Posted by: XL Results Foundation | February 11, 2008

The Perfect Circle Group

Michelle Clarke reports that the Manchester Circle Group was acting a little sheepish on their first anniversary.

I was fortunate enough to join XL UK in its first launch week back in September 06. I immediately connected to some new Life Members in my area, who have become great friends and business advisors. We now come together once a month for our Circle Group meeting. We have an incredibly special bond as a group, and I am deeply grateful to them for their honesty, their trust and the impeccable advice they provide, which is based on years of experience in business and life!

Celebrating Year One

This month we celebrated our first year together by going on a retreat to the most beautiful countryside and an ideal haven, where we learned how to work sheepdogs and took part in a mini sheepdog trial.

Daniel Priestley is the UK Country Manager, who formulated and launched the idea of Circle Groups, based on the masterminding principle coined by Napoleon Hill, author of the timeless Think and Grow Rich. Hill defined a mastermind group as the “coordination of knowledge and effort, in the spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.”

A Perfect Circle

We have all learned so much and benefited tremendously from being involved in our Circle Group. Graham Emmett, our Trader told me this: “I see the Circle Group as my (unpaid) board of non-executive directors. They aren’t there every day — just when you call on them for help, or once a month at meetings when the blend of profiles puts my thinking back on track. Even when I don’t think I’ve got anything to talk about regarding my own business, just thinking about others helps me to improve.”

A perfect Circle Group has six to 12 members, covering all five elements. The four basic elements (wood, fire, earth and metal) will be represented by the members of the Circle Group. The fifth element, water, is an energy which we have now felt come alive with strong connections, trust and openness within our circle. Water energy is what people often call synergy or ‘spirit’. It is what connects us while deepening our understanding and awareness.

Five-Star Sheepdogs

I became the proud owner of a Border Collie sheepdog, ‘Tot’, last January — a dog bred by two great friends of mine, Thomas and Anne Longton. Working farmer Thomas, my trainer and mentor in the baffling art of sheepdog handling, is an internationally-renowned authority on sheepdogs and is in great demand as a trainer, having bred and trained many champions. He is most publicly recognized for wining the supreme championship and the title of ‘One Man and His Dog.’ He and Anne decided to provide luxurious coordinated lodgings for dog owners and their canine companions.

So, in the lap of luxury, the Circle Group spent time together at Shepherds Barn in the North West of England. The barn is quite literally, five-star award-winning accommodation, and we lived like kings: that is, until we had the sheepdog handling competition.

I have been learning the art of sheepdog handling with Tot for about a year now. Both of us are novices but learning together. I find it incredibly grounding after a week in the office, to run about a field trying to get my dog to ‘come by’: the traditional term for sending him in a clockwise direction, or what feels like a continuous struggle with my ‘lie down’ command. We are steadily working towards entering our first trial competition this winter.

Penning the Sheep

After a lesson and demonstration and some practice with one of Anne’s trial dogs, ‘Mirc’, the new shepherds and shepherdesses were ready for the big trial. A course was constructed and rules set for how to get the most points. The course was of a pretty high standard and each student had to get their dog to go and ‘fetch’ the sheep from the top of the field, direct them through a series of tight obstacles, ending up with the hardest bit: getting all the sheep into a pen.

A triumphant winner, Ken Smith handled Mirc beautifully. Stationed at the shepherds post, Ken sent Mirc off on a beautiful ‘outrun’ — where the handler sends the dog away to get the sheep. He perfectly negotiated the obstacles like a handler that had been working dogs for ages. Mirc obeyed and listened intently for the next command, and they finished with an example of ‘penning’ the sheep in a way any competitor would be proud of. We celebrated Ken’s victory that evening in a traditional fashion: at the local pub with local ale and food!

If you want to know more about the benefits of or how to join a circle group, please speak to your Country or City Manager.


Thomas and Anne Longton

Michelle Clarke, a Leadership Development Consultant to senior executives in the UK, is Development Manager for XL in Europe, Middle East and Africa, working with new Leader’s to launch XL in their country/city.




  1. I enjoyed reading your blog today, and I thought that you may be interested to learn that a new edition of Napoleon Hill’s classic book “Think and Grow Rich” has been published.

    Its title is “Think and Grow Rich!” (subtitled) “The Original Version, Restored and Revised.” I am the editor/annotator of this new 416-page edition, which is really an homage to Dr. Hill. (For several years I was the editor-in-chief of “Think & Grow Rich Newsletter.”)

    What I have done is this: to restore Dr. Hill’s book to its original manuscript content (it was first published in 1937, but was abridged in 1960), annotate it with more than 50 pages of endnotes (most of the persons and events he discusses are generally unknown to readers today), index it thoroughly, add an appendix with a wealth of additional information about Dr. Hill and his work, and revise the book in ways to help remove certain “impediments” to reading the book today (language that today would be considered obsolete, sexist or racist). None of these things had previously been done with TGR.

    If you would like to learn a little more about this project, a quick visit to will give you some details. The “Editor’s Foreword” provides more complete information, and the “Testimonials” page will demonstrate how well-received this new book is around the world.

    Here is the books page…

    …as well as its page…

    The book is available on all the Amazon websites and most other online sellers (it is now the No. 1 best-selling version of TGR on all three English language Amazons), it can be ordered by any bookstore, and it will soon be appearing in bookstores everywhere. We also sell direct, at steep discounts, to personal success coaches and motivational speakers who use it for back-of-the-room sales and to teach Master Mind and Personal Success Study Groups. I invite you to include a link to the book in your online sites.

    Our edition of TGR! is superior in every way to other versions on the market. It is a trade paperback, not a pocket-size mass market paperback. It is unabridged. It is 416 pages versus 230+ (depending on the edition). It looks better, feels better, reads better than any other version. It is fast becoming the “version of choice” among Napoleon Hill devotees and other students of success and high achievement.

    Thank you for your time and attention.

    Ross Cornwell, Editor

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