Introduction: Roundtable of Invisible Mentors
“If trusted friends could introduce you to five people, dead or alive, who you have always wanted to meet, who would you choose and what would you say to them?” That’s one of the questions that I ask when I interview successful people. I have always thought that their responses, are all people who would make great invisible mentors. And included in the five people, some people have responded that they would either like to meet an ancestor or their younger self.
Think about my question for a second, why couldn’t you create your own personal Roundtable of Invisible Mentors? Napoleon Hill created his Cabinet of Invisible Counselors, and he held imaginary conversations with them. Many have written about this topic before, but what they have failed to mention, is that Napoleon Hill spent 25 years conducting research on highly successful people, so he knew the people who were members of his Cabinet, even if it was only through research.
Some of the people he researched, such as Henry Ford and Thomas Alva Edison, he also observed them very closely over a period of years. If you invest the time to study someone whom you admire, you will be able to anticipate the way they will respond in different situations, therefore, you can legitimately have your imaginary conversations because you know them well.
At least 10 years ago, I read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, and the book didn’t resonate with me, and I suspect that it may have been how it was written. I am re-reading the book because I want to clearly understand his concept of invisible counselors because it is close to my concept of invisible mentors. This time around, I am having a very different reaction to the book, and I am enjoying it a lot more. I am also reading a more modern version of Think and Grow Rich.
Napoleon Hill’s Invisible Counselors (Invisible Mentors)
Orphaned at the age of 12, Napoleon Hill’s relatives took care of him. He had to find a way to overcome poverty, and get an education, so for him, his upbringing was less than ideal. While conducting his research, he discovered that there were specific traits in some of the men that he admired that he wanted to image. He wanted to rebuild his character into one that was a composite all the traits that he admired in the men he researched.
Hill initially established a Cabinet of Invisible Counselors, with nine members – Emerson, Paine, Edison, Darwin, Lincoln, Burbank, Napoleon, Ford, and Carnegie – the men in the series that I just concluded. The counselors were invisible because they were imaginary. According to Hill, “My experience has taught me that the next best thing to being truly great, is to emulate the great, by feeling and action, as nearly as possible.”
Before he went to bed at nights, he would have an imaginary council meeting with the members of his cabinet, and he would tell each one what he required from them.
“Mr. Emerson, I desire to acquire from you the marvelous understanding of Nature which distinguished your life. I ask that you make an impress upon my subconscious mind, of whatever qualities you possessed, which enabled you to understand and adapt yourself to the laws of Nature. I ask that you assist me in reaching and drawing upon whatever sources of knowledge are available to this end.”
“Mr. Burbank, I request that you pass on to me the knowledge which enabled you to so harmonize the laws of Nature that you caused the cactus to shed its thorns, and become an edible food. Give me access to the knowledge which enabled you to make two blades of grass grow where but one grew before, and helped you to blend the coloring of the flowers with more splendor and harmony, for you, alone, have successfully gilded the lily.”
“Mr. Darwin, I wish to acquire from you the marvelous patience, and ability to study cause and effect, without bias or prejudice, so exemplified by you in the field of natural science.”
“Mr. Lincoln, I desire to build into my own character the keen sense of justice, the untiring spirit of patience, the sense of humor, the human understanding, and the tolerance, which were your distinguishing characteristics.”
“Mr. Carnegie, I am already indebted to you for my choice of a life-work, which has brought me great happiness and peace of mind. I wish to acquire a thorough understanding of the principles of organized effort, which you used so effectively in the building of a great industrial enterprise.”
“Mr. Ford, you have been among the most helpful of the men who have supplied much of the material essential to my work. I wish to acquire your spirit of persistence, the determination, poise, and self-confidence which have enabled you to master poverty, organize, unify, and simplify human effort, so I may help others to follow in your footsteps.”
“Mr. Edison, I have seated you nearest to me, at my right, because of the personal cooperation you have given me, during my research into the causes of success and failure. I wish to acquire from you the marvelous spirit of FAITH, with which you have uncovered so many of Nature’s secrets, the spirit of unremitting toil with which you have so often wrested victory from defeat.”
A knee jerk reaction is that Napoleon Hill was crazy, but was he? Remember, he had studied their lives. Before I wrote my book Tales of People Who Get It, I conducted interviews with over 30 highly successful people, which formed the basis for the book. The interviews were very in-depth, and there were many instances when I faced an issue or challenge, I would know exactly what to do because I “heard” an interviewee speaking to me. My experience allows me to understand what Hill was doing.
When Napoleon Hill held his imaginary meetings with his Cabinet of Invisible Counselors, he brought the experience to life by using his imagination to make it real. He involved each member of his cabinet, and his imagination was so vivid, and some may say wild, which he heard and saw the invisible counselors interacting with each other, and even having fun in the imaginary meetings – they even offered advice to him. This reminded me of the excellent book, Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life by Shakti Gawain, which I read about 10 years ago, and highly recommend.
Why Create Your Roundtable of Invisible Mentors (Counselors)
If you want to succeed in life, you have to take the initiative and lead yourself. As we mentioned earlier on, it was Napoleon Hill’s experience that the next best to being great is by emulating the feelings and actions of those whom you admire. And he is in good company because Confucius emulated the good qualities of the people he met, and checked himself for the not so good one.
The definition of an invisible mentor is a unique leader you can learn things from by observing them from a distance. This means that a Roundtable of Invisible Mentors will allow you to learn from the people whom you admire. There are many people whom we admire that are out of our reach, they would never give us the time of day, but with the concept of invisible mentors and counselors, they are within our reach, and we do not need their permission.
And the more you surround yourself with the people whom you admire, the more you will become like them. It’s been often said that you are the sum of the five people closest to you, your invisible mentors count, even if they are imaginary!
Final Thoughts: Roundtable of Invisible Mentors
In the second part of this series, I will demonstrate how to create your Roundtable of Invisible Mentors based on the ideas of Think and Grow Rich, and I will offer suggestions of people to include from the list of amazing people who I have researched and profiles.
Update: First Published January 2014
Think and Grow RichThe Think and Grow Rich Workbook: The Practical Steps to Transforming Your Desires into Riches (Tarcher Master Mind Editions)Think and Grow RichOutwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and SuccessThe Law of Success In Sixteen Lessons by Napoleon HillSuccess Through A Positive Mental AttitudeThe Law of Success: The Master Wealth-Builder’s Complete and Original Lesson Plan for Achieving Your DreamsHow to Own Your Own Mind (The Mental Dynamite Series)Napoleon Hill’s Keys to Success: The 17 Principles of Personal AchievementHow to Raise Your Own SalaryNapoleon Hill’s Golden Rules: The Lost Writings