As you may know, Napoleon Hill spent many, many years researching and analyzing success. In the end, he found that there are 13 principles for accumulating a fortune or for succeeding in any endeavor.

However, at the end of the 13th principle, Hill included a chapter called “The Six Ghosts of Fear.”

At first, it struck me that Hill included the chapter there, but then it became clear to me: Overcoming these “ghosts of fear” is key to being able to execute the 13 principles of success because fear stops more people from reaching their goals and dreams than anything else.

Such a bad way to live

I want you to think of the number of people who are in a job they don’t like…

They don’t enjoy what they do. They’re not doing well. They feel like they’re overworked and underpaid. Sill, they’re afraid to quit.

That was me many, many years ago.

I was looking for something to do after I got out of the Navy. I decided to take a course on welding, and I ended up working for a man who was not a nice person. He treated me terribly.

It was in the dead of winter, so it was cold and snowy all the time. And I had to go from one end of the city to the other to get there. I hated going to and working there.

But all the way there, I was afraid I was going to get fired.

Isn’t that silly?

Why do we continue to do things that we don’t like?

Because we’re afraid we won’t get anything else or anything better. And that fear keeps us from pursuing the things that we do like—the things we want to be, do and have in life.

It’s all in your head

Napoleon Hill made it very clear that if you don’t overcome your fears, you’re probably about as far as you’re ever going to go.

He called them “ghosts” because the fear is not real. Fear is nothing more than a state of mind.

Hill identified the following as six basic fears that every human being suffers with at one time or another. As you read through some of the signs and symptoms of each fear, determine how many you have:

1. Poverty: Among other things, the fear of poverty…

• paralyzes your ability to reason

• destroys imagination

• kills off self-reliance

• undermines enthusiasm

• discourages initiative

• leads to uncertainty

• destroys ambition

• invites failure in every conceivable form

• leads to sleeplessness, misery, and unhappiness

And six symptoms that show fear of poverty include indifference, indecision, doubt, worry, over caution and procrastination.

Are any of the things listed above true for you?

Take some time to consider this because the fear of poverty is the most destructive of the six basic fears.

While it may not be pleasant, this kind of examination and self-analysis is essential if you want more than mediocrity, struggle and poverty in life.

2. Criticism: The fear of criticism…

• robs initiative

• destroys the power of imagination

• limits individuality

• erodes self-reliance

Here are seven symptoms that show fear of criticism:

• self-consciousness

• lack of poise

• weak personality

• inferiority complex

• Extravagance

• lack of initiative

• lack of ambition

3. Ill health: Many people fear ill health because of the terrible pictures that have been planted in their mind of what may happen if sickness or death should overtake them.

Consider the following questions to see if you may have a fear of ill health:

• Do you look for and expect to find the symptoms of all kinds of diseases?

• Do you experiment with diets, physical exercises and home remedies without professional guidance?

• Are you in the habit of talking about illness or concentrating your mind upon disease while expecting its appearance?

• Are you susceptible to illness and disease because your resistance is low?

• Do you use imaginary illness as a lure for sympathy?

• Do you read about illness and worry about the possibility of being stricken with it?

4. Lost love: Fear of loss of love grew out of the fact that men, by nature, are polygamous and they are not to be trusted in the hands of rivals.

Do you tend to be jealous or suspicious of people without any reasonable evidence?

Are you in the habit of finding fault with friends, relatives, business associates and loved one at the slightest provocation or for no reason at all?

Do you gamble or spend beyond your means because you believe or hope that you can buy love?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you might have a fear of loss of love.

5. Old age: The most common cause of fear of old age is associated with the possibility of poverty. Other causes are the possibility of ill health and the possibility of loss of freedom and independence.

If you have any of the following symptoms, you may have a fear of old age:

• premature slowdown

• you apologize for your age

• you lose initiative

• you masquerade as a younger person.

6. Death: To some, this is the cruelest of all the basic fears. But as Napoleon Hill points out, if death is not mere change or transition, then nothing comes after death except a long, eternal, peaceful sleep. And since sleep is nothing to be feared, you may wipe out forever the fear of death.

The following three symptoms show fear of death:

• thinking about dying

• fear the onset of poverty in your life or that your death will inflict poverty upon loved ones

• mental depression after getting ill or a loss of love.

“ If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”