Once you've become convinced that a mastermind is indeed the magical and powerful force that it claims, you will no doubt begin your search for the right group to join, or consider starting up one yourself. But these things take time.
There is, however, something you can do right now to get the mastermind mojo working in your life immediately. It's no doubt the most unconventional advice to come from Napoleon Hill, the man whose books introduced and popularized the mastermind, but he takes a very strong position as to its efficacy.
The Invisible Counselors Technique
Napoleon introduced a technique he used to astounding effect in his best-selling book 'Think and Grow Rich'. Basically, he used his imagination to mentally assemble a council of advisors that he would "meet with" in his mind each night before bed. They were the ultimate mastermind group because he could select anyone he wanted, alive or dead, famous or not, and they were instantly formed into an alliance with him.
Through what he referred to as the "sixth sense" or creative imagination portion of the subconscious mind, he believed he was able to access "the door to the temple of wisdom" and contact the Universal Mind. And if I didn't just lose you there in that last sentence, then you can probably imagine how useful that would be. Having access to more than just our own mind is why we form into mastermind alliances to begin with; it's how we expand our perspective and amplify the power of the things we do in an effort to create the lives we want.
Hill used the invisible counselors technique to practice developing his sixth sense, through what's known as autosuggestion.
In his own words,
"Long before I had ever written a line for publication, or endeavored to deliver a speech in public, I followed the habit of reshaping my own character by trying to imitate the nine men whose lives and life works had been most impressive to me. These nine men were Emerson, Paine, Edison, Darwin, Lincoln, Burbank, Napoleon, Ford and Carnegie. Every night, over a long period of years, I held an imaginary council meeting with this group whom I called my "Invisible Counselors."
"The procedure was this. Just before going to sleep at night, I would shut my eyes and see, in my imagination, this group of men seated with me around my council table. Here I had not only an opportunity to sit among those whom I considered to be great, but I actually dominated the group by serving as the Chairman."
Think about what it would be like for you to form an instant mastermind group, right this second, just by calling out to people you most admire! Can you imagine walking into a room and seeing seated at the table the very people that have inspired you the most in your life? There they are, people you love and respect, people with the qualities and achievements that you desire for your own life, who have shaped your worldview, and helped you see new possibilities for the person you want to be. And they're all there for you, ready to answer your questions, be your muses, and guide you from their wealth of knowledge and experience. What a goldmine!
Who would you choose for your mental mastermind? (Think about it and you can share later in the comments section.) Napoleon grew his group to include over 50 people! On my own council some of the seats would definitely be filled by Carrie-Ann Moss from 'The Matrix' and Annapurna Living, my love David Bowie (R.I.P.), Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Hermione Granger, and Neytiri from 'Avatar' - don't judge ;) And yes, I say you can have fictional characters and non-humans as your coaches! I see absolutely no reason why not.
Here are a few things Napoleon said about his counselors:
... I owe my counselors full credit for such ideas, facts or knowledge I receive through "inspiration."
... they have led me into glorious paths of adventure, rekindled an appreciation of true greatness, encouraged creative endeavor, and emboldened the expression of honest thought.
... On scores of occasions when I have faced emergencies - some of them so grave that my life was in jeopardy - I have been miraculously guided past these difficulties through the influence of my counselors.
These are the kinds of things that people say about their actual in-the-flesh mastermind partners, and yet Napoleon was getting all that from characters he was entertaining only in his imagination! Friends, our minds are powerful, so powerful.
But I would understand if you think this is just a little too easy or woo-woo to be of any real use. I get that. I mean most of us have experimented with this technique in some form or fashion in our lives, with varying results. But Napoleon didn't dabble, he committed. It was his calling to figure out what you and I can do to overcome life's obstacles and achieve the happiness and fulfillment we deeply desire. And he didn't take this responsibility lightly.
He shared this method only after spending decades researching his philosophy and growing old enough to stop caring about what people would think of him for teaching such an idea at a time when these topics were less acceptable. Furthermore, he considered the principle of the sixth sense to be the apex of his philosophy and asserted that a person could only comprehend and utilize it after first mastering all the other principles he taught, through years of meditation, self-examination, and serious thought.
"The sixth sense is not something that one can take off and put on at will. Ability to use this great power comes slowly, through application of the other principles outlined in this book. Seldom does any individual come into workable knowledge of the sixth sense before the age of 40. More often the knowledge is not available until one is well past 50."
But I don't bring this up to discourage you. I mention it because I respect Mr. Hill's work tremendously and while I'm not convinced that such a stern warning is warranted in the world we have today (the post-internet information age), I do feel it's an appropriate inclusion which makes the point that to really tap the keg of the creative imagination and have the kind of experiences he did, then you've got to put in the work. That should really be no surprise.
So, speaking of work, and now that we've gotten all that out of the way, let's move on to how to put together your cabinet of coaches and conduct meetings.
Assembling Your Mental Mastermind
You surely already have some idea of the people who inspire you the most. But I encourage you to really review who you're thinking of and be selective. Even more so, be intentional and strategic.
Select Your Council Members
- Think of the things you want in life, specifically in each area where you're currently feeling the most need: family, friends, career, finances, health, spirituality, etc.
- Think of people who, in these areas that you've selected, inspire you to be your best in that particular area.
- Do some homework on each member of your mental mastermind. Now Napoleon Hill went next level with this step, painstakingly studying the lives of his counselors so that they really became dynamic personalities within his meetings. I agree that this is a smart thing to do if you want to get the most from this practice, but I also think you can build in these details over time.
- For each member, write down what it is that you feel their unique contribution is (why you chose them to be in this alliance with you).
- Brainstorm a list of questions that you would like to ask during your sessions. What is it that you want (or want to emulate) from each member?
Hold Your Meetings
Regularly hold these meetings, ideally when you are in a suggestive state (we're talking alpha brain waves here), which makes before bed a great time. You can also get into this state by going through various rituals for entering into meditation.
- Choose a relaxing time and place, sit or lie down comfortably, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths.
- Dream up a scenario that centers around the space where you and your mental mastermind members will gather.
- Engage your imagination to fill in the spaces of how you begin, hold, and end the meetings, as well as your interaction in general.
- Use the two examples below from Hill as a guide for asking questions and soliciting advice from your mastermind.
"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 that 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. 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 that were your distinguishing characteristics."
Some closing remarks from Hill:
My original purpose in conducting council meetings with imaginary beings was solely that of impressing my own subconscious mind - through the principle of autosuggestion - with certain characteristics I desired to acquire. In more recent years, my experimentation has taken on an entirely different trend. I now go to my imaginary counselors with every difficult problem that confronts my clients and me. The results are often astonishing, although I do not depend entirely on this form of counsel.
And there you have it. This technique is not a replacement for a fully functioning mastermind with real human beings, but it can definitely get you started and is a powerful tool to have at your disposal in any case.
Okay, so do tell, who would you have in your mental mastermind? Share some super cool people that we all should know about (or characters/creatures, it's whatever.)!