7 Ways To Get What You Want According to Napoleon

Napoleon Bonaparte needs no introduction. Widely regarded as the greatest general who ever lived, his exploits are almost the stuff of legend. Like many great people, he is a controversial figure, and some historians regard him as having set back the Economic progress of Europe by a generation, though others dispute this.

Clearly, Napoleon was a driven man who aggressively sought power and had a great sense of his own personal ability. Whatever we might think about Napoleon and his legacy, however, he enjoyed enormous success as he built his empire, and much of his thinking has application for us today as we go about the business of building our own lives.

‘A throne is only a bench covered with velvet.’

There is an old fable about an expert archer who could hit the bull’s-eye every time. However, when he entered a competition to win a silver cup, his arm trembled and he almost missed. When he played for a prize of gold coins, he trembled so much that his aim suffered and he lost the match.

A central tenet of Buddhism is that desire leads to suffering. When we desire something too much, we feel emotionally attached to it and our efforts to acquire it can be thwarted. Much of this desire comes from an unrealistic appraisal of the importance of things. Napoleon’s example can be applied to almost anything – when we see things as they really are and don’t give undue importance to surface appearances, we are more detached and so more free. Then, we are in a more powerful position to acquire what we choose.

‘A true man hates no one.’

Hatred is a powerful emotion, and powerful emotions cloud judgement. In going after something, we need to keep a clear head, appraising the situation accurately and making decisions about how to act accordingly. To be blinded by rage, hatred or any other strong emotion is foolish and self-defeating.

‘He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.’

When Franklin Roosevelt became president in the depths of the great depression, he famously said that the only thing to fear was fear itself, and that America had been through worse, citing the civil war as an example.

Fear is our number one enemy and must be rooted out and destroyed. It will hold you back. It will stop you from getting what you want.

The Bhagavad-Gita contains a wonderful line: ‘Plunge into battle and keep your heart at the lotus feet of the Lord.’ Wonderful advice indeed.


‘One must change one’s tactics every ten years if one wishes to maintain one’s superiority.’

The old Taoists would say that you cannot step into the same river twice. The world is in a constant state of change, and those who cannot – or will not – adapt to it will go to the wall. In Napoleon’s time, things changed fairly slowly so that ten years was a reasonable timeframe for change – now, things are moving so fast that the adaptations necessary for success are incessant.

‘Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.’

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Planning is important, and rash action can cost you dearly. But planning should not go on forever. If you are going to act, then act – don’t delay for too long. Time is never on your side.

‘Victory belongs to the most persevering.’

The fast pace of change in the modern world can encourage us to demand instant results. Companies’ advertising campaigns prey on this desire and offer us shortcuts to success, get-rich-quick schemes and other instant fixes.

The truth is that things take time. Think about any skill you have that you think is worth something, or anything in your life that you truly love. Did you acquire it in a short time? Or did it take years to learn, to perfect, to acquire?

If you are facing in the right direction, all you need do is keep walking and you will cover a great distance. In time.

‘Throw off your worries when you throw off your clothes at night.’

A wise man once wrote that worry is like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere.

Like fear, worry is a counterproductive emotion. Occasionally, fear has a purpose – if we are being physically threatened, for example. But worry never has a practical use, and so the only sensible thing to do with worry is to destroy it completely.

Mark Twain wrote, ‘I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.’ When we see how much energy we waste on worry, it is clear that it needs to go.

Napoleon’s civil code remains the basis for much of the legal and administrative structure of Western Europe, and his tactics are still studied in military academies. His enormous influence reflects his ability to get what he wanted, and there is much to be gleaned from his remarkable life.

Mark writes at effortlessabundance.com. Check out his latest book, Thirty Days to Change Your Life.

  • James

    One I love goes something like this “I have noticed, men will die for Ribbons”. It is all about acknowledgement. If you acknowledge the good job people are doing, they will continue to do it and excell at it.

  • Some very interesting points Mark. I really enjoyed this article.

    The last lesson about “worry” really stood out for me. It reminded me of something that Dale Carnegie mentioned in his book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”. He said that 95% of the things we worry about never actually happen. And when they do — more often than not — they are not as bad as we had imagined them to be.

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  • James, that was a quote from George Patton in the WWII. He said “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon”

  • ‘Throw off your worries when you throw off your clothes at night.’ – Yes, I needed this – Thanks!

  • I don’t know who said this but I have it written down as a reminder to myself.

    “If a problem has a solution, no need to worry.
    If there is no solution, no need to worry”

    great article…thanks!

    • Enkay8

      Its not like that.. Its like…when there is a problem and…If you can do something about it, there’s no need of worrying! If you can’t do anything about it, there’s no use of worrying!

  • The Bene Gesserit of “Dune” said it best:

    “Fear is the mind killer”.

    Never has this been more true than the last nine years.

    Chance that an asteroid will strike the Earth in the next 200 years killing tens of millions:

    1 in 1,000


    Chance of an asteroid causing a “mass extinction” event:

    2-3 in 1,000,000


    Chance of dying in a terrorist attack on an airliner:

    1 in 25,000,000


    Amount spent on “War on Terror”: $1 trillion and counting.


    Amount spent on finding asteroids that threaten the Earth: $5.5 million per year.


    • Enkay8

      What is the amount spent on free education? What is the amount spent on eradicating poverty? What is the amount spent on feeding the poor? What is the amount spent on making the world a better place? Throw all world politicians in jail! Only then will the world be a better place!

