Personal Improvement web page


Improving ourselves in all areas of our lives is vital to us, each of our families, and our country. Turning on the nightly news programs provides enough bad news and cynicism to get anyone down. This section is devoted to all who want to make a difference. Whether you want to improve your skills, financial situation, relationships, or understanding of the world around you, we will seek to fill this page with information you will find useful.

We have included below topics and summaries of some important areas which most people are interested. If you have any suggestions or submissions for placement on this page, please email us at Coherent Visual.

Note: All of the links to book titles will jump you to that title on in case you want to buy that particular book. If you're on a budget, don't let that stop you. Many of the book, particularly Think & Grow Rich, can be found at Thrift stores and used book sales for around $.25. If wealth is your target, that's a pretty good investment -- $.25 + smart hard work = millions.

Table of Contents

New!Points System FREE Excel and general spreadsheet template of the Points System I created to help me judge and work towards my goals.
Napoleon Hill This amazing man recorded many of the secrets needed to have a successful life. Not only did he write them down, he used them to prove his own life would be a success.
Goal Setting Some of my personal hints and tips to make the most of the goal setting process. I hope some of these will help you.
Quiet Place Create an imaginary place in your mind that you can visit when life becomes overwhelming. The visualization alternative to taking ten deep breaths.
Anthony Robbins One of the most popular self improvement authors, Tony Robbins is one of the lead proponents of NLP.
Stephen Covey Another exceptionally popular self improvement author. His popular books such as 7 Habits of Successful People have helped many people.
Memory Techniques Basic guidelines for creating a better memory.


Foreign Language Hints on learning a foreign language.


Finger Math Amazing system that allows calculator-like precision using only your ten fingers!


Self Improvement FAQ Where to find the Self-Improvement FAQ.


Napoleon Hill

Napoleon Hill was one of the first widely known personal improvement authors. With the publication of his first book on self improvement called Laws of Success in 1927, Mr. Hill wrote numerous books. His most popular and a perennial favorite is Think & Grow Rich, originally published in 1932. It has remained popular to this day and can be found on the shelves of nearly any book seller.

Napoleon Hill continued popularity is probably due to the simplicity and pragmatism of his ideas. His "philosophy of success" is shaped by those such as Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Andrew Carnegie who all help him in his research. His writings are essentially non-religious and cross cultural barriers well enough to have been translated into hundreds of different languages.

There is a Napoleon Hill biography

A Lifetime of Riches by Michael J. Ritt, Jr. and Kirk Landers. It describes his entire life including his service under FDR, his meeting with Andrew Carnegie, etc. It also includes numerous pictures including one of Napoleon Hill with Thomas Edison. Usually found in the Biography section of book stores.

It's a great read and really makes you understand that if he didn't live by the methods he espoused, he most likely would have failed.

Napoleon Hill's Books

  Laws of Success

First major writing outline entire success system in 40 chapters. It was often sold through mail order as a series in which a chapter came every month.

The Laws of Success is excellent, but not as refined as his later works. It is also very large (~1000 pages), so you should probably leave this book until you've read some of his others and find yourself  connecting with his work.

Think and Grow Rich Think and Grow Rich, 1937

His most popular book. Outlined the 13 steps to riches. Later bundled with a review chapter written by someone else and sold as the Think & Grow Rich Action Pack. The Action Pack takes you through a study program of the T&GR material.

  You Can Work Your Own Miracles

This book was written about the miracle of his son's hearing and how to apply this lesson to your life. His son was born without ears and could not hear. With Mr. Hill's persistence and faith in his abilities and those of his son, his son learned how to hear through bone sound conduction in much the same way as those ear microphones do today.

Success through a Positive Mental Attitude Success through a Positive Mental Attitude (with W. Clement Stone)

His long time collaborator, W. Clement Stone, writes about keeping the I-Can attitude.

Succeed and Grow Rich Through Persuasion Succeed and Grow Rich Through Persuasion (with E. Harold Keown)

Written while on a lecture tour with E. Keown, provides more information but same basic material covered in the other books.

Master Key to Riches The Master-Key to Riches, 1945

Extensively describes the use of the Eight Princes and forming a Master Mind group. The ten chapters of the book include:

  1. The Twelve Riches of Life
  2. The Eight Princes (
  3. Definiteness of Purpose
  4. The Habit of Going the Extra Mile
  5. Love, the True Emancipator of Mankind
  6. The Master Mind
  7. Analysis of the Master Mind Principle
  8. Applied Faith
  9. The Law of Cosmic Habitforce
  10. Self-discipline
  Grow Rich! with Peace of Mind

Describes many of the problems people encounter along the road to wealth and the most effective way to retain your peace of mind and values. Reading it is sometimes the perfect antidote on the stressful road to accomplish amazing things


Common NH Topics

Many of Napoleon Hill's books contain lists of basic topics such as types of fears, steps to success, etc. For reference, below are some of the common lists that repeated throughout his numerous books.

