Recently I was contacted by a very successful Internet marketer who asked me what I would suggest to someone who wanted to create a cult-like following.
This is right down my ally so I gave him some very good advice that he couldn’t wait to put into action but the question got me thinking. What steps are there for anyone who wants people to want his/her attention and wisdom?
The result are 10 ways to build a cult-like following. Of course each one of them could be a book in itself but here goes.
1. Initiation vs. Instruction
There is a marked difference between learning by instruction and learning by initiation.
Most people give instruction. This is nothing more than stating facts and teach processes. Any good teacher does that as well as most bad ones.
Learning by initiation is about creating an experience that makes the learning personal and visceral to the student. A good example of that is the 1984 movie “The Karate Kid” . On the one hand you have the macho western karate instructor who taught his students by instruction in a skill ‘n’ drill process. On the other hand you have the character played by Pat Marito who says that he will teach Ralph Macchios’ character karate in exchange for doing chores. But the chores must be done in a certain way “This way wax on. This way wax off.” Only later does the young hero find out that there was a method to his instructors madness and when he figured it out it made complete sense to him as if struck by a lightening bolt.
There are many things that you could simply tell someone and they would intellectually understand but they wouldn’t “get it” as an insight. They would only see it as information. The result is that they may use it or they may not.
Teaching by initiation means holding back on simply telling what the student wants to know and instead provide an experience where the student “gets it” on their own.
The subjective experience of the student is that the lesson is much more valuable because 1) they had to work for it and 2) it is felt more personally.
2. Being Accessible
Someone once told me that “There are no long lines for the guru at the bottom of the hill.”
Making yourself scarce adds perceived value but it also distances you from the masses. If you want a cult-like following you need access to the masses otherwise you’re just an ivory tower wannabe.
There is an ingenious compromise.
Be accessible as a person but present your knowledge and wisdom as being rare, expensive, mysterious, and only for those who are truly ready for it.
This compromise allows you to build deep personal bonds with people yet have them want more or your presence… as well as be willing to pay for it.
Keep in mind that one cult leader, 2000 years ago, would speak to anyone who would listen but he granted his most sacred attention to his 12 closest disciples.
You can add to this compromise by having “special times” when you are not accessible to anyone. You can tell people that you are meditating, or doing your “spiritual practice” but you don’t have to say anything. It’s the mystery of why you are absent that you want to cultivate.
3. Imply Secret Knowledge
The role of simply remaining calm and silent will recur again in this essay so I can’t understate it. Here is where silence is worth a 1000 words. Saying things like “Hmmm… There are 100 possible solutions to that within your own mind.” and nothing else implies things that you know and that they should know.
4. Remaining calm as if all-knowing
Any sharp change in your emotional state, with the exception of joy and laughter, should be minimized. Any leader/teacher who goes on an angry rant is demonstrating their own lack of control. If you truly have control it should be demonstrated by an unshakable calm as if everything is happening just as you knew it would.
I’ve always remembered that the scariest martial artist are the ones that don’t talk or threaten… they calmly do what they have to do and walk away.
5. Create a detached involvement as if “you” are in a “higher place”
In doing this people will look to you as if there is something more to you than your mere physical presence.
6. Connect deeply with the individual
Here rapport is vital. When you are with people you need to put aside all of your distractions, obligations and problems to focus completely on the person or people you to whom you are speaking.
7. “Chunk Up” whenever possible
This may be a bit abstract to grasp but it’s important to creating an appeal because it forces people to think in bigger terms. When you do consistently if gives the impression that you are always thinking bigger than them.
“Chunking Up” is an NLP term that means referring to something that contains what is spoken about as a subset . It can also refer to something that controls or has a larger reach than the topic at hand.
As an example when a person asks “Do you enjoy adult beverages?” a chunked up response would be “There are many adult pleasures I enjoy.” Here, “beverages” is a subset of “pleasures”.
Another example : Statement: “I’ll go with you if you promise to control yourself.” Response “I have no intention of controlling how much I enjoy myself.” Here “control” is a subset of “Enjoyment”.
8. Always allude to the mysterious
This can be done by doing the opposite of name dropping. Refer to a very skilled person you learned from who doesn’t normally take students. Mention an arcane text that describes a mysterious process you went through. Mention it took you ten years of study to read between the lines and find the real meaning to the work.
9. God-Like Confidence
Here is where the work of Blair Warren in “The Worlds Greatest Cult” really comes in handy. He describes what’s called “The God Complex” which encompasses many of the concepts discussed here.
The God Complex is a great example of “chunking up” because it’s about seeing EVERYTHING that can possibly happen as if it’s all part of the plan and being okay with it.
The God Complex is about having such a larger view of the world and your place in it so that what you are doing, this very moment , regardless of what transpires will be as if it was meant to you be.
The bottom line is that people are going to judge and criticize you; you’ll have deal with money and security issues; relationships will change… no matter what. The God Complex includes all of that in a philosophy that allows you to deal with it in a healthy perspective.
10. Appeal to peoples needs and wants
A deep understanding about what people truly respond to is vital if you want to influence anyone. Each individual has their own wants and needs that you have keep in the forefront of your mind.
Good NLP training will help you with that.
People will also respond to the same basic needs being fulfilled; the need to be needed, the need for hope in a tough time, the need to feel in control, the need blame something else for their troubles, the need to learn about something they don’t know or not supposed to know.
The desire for a cult-like following has many benefits and many responsibilities. The hardest of the responsibilities is simply living up to what you are presenting to people. For that reason I always recommend that you live what you teach.
By JK Ellis
Author of Mind Control 101