How can you learn whatever you want from any of your favorite heroes? By modeling what they think, feel, and do. In Think and Grow Rich, Napolean Hill writes:
"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." Imaginary Council of Heroes
Hill writes about using an "imaginary council" to shape his character:
"I followed the habit of reshaping my own character by, by trying to intimidate the nine men whose lives and life-works had been most impressive to me. These nine men were Emerson, Paine, Edison, Darwin, Lincoln, Burbank, Napolean, 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 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.
I had a very definite purpose in indulging in my imagination through these nightly meetings. My purpose was to rebuild my own character to it would represent a composite of the characters of my imaginary counselors."
Hill includes an example of his dialogue with his imaginary council:
- "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."
- "Mr. Burbank, I request that you pass on to me the knowledge which enabled you to 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. "
- "Napolean, I desire to acquire from you, by emulation, the marvelous ability you possessed to inspire men, and to arouse them to greater and more determined spirit of action. Also to acquire the spirit of enduring faith, which
enabled you to turn defeat into victory, and to surmount staggering obstacles."
- "Mr. Paine, I desire to acquire from you the freedom of thought and the courage and clarity with which to express convictions which so distinguished you! "
- "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 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, I wish to acquire your spirit of persistence, the determination, the poise, and self-confidence which have enabled you to master poverty, and to organize, unify and simplify human effort, so I may help others to follow in your footsteps."
- "Mr. Edison, 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 unremiting toil with which you have so often wrested victory from defeat."
My Take Aways
There's a few things I like about this example:
- I like the idea of turning your favorite heroes into a personal sounding board.
- It doesn't matter whether you model from someone alive or from the past. It's an imaginary council.
- I think the process of visualizing helps you clarify what you really want.
- I think the act of visualizing from multiple perspectives helps you reflect on where you really are with regard to where you really want to be. It's a good way of exposing opportunities for improvement.
- I know from experience that modeling the success of others is an effective way to speed up learning cycles.
- I particularly like the fact that Hill called out that it's more than just modeling action, it's modeling the feeling. If you just go through the motions, it's not the same as being in the same state of mind or feeling your way through.
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