The Cabinet of Invisible Counselors

by Brett & Kate McKay on March 11, 2012 · 166 comments

in A Man's Life, On Manhood, Personal Development

Have you ever had a discussion with someone who posed this question: “If you could invite any five people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be?”

It’s an interesting question to consider, but one that doesn’t have to remain strictly a hypothetical.  Now, of course you can’t drag the bones of history’s greatest corpses to your table (“Oh dear, Teddy’s hand just fell off into his soup. Awkward.”). But you can enjoy a form of ongoing conversation with history’s most eminent men, and it can continue far past the dessert course.

I believe that every man should create his own personal “Cabinet of Invisible Counselors”–a sort of imaginary team of mentors whom he can consult for advice and inspiration throughout his life.

Napoleon Hill’s Invisible Counselors

As we discussed in our post about famous Master Mind groups, success guru Napoleon Hill believed that when two of more people met together and blended the energies of their minds in harmony, a sort of “third brain” was formed–a potent “Master Mind” the whole group had access to.

This third brain allowed each member of the group to tap into the “sixth sense,” which Hill described as “that portion of the subconscious mind which has been referred to as the Creative Imagination. It has also been referred to as the ‘receiving set’ through which ideas, plans, and thoughts flash into the mind. The ‘flashes’ are sometimes called ‘hunches’ or ‘inspirations.’”

Hill argued that people should form their own Master Mind groups in which they met in person in order to recharge their brains, refine their ideas, and receive inspiration. But he also believed that a person could form his own “Cabinet of Invisible Counselors,” just as he had done:

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.

I had a very DEFINITE PURPOSE in indulging my imagination through these nightly meetings. My purpose was to rebuild my own character so it would represent a composite of the characters of my imaginary counselors. Realizing, as I did, early in life, that I had to overcome the handicap of birth in an environment of ignorance and superstition, I deliberately assigned myself the task of voluntary rebirth through the method here described…

In these imaginary Council meetings I called on my Cabinet members for the knowledge I wished each to contribute, addressing myself to each member in audible words, as follows:–

“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…

“Napoleon, 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. Emperor of Fate, King of Chance, Man of Destiny, I salute you!”

Hill would greet the rest of his “invisible counselors” in a similar manner, varying the address “according to the traits of character in which I was, for the moment, most interested in acquiring.”

In-between cabinet meetings, Hill would extensively study the lives of each of his counselors, and after several months of this, his invisible advisors became more and more real to him, to the point they all developed mannerisms and characteristics befitting their personalities. His imaginary meetings became so vivid, in fact, that he discontinued them, so that he would not begin to confuse the workings of his head with reality. But, Hill said, Lincoln then came to visit him in his sleep, and told him he had a great work to do and not to shirk the duty. So Hill recommenced the cabinet, and grew the roster to over 50 members, including, “Christ, St. Paul, Galileo, Copernicus, Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Homer, Voltaire, Bruno, Spinoza, Drummond, Kant, Schopenhauer, Newton, Confucius, Elbert Hubbard, Brann, Ingersoll, Wilson, and William James.”

Hill believed that his imaginary meetings with his Invisible Counselors were of enormous benefit to his life:

I still regard my Cabinet meetings as being purely imaginary, but I feel entitled to suggest that, while the members of my Cabinet may be purely fictional, and the meetings existent only in my own imagination, 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.

Somewhere in the cell-structure of the brain, is located an organ which receives vibrations of thought ordinarily called “hunches.” So far, science has not discovered where this organ of the sixth sense is located, but this is not important. The fact remains that human beings do receive accurate knowledge, through sources other than the physical senses. Such knowledge, generally, is received when the mind is under the influence of extraordinary stimulation. Any emergency which arouses the emotions, and causes the heart to beat more rapidly than normal may, and generally does, bring the sixth sense into action. Anyone who has experienced a near accident while driving, knows that on such occasions, the sixth sense often comes to one’s rescue, and aids, by split seconds, in avoiding the accident.

These facts are mentioned preliminary to a statement of fact which I shall now make, namely, that during my meetings with the “Invisible Counselors” I find my mind most receptive to ideas, thoughts, and knowledge which reach me through the sixth sense. I can truthfully say that I owe entirely to my “Invisible Counselors” full credit for such ideas, facts, or knowledge as I received through “inspiration.”

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 “Invisible Counselors.”

Why Create Your Own Cabinet of Invisible Counselors

“Nurture your minds with great thoughts. To believe in the heroic makes heroes.” -Benjamin Disraeli

While Napoleon Hill had a penchant for the metaphysical that doesn’t jive with every man’s worldview, regardless of whether you ever expect Lincoln to show up at your bedside, forming your own Cabinet of Invisible Counselors can be very beneficial to your life.