The Six Ghosts of Fear

  1. Poverty
  2. Criticism
  3. Ill Health
  4. Lost Love
  5. Old Age
  6. Death

The Seven Positive Motives

  1. Emotion of LOVE
  2. Emotion of SEX
  3. Desire for MATERIAL GAIN
  6. Desire for SELF-EXPRESSION

One emotion I always thought Napoleon Hill was missing was the desire for COMMUNITY. This emotion does not fit clearly into any of the other emotional categories. We all want to share time with other people and often times we will go to extreme lengths to have company. When considering any goal, keep in mind the people you will meet and need along the way. Sometimes even the community that you must cooperate with for the achievement of your goal will be reason enough to get started.

The 13 Steps to Success

  1. Desire
  2. Faith
  3. Autosuggestion
  4. Specialized Knowledge
  5. Imagination
  6. Organized Planning
  7. Decision
  8. Persistence
  9. Power of the Master Mind
  10. Mystery of Sex Transmutation
  11. Subconscious Mind
  12. Brain
  13. Sixth Sense

How to create a Definite Major Purpose

  1. Fix in your mind exactly what it is you want. Be specific!
  2. Determine what you are willing to give in return to achieve this goal
  3. Establish a specific date that you will possess what it is you want
  4. Create a rough plan to achieve this goal and begin at once, whether you are ready or not
  5. Write out a clear concise statement detailing the above 4 factors
  6. Read this written statement aloud twice daily-once in the morning and again before bed. Feel yourself having already accomplished the objective.

Napoleon Hill Foundation

After Mr. Hill's death, a foundation was created to further the work that Mr. Hill had participated in during his lifetime. These programs included speaking tours and literature placement at prisons, a published newsletter, and creation of other success information. If you send the a large, self-addressed stamped envelope, they will send you a bookplate, a copy of one of Napoleon Hill's essays, and information about the foundation. The foundation may be reached at:

Napoleon Hill Foundation, Post Office Drawer 917, Charleston, South Carolina, 29402

Note: Neither Coherent Visual nor this home page are in any way connected with the Napoleon Hill Foundation. We have provided the address here for your information.

Goal Setting

Setting effective goals that are inspiring yet not overwhelming is a difficult and subtle art. Here are a few general tips I have learned along the way:

Quiet Place

There are often times when life seems overwhelming. The demands on your time and concentration are incredible. It seems sometimes that all the news that comes your way is bad news. It is very easy to despair in these moments and feel so shaken up that you are paralyzed with inaction. Someone once said that at this point, "fear takes the place of desire."

To help you in moments like this, create a place in your mind such as an imaginary quite room or a palace. Would your confidence be enhanced by sitting on a throne? Perhaps riding through the country on horseback is your place of solitude and confidence or walking on a tropical beach. Choose just one place so it does not become one more choice you have to make in your moments of difficulty. In your imagination, make it a habit of going to this place when life seems to be trying to beat you down. Imagine yourself there for just two minutes and you will probably be ready to face the world again.

Emotional strength comes more from a state of mind than anything else. By visiting your place, you will return your state of mind to confidence. 

Financial Planning

Next to goal setting, financial planning may be the most important activity required to ensure a successful life. Whether you want to be rich or just comfortable, money plays a key role in the happiness or unhappiness of most people in modern society.

The most common guidelines I've studied are:

Anthony Robbins

Anthony Robbins, seen most often on his popular infomercial, teaches techniques such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Neuro-Associative Conditioning (NAC) to show people how to make dramatic changes in their lives.

In the last few years, his public image has suffered. It seems to me that most of his problems can be directly attributed to him not following his own advice. Don't let his less than spectacular performance stop you! Many of his techniques augment the ideas put forward by Napoleon Hill. He is also a very inspiring speaker which might really fire you to do want you always wanted.

Unlimited Power Unlimited Power

His first and most powerful book that contains spectacular information and techniques including:

  • Modeling (perhaps his most important contribution
  • NLP
  • Success Strategies


Awaken the Giant Within Awaken the Giant Within

Follow-on to Unlimited Power contains some new material including:

  • Power Vocabulary
  • The 10-day Mental Challenge that make it worthwhile.
  • Belief systems
  • Using questions for empowerment
  • Power of Life Metaphors
  • Goal Setting
  • Life Rules and References
  • Seven Days to Shape Your Life

Stephen Covey

Stephen Covey is probably the most popular personal improvement author currently. With the book The Seven Habits of Effective People remaining on the paperback best seller list for over a year, many people find his writing useful.

In Microsoft Outlook, there is a built-in wizard to help you adapt the 7 Habits to your daily schedule.

Memory Techniques

Using techniques to strengthen your memory can dramatically improve day-to-day quality of life. Many little problems can be eliminated with the ability to quickly remember bits of information.

Be aware that memory techniques take a lot of practice. In many cases, in this world of information overload and inexpensive information resources, it is more trouble than it is worth. However, if you have kids, teach them these techniques! Kids seem to pick up the mnemonics, chain links, and peg systems almost instantly. For school and study, having these abilities gives them a definite edge for learning.

