My exposure to the concept of the “mastermind” and a mastermind group came at a Jack Canfield training somewhere around 2004 (he’s the originator of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series and has a peak performance coaching and training company). During the training he encouraged us to form a mastermind group with other participants and meet on a regular basis to continue the work we’d started, and gave us guidelines on how to organize and run the group. At the time, I’d heard of a mastermind group, yet didn’t know much about it and certainly had never participated in one. I decided to give it a go and have been happy with my decision ever since.
The concept of a mastermind group comes from Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” book, published in 1937. (Please note, he spells it “Master Mind,” and a caveat: The book is dated: Referring only to men. He has good advice to offer; we just have to keep it in context!) Here’s how he introduces it:
The “Master Mind” may be defined as: “Coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.”
No individual may have great power without availing himself of the “Master Mind.”
So you may better understand the “intangible” potentialities of power available to you, through a properly chosen “Master Mind” group, we will here explain the two characteristics of the Master Mind principle, one of which is economic in nature, and the other psychic. The economic feature is obvious. Economic advantages may be created by any person who surrounds himself with the advice, counsel, and personal cooperation of a group of men who are willing to lend him wholehearted aid, in a spirit of perfect harmony. This form of cooperative alliance has been the basis of nearly every great fortune. Your understanding of this great truth may definitely determine your financial status.
The psychic phase of the Master Mind principle is much more abstract, much more difficult to comprehend, because it has reference to the spiritual forces with which the human race, as a whole, is not well acquainted. You may catch a significant suggestion from this statement: “No two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a third mind.”
I love his point that when two minds get together, a third mind is born. When a dedicated group of like minds gets together, and focuses on each other’s success, amazing things can happen.
Mastermind groups tend to follow this general structure:
Gather: People gather together.
Check-ins: Each person takes one minute to check in and get present.
Time negotiation: Everyone starts with the same amount of time and can trade time with each other if someone has a need for more, or less, time.
Spotlight: Each person shares what’s on his or her mind with the group and asks for support, resources, simply to be heard; whatever will serve them best that day.
Conclusion: Members use one minute to state what they’re taking away from the meeting.
Next meeting: People check their calendars and confirm the next meeting day and time.
End: Everyone goes into the world refreshed and re-energized.
When forming a mastermind group it’s important to think through logistics, such as:
- How many members should be in the group? Six to eight is nice because it’s small enough to be intimate yet large enough to benefit from the mastermind. Also, it’s often easier to manage.
- How do you pick members? Make sure you like the people in the group, you trust them, and everyone gets along personally and professionally. If people don’t like and trust each other, the mastermind will not form properly and you’d be better off spending your time elsewhere.
- How often will you meet? You can meet weekly, twice a month, once a month, once every six months. It’s entirely up to you and what you think will produce the best results for those involved.
- How long will you meet? Meetings can range from one hour to several hours, a full day or an entire weekend. The amount of time you meet will depend on how many people are in the group, how much time slotted for each person, and what works out best, schedule-wise, for the members.
- What is the best meeting location? It’s important to pick a location that’s convenient for everyone. Locations can be in person at a café or an office, on a conference call, or online with visuals such as Google Hangout, WebEx and the like. Virtual meetings allow members to be in different locations and are often more flexible for that reason; in person meetings generate a different vibe, just take care to find a location that is good for privacy and conducive to a group. Both formats can be highly effective.
- What is the nature of the group? Is it a closed group, meaning that members must apply and be vetted? Does the group go on indefinitely or does it have a set time frame, such as six months or one year? Once a member is in, are they committed for the entire time frame? Can other members come in once the group is under way? Is there a charge for being a member? Thinking through the logistics in advance helps set expectations and bond the group.
- Note: Ongoing mastermind groups do best when there is consistency of members and attendance, a set meeting day / time / location, a defined amount of time for the meeting and a set format.
Here are examples from my personal experience. I prefer mastermind groups that are small, usually six to eight people, and to meet once a month. Over the years I’ve been in several groups and each had its own unique flair. The Jack Canfield training group I formed had six people and we met on the phone every other week for an hour. The next group I joined had eight people, we met once a month for three hours, and our meetings were held at the office of one of our participants. The group I’ve been in for the last three-plus years has five people and we meet at a local café once a month for 90 minutes.
Looking at the group I’m in now, it’s the most successful of the three for several reasons:
1) We all genuinely love each other and are dedicated to our own, and each other’s success, as well as the success of the group;
2) We have a set schedule for when and where to meet and stick to the format of checking in, taking our spotlight and respecting each other’s time;
3) We’re flexible and adaptable so that when a topic arises, no matter what it is, we can handle it, and when scheduling or location details need to be addressed, as they periodically do, we can navigate them with ease.
Personally, I’ve benefited from the group on many levels. I’ve gained new friends and colleagues, and deepened my connections. My confidence has soared, my vision of what’s possible for my business and me has expanded, and I’ve become more of the business owner and catalyst that I wanted to be. My income is up and my impact has reached further than ever before. Our meetings are sacred to me and I make every effort to be there for myself, for each individual, and for us as a group.
When a mastermind group is assembled consciously, taking care with all the details listed above, it can propel its members forward far beyond what they could do on their own. Having the container of the group, and the dedication of the members, allows each person to go beyond his or her usual limits, tap into the mastermind, and exponentially succeed. I invite you to join or form a mastermind group of your own and experience this phenomenon for yourself, and get ready for your next level of success!