As Hill mentioned above, forming such a cabinet can provide you inspiration in many forms.

First, your cabinet can not only spur impressions of the more abstract variety, it can also give you practical ideas you can experiment with implementing into your life. I love learning about the habits of great men, such as how they napped, used a pocket notebook, set up their studies, and improved themselves in different areas. Now it’s certainly not the case that just because a great man did something one way, then it’s the best way for everyone to do it, or even the best way for me to do it. But I figure it’s always worth a shot, as even if the idea doesn’t work for me, it often serves as a jumping off point for the invention of a method all of my own. Sometimes there’s no need to reinvent the wheel; if someone’s already put in the time to figure out the best solution, it’s our privilege to take it and run with it.

Your cabinet can also help buoy you up when you’re struggling with a difficult decision or are tempted to give up on something. Asking “What would ____ do?” in a certain situation can keep us going in the right direction.

When Andrew Carnegie (more on him later this month) was a boy, he would often turn to the example of Scottish hero William Wallace for inspiration:

“There were two roads by which to return from my uncle’s house in the High Street to my home in Moodie Street at the foot of the town, one along the eerie churchyard of the Abbey among the dead, where there was no light; and the other along the lighted streets by way of May Gate. When it became necessary for me to go home, my uncle, with a wicked pleasure, would ask which way I was going. Thinking of what Wallace would do, I always replied that I was going by the Abbey. I have the satisfaction of believing that never, not even upon one occasion, did I yield to temptation to take the other turn and follow the lamps at the junction of the May Gate. I often passed along that churchyard and through the dark arch of the Abbey with my heart in my mouth. Trying to whistle and keep up my courage, I would plod through the darkness, falling back in all emergencies upon the thought of what Wallace would have done if he had met with any force, natural or supernatural.”

Contemplating what Wallace would do kept Carnegie going through more serious challenges as he grew older, causing him to later reflect:

“If the source of my stock of that prime article—courage—were studied, I am sure the final analysis would find it founded upon Wallace, the hero of Scotland. It is a tower of strength for a boy to have a hero.”

And, I would add, it is a tower of strength for man to have a hero as well.

Finally, maintaining a Cabinet of Invisible Counselors can kindle within you, as Hill put it so well, an “appreciation for true greatness.” Hill believed that all minds vibrated with energy, and that all the highest and most refined vibrations–history’s greatest thoughts–were picked up and stored forever in the ether. One’s membership in a Master Mind, whether real or imaginary, allowed a person to tune into this signal and tap into the universe’s vast “Temple of Knowledge.”

If that sounds a little far out, really the idea here is simply that the more you surround yourself with, think about, study, and engage with great minds—in person or in books—the more that greatness rubs off on you. What you spend your time doing, you become. You can call it connecting with energy, soul, or archetypes or just the workings of natural law; whatever you want to think of it as, the effect is the same.

One can spill a lot of ink trying to define what true manliness is, but at the end of the day it’s something you simply feel—you know it when you see it. And I find that when I’m reading about and engaging with the lives of great men, that feeling becomes very real and very clear to me. Manliness is made manifest.

How to Create Your Own Cabinet of Invisible Counselors

“Show me the man you honor, and I will know what kind of a man you are, for it shows me what your ideal of manhood is, and what kind of a man you long to be.” – Thomas Carlyle

1. Pick the members of your cabinet. You can choose as many people as you’d like to become part of your imaginary team of advisors. They can be living or dead, real or fictional, famous or not. You can put in Jesus or Muhammad, or Jesus and Muhammad. You can throw in your grandpa and your college rugby coach. Theodore Roosevelt and Atticus Finch. Sherlock Holmes and Ronald Reagan.

Now, I know it’s terribly unfashionable these days to engage in anything that even mildly smacks of “hero-worship,” but inviting men into your cabinet doesn’t mean you think they are perfect; remember, a man doesn’t have to be perfect to be inspiring. In fact, you may pick men who, while they may not be examples to you of well-rounded manliness, demonstrated certain characteristics you really admire and want to work on. For instance, you might loathe LBJ’s politics and personal life, but really admire his skill as a tough negotiator, and thus bring him into your cabinet to advise you on that point.

2. Learn as much about your invisible counselors as possible. In order for your counselors to “advise” you, you need to learn as much about their lives and get as much into their minds as you can. This means diving into their autobiographies, biographies, and writings. Now if you have a very large cabinet, I would recommend picking 5-7 “core members”–the men you admire the most–and really going in-depth with the research on their lives.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: one of the best ways of working on your manliness is reading the biographies of great men. It really does help shape and inspire you.

3. Consult with your counselors. You can do this however you’d like. You can be like Napoleon Hill and have regular meetings with your invisible counselors, where you imagine having very in-depth conversations with them. Personally, whether it’s because my imagination is so feeble, or I just have a hard time “going there,” I simply read up on great men, take notes on points that particularly stick out to me, and file the information away in my cranium. Then, when I am facing something difficult, I search through my brain files to find a counselor who can perhaps shine some light on the problem. For example when I feel discouraged because of criticism, I think of how TR was mocked as a state legislator and his injunction to stay “in the arena.” When I’m grappling with a tough decision, I think of General Eisenhower pacing the room on the eve of D-Day, trying to decide whether to postpone the invasion for the arrival of better weather, with thousands of lives depending on his choice. When I’m physically uncomfortable, I think of the GI’s huddling in the cold at the Battle of the Bulge. When I feel restless, I think of the happiness my grandfather found in living a good and simple life.

You can consult with your cabinet in whatever way works for you. You may also wish to hang up a picture or poster of a couple of the men you most admire to serve as a daily reminder of the kind of man you want to become.

Who would you include in your Cabinet of Invisible Advisors? Share your picks with us in the comments!


Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie

Illustration by Ted Slampyak


{ 166 comments… read them below or add one }

101 William March 14, 2012 at 10:02 pm

I love this article and its summation!
Robert Lee, Talyrand, Patton, Washington, Hannibal Barca, and Cicero.

102 Stan March 15, 2012 at 12:52 am

How about a living man who is out of contact and has no biographical trail? My company gunnery sergeant from Iraq would definitely stand in the front row among my heroes and counselors, but after retiring and moving to NM to teach special education he practically vanished. My regard for him is based on three years of interaction as my boss’s boss’s boss–but also leading from the front, very visible, but not self-aggrandizing. Any caveats to including a figure of limited knowledge and exposure?

103 Carlos Mora March 15, 2012 at 12:54 am

One of the most interesting articles that I have read!
It may sound funny, but when I was a kid I always asked myself “what would Wolverine would do?” when in doubt.

104 Jonathan March 15, 2012 at 2:07 am

Just for starters: Nikola Tesla, Alexander G. Bell, Thomas Edison, Peter Drucker, Geoffrey Moore.

105 Nick March 15, 2012 at 2:47 am

I’m still composing a full council, but here’s a starter:

My undergrad classics professor
Lara Croft (Yep.)
Elle Woods (Her “bimbo”, optimistic personality & legal/political success makes her an ideal law student hero)
Martha Nussbaum

106 Daryl J. Yearwood March 15, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Great post, Brett. This is my own personal group of “advisers.” We don’t meet as such, though we might start, but I do know enough about their lives to use their examples in pursuing my own writing career: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Harlan Ellison.

107 Daryl J. Yearwood March 15, 2012 at 12:51 pm

I left Tolkien off my list because he talks too much.

108 Conor March 15, 2012 at 4:31 pm

I would include George Washington, Frank Sinatra, James Bond, Ronald Reagan, George Patton, Winston Churchill, Rudyard Kipling and Teddy Roosevelt.

109 E. B. Van Arsdale March 15, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Of course at my right hand, my dad, then Theodore Roosevelt, Benjamin Franklin, Louis L’Amour, Sun Tzu, Steve jobs, and at my left hand, my maternal grandfather.
If we didn’t have any deep issues to resolve, I think we could have a hell of a poker game.

110 Haider E Karrar March 16, 2012 at 10:13 am

Jesus, Muhammad and Moses

111 Jimmy March 16, 2012 at 10:39 am

My list would include:
Steve Nash
Winston Churchill
Teddy Roosevelt
David Pataeus
Dieter Rahms
Ricky Gervais
Ben Franklin

112 Jeremy March 16, 2012 at 5:24 pm

This is a cool article.
My first thoughts are to include Bill Evans, Bill Hicks, Christopher Hitchens, Vladimir Horowitz and Jackie Chan

113 Julie March 16, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Oh, I love this idea. I’d pick :

- Orson Welles (perfect moral elegance)
- Friedrich Nietzsche (moral courage, willingness to go beyond convenient truth and to burn what makes one’s comfortable in order to find greater truth, belief in greatness and great style)
- Primo Levi (perfect moral elegance of a different kind, benevolence)
- Paul Robeson (strenght, talent, benevolence)
- André Breton (willingness to fall and fall again rather than living half-heartedly)
- Alphonse Allais (humor, nonchalant style)
- Che Guevara (willingness to be exemplary and take one’s responsability)
- Werner Herzog (made a boat cross a mountain)
- Lev Tolstoy (did everything and all the mistakes – understood everything – did not shy away from years long spiritual crises)

