Step #4: Specialized Knowledge

“KNOWLEDGE will not attract money, unless it is organized, and intelligently directed, through practical PLANS OF ACTION, to the DEFINITE END of accumulation of money. Lack of understanding of this fact has been the source of confusion to millions of people who falsely believe that “knowledge is power.” It is nothing of the sort! Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power only when, and if, it is organized into definite plans of action, and directed to a definite end.

The idea in Chapter 5 of Think and Grow Rich is that “education” means the continual gathering of knowledge specific to your goals, specifically your financial goals.

That generalized school knowledge is ONLY useful in this sense, if it supports your specific efforts to improve:

1) Your skill of creating or delivering your service or product.

2) Your management of the business that creates or delivers the product or service

3) Your ability to promote and sell your product or service.

4) Your ability to collect and manage monies connected with your product or service.

Hill is very specific that the social aspects of school are often more important for job growth than the “mere” technical or academic aspects, that employers look at the clubs, service organization, sports and so forth, so long as a minimum academic standard is met.   The belief is that these things demonstrate the capacity to interact with other human beings—a primary quality in sales, management, and promotion.

He also makes it clear that CONTINUING education, constantly learning, is critical.  In fact, he considered that “learning how to learn” is the most important part of the entire general education process.

In addition, knowing WHAT you really need to know as well as HOW to learn it, and WHO you will go to for the knowledge you need, are all parts of the question.


In my own life, I had several major goals.  Writing was the largest of them, and my first task was to determine precisely what I needed to know to succeed there.  To do that, I studied the lives of successful writers, seeking to extract the commonalities.

And here, I made a mistake.  Attending Pepperdine University at the time, I saw that the teachers I had been given to learn writing…themselves couldn’t finish their writing projects.  One had been working on an unpublished novel for TEN YEARS.  This scared the hell out of me, and I became afraid that I would suck up the failure habit like butter picks up stink in a refrigerator.  Terrifying.     My reaction: drop out of college and start working.

This led to years of insecurity, feelings of inferiority when around people with college degrees.  It took twenty years to undo that damage, specifically when a wise-ass radio jock interviewing me asked: “do you think you’ll ever finish college” and I responded “I really don’t know…I’m too busy teaching to go back to school” that I realized that that question had plagued me, and hurt me deeply.

If I had known myself better, I’d have known that I could have remained in school and done just fine—I’d never have given up my dream, and would have learned many things.

But even more…if I had studied more deeply still, I’d have agreed with Hill: the meaning of education wasn’t to convince others that I’m not ignorant, but to gain whatever knowledge I needed to live the life I chose.  And that meant some combination of formal, informal, structured, informal and apprentice-based learning.

The point would be to close the “gap” between where I was, and where I needed to be to match the experience and capacity of the writers I admired.  Then I’d need to compare enough real writers to see what the critical central similarity between their backgrounds and behaviors might have been.  STUDY STUDY STUDY the lives of people who have accomplished the things you desire.  Find the critical path, the common traits.

Then begin to do what they did, acquire what they had.  Look for qualities of mind, emotion, social capacity, spirit, body.  Seek to adapt them to your own life. Look at their studies, tendencies toward action, perseverance, courage, and any other qualities you can extract.

STUDY STUDY STUDY.  Never stop, unless you want to slide backwards.   

Modeling the belief systems, mental syntax, and use of physiology, as NLP would say.   Emotions, minds, and bodies.    Start with general knowledge, and focus from there to the specifics you need for your career.  Focus on quality of product or service, and the marketing and sales thereof.

And never, ever stop learning!


The “specialize knowledge” of how to succeed financially is often missing or badly flawed in poverty-plagued communities. Specific means of developing skills or selling services can be so corrupted it is tragic.

If you grew up in poverty, the chances are excellent that you have absorbed negative beliefs such as:

1) it takes money to make money

2) Money is the root of all evil

3) The entire group must succeed for YOU to have a chance to succeed.

4) The past equals the future

And so forth.   Learning “what is true” will require finding people who started where you started (or as close as possible) and accomplished goals like yours (or as close as possible). The more “internal permission” you have to succeed, the easier it will be for you to generalize and be flexible about your modeling. The less permission you have, the more rigid you will be, demanding that your role model be EXACTLY like you: same age, race, neighborhood, goals, gender, etc etc.  You will search for any way to disbelieve change is possible.

You MUST develop the capacity to see through the superficial differences to the core essentials.  But…it can be hard.   I had no writing role models of my own race, and “Think And Grow Rich”, filled with amazing stories of success, seriously skimped on the non-white folks.   But my drive to succeed was so high that I disassociated with my race in order to associate with my mental potential.   It cost me, no question about it.

But that was a loooong time ago.   Today, you will find examples of success in every arena, of almost any gender or ethnicity.  It should be FAR easier to find role models, examples to model, paths to walk.  One of the greatest joys of my life is seeing young SF writers of color considering ME to be a role model.  Hundreds of them now, following a path I helped to create.

Can you begin to grasp the joy, the satisfaction of being the change I needed to see in the world?   The little boy inside me is DELIGHTED with this, and empowers me every day.  Yes, I fail at times. I get disappointed, I struggle, and bump into my flaws and wounds and limitations.  But…I made the way easier for others, and became part of a chain of humans sharing what it means to be human, stretching back to prehistory.   I’ve earned my air.

Once you have succeeded, YOU become a path.   “Merely” by succeeding, you provide an example if you are healthy, happy, and positive.  And if you have the heart, return to your old neighborhood, talk to the kids in local schools, lecture, mentor, essay, spread the word about HOW YOU DID IT, speaking honestly and plainly.

Every time I talk to kids (and high school is about the right age to do this, although Junior High  is not too soon) I watch their eyes light up if I can convince them I’m telling the truth.  They desperately want to know the answer to the  question: how do I grow up?  How can I be safe?  How will I find love and have a family?  What does it take to be a real man, a real woman?  Is it possible to reach my dreams…?

Be the change you wish to see.  Want to help a group not of your own ethnicity, gender, or initial circumstance?  Have teaching stories that tell the tales of people who ARE more specific.  Show what the general principles of success are.  So far, we’ve covered:

1) Desire to light the fire.

2) Faith that you CAN and SHOULD have your dreams.

3) Auto-suggestion to implant positive beliefs at the level of the unconscious.

4) Specialized knowledge to reach your goals with maximum efficiency and minimum effort—to leverage your abilities.   Model success.  Don’t reinvent the wheel!

Use these in your own life.  Then teach others, by example if nothing else.

Heal yourself, educate yourself, heal and educate the world.





  1. I am reading your post and I feel the passion in your words. You have moved me and your message resonates with my life today. I am so grateful these days because of growth and my discipline.

    We share a similar experience. We both have crossed paths with individuals that push us but when asked what projects they have completed the room fell silent. I realize that writing is hard-work at least for me but 10 years? Most of these individuals I met were apart of writing groups and although they are published now, it took 15+ years to do so.

    I figure, I don’t have that kind of time. As with knowledge, in the end it’s ALL about plans of action. I wish you could scream this from the rooftop that no matter how small the action, if done consistently it will lead to more and more actions that will soon lead to an end. # Just-do-it!
    Thank you for posting. – W38


    1. To break this pattern, concentrate on SHORT works: stories and/or articles that can be finished in days or weeks. You get MUCH more rapid feedback as to the efficiency of your actions. Books drag on far too long, and you can lie to yourself much more easily.

      Liked by 1 person

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