  • Chris Clarke

    I am loving this post, especially the points on eliminating fear and the description that worrying is like a rocking chair. The Dale Carnegie book Adam Sicinski mentions, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” is a brilliant read as well which I personally recommend.

  • @ David Allen, great stats – says it all…

  • Great stuff as usual, Mark!

  • I want to add another lesson I have learned from Napoleon.

    “Speed is the best advantage”
    Napoleon always was were no one believed he could be, he moved his armies at lightning paces surprising all.

    It is the same for us in life. The faster you are at taking action on opportunities the larger the odds is that you will succeed.

    Thanks for a great post Mark!

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  • Hi Mark and everyone,

    Even I liked the whole article, I like specially these points:
    ‘A throne is only a bench covered with velvet.’; It let me think about being humble even if we are powerful and succesful… We are not great because of what we have, we are great because we are able to get what we want, and we are able to help others meet their goals and needs.

    ‘A true man hates no one.’; I think this is what make us great persons… to be able to disagree or even compete/fight with someone, and be able to respect the person, like sportsmen…

    I didn’t know about this aspect of Napoleon, thanks Mark.

  • A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon. Generals who save troops for the next day are always beaten.

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  • Absolutely brilliant article, Mark!

    I especially like the “throne” quote. Reminded me of an old classmate who said that he would only drive Lexus cars and nothing less. While I admired his resolve, I discovered later on that later on in life, he was badly in debt. He was living in a terrible apartment, but he had a Lexus that he always kept looking shined-up and new. The real problem was that he didn’t have a very good job at the time, and most of the money he made was going towards his car payments.

    I thought it was doubly sad because of the fact that he obviously wanted to car for the status and self-worth he thought it would bring him. But his pursuit of the car left him without any real sense of self-worth at all. Only when we stop attributing meaningless value to material objects can we transcend and attain the things that we are truly seeking. Well-done. Cheers!


  • A true man hates no one. Ability is nothing without opportunity. All religions have been made by men. Ambition never is in a greater.

    • Madanthony81

      Ambition can be forced by greater or lesser depending on the will.

  • Interesting quotes! Napoleon was a great individual, inspiring.

  • ‘Throw off your worries when you throw off your clothes at night.’

    This will make for a great affirmation!

  • We are into real estate industry for last many years and “party pitch” had really worked well. I like your way of expressing your ideas. Thank you for the valuable information, I learned something new today! Hurray!

  • Love the quote about worry and the Mark Twain addendum under it!

  • You must take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. I will advocate this site!

  • I like this part most “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Planning is important, and rash action can cost you dearly. But planning should not go on forever. If you are going to act, then act – don’t delay for too long. Time is never on your side. I will surely share this with my friends. More power

  • Kaitlyn

    It says “7 Ways to Get What You Want”….but there are only 5 listed?

  • Kaitlyn

    It says “7 Ways to Get What You Want”….but there are only 5 listed?

  • Jbeenabusiness

    I think this artilcle serves as a consolation that I am not the only one who may worry excessively about things that can happen. The comments from people here shows there are many who have similar problems as I do and I am not an odd ball.
    I am going to practice some of the tips here and I hope it will help me and others.

  • Lampost918

    To be honest, those are good platitudes, yet you still didn’t explain how Napoleon got what he wanted. It’s all about the ruthless use of leverage, be it economical, physical, emotional, etc … without ruthlessly exploiting opportunity and people you will never achieve on that great a scale, and that’s the dirty little secret.

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  • Anonymous

    Napoleon demonstrated his incredible ability to use the law of intent. Getting what you want (also referred to as Law of Attraction) usually comes down to several fundamental universal laws. The key to attracting what you desire is to focus on it continually, maintaining your mind in a positive state of expectancy in full faith that you have it — which Napoleon did very well. 

  • Belinda

    I would really like to know what make a good archer turn awkward and miss when he is offered a personally important prize for doing what he does – yes the velvet is off now I said it, but put the velvet back on the bench for a minute and concentrate- this is important to get because this happen from early years up- enthralled in the glemour of a simple event although he know easily how to do it- is it what  the archer been use to in life like being financially insignificant – or just an unnecessary distraction that make the difference to his brain ability to make the shot?  Is our ego like a slower frequency to the part of our brain (cerebellum) that calculates movements- does it in this way interfear with the correct calculations. 

  • Robertbito

    Wow i need it this to to find and read it.

  • i believe  election years we witness some reversals to these rules. lie if you must, but create an air of fear and hate, then be the answer to the problem. and i see a whole fleet of turnips trucks heading our way

  • yesica

    For a month, continually say to yourself ” I love and accept myself as I am .”
    When I poke a contrary thought , do not give importance and resume the

    If we do not have what we need , if it seems that life denies us our aspirations and needs, although apparently fight for satisfying them, it is likely that this occurs
    because subconsciously we do not feel deserving of success, because we feel
    unworthy of be happy, because, from a low self-esteem and a lack of love for
    ourselves, unconsciously seek failure.

    Type in a list: “I deserve to have (or be ) … and I accept it now.” Write
    each merit several times , paying attention to what happens in your body. Ask
    yourself if you believe what he says or if , on the contrary , it still feels
    If your body transmits any negative feelings , claiming : ” I renounce the party, in my
    conscience , is creating resistance to my own good ,” and repeat : ”
    I deserve … ”
    learn how to be happy and have what you want ..
    look at this video here : http://tinyurl.com/qxglhyy