A century ago, Napoleon Hill introduced a set of rules that would help people, in the time of the Great Depression, to Think and Grow Rich. Even in our time, his Master Keys are highly appreciated and broadly implemented by entrepreneurs and marketing specialists. And although it helps some of them make fortunes indeed, the most precious secret behind Napoleon Hill’s Master Mind Principle remains hidden for the masses…
A Master Mind Alliance is a form of cooperation that goes beyond the usual teamwork we see at the workplace or the regular coaching we see in support groups.
Napoleon Hill defined the Master Mind as follows:
“Coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of perfect harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite, higher purpose.”
– Napoleon Hill –
Napoleon Hill was probably the first successful author of self-help books. After the great depression in America, the entrepreneur brought hope to the poor by showing them how to “Think and Grow Rich.”
In his books, speeches, and TV series, Hill reveals his “Laws of Success.” According to him, they have their origin in the laws of nature. After all this time, it is remarkable how popular his books are. They still influence the way modern businesses develop their marketing and sales strategies.
Hill was a clever guy. Firstly, by using the audience’s ‘fear of poverty,’ in the time of the Great Depression. Fear of poverty, we learn from Hill, is the number one threat to being successful. So here he was, promising prosperity and wealth, coming to a person without real effort ‘as soon as one is ready for it.’
Secondly, by frequently referring to ‘the secret,’ to be read between the lines, ‘by those who are ready,’ Hill adds an appealing sense of mystery and suspense. So let’s take a closer look at the Master Mind Principle and Napoleon Hill’s real secret.
According to Hill, he got his insights about the rules of success from a series of long talks with Andrew Carnegie (and other successful and influential men). Carnegie would have told Napoleon to spread his wisdom to the masses.
There is a lot of mystery around this collaboration. There is no evidence that Hill and Carnegie ever met in person. Only after Carnegie’s death, Napoleon Hill started talking about the task he received from the wealthy businessman.
I don’t think it matters how Napoleon Hill came to the development of his Golden Rule. He hit a chord and inspired millions. Personally, I find it hard to believe he received it from Carnegie.
I read some of Andrew Carnegie’s writings. And the way he talks about ‘doing good to others’ appears to me as coming from a completely different nature.
Even though he praises unity, selflessly giving, and taking care of the poor, his tone is somewhat condescending and out of superiority:
“The man of wealth will be the mere agent and trustee for his poorer brethren, bringing to their service his superior wisdom, experience and ability to administer, doing for them better than they would or could do for themselves.” (from The Gospel of Wealth)
I have a hard time matching it with the description of the Master Mind Principle, and Napoleon Hill’s real secret, which relies on equality and inclusion.
Therefore, the idea that the New Thought Movement first and foremost inspired Napoleon Hill makes more sense to me. Specifically, Wallace D. Wattles, who wrote “The Science of Getting Rich” in 1910.
The New Thought Movement has its origin in the United States in the late 19th century. This alliance of spiritual thinkers and philosophers advertised the following idea:
It is the Law of Attraction that forms the foundation for The New Thought movement, The Secret, and Hill’s Rules of Success. The Master Mind Principle and Napoleon Hill’s real secret depend on this natural law.
It is hard to judge if a group of people working closely together is a Master Mind. Who can tell if they are working in a spirit of harmony?
Jesus and his disciples clearly had a solid Master Mind Alliance. We all know what happened when Judas broke their spirit of perfect harmony.
Other examples are King Arthur and his Knights, the 56 men involved in the creation and signing of America’s Declaration of Independence, and Henry Ford’s Industrial Empire.
And what of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Star? Or Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak? Could anyone of them have achieved on his own what they achieved together? Probably not. Was their collaboration based on a spirit of harmony? That’s hard to tell if you haven’t been in a room with them. Did the individuals in these groups share a “definite, higher purpose”? Have they consciously used the Master Mind Principle and Napoleon Hill’s real secret?
In the beginning, the Beatles probably just wanted to make great music. Later on, they started to promote love as a solution to world peace. The groups of Jesus, King Arthur, the Declaration of Independence, as well as the founders of Apple, clearly served a purpose that reached far beyond the personal interest and gain of its members.
