Over the last 4 years, I have been a part of some life changing mastermind groups. They added value to my life in a way that would have been difficult to achieve through other methods. While coaching, reading, formal education, friendships, mentorships and other methods are extremely useful, a mastermind group can provide weekly connection to a group of like minded individuals that has some unique benefits. Once the format of the group and culture is established properly, the experience can be absolutely life changing.
Have you heard of a business incubator? Professional incubators help new businesses and start ups get going by providing guidance, services and other forms of support. A mastermind group can function as an incubator for the individual. Expertise, resources, opinions and guidance is shared with one another. When an individual is receiving feedback, other members of the group are listening and also receiving value even though the conversation is not focused on them. This is why the experience can be so powerful. The transfer of wisdom from one person to many is essentially how the entire education industry has been established. A man sits down to write down his ideas or perspective. It is packaged and sold as what we commonly know as a “book”. Professors stand at the front of the lecture hall speaking to hundreds of young, hopeful students about their expertise is a particular field of study. It is packed and sold as a certification or a degree. All forms of education include information transfer from one person to another or from one person to many simultaneously.
Mastermind groups can fill in a very unique gap and something that is lacking from most educational processes. The individual is afforded more time to speak about their personal experience and ask specific questions. They can be challenged, encouraged and supported on specific aspects of their sharing. There is an opportunity for members to call each other out on their bullshit. This requires developing the capacity to listen and detect bullshit, as well as the courage to speak honestly about the way we are perceiving one another. This is missing from many aspects of our daily experience because people don’t want to insult others or be misunderstood and they don’t want to be excluded from a group. Thousands of years ago, our relationships with others were vital for our survival in the wild. We needed others to secure the permitter of the village, gather resources, hunt for food or protect us from other threats in the environment. The same tribal principles hold true today. We are stronger together. As a group of people focused on a single task, we can accomplish more. We can share innate talents and learned skills to get the job done. The challenge of this modern world is that we don’t need anyone to survive. The grocery store provides all the basics and we don’t need to get to know our neighbours. In the face of this reality, we are social creatures and we benefit from having relationships with others.
I have collected some of my thoughts on Mastermind below. I hope that these ideas are helpful in the creation, management and leadership of your own group. If you are interested in receiving coaching on this and want to get support from me on creating your own group, reach out on my contact page.
These points are not listed in order of their significance and are all important aspects to consider before starting your Mastermind group.
The group does not need to cost anything. You might choose to include some level of commitment which could be monetary or some kind of business/service exchange. It is not necessary but it can be helpful. If is monetary, the money could go towards a space rental, catering or quarterly dinner. Ultimately, the quality and value from the meetings will create more emotional buy-in because people are seeing how it can contribute meaningfully to their life and they want to keep it going.
The group or its leader needs to decide how often you are going to have the meetings. This needs to be set from the beginning so that you can gain commitment from members. It should be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Group members need to be able to make the meeting a priority and arrange their lives around it. Consistency is key. It helps to have a regular place to meet because it is habit forming. Make it easy to get to the meeting every week. It is more difficult to manage groups of people if the location and time is constantly changing. You can change locations over time, but is best not to do this frequently.
Showing up is a very important piece to the success of your group. When people are missing, it takes energy away from the circle. Even when they are there, their minds might be elsewhere. Showing up on time or early with your head in the game will make you a valuable member of any group or team in life.
3. Group Size
In my opinion, 10-12 people should be the maximum capacity for an effective group. The reason is that in a 2-3 hour meeting, you will not have enough time to really focus on the individuals and give them space for their share or their turn to get some attention. For a 2 hour meeting, consider 8 people maximum. Overtime, you will begin to see that the groups can develop a personal aspect to it. Our success is directly impacted by our personal relationships, emotional states and overall perspective. Even if you are in a internet marketing group, someone may share about a person struggle they are having at work or at home. This will only happen if they feel comfortable and if they are needing support. If it is strictly a business group, people may feel more guarded around this.
Every group needs a leader who organizes and guides the meeting along. If a task isn’t delegated, it might not get done. Someone should be responsible for keeping time and making sure that no specific individual is dominating the entire meeting. This is an important role because the leader can maintain the guidelines and agreements of the circle. They can keep time, organize the meeting and assign someone to take notes (optional). You want the meetings to run smoothly. You might have to ask people to leave the mastermind if they are disruptive or not contributing to the group. For example, if someone doesn’t show up to the meetings and isn’t there for 3 months, someone needs to have a conversation with them to make room for a new member of the group. When people are absent from meetings, it takes away from the energy of the group. Everyone else has shown up, why not that other person? If people are not showing up to the meeting they are taking the opportunity away from someone else who would show up, get value and contribute to the circle. Circles without a leader can be very disorganized. Without any guidelines or rules to follow, people will tend to do whatever the fuck they want.
5. Communication Style
A key to success in a mastermind is to be open to feedback. If you are not open, then you are not receiving the full benefit of the circle. You have to be open to hearing feedback and willing to give it to other people. The feedback can be critical or supportive or both. Supportiveness includes giving challenging feedback about the way you see the other person showing up in life and give them an opportunity to refine their behaviour or improve their circumstances.
A good mastermind circle will have a culture of authenticity, direct communication and no bullshit. At the same time, respecting each member of the group and each person’s individuality. Once persons blueprint is not another persons blueprint. Cultivate the ability to listen to what someone else thinks and not take it personally. Not all feedback is going to deeply impact your life, but some of it will. At the very least, the feedback can be considered. See if it lands for you.
Encourage each other to speak from personal experience versus repeating a great quote you read on Instagram or paraphrasing something that Eckhart Tolle said.
6. No Distractions
The meeting space should be private and give everyone the opportunity to focus. This is a formal meeting and not just a tea party. Don’t bring your cat. You don’t need music. Put the dog in another room. Turn the TV off. Centre the focus of the group around each individual and what is top of mind. Don’t have kids running around or have the spouse of the Mastermind leader lurking in the background listening. The conversations will be centred around the topic at hand, but as I mention here, personal matters may get brought up from time to time and that needs to be respected. Confidentiality is important and that can only be run on the honour system.
A mastermind group should help move your life forward. It is a good opportunity to share yourself with other people, expose your mind, share your process and get feedback on that.
Over time, people take an interest in you and want to hear about how you are doing from week to week. Having someone actually listen to you can be such a rare thing in this day and age, as well as just being given the safety and permission to speak openly.
These groups are not only for people that are struggling. They are for people at all levels of success that want to refine aspects of their life, are seeking to learn more about themselves and want to support others with their own goals.
Potential business opportunities are only part of the value of the group. The personal relationships developed and the experience of being heard by others is powerful.
Think of ways you can contribute to the group instead of only thinking selfishly about everything that you can get. Groups thrive off contribution from the members.
People like to work with others who make it easy. They deal with people that they like and trust. If others get a chance to know you and understand how you see the world, they will be more comfortable referring you to a business opportunity or take interest in collaborating with you.