These versatile, trip-and-fall-and-rise-again (for most of them) men I love, but I do not know if I’d risk corrupting their memory by conveying them and making them act as I think. Most I can do is love their integrity and hope to live in a way that’d suit them (except I’m not much of a trip-and-fall-and-rise-again type of person, must I sadly say)

114 snoebay88 March 16, 2012 at 5:36 pm

My List;
My Dad
Nikola Tesla
Teddy Roosevelt
Will Rogers
William Shockley
Steve Jobs

115 Gabriel March 16, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Mike Tyson, Lao tzu, Ghandi, gene Simmons, and an exact clone of me

116 Jon March 17, 2012 at 2:33 am

Great Read! I read this book years ago and put off creating my cabinet. Thanks for inspiring me to apply the concepts!

I have to say mine is:

Bruce Wayne
Ron Paul

117 RT March 17, 2012 at 1:34 pm

First @Stan: write down every memorable thing this sergeant said, and do it with a pen and paper, not a computer. Then write down the qualities you wish to emulate, and wish to draw inspiration from, and if you think of more you can always add them. Re-visit this every so often when you need inspiration.

Second my list:
St. Josemaria Escriva
Sts. Peter & Paul
Oscar Romeo
David Petraeus

118 Big City March 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Next to The Bible, Think and Grow Rich is my favorite book. I discovered Think and Grow Rich when I read that Ken Norton said Think and Grow Rich changed his life. Norton was given a copy after his first defeat as a boxer. Upon reading it, he went on a fourteen bout winning streak including a victory over Muhammad Ali.

My “Invisible Counselors” include:
King Solomon
My Parents
My Grandfathers
My Grandmothers
My Great-Grandfathers
My Great-Grandmothers
Abraham Lincoln
Ken Norton
Billy Miske
George Foreman
Gene Tunney
Theodore Roosevelt
Napoleon Bonaparte

119 Big City March 17, 2012 at 5:09 pm

My Cabinet also includes Jim Braddock, Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Joseph, Job, Charles Atlas and Dwight Eisenhower.

120 Bernie W. March 17, 2012 at 11:56 pm

I’m curious to hear more about the master mind groups. I recall the earlier article and when I went back and checked, it originally promised a follow up with some ideas on starting your own such group. Any luck with the follow through on that?

121 Anne March 18, 2012 at 7:10 am

This isn’t the section or article on which I wanted to comment, but since all of the others I have seen in the “Relationships & Family” section have had the Comments closed, I’ll post mine here.

What I wanted to share is that I just now found this web site through a link from an article about chivalrous and honorable behavior by most of the men on the Titanic; most of them followed the orders of the captain and crew that women and children were to be put into the lifeboats, including women and children from second and third class. Consequently, most of those who perished were men, including many who were wealthy and powerful (Astor, Guggenheim, etc.). It struck me that very few males today, possibly none, would do that. Instead, they would push right through the women and children to run into the lifeboats. That is a very sad testament to the state of manly behavior – or more appropriately worded – lack thereof.

I admire males who are more than males, which is to say, males who are true men. To be a true man, in my opinion, requires chivalry, honor, good character, self-restraint (rather than self-indulgence) morals, ethics – a sense of doing what is right for the simple reason that it is the right thing to do. All of that seems to be gone from today’s society and everything is upside down. Women are behaving like males (pursuing guys, calling them, texting them, paying on dates, etc.) and males are behaving like women (allowing women to pay on dates – and even expecting it, being lazy in the dating process – again, expecting the women to be calling them and asking them out, not asking women to dance – waiting for the women to ask them, etc. I suspect that this role reversal serves the guys quite well because it facilitates their quest for easy sex instead of romantic and spiritual love that is true and that lasts, and which, by the way, can be more fulfilling, satisfying and exciting than the one-night stand or the “f-buddy” situation.

The bottom line is that I am happy to see that this web site, even though humorously on many occasions, promotes manly behavior. Manly behavior is more than the guy beating his chest and going off to hunt, make furniture or wrestle a crocodile. In fact, the manliest of behavior can be the most gentle and protective of the lady. Gentlemen, don’t let chivalry die! REAL WOMEN expect it…enjoy it…and respond well to it. We enjoy feeling protected and having the gentleman be concerned about our well-being. Having a car-door slam on the lady’s shoulder and leave a painful bruise simply because the guy was rude and devoid of social graces and didn’t help her out of the car, is not acceptable; this actually happened to me, and needless to say, I did not go out with that neanderthal again! Enough said. :)

122 Ruari March 18, 2012 at 8:35 am

This one’s easy:
My Granddad, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell and Neil Armstrong
Loved the article, by the way.