Even though the character of entrepreneurship in our times changes rapidly, it did not influence the popularity of Napoleon Hill’s philosophy. On the contrary, his impact only seems to increase.
Looking at the proven methods used by internet marketing businesses these days, one can recognize some of the principles Napoleon Hill taught in his books. His’ giving before getting’ is widely implemented. Most companies offer their customers a free product or trial before they buy anything.
Prominent business and marketing gurus like Tony Robbins and Neil Patel preach the importance of excellent customer service and adding value for their customers. With this, they follow Napoleon Hill’s principle of ‘walking the extra mile.’
Both tycoons promote the idea of joining a mastermind group to increase success. However, the question is to what extent they are implementing all facets of the Master Mind Principle and Napoleon Hill’s real secret.
So, where did Hill’s influence lead? Did the masses think themselves rich? And: has the world become a better place?
It’s very much the question. Take, for example, the generally accepted and inescapable subscription formula. It leads to ever-increasing monthly costs for those depending on online services.
As a result, small, idealistic companies are limited to the stripped-down light versions of the much-needed marketing tools.
Finding businesses that are willing to “walk the extra mile” and are serving a higher purpose is not so easy. Their “excellent customer service” is usually outsourced to an external call center. Poorly paid employees, feeling the pressure of imposed targets, represent a company with which they feel no connection.
In the effective seduction techniques that incite a customer to make a purchase? With the rising costs for monthly subscriptions? With the popularity of social media turning every platform into another advertising platform?
The biggest problem is the lack of a higher purpose – a company’s intention to make this world a better place. Not just on the material level, but on the social level as well. And in parallel, a business’s willingness to invest in a good cause. Without expecting outrageous profits, or having the sole purpose of gaining respect from the broad public.
I’ve seen marketing guru’s advertising their higher purpose of “coaching 100 entrepreneurs to become millionaires.” They shamelessly enrich themselves, cunningly exploiting the “fear of poverty” with which so many starting entrepreneurs struggle.
It’s easy to “help others” when they pay you the grand prize. Are you with this seriously working beyond your benefit?
Real altruism is rare. We, humans, are capable of reciprocal altruism. That is to say, we can only help others, knowing that in the future, I will receive something from them in return.
So, even the most generous donation can be a purely egotistical act. For example, if the welldoer is after the admiration as a result of the good deed.
Do you remember the novel (and movie) “Pay It Forward” by Catherine Ryan Hyde? It tells the story of a twelve-year-old boy who takes upon the challenge of his social studies teacher to “change the world.” He invents a way to do good to strangers, asking them to pay it forward.
Every good deed produces a ripple effect that will eventually change the world for the better. The best part of the philosophy is that one performs his good deed anonymously.
Although the Pay It Forward philosophy became famous for some time, we hardly hear about it anymore. Despite our shared desire to live in a world where we care for others unconditionally, it seems too hard to do, too idealistic.
It is time to wipe the dust off this ideal and start working towards a world of generosity and mutual support. There is a precise method to do it, and Napoleon Hill touches on it with his Master Mind Principle and its real secret.
The most crucial component of the Master Mind Principle, the real secret, is not the fact that “a group can achieve more than an individual.” Of course, it’s true, and we use this principle wherever there is cooperation, teamwork, or networks.
Napoleon Hill’s real secret is what he calls “working in a spirit of perfect harmony.” The collective power, called the Master Mind, only reveals itself when the members of the alliance selflessly bond with each other. If they all consider the interest of the group, and its higher purpose, more important than their own gain.
This may sound self-evident, like an open door, but ignoring our self-interest is an almost impossible task for human beings.
Already in his time, Andrew Carnegie wrote:
“The rare individuals who unselfishly try to serve others have an enormous advantage – they have little competition.”
Since then, individual freedom and egoism have been on the rise, and doing something that goes against our wellbeing simply doesn’t feel natural.
Funny enough, altruism is a law of nature. Organisms and animals have just enough egoism to sustain themselves. They don’t take more than they need to stay alive, protect their kin, and serve the whole.
