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Your Invisible Council   Leave a comment

This isn’t my idea.  Far from it.  This idea was put forward in a book 33 years before I was even born.  That book was “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.  If you haven’t read it I highly recommend it.

In the book’s chapter “The Sixth Sense” he described his “Invisible Council.”  This was a council inside his mind composed of the nine men he respected most and felt had qualities he wished to instill in himself.  Those men were Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Carnegie, Luther Burbank, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Paine, Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Napoleon Bonaparte.

To save time, if you wish to know why he picked them I’ll just refer you back to the book.  What’s important for this discussion is how he made use of his council.  Right before going to bed he would, using his imagination, call a meeting of the council.  There he could seek the advice of these men on any issue that came to mind.  Or even guidance on what mental paths he should be following.  Also, by distinctly visualizing each member of the Invisible Council in his mind he began integrating the traits he admired of each man into his being as well.

He created these precise visualizations of each man by researching each of them in his spare time to gain as clear a mental picture of them as he could.  In fact, as he points out in the book, he did such a good job of recreating these men in his mind at one point he spooked himself into temporarily stopping the process out of concern for how “real” it was getting for him.

What could you do if you had access to your own Invisible Council?  What questions or issues in your life could you tackle with the help of the people you respect the most?  The best way to answer those questions is to form your own Invisible Council.  So how do you go about doing that?

First, you have to pick your mentors.  This can be as easy as it can be hard.  It’s easy in the fact that we all have a number of people that we admire or have a certain degree of hero-worship for.  People we’d gladly trade places with.  It becomes hard when you try narrowing it down to a handful you can start with.  Hill had 9 members originally and only as he became more proficient with the technique did he start adding dozens more.

A good starting point for picking your council is to first decide which qualities in your life you are most interested in building up or enhancing.  Say you’re trying to get into better shape.  Who do you admire most from a fitness perspective?  Maybe it’s Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  Or Tom Brady.  If you’re looking to get more buff it could be a classic bodybuilder like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Frank Zane.  If being more creative is your focus you could pick Michelangelo, or Bob Ross.  Who you pick is up to you, I’d just limit your initial council to 5-10 people who embody the qualities you’re looking to develop in yourself.

Here’s a fun point to consider.  When picking his council Hill used real people he greatly admired.  The thing is, this is your imagination so you can pick anyone you want.  They can be living or dead.  Male or female.  They can even be real or fictional.  As an example when I first started my council I was looking to have a more ordered and logical mind.   For my council I picked Seneca and Marcus Aurelius who were both real.  I added Sherlock Holmes, Spock (as Leonard Nimoy from the original series), and Temperance Brennan (from the Kathy Reichs book series and TV show “Bones”), who are all fictional.

After you’ve formed your council, visualize it in action.  The idea isn’t to just think “What Would Jesus Do?” and just go with whatever thought comes to mind.  The idea is to visualize actually interacting with these people.  Close your mind and picture it as clearly in your head as you can.  Don’t worry if it’s not perfect at first or your visualization seems lacking.  It will get better as you go.

Where you visualize the meeting is up to you.  It could be a dinner together at a big table.  It could be in a special council chamber you’ve created in your mind.  It could be a secret garden you all hang out in.  Just pick what seems most natural to you.  One key point on this is that you’re the head of this council, so pick a setting where you feel you can direct the meeting.

The specifics of how you conduct the meeting are up to you as well.  Whether it’s a friendly discussion, or more of a think tank, is a matter of personal preference.  Just always keep in mind that you’re running the meeting.  I personally like to call the meeting to order and throw out the topic of the night, whatever it is, and open the table for discussion by saying “Thoughts?”

Like Hill, this works best the better you study and learn the members of your council.  The more you understand them the more real they become and the better the answers they give.  So for me that means reading the writings of Seneca and Marcus, the books of Doyle and Reichs, and watching the live action portrayals of Spock and Dr. Brennan.  Hill mentioned that he got to know his council members so well that they actually started to take on specific behaviours and mannerisms.  That’s the quality you should aim for in your visualizations.

The last step is to listen.  Don’t worry about where the information is coming from.  It isn’t as important as the information itself.  In his book Hill stated he felt the information came from the sixth sense (hence the title of the chapter).  Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t.  It could be that you’re just using the council members in your mind to flesh out your thoughts in a creative way.  Nothing supernatural about it.  Wherever the information comes from, though, listen to it.  Dwell on it.  Toss it around in your head.

At the end of the meeting, though, remember it’s your council.  They are providing the information to use as you see fit.  This is all for your benefit.  Like most things, the more you do it the better you’ll get at it.  The better you get at it the better it will benefit you.  It’ll benefit you with great information, better visualization skills, and greater creativity.

So decide today what you’re wanting to improve about yourself.  Staff your council with the best minds (no more than 10 to start).  Then call your first meeting to order and let the personal growth begin.  You have many a great conversation ahead of you.  Enjoy your meeting, and have a great day.

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