Have you ever read Napolean Hill’s Think and Grow Rich? One of the strangest and most curious parts of this self-help classic is found in a chapter titled The Mystery of Sex Transmutation. I’m sure it raised a few eyebrows when it was first published in 1937, because it tackles the subject of sex—and how it can effectively be used in the workplace.
The sober Hill isn’t talking about sleeping your way to the top, but in using what he calls “sex emotion” to get ahead in business and in life. In 1967, an 84-year old Hill again weighed in on the subject of sex in a sequel to his classic, Think and Grow Rich with Peace of Mind. There, the title of the “sex” chapter more closely mirrored his intent: How to Transmute Sex Emotion into Achievement Power.
Writing during the height of the sexual revolution, Hill claimed that “young people often make the mistake of seeing only the physical side of sex”—not that there was anything wrong with that. But Hill thought we needed to take a broader view of sex and the fact we can “use transmuted sex energy to add value to everything” we do. He proposed transforming our sex drive into a “dynamic drive which brings success”.
Hill was ahead of his time, and maybe even our own, in that he saw sex as something more than physical passion but as a unique kind of energy that can be repurposed. In his words, “It’s an energy that can be directed into many channels. Anything you do can be electrifying and positive and profitable when it is infused with sex emotion”.
The key to success is the “transmutation” part, which is defined as the action of changing a state of being into another form. So, in essence, sex transmutation is the ability to switch a desire for physical contact into a positive energy or enthusiasm. Hill points out “when the energy is being transmuted, there is no desire for the physical act” of sex. “Something else that is very vital and important can be accomplished with the same energy.”
So what happens if you can successfully pull off this transmutation? According to Hill, transmuted sex energy can “add warmth to your handshake, strength to your voice, attraction to your personality.” Hill believed that the thing we call personal magnetism is in fact rooted in sex, and those who have it have successfully pulled off the transmutation.
In Hill’s view, sex energy can be used to do just about anything you do better, as it adds an extra dimension to your work. He writes: “Great artists know how to channel their sex energy into their artistry. Great orators use sex energy to sway their audiences. A great scientist uses the same dynamic force to solve the problems of invention.”
Of course, the hard part is taming the beast we know as our sex drive. But maybe the issue here is our preconceived, compartmentalized notion of sex. Hill points out that “sex does not exist in a separate compartment in our lives, but permeates our entire existence.” He sees it as a magnetic energy we can effectively put to use not just inside the bedroom, but outside of it as well.
Note: I previously wrote about Napoleon Hill and his take on work/life balance. You can read more here.
This post previously appeared on my Patheos Wake Up Call column, April 13, 2015.