Genius is rarely cultivated in isolation. Where do you gather for the shared cultivation of genius?
In 1727, Benjamin Franklin formed a club for mutual improvement called Junto.
- It existed for “mutual improvement.”
- It included people from diverse occupations and experiences.
- Participation was not limited to people with formal education or credentials.
- Each member was required to come with questions from “any point of view” on almost any subject, although they focused on “morality, politics, and natural philosophy.”
- These discussions were diverse and not limited to the official professions of the participants.
- The focus was a search for truth, not to win the argument.
- Each person was required to write an essay on a topic of personal choice and interest every three months, and read it to the group for discussion.
If this intrigues you, check out the article below to learn more about The Leather Apron Club, but please don’t do that quite yet. Consider reading through this entire article first.
If you investigate notable people throughout history, you will find that such groups were not uncommon. There was The Dry Club, The Inklings, The Bloomsbury Group, The Dymock Poets, The Algonquin Roundtable, The Factory, and many more. While each group served a different purpose, they shared the common trait of people gathering around a shared interest, having some common set of conditions, and learning from one another. Some groups were more formal than others, but if you take the time to explore some of them, you will find an incredible and inspiring list of poets, novelists, philosophers, inventors, and others.
In 1925, Napoleon Hill published The Law of Success, where he described the concept of what he called a mastermind group, a peer mentoring community where people gather to help one another solve problems, getting advice from the others. Hill pointed to a long list of people who participated in such groups: Thomas Edison, Theodore Roosevelt, J.D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, and Alexander Graham Bell, to name a few.
These people knew what is just as true today. They knew the power and inspiration that comes from gathering with others on a regular basis, to to join in a shared goal. So why not create your own modern-day version?
Most of the experiments on this website offer a 7-day or 10-day challenge, but this one, by nature, calls for a little more time. As such, this is a 12-week challenge, inviting you to dedicate one day a week or one day every other week.
- Define the purpose of your group. You might start with a topic, theme, or shared area of interest. Or, perhaps like Franklin, it is a broad topic.
- Create a notebook dedicated to this project. You will record rules, what happens at each meeting, and any of your own personal reflections about the experiment each week.
- Identify an initial list of people whom you would like to invite.
- Recruit. Reach out to each of them to explain the idea and get a sense of their interest.
- Consider an initial meeting with no strings attached. Just come, try it out, and decide from there. However, from there, you really want to find a group of people who are willing to commit to regular attendance.
- Prior to that meeting, it is important to create a list of your non-negotiable features of the meeting. Look at the list of features in the Leather Apron Club for ideas. Regardless of what you choose, there should be some sort of basic and consistent structure. You can always adapt the structure with group feedback later.
- At that first meeting, share your vision for the group and, if you are open to it, invite feedback. At that meeting, establish a weekly or bi-weekly schedule, and decide what the expectations are for attendance. It is hard to build a robust community if some people only show up on occasion, but such details are up to you and the group.
- For the sake of this experiment, you and the group are only committing to trying this out for 12 weeks. Either you will meet once a week (12 times) or every other week (6 times).
- At the end of the 12 weeks, you and the group can decide whether or not to continue.
- Don’t expect things to go perfectly. Community takes time. Be patient with yourself and the group.
- For the sake of this group, come up with something substantive to drive and direct conversation each meeting. The idea of taking turns sharing an essay of some sort might be a possibility.
- Also consider creating a sort of ritual or agenda for each gathering, but don’t be afraid to experiment with different formats.
- With that said, give a particular approach at least a couple weeks, as some practices take time to mature.