Recently I assisted setting up and started participating in a Mastermind group. Even after the first few sessions, the benefits to me were apparent. In this blog post I want to share my thoughts, so you can see and decide for yourself how you can benefit by joining one – or even starting one!
What is a mastermind group?
Napoleon Hill, in his classic book “Think and grow rich”, defines a mastermind group as “coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definitive purpose”. According to him, there are two characteristics in a mastermind group: The first is the cooperative alliance between the participants, the advice, counsel, and wholehearted aid from the group. The second, and possibly more important, is the ‘spiritual’ or ‘psychic’ characteristic. This concept is more abstract; the author describes it as the inspired thoughts and power absorbed directly through the universal “infinite intelligence”.
To explain it simply, a mastermind group is a small group that you meet with, for the purpose of reinforcing growth and success, while offering support to one another. The ideas and support shared come not only from the individual members’ minds and knowledge, but also from a higher, invisible, universal intelligence.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”– Aristotle
The “why” – Benefits of being in a Mastermind group
The first obvious benefit of being in a mastermind group is the brainstorming and sharing ideas between the peers, its collective quality. The members do not necessarily have to be at the same level of experience or knowledge; they can have different skillsets, but the important thing is that they share the same values and goals of self-improvement. Put it in another way, to be like-minded.
Other benefits of the mastermind group that quickly become apparent, are the impartial and unemotional advice being given, the motivation and moral support, and let’s not forget about the accountability! Somehow, once we’ve told a group of people that we are going to do something, we are much more likely to actually do it than if we just had kept the goal to ourselves.
“Two heads are definitely better than one and by brainstorming as a team and sourcing ideas from each other, you have a better chance of coming up with a strategy that will allow your business to overcome a setback or challenge.”– Richard Branson
How is a mastermind group organised
Here are some practical considerations regarding setting up a mastermind group:
- The starting point of a mastermind group is to have a clearly defined mission, purpose and aim.
- The meetings can be done either in person, or online using platforms such as Skype or Zoom.
- Group size: When meeting in person (boardroom/living room mastermind), between 4-8 people are the ideal amount. If it is done online, it can scale up to bigger numbers (10+).
- The participating members can be selected by different ways, through e.g. a filtering process, an application, C.V. etc. The really important factor here is that they all need to be genuinely committed people.
- Ground rules must be set in advance, such as a pledge for confidentiality, and the number of acceptable absences (many groups operate a 2 strike kick-out rule, which may sound harsh, but will filter out all but the dedicated and committed members, as mentioned above ).
- The frequency of the meetings needs also to be decided. For most groups, a monthly meeting is both sufficient and convenient, but there are options also of fortnightly, or even quarterly if the group meets in person. In either case, it is the mission of the group and the members’ targets that will define the meeting frequency.
- The fee also needs to be agreed on. Administration, online platform subscriptions, time used to organise it, should all bear a fair exchange. Even more importantly though, having to pay an amount of money gives people more reason to just turn up – I personally tried a free mastermind, and the participation and commitment levels were woeful.
- An aspect to be agreed on is the duration of each meeting. For most groups, anything between 60 and 90 minutes is long enough to cover the topics, and short enough to fit in a busy lifestyle. Of course, in the case of e.g. quarterly boardroom meetings in person, it can be arranged for half a day, or even for a full day.
- Finally, a mastermind group has to have one member to lead it, the “head of the mastermind”. This person will take charge and responsibility to run the mastermind group smoothly and according to the agreed ground rules, and to also control the flow.
Structure of a Mastermind group meeting
Here is a proposed structure of a mastermind group meeting:
- The day before the meeting the head of the mastermind circulates an agenda.
- The meeting starts with a short update from each member (2-3 minutes), about what they’ve achieved since the previous session, and what have they learned. If they missed to meet their target, the question they’ll have to answer is “what can you do in order to ensure you’ll achieve it?”
- Then comes the “hotseat”, which will be occupied by a different member each time, who will have prepared in advance. The member on the hotseat explains a challenge they are having (or 2-3 of the biggest challenges), and they ask for suggestions and what they need help with. This is exactly where the beauty and the genius of the mastermind happens, when the member gets the vicarious answers and the experience from all the others.
- After the “hotseat” session, if time allows, there can be a discussion about a certain topic that has been agreed in advance.
- At the end, each member finishes with a quick statement about what they are going to achieve before next time (accountability). Some questions to be considered on this are “is this achievement going to stretch me outside of my comfort zone? If not, how can I re-set the goal to stretch me? What obstacles may stop me from achieving it? How can I overcome them? On a scale of 1-10, how committed I am?
- This last part of accountability is even more effective if each member has prepared an accountability sheet to circulate, with the goal, the present situation, and the in-between steps and possible obstacles written down.
Make sure you keep in contact between the official meetings, especially if they are held monthly or quarterly. An ideal and simple method for this can be a WhatsApp group.
Also review the mastermind group’s progress as a whole from time to time, by looking at the big picture, reviewing the purpose of the group, the number of members etc.
I hope this blog post has given you the information about what a mastermind group is, the incentive to realise its usefulness, and some practical advice to implement on creating a mastermind group yourselves. I can personally say that a mastermind group is an invaluable resource for me.
“There are no limitations to the mind except those that we acknowledge.”– Napoleon Hill
P.S. Have a listen to the episode of my podcast “Personal Development Essentials”, where I discuss the topic of Mastermind groups with Paul: http://personaldevelopmentessentials.libsyn.com/episode-12-mastermind-groups