In my humble opinion, there is no way to develop a photographic memory. I have purchased several programs/books/tapes that claim to do it through concentration/hyponsis/visual practice. Perhaps it was my own personal shortcoming, but I spent a fair amount of time on each program and saw no recordable results. If anyone has actually had success with these courses, let me know and also include how you tested yourself.

The memory techniques that work have been known for almost 400 years. I myself have not come across dramatic advances in memory enhancement. The newer techniques primarily provide slight refinements on the older systems. The older systems work pretty darn well if you really want to remember something, so I guess improvement isn't all that necessary. Memory retention is like any other do it well, you need to practice.

Common Systems:

Dr. Bruno Furst

In my mind, one of the timeless authors for memory techniques. Very "can-do" writing style that I find encouraging. Mr. Furst has passed away, but his daughter(?), Lotte Furst, has continued to update his work.

Memory Course - Overall memory course with 12 sections.

Stop Forgetting - One of the best books I have come across if you want volume and practice. Contains examples, items and name identification practice, association practice, and a practical applications section.

Harry Lorayne

You've probably seen him on infomercials early in the morning. Mr. Lorrayne is certainly enthusiastic! So far, I have looked at most of his publications (including the tape set in the infomercial) and they are very good. Realize that there is little groundbreaking here, he simply adapts the well known systems to his own use. Therefore, if you're going to spend a good deal of money on his work, consider buying a some of his books rather than the infomercial product for the same results.

The Memory BookThe Memory Book by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas

Excellent book that contains examples and discussion of almost all of the basic memory techniques. The interview style of the book makes it excellent reading.


The Memory PalaceThe Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci by Jonathan D. Spence

Fascinating book that tells of the Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci that went to China in 1577 to teach Christianity. He used the Spatial Method to create a "memory palace" for events of the bible. Well worth reading for both the historical narrative and the memory techniques that he used.

Vocabulary Power

Increasing your vocabulary can improve both your career potential and your self worth.

Foreign Language

Most people are forced to take a foreign language in high school or college and promptly forget it once they graduate. As life progresses, most people desire to go back a learn another language. Knowing a language created by another culture can dramatically enhance a person's experience. New words provide a new way of looking at the world.

The increase in computer capabilities and the widespread availability of multimedia PCs has meant an explosion in foreign language titles. Available mostly on CD-ROM, the new programs do everything from providing spoken dictionaries to allowing you to record your own voice for comparison against correct pronunciation.

If anyone has some hints, feel free to email them and I will put them up. As I am still working on learning Spanish, I cannot say that I am a success yet. Helpful hints would be best from someone that, on their own (meaning without a class or immersion in the foreign country), taught themselves a complete language. I would love to hear from you.



Fingermath is a fantastic way of doing advanced mathematical calculations using your finger tips! It was invented about 15 years ago by Edwin M. Lieberthal (author of the book The Complete Book of Fingermath, ISBN 0285624385). Using only your ten fingers, you can easily count from 1-99.

The technique uses the right hand for single digits and the left hand for multiple digits. For example, hold your right hand over a flat surface such as a book or a table. Make sure none of your fingers are touching the surface. Each of the fingers on your right hand except the thumb count as one. Therefore, you count by pressing individual fingers onto the surface. For example, to show the number 3, three of your fingers would be pressed on the table while the other two remain above the surface.

Now comes the neat part. Your thumb represents the 5 units, instead of the 1 unit each of your other fingers represent. If your thumb is pressed on the surface, it signifies 5. Therefore, having the thumb and 2 fingers of your right hand pressed to the surface represents the number 7. The thumb and one finger represents 6. Using just this, you can count from 1 to 9 on one hand!

You left hand is now used for even higher digits. Each of the fingers on your left hand counts for 10 units and your thumb counts for 50. Therefore having 3 fingers and the thumb of your left hand on the surface represents the number 80. Using your left hand and right hand together allow you to count from 1 to 99.

This is only the beginning. Books on Fingermath show how to do addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Multi-column figuring is possible and quite fast.

Why Fingermath you might say when we have calculators? For one, calculators are not always available and fingermath is a quick and simple way toward calculating. More important, I think, is that kids seem naturally drawn to Fingermath. Memorizing math tables tends to bore most children, while this technique seems to genuinely intrigue children and adults alike. It also provides a tactile way of learning math for kids who favor tactile learning methods.

Fingermath is not that well known, but it seems to have great potential. If someone wishes to develop a more robust tutorial than the one above (such as one that includes addition and subtraction), please email us.


There are numerous printed resources available for success material. Below are some of the more popular magazines in the field.

Self-Help FAQ

There is a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list provided by the alt.self-improve newsgroup. It contains topics on most of the fields of self improvement and its various practitioners.

Self-improve FAQ - Contains information on everything from hypnosis to mind mapping.

Other Personal Improvement Sites


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