Napoleon Hill’s “Invisible Counselors Technique” is a great imaginative exercise used to aid creativity and problem-solving. It’s a very simple 3 step process:
1. Close your eyes and vividly imagine yourself in a counselor’s room. Choose a definitive purpose for your meeting and what situation in your life you want help or guidance in.
2. Choose between 5-9 individuals (alive, dead, fictional, non-fictional – it doesn’t matter) who you would like to receive advice from regarding this particular situation.
3. Ask whatever questions you want to any of the individuals at your meeting. For each question, keep your mind open, and be ready to hear any response that comes back to you.
The stronger your imagination, the better. But don’t worry if you’re not naturally a creative or imaginary person; like most things, this skill can be developed with practice. You may not receive any insights the first time you meet with your counsel, but with practice you will get better at listening to your subconscious.
For a great explanation on the history and application of the Invisible Counselors Technique, this video does a bang up job (although there are some things I disagree with which I will address below, watch it first):
While I find this video really helpful in explaining how to do the Invisible Counselors Technique (and also how it relates to other people’s creative strategies), I don’t quite understand why it feels the need to bring up multiverses or quantum mechanics. The video originally quotes Hill as saying this is purely a fictional exercise, but then later tells how he changed his mind because the characters began to take a personality of their own.
I think the false assumption here is that our mind is a single, unitary personality. But in truth I think our personalities are much more multi-dimensional, partly because they are heavily influenced by other figures in our life: family members, friends, teachers, coworkers, celebrities, politicians, musicians, artists, actors, as well as fictional characters in movies, TV shows, books, plays, etc.
Thus, when we imagine our best friend or Mom or Abraham Lincoln in our mind’s eye, it isn’t as though we are actually channeling them into consciousness. What we are doing is projecting a vision or “archetype” of them that we have learned through prior experience with that person. Thus, I believe it is still technically a “fiction” – a projection of our imagination – although, it happens to be a useful fiction when it comes to creativity and problem-solving.
In truth, the effectiveness of the technique has little to do with whether or not these projections are “real” in some other dimension or simply “imaginary.” I think Occam’s Razor (choosing the theory that makes the fewest new assumptions) tells us that The Invisible Counselors Technique is a working of our imagination.
Given, I’m not an expert in Quantum Mechanics, but I do know that the popular consensus from most quantum physicists (and psychologists, for that matter) doesn’t support the notion that we can literally connect with the consciousness of dead minds. I won’t say it’s flat out wrong (because I don’t know), but I am certainly skeptical.
Skepticism aside, the technique is valid in its own right, and I highly recommend trying it. In all honesty, I find that our imaginations are an incredibly undervalued resource in today’s society. In addition, I think in many ways ideas remain dormant in our subconscious, and an exercise such as The Invisible Counselors Technique helps us bring these subconscious ideas into awareness. When we draw upon these different archetypes that exist in our minds, we become introduced to different perspectives that we may not have previously considered. I consider it a very useful technique in cognitive empathy.
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