You know … when you’re hanging out with a group of friends or colleagues, and a lively and unexpected conversation takes place? One that leads to a powerful – almost magical – idea or solution?
And then you walk away thinking, “Damn … that was awesome! What just happened?”
Whether you call them brainstorming sessions or collaborations, when great minds come together, the results can be profound. So imagine what could happen if you purposefully united groups of positive-energy people with shared goals on a regular basis. BOOM! Talk about potential! And that’s the idea behind Mastermind’s.
I’ve been a part of my own Mastermind group for six months, and I can honestly say it has changed my life. I regularly meet with this brilliant group of like-minded women who inspire, prod, support and influence each other. And the results? Well, it’s been amazing.
So first things first: where does this Mastermind concept come from?
When personal-success guru Napoleon Hill asked self-made steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie about his own secret to success, Carnegie said it could be traced to “the sum total of the minds” of his business associates – his managers, accountants, chemists and so on. He called this combined brain power a master mind, and attributed it to his accomplishments.
Hill came to believe that a Mastermind could be the secret to anyone’s success – the “very foundation stone of all outstanding personal achievements.” And I’ve come to believe it, too. In fact, after first-hand experience with my own Mastermind group, I can’t help but preach it, my friends! Go get yourself one, and I mean, now! But wait, how do you do that? Here are the basics:
1. Find your purpose.
You’ll need to find a very select and purposeful group of three to six people who have specific and like-minded goals. Maybe it’ll be made up of small business owners who are looking to grow their business, or maybe working moms who are looking to find a work/life balance. Determine if it will be based on topic, mission, business type, or maybe a combination of all three. You and your members need to know why you’re meeting, and you all need to truly believe in your group’s reason for existing, along with the desired outcome you hope to produce.
2. Identify yourself.
This means you need to give your group a name and make it official. For instance, my group is aptly named The Sum Total (a nod to Mr. Carnegie and his business philosophy).
3. Define your expectations, ground rules and penalties.
This step is crucial, both for effectiveness and productivity. As with any group experience, you can expect some tough situations to arise, in terms of team dynamics. If you nail down the fundamentals – the non-negotiables – it’ll make things run smoother right from the beginning.
Decide basic things like how often you will meet. I recommend a two- to four-hour meeting once a month for starters, although some groups find the need to meet every other week. Clarify any other elements that are “musts” in your book. They could include things like attendance, meeting etiquette or participation. And what happens if a group member doesn’t deliver on what they’ve committed to do? Possible penalties could include making donations to a favorite charity or performing 25 push-ups in front of the group. Bottom line? Define what matters.
4. Develop a format.
Your meetings are going to need structure. You’ll want to develop a routine agenda, and define member responsibilities. Will the same person moderate each meeting, or will you rotate that role? And most importantly, will there be food? (I say, yes!)
For example, my group always begins with an opening thought and a meditation. We then have a Check-In Period, where every person has a chance to touch base and give an overview of how they’re doing. Next comes the Hot Seat Process, when we focus on one person at a time. We will ask questions and challenge that person, as well as nurture and uplift them. Whoever’s in the hot seat will be encrouraged to