One of the most influential and best-selling books of all time was written in 1937 by Napoleon Hill. His book on financial independence and personal achievement, Think and Grow Rich, was inspired by multi-millionaire Andrew Carnegie who shared his success formula with Hill more than fifty years earlier when Hill was a boy.
When Carnegie was sure that Hill had grasped the idea and full significance of what he had shared, he asked Hill if he would be willing to spend the next twenty years or more preparing to take it to the world. Hill enthusiastically agreed. Armed with Carnegie’s cooperation and interviews with another 500 wealthy men, he kept his promise and dedicated his life to bringing their message to people in all walks of life so they, too, could apply the principles and attain riches.
One of the most powerful principles Napoleon Hill wrote about in his book is the ninth step: Power of the Master Mind. He defines mastermind as a “coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.”
You may have heard the expression, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Hill wrote about this concept of the exponential power of a mastermind alliance when he stated, “No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible, intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind.” There is a synergy that occurs when people come together to puzzle out a problem or do good works that pulls out solutions and ideas that never would have occurred to one member of the group alone.
The following names in American history learned this and used it to make profound advancements in many areas to improve our lives.
Benjamin Franklin formed a small club in 1727, made up of enterprising artisans and tradesmen that he dubbed the Junto. They met one night a week with everyone in it helping each other succeed by recommending books, shopkeepers and friends to each other. The original Junto are responsible for much that has made our lives better, such as the first public hospital, our first library, police departments, volunteer fire departments, paved streets, and the University of Pennsylvania. The group lasted 40 years, evolving into the American Philosophical Association.
Thomas Edison, probably best known for inventing the light bulb, was surely the most prolific inventor of all time with 1,093 patents to his name. What most people don’t know is that he so understood this mastermind concept that he also developed a system for inventing. Believing the old adage that two heads are better than one, in 1887 he set up his Invention Factory in West Orange, New Jersey, where he brought together people with different areas of expertise and got them working in teams on visionary projects. Over half of those patents earned were during his 44 years of work at his Invention Factory and came from these mastermind teams.
Henry Ford started out his business career handicapped by poverty and illiteracy. Within ten years, he mastered his handicaps and went on to become one of the richest men in America. Mr. Ford’s friendship with Thomas Edison and his association (and shared brain power) with Harvey Firestone, Luther Burbank, and John Burroughs were catalysts to his most outstanding achievements.
The idea of a mastermind alliance goes back hundreds and even thousands of years. Socrates had his Academy. World leaders have had their groups of advisors. Jesus had his disciples. King Arthur had his Knights of the Round Table. They may not have been called that specifically, but all are mastermind groups. So, you see it is impossible to give credit to any one person or group for creating the concept of a mastermind.