And thus, if we want to see an example of “perfect harmony,” we need to observe the diverse life on earth. Of course, there are disturbances, like earthquakes, hurricanes, and forest fires. Still, nature always finds a way to restore the balance.
How different it is for humanity? We have a deep-rooted tendency always to want more than we have, and, on top of that, more than our friends and neighbors have. And this goes far beyond our necessities to stay alive. We not only bring nature out of balance but also our mutual relationships.
Humanity reached the state of a fatally sick body, with individuals acting like cancer cells fighting against the whole instead of sustaining it.
If we would again implement the laws of nature that humanity seems to have forgotten, we would be able to restore the balance too. Without dismissing all the amazing things man has created, thanks to his egoism.
We could see beyond the money perspective and change the definition of “wealth.” We could fearlessly take care of others, in the firm conviction that others will take care of us.
With that, our confidence and mutual trust would grow, and we could focus on the “greater good.” In this atmosphere, the Master Mind will do its abundant work for the whole of the collective, and no-one will be excluded.
It all sounds very lofty, but what does it mean in practice? I haven’t been able to find an explicit instruction by Napoleon Hill on how to reach a state of perfect harmony. He makes evident that there is a big difference between ordinary and perfect harmony.
Hill defines it this way, “if a friend wanted everything you have, you willingly would turn it over to him.”
And, he underlines the statement that “The Master Mind, built on perfect harmony, gives you full access to the spiritual powers of the other members of the alliance.”
Wait, spiritual powers?
This implies that a successful Master Mind Alliance does not only reveal broader knowledge, experience, and skills. It also taps into the spiritual field that Hill calls “Infinite Intelligence.” Others might call it God, the Universe, the Law of Attraction, or Nature. For many people in this left-brain world, this will be way too surreal. Thus, the most exceptional secret behind the Master Mind Principle will remain concealed for them.
(1) First of all, we will need to form alliances – groups of 5 to 10 diverse people who share a single goal and a strong desire that reaches beyond their benefit.
All members agree that the success and well-being of their allies is more important than their gain.
(2) Then, they commit to their alliance by investing time, energy, and, if necessary, finances. The group meets regularly, and the focus during these meetings is on the spirit of harmony.
(3) There are no debates, no judgment, and no self-centered speeches.
Instead, each member listens with an open mind and heart to the others and just adds his thoughts. The more everyone can put aside his or her mental opinions and presumptions and speak from the heart, the sooner the force that Hill called “Master Mind” will reveal itself.
How to recognize the revelation of the Master Mind? Trust me, you will identify it.
Like Napoleon Hill says:
“It is one of the most outstanding and pleasant experiences of your entire life. You have no doubt; you have no fear; you have no limitations.”
Brilliant solutions for the most complex problems present themselves in the center of the group, and every member will receive the exact pieces of guidance he or she needs. Each meeting is a source of inspiration, confidence, and unity.
It makes a group that works in a spirit of perfect harmony the most influential tool for change in one’s life.
Master Mind Groups are often associated with entrepreneurs and professionals. But if it’s so powerful, why shouldn’t everybody benefit from meeting others in a spirit of perfect harmony?
Since it is questionable whether the average Master Mind group really aspires to that ideal state, you may wonder if I rightly use that name for the groups I facilitate.
Perhaps I should consider using Benzion Giertz’s term Circular Dialogue Method.
My higher purpose is not for my clients to become rich, but for them to build resilience, and increase their personal effectiveness. I am dedicated to helping them to deal with negative emotions and setbacks, find their purpose in life, and manage their time and money efficiently.
Often, a change of habits is required, and to succeed in this highly challenging task, one needs a supportive social environment. A group, working in a spirit of perfect harmony provides for that.
Every month, Resilience! hosts free online Master Mind sessions on various topics. Experience a spirit of perfect harmony, by following the Circular Dialogue Method. Leave your email address and receive a personal invitation for the next free session.
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Resilience is not a character trait, nor requires any specific talent. What you need is the right environment. How supportive are your circumstances and the people around you?
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