying over her son’s first victory seemed so inappropriate. My reaction was the reverse. I laughed heartily, for I knew that my endeavor to plant in the child’s mind an attitude of faith in himself had been successful.”

“His mother saw, in his first business venture, a little deaf boy who had gone out in the streets and risked his life to earn money. I saw a brave, ambitious, self-reliant little business man whose stock in himself had increased a hundred percent, because he had gone into business on his own initiative, and had won. The transaction pleased me, because I knew that he had given evidence of a trait of resourcefulness that would go with him all through life.” 

On the other hand, “when his older brother wanted something, he would lie down on the floor, kick his feet in the air, cry for it–and get it. When the “little deaf boy” wanted something, he would plan a way to earn the money, then buy it for himself. He still follows that plan!”

“Truly, my own son has taught me that handicaps can be converted into stepping stones on which one may climb toward some worthy goal, unless they are accepted as obstacles, and used as alibis.”

Continued to keep learning despite being Deaf:

Our son, “went through the grades, high school, and college without being able to hear his teachers, except when they shouted loudly, at close range.”

Parents say no to Sign Language:

“We would not permit him to learn sign language. We were determined that he should live a normal life, and associate with normal children, and we stood by that decision, although it cost us many heated debates with school officials.”

 When he was “in high school he tried an electrical hearing aid, but it was of no value to him; due, we believed, to a condition that was disclosed when the child was six, by Dr. J. Gordon Wilson, of Chicago, when he operated on one side of the boy’s head, and discovered that there was no sign of natural hearing equipment.”

Beginning of his Changed World:

Napoleon Hill, “During Blair’s last week in college …he came into possession of another electrical hearing device, which was sent to him on trial. He was slow about testing it, due to his disappointment with a similar device. Finally, he picked the instrument up, and more or less carelessly, placed it on his head, hooked up the battery, and lo! as if by a stroke of magic, his lifelong desire for normal hearing became a reality! For the first time in his life he heard practically as well as any person with normal hearing. “

“Overjoyed because of the Changed World which had been brought to him through his hearing device, Blair rushed to the telephone, called his mother, and heard her voice perfectly. The next day Blair plainly heard the voices of his professors in class, for the first time in his life! Previously he could hear them only when they shouted, at short range. He heard the radio. He heard the talking pictures. For the first time in his life, he could converse freely with other people, without the necessity of having to speak loudly. Truly, he had come into possession of a changed world.”

Blair writes to the manufacture of hearing aid: 

“Hardly realizing the significance of what had already been accomplished, but intoxicated with the joy of his newly discovered world of sound, he wrote a letter to the manufacturer of the hearing-aid, enthusiastically describing his experience.” 

Blair wrote “something in his letter; something, perhaps which was not written on the lines, but back of them, caused the company to invite him to New York. When he arrived, he was escorted through the factory, and while talking with the Chief Engineer, telling him about his changed world, a hunch, an idea, or an inspiration–call it what you wish–flashed into his mind. It was this impulse of thought which converted his affliction into an asset, destined to pay dividends in both money and happiness to thousands for all time to come.”

To Blair it “occurred he might be of help to the millions of deaf people who go through life without the benefit of hearing devices, if he could find a way to tell them the story of his Changed World. He reached a decision to devote the remainder of his life to rendering useful service to the hard of hearing. For an entire month, he carried on intensive research, during which he analyzed the entire marketing system of the manufacturer of the hearing device, and created ways and means of communicating with the hard of hearing all over the world.”

Blair’s two-year plan to help others who are deaf:

Blair Hill wrote “a two-year plan on his findings. When he presented the plan to the company, he was instantly given a position, for the purpose of carrying out his ambition. He was destined to bring hope and practical relief to thousands of deafened people who, without his help, would have been doomed forever to deaf mutism.”

Shortly after Blair became associated with the manufacturer of his hearing aid, he invited his father, Napoleon Hill to attend a class conducted by his company, for the purpose of teaching deaf mutes to hear, and to speak.”

Napoleon Hill said, “I had never heard of such a form of education; therefore, I visited the class. Here I saw a demonstration which gave me a greatly enlarged vision of what I had done to arouse and keep alive in my son’s mind the desire for normal hearing. I saw deaf mutes actually being taught to hear and to speak, through application of the self-same principle I had used, more than twenty years previously, in saving my son from deaf mutism.”

Napoleon Hill continues, “There is no doubt in my mind that Blair would have been a deaf mute all his life, if his mother and I had not managed to shape his mind as we did. The doctor who attended at his birth told us, confidentially, the child might never hear or speak. A few weeks ago, Dr. Irving Voorhees, a noted specialist on such cases, examined Blair very thoroughly. He was astounded when he learned how well my son now hears, and speaks, and said his examination indicated that “theoretically, the boy should not be able to hear at all.” But the lad does hear, despite the fact that X-ray pictures show there is no opening in the skull, whatsoever, from where his ears should be to the brain.”

What do you think Blair’s life would have looked like if his parents had not encouraged him to create the life he wanted?

It all began with Napoleon Hill planting in his son’s mind the Desire to hear and talk as a normal person.

Napoleon Hill said, “It would be unforgivable if I neglected to tell the world as much as I know of the humble part I assumed in the strange experience. It is my duty, and a privilege to say I believe, and not without reason, that nothing is impossible to the person who backs desire with enduring faith. I planted in his mind the desire to convert his greatest handicap into his greatest asset. That desire has been realized. The modus operandi by which this astounding result was achieved is not hard to describe.”

He continues, “It consisted of three very definite facts; 

1. I mixed faith with the desire for normal hearing, which I passed on to my son. 

2. I communicated my desire to him in every conceivable way available, through persistent, continuous effort, over a period of years. 

3. He believed me!”



Madeline Frank, Ph.D., is an Best Selling Author, speaker, business owner, teacher, concert artist, and parent. She helps businesses and organizations “Tune Up their Business”. Her observations show you the blue prints necessary to improve and keep your business successful. Her latest book “Leadership On A Shoestring Budget” is available everywhere books are sold. If you need a virtual speaker contact Madeline at:

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