123 Andy W. March 18, 2012 at 11:50 am

My invisible cabinet consists of Plato, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Obama, and Spock.

124 Eric March 19, 2012 at 10:01 am

I think my advisors would be Walt Disney, Napoleon, George Washington, Frank Sinatra, James Bond, Eisenhower, and Harrison Ford.

125 Sven March 19, 2012 at 11:40 am

Great article!

These are my invincible counselors: Hans-Joachim Marseille, Erich Hartmann, Walter Schuck, Johannes Steinhoff, Kurt Wolff, Karl Gratz, Oswald Boelcke, Manfred von Richthofen, Max Immelmann, Rudolf Trenkel, Otto von Bismarck and Kaiser Wilheim II.

126 Skip March 19, 2012 at 11:51 pm

What a great article. My list is:

Mr. Spock, for his logic.
Mark Twain for his humor and creativity.
W.C. Fields for his original humor and talent (juggler).
Charles Dickens, for his creativity and communications skills.
Benjamin Franklin.
Attila the Hun.

127 Jonathan Aluzas March 20, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Tough one, and I think it will change over time. Here are the men I know for sure would make the list:

Leonidas, King of Sparta (Courage and Leadership)
John Galt (Staying true to yourself)
Warren Buffett (Business Wisdom)
Obi-Wan Kenobi (Everything)

128 Taylor March 20, 2012 at 8:47 pm

My cousin had that question posed to her in an interview once. She replied, “Living, preferably.” She got the job (yeah, that one might take a minute to think about).

John Milton
Teddy Roosevelt
C.S. Lewis

129 AG March 21, 2012 at 10:14 am

Great article. We as men really need to begin improving ourselves to become great and leave an amazing legacy. Much like each of our invisible counselors.

130 Kate March 21, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I keep a small notebook in the cargo pocket of my uniform with quotations from all my “invisible counselors:” G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, Patton, Churchill, Erwin Rommel (a great man even if he was on the wrong side), Aristotle, the apostle Paul, Teddy Roosevelt (of course!), and more. This is a great idea, and actually reminds me of patron saints – in a sense, one’s patron saints and guardian angel are one’s own cabinet of invisible counselors.

131 Ralmon March 21, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Interesting article.

I had a imaginary council, of sorts, for a long time but I did it accidentally. It started with the idea of “imaginary friends” inspired from many books. At one moment I started an idea of making a imaginary friend for myself. I made one and started having conversation with him, talking to him about almost everything and asking for his advice.

Here are my people I want to be in my list. Sorry they tend to be imaginary:

-Ralmon – My imaginary friend, a half dragon/human creature of integrity and honor. He loves adventure.
-The Story Teller – Another imaginary friend of mine. I represent him as an Indian-like old man by a bonfire. I had always loved stories and I always come to him to talk about them. He helps me gain lot of insights from the stories I read.
-Tanong – His name means ‘question’ in my local language. His a small child full of curiosity, who has a habit of asking questions about everything. I loved talking to him. I confront him with something I read or learned and he bombard me with questions and I love answering his questions.
-Black – A cat/man creature with pure black fur. He lives as a leader and protector of a tribe of catmen. I turn to him when I need advice about responsibility.
-James Eckert – The Dragon Knight from the Dragon Knight Series. He is a great friend and he has a very brilliant mind.
-Anne Shirley – Of Green Gables.
-Thomas Alva Edison

132 Richard March 22, 2012 at 9:41 pm

This is a really great article!

For starts:

Joseph Smith
Brigham Young
John Taylor
Porter Rockwell
Gen. George Patton
Elder Bruce McConkie

And others as I think about this more.

133 Cameron Miller March 25, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Oscar Wilde, Sherlock Holmes, Aristotle, Poseidon, and Tyler Durden.

134 R Allen March 27, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Interesting that the man who “started it all” is not on anyone’s list: Napoleon Hill!
And I add a clarifier. Consider the age or period of each person chosen. You would want Ronald Reagan before Alzheimer’s set in. Would you want Colonel Eisenhower, General Eisenhower of WWII, President of the US Eisenhower or President of Columbia University Eisenhower?

135 Phil March 28, 2012 at 12:06 am

Teddy Roosevelt
Abe Lincoln
Jedidiah Smith
Napoleon Bonapart
The Dalai Lama
Nelson Mandela
C.S. Lewis

Obi Wan Kenobi
Indiana Jones

136 Shane March 28, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Christopher Hitchens – not afraid to make people angry in the name of truth and justice, and a tremendous rhetorician

Bertrand Russell – the smartest man whose books I’ve had the pleasure to parse, and, like Hitchens, not afraid of a fight

Benjamin Franklin – always knew how to put his time and his brain to good use

Thomas Jefferson – was a statesman without equal, and the human rights hipster; he fought for them before it was cool

Socrates – the original questioner of accepted truth, he encouraged people to doubt their most deeply cherished beliefs in the name of real truth: he could be the Christ figure of philosophers and rhetorical pugilists

137 Brian March 29, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I find it impossible to believe that I came upon your website during a time in my life when I’m deeply studying personal development and success, and come to find a post on the very book I’m studying: Think and Grow Rich. I’m on my second listen of the audiobook of T&GR, and plan to begin reading it in earnest soon.

When Hill described his imaginary council, I almost had a car wreck. If he had stated that he had thought himself into being able to fly, it wouldn’t have sounded more odd to me at that moment, but once I listened to the entire story, the idea of a personal counsel/cabinet sounded like something I might very well try myself! Off the top of my head, my cabinet members would be –

George Washington
Benjamin Franklin
Napoleon Hill
Jim Rohn
Martin Luther King Jr.
Thomas Edison
Augustus McRae
my great-great Aunt Inez (deceased)
my two grandfathers (deceased)

Thanks for this great summary of a personal development CLASSIC

138 Big City March 31, 2012 at 12:09 am

In addition to my previous posts, I would also include:

Tom Osborne
W. Clement Stone
Gil Favor (Rawhide TV series)
Dean Martin
Daniel (of the Bible)
The Apostle Paul
Mack Brown

139 A, Son of Hender April 1, 2012 at 1:59 am

-Jimmy Stewart
-Abraham Lincoln
-Leo Tolstoy
-Nikola Tesla
-Robert E. Lee
-my barber

140 Ymas Dauof April 1, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Wouldnt it be unwise to make a very long list as some have done? Because these people must have had differing ideas and if we just pick certain traits that would be beside the point we try to emmulate a large portion of these people’s lives… so one should pick a person for every aspect.

Mine would be:
Albus Dumbledore
Robert E. Lee
Thomas Stonewall Jackson
Marcus Aurelius
Winston Churchill

141 Andre April 5, 2012 at 9:36 pm

I based my list more on personal characteristics and has served well. I had a “standard” letter of recommendation when I had resigned from my job, and I thought it was insufficient and poorly written. Of course I didn’t say that directly. So, I went in and asked to have my actions documented in it as I thought any prospective employer would like to read that, and how I would like to read it down the road, and the actions I took were what I thought of considerable merit and worth mentioning. I got it to be customized for me, and won. It felt awesome! :3

Atticus Finch
Heinz Guderian (General)
George Patton Jr. (General)
Marcus Tullius Cicero
Frank Sinatra
James Bond
John D. Rockefeller
Hank Rearden

142 Jared September 26, 2012 at 12:38 pm

Name dropping:

Theodore Roosevelt: “The worst choice is not taking action at all.”

RW Emerson: “Trusting God is Self Reliance.”

my father: “You know more than you think you know.”

Fred Rogers: “If someone wants you to be something else, stop worrying about them.”

Jesus: “Worrying does you no good. Trust God.”

Fairly diverse; I think this is best kept to eight and below to be effective. Or have a guest Cabinet member once a week.

143 Guo Jia October 24, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Wow, I thought I was the only person in the world with this idea but I’m kinda happy that I’m not crazy. I like to limit my cabinet members, because having too many can hinder the process of thought. I also like to have the advisors bicker and argue with one another. This reminds me of owning Pokemon, in a way, so I limit the cabinet to 6 (me, being the starter Pokemon). And I give their office a name. Here’s my list:

The Tao is managed by Iroh

The Location is managed by Lord Sidious

The Weather is managed by Gautama Buddha

The Leadership is managed by Evelyn De Rothschild

The Discipline is managed by the cannibal manman Cheng Yu

I recently dropped Evelyn De Rothschild because he and Sidious proposed such a heinous plan and they overpowered the “good” side.

144 Andrew November 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Wow! What a great way to think something over! I’m going to form my own council with “Nameless Joe” (the character played by Clint Eastwood in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and 2 other movies), General Patton, Sherlock Holmes AND John Watson M.D. plus 2 others that I shall think of as they come.

145 Ronnie December 25, 2012 at 10:07 pm

My counsel would include
Reginald F. Lewis
Jesus almighty
Richard Branson
I’ll have to think up sommore

146 Pieter-Jan December 26, 2012 at 11:35 am

A very interesting article, for my own Cabinet my temporary choice would be:
- Buddha
- Ezio Auditore Da Firenze (protagnist from Assassin’s creed II, brotherhood and revelations)
- Leonardo Da Vinci
- Shakespeare
- Aragorn (From Tolkein’s trilogy)
- Theodore Roosevelt
=) its a starter but a fine group I’d say ^^

147 Bradley December 26, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Starting List:
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sun Tzu
Marcus Aurelius
Benjamin Franklin
Alexander the Great
Albert Einstein
Augustus Caesar
Charles Darwin
Leonardo Da Vinci
Genghis Khan

148 Jeff M January 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm

My 5-7 would be:

My maternal grandfather
Jonathan Edwards
Charles Spurgeon
Winston Churchill
Ronald Reagan
Stonewall Jackson
George Bailey (the Jimmy Stewart character I most identify with)

149 Jesse January 6, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Hmm I think some of these guys have been mentioned before, but definitely:

- Christian Hudson (For his social abilities and prowess with women – From The Social Man)
- Ezio Auditore Da Firenze (Cause he’s a badass who understands life – From Assassins Creed)
- Jamie McIntyre (For his business expertise – From 21st Century Education)
- Napoleon Hill (Goes without saying – Think and Grow Rich)

150 Anthony A. January 10, 2013 at 3:25 pm

I am trying to put together my own invisible council, and I ran in to a mental roadblock of sorts trying to determine who should be on my council, or even what type of counselors to seat. When reading about the Invisible Counselors, it all seems so simple, but when actually putting some thought into a well-balanced council, it gets a little more difficult for me, probably because my exposure to extraordinary individuals has been lacking throughout my life (and yes, I’m working on that, too).

While contemplating this block, my mind suddenly came upon an idea that has been extremely helpful in my search.

My idea was to approach the building of my council as a Presidential candidate would approach building a campaign committee and cabinet. I’ve now started going looking up all of the types of advisers a President and a Presidential nominee would consider employing.

It’s amazing how many things I would have missed had I not approached things this way: an image adviser, a fitness adviser, an ever-present assistant who assists with scheduling and time management (if only!), a speechwriter, multiple financial advisers (maybe it’s best to get a *real* one of these), a copywriter… The list goes on and on!

If I think long enough about any one of these types of advisers I have usually been able to come up with a name that I associate with one of them, such as David Allen for a time management consultant.

Hope this helps someone else who may have a hard time building their concil! :)

151 jerry February 27, 2013 at 9:18 pm

All medal of Honor recipients
Those that love me in spite of me.


152 daniel April 11, 2013 at 11:23 am

bruce lee
arnold shwarzenneger
fedor emelianko
evan tanner
bill hicks
the emperor of mankind (admittedly a fictional character, but his backstory and personalityexemplify a lot of what id like to be as a man)
Andrew Carnegie

153 Tim May 10, 2013 at 12:39 am

Mine: Captain Kirk, Spock, Morihei Ueshiba, Charles Darwin, FDR, Aquaman, and my grandpa.

154 Guo Jia July 9, 2013 at 11:39 am

Lets not forget that one simply does not pick an advisor out of the blue or because an advisor is “cool”.

I have now extended my list to 13 maximum.

Every season, I write down 13 Advisors I want on the board, but there’s a problem. These advisors will go through tests and even a coin toss just to get in on the cabinet.

For the lucky advsiors that do get to join me, they teach me on how to be resourceful. Sometimes, I end up with an incompetent advisor or uncooperative on.

Here’s my list for this term:

Superior – No one
Precision – Jesus (I’m an Atheist who is testing his existence)

Manipulation – Jedi Master Yoda
Knowledge – Dale Carnegie
Courage – Guru Pathik
Wisdom – Tinkerbell (from Disney)
Patience – Guo Jia
Discipline – No one
Music – DiZ (Ansem the Wise)
Math – No one
Mastery – No one

Rhetoric – Thoth (an Egyptian-god who claims that he is actually still alive today and only the pure and enlightened may call upon him)

Light – Siddhartha Gautama Buddha

I’ve also created a 14th. I call the 14th branch “love”. Right now, it is ruled by Cheng Yu, the cannibal.

Keep in mind that I did NOT put these advisors here myself. The dice and coin toss did this. The positions that they sit in today was the cause of fate.

Oh, and to make this more fun. Every time I masturbate, I have to “remove” an advisor by picking out one of the names from a hat.

155 makas July 31, 2013 at 5:13 am

Here is the list as it grows and I contemplate it:

E. Shackleton – for his willingness to do what must be done in order to lead and protect those whom he led.

Adm. Lord Cochrane – for is courage and creativity when faced with a dangerous and “unfair” or disadvantageous situation.

S. Kierkegaard – for his joining the ideas of ethics, aesthetics and religion into a meaningful and livable “theology”

Marcus Aurelius – for his understanding of Ethics, duty, and morality and his interpretations of a man accepting but not dominated by his mortal nature

Myamoto Musashi – for his rebellious spirit but also his dedication to become and then purify the “warrior”

Job – for his willingness to endure trial, to stand up and question an unrelenting and insurmountable force and to still maintain the humility to learn while challenging.

Of course, these characters are limited by my understanding of them but they are inspiring.

156 ujji September 23, 2013 at 7:06 am

1.ADAM – for his knowledge of the
2.SOLOMAN – for his knowledge of
3.KHIDR – for his knowledge of the
4.MUHAMMAD (PBUH) – for his knowledge of the HUMAN NATURE
6.GALILEO – for his opinions of OUR
7.NAPOLEON HILL – for his
for putting it all together and
knowing the “ SECRET ”

157 John S January 15, 2014 at 8:31 pm

My list is sparked by the current Journal Challenge; my initial fictional cabinet would be:

Vladimir Lenin- for his single-minded determination to see a goal and map a course to accomplish it.

Mahatma Gandhi- for taking those goals and devising a plan to accomplish them peacefully.

Thomas Jefferson and/or Benjamin Franklin- for being all around Renaissance men, skilled in multiple disciplines.

Jaques-Yves Cousteau and/or Sir Richard Burton- for their ability to show us that no matter how much we think we know about our world there is always something more to be discovered.

and lastly,

Akira Kurosawa- just for sheer appreciation of his work in being able to tell the most familiar of stories in fresh, exciting ways and flawlessly translating those to film.

158 Jared January 21, 2014 at 2:29 am

Norman Borlaug: He god-modded reality. When every single piece of science said global famine was around the corner, he god-modded the world.

William Tecumseh Sherman: Never let conventional wisdom get in the way of genius. Understand the situation far more then any of his contemporaries. Read his letter to David F. Boyd of the Louisiana State Seminary

Charlton Heston: Compass of right and wrong

Michael Crichton: Genius

159 Goldy February 4, 2014 at 12:43 am

My Grandfather – being a good man
Optimus Prime – the ultimate moral compass
John Muir – inner peace
Dr. Martin Luther King – holding your own in a fight using love and compassion.
Rocky Balboa – holding your own in a fight by actual fighting
George Carlin – question everything
Leonardo DaVinci – creativity
Teddy Roosevelt – holding yourself to an excellent standard

160 cleophus February 4, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Joseph Cambell
MFK Fisher
Sherlock Holmes
Christopher Hitchens
Mark Twain
Future ME
Carl Sagan

161 Mark February 6, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Christ Jesus
Paul of Tarsus
Adam and Eve

162 Matt Smelser February 17, 2014 at 9:00 am

CS Lewis
My future self
Mark Twain
Tim Keller
John Piper
Apostle Paul
James Bond
And we can’t forget Teddy

163 Xizor February 19, 2014 at 5:42 pm

I love this post! i start doing this about two years ago. I had a lot of desires and a lot of responsibility and i kinda felt over whelmed by it all and i wanted to quit and run away. Instead i enlisted Floyd Mayweather in my counsel and his mantra of Hard work and Dedication and just really worked my ass off to over come that year. I even ran the tough
mudder that year. Now i am working on putting Elon Musk and Nolan Bushnell as part of my counsel.

164 Dan February 27, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Thought I’d post a few of mine that I hadn’t seen in other posts:

Shel Silverstein
Louis C.K.
J.D. Salinger

Of course, my list would probably also include T. Roosevelt and Jefferson, but why a lack of artists? Does no one wish to confer with Da Vinci or Caravaggio? Beethoven or Richard Wagner?

165 Lucas March 21, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Great summary!

I love this concept so much. He is in my cabinet of invisible counselors for sure along with Bob Proctor, Jack Canfield, Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy and Robert Kiyosaki

166 Juan April 1, 2014 at 12:00 pm

My goal was to pick people who would challenge as well as advise. There are too many people to pick from but here’s what I came up with.

Ulysses S. Grant
Larry Bird
Chris Rock
Pat Buchanan
Richard Simmons
Gereon Goldmann
Nelson Mandela
Lao Tzu
Cesar Chavez
Miles Davis
Steve Jobs
Roy Keane (Check out “Best of Enemies” on YouTube)

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