Have you ever met Richard Branson, the founder and CEO of Virgin? I’ve met him. Well, I feel like I have. Richard is one of my imaginary mentors, and we meet up every few weeks – in my mind.
Now before you stop reading and conclude that I’m nuts, please give me a few more sentences to explain myself… (Actually, you can stop reading now if you want. Full disclosure: I am definitely nuts. If that’s OK with you, read on!)
My “Cabinet of Invisible Counselors”:
I got this idea many years ago from this book. The author is Napoleon Hill, and he explains how mentors can be anyone in the world, living or dead. He referred to this as a “Cabinet of Invisible Counselors”. Here’s a quick excerpt from the book:
“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.”
Sounds cool, right? Do you want to re-shape and grow your character? Want to follow the footsteps of the people that impress you the most in life? I certainly do!
What I look for in a Mentor:
Everyone has different reasons to seek mentorship. I can’t speak for others out there, but here’s what I need help with sometimes in life:
- Need support making big decisions
- Someone to bounce whacky ideas off of
- Give me inspiration when I need it
- Give me a kick in the ass when I need it
- A real estate guru
- A wealth guru
- Someone with an ideal marriage that I can learn from
- I want mentors to hold me accountable
- They must push me to be a better person, constantly
It’s tough to find one person who can check every single box on my list. So, I seek out multiple people to advise me.
Some mentors I know in real life, and some are people I’ve never met before. These strangers will never know it, but they have helped me solve major problems and become the person that I am today.
My Advisors Include:
- Jocko Willink: Is a retired Navy SEAL officer. To be honest… he scares the shit out of me! (just look at his photo – he is a beast!) Failure is never an option for this guy, and he accepts no excuses.
I consult with Jocko every now and then when I’m hitting multiple walls and feel like giving up on something. He kicks my ass back into shape, pronto! He motivates me to keep pushing no matter how hard it gets, and helps me hold myself accountable for every situation.
- Elon Musk: Runs multiple publicly traded companies as well as trying to figuring out how to send humans up to live on Mars. He doesn’t have much spare time, so when I meet with him I have to speak quickly, clearly, and stay to the point.
I meet with Elon at times when I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. He reminds me to compartmentalize my tasks, then we go through each one in order of priority. I come out of those meetings with a focussed to-do list.
My Favorite Imaginary Mentor:
The weirdest imaginary mentor that I have is my future self, at 65 years old. The 65 y/o Joel is a multi-millionaire, knowledgeable, and fun guy. He knows exactly what I’m going through currently, and everything I will encounter in the future. He is the same person as me, except with 30 years more experience!
65 y/o Joel helps me get through rough patches, because he’s already been through them himself → and he survived them just fine!
No matter what I‘m going through, 65 y/o Joel tells me everything is going to work out just fine.
How Invisible Meetings Work:
Have you ever approached someone for help, but after explaining the problem out loud you suddenly realize you already know the solution? The answer was right there in front of you, you just needed to talk it out or rephrase the issue.
This is kind of how an invisible council meeting works.
For me, there is no set agenda or schedule. I just close my eyes, envision I’m sitting across from my selected mentor, and jump straight into problem solving. I know it sounds crazy, but it works!
How to Build Your Own Cabinet:
Start by creating a list of people you look up to in life. They can be real or not, dead or alive, famous or unknown. Write these names down.
Next, think about why you like them. What advice, knowledge, strategies, personality traits, habits, attitude, etc do you admire? Be as specific as possible with this step.
Finally, research and read about these people as much as possible. The more you know about them, the better and clearer your mental image will be. You don’t have to become a stalker… just a mild obsession will do.
That’s it! Going forward, whenever you come across a new problem in your life, set up a virtual meeting with one (or some) of your mentors. Think about how they would coach you to solve your issue.
Who are some of your invisible mentors and why? Let me know how it goes!