If You Want More Heat, You Need More Wood

In one of Napoleon Hill’s books, perhaps Think and Grow Rich, there is a cartoon of a man standing in front of a wood-burning stove. He’s holding logs in his arms and is saying to the stove, “Give me more heat, and I will give you more wood.” The stove replies, “Give me more wood, and I will give you more heat.”

The cartoon is a perfect illustration of why many people don’t produce the results they want: they desire the outputs, but they avoid the inputs— the focus and effort required to generate wealth and success.

The Wood is Here

Here is what’s most interesting about this metaphor: there is plenty of wood available to generate all the heat you want or need. It is there for the taking, and everyone who has heat has decided to feed the furnace. What one person is capable of doing well, others are also capable of doing, even if building that skill requires more time and practice. But not everybody is willing to do the same work. To get the wood you need, you must decide to grab an ax, walk into the woods, and start chopping.

image of hand holding an ax chopping wood

Trust the Process

You can’t thumb-scroll through social media without bumping into a meme reminding you to “trust the process.” None of the memes ever specify exactly what process they mean or why you should give yourself over to that process without any hesitation or skepticism, let alone any further direction.

Let’s clear up the mystery. The point of “trust the process” is that whatever outcome you want is already available to you, as are the things that you would need to do in order to produce it—as evidenced by the number of people who have already attained those results. For you to generate the same results, you are going to have to do the work that they did, trusting that the results will come.


Some people desperately want to believe that they are going “all in” on the result they want, but without doing the work. Usually, they just want to look the part instead of becoming what and who they wish to be. You see these people in every endeavor—they will buy the tools, take the courses, and even get a certificate to validate their efforts, as if it gives them permission to stop the work there. But even the shiniest ax will never start a fire, let alone sustain it.

Others suffer under the delusion that they have gone all in when all they’ve really done is made a couple trips into the woods, carrying back small armfuls of twigs and sticks. They dutifully feed their twigs to the stove, then stand around shivering, complaining that somehow the stove has cheated them by producing such a small amount of heat.

The amount of heat you get is directly proportional to how much you feed your stove. Feed it very little and it gives you less. Give it what you believe to be an adequate amount of fuel, and you won’t freeze but you won’t be warm either.

To generate the kind of heat (and light) that makes a real difference, you’ve got to fill the stove with all it can take. Only then will you get the massive blazes that give you the results you want.

You are going to have to sharpen your ax, walk deeper into the woods, and haul back as much as you can carry, day and night, until you have paid the price the stove requires to provide you with the result.

The Stove Decides

In an older post here, I described success as being an auditor: it keeps a tally of your focus, effort, and your strategy. It’s keeping score on how well you pay the price for what you want, always insisting that you pay upfront and in full. There is no better approach than doing the work and paying the price, working to give the stove what it needs so it can finally give you what it is that you want.

Those who truly want what they want— and are willing to pay for it— will never leave a post like this without taking some action that gets them started. Grab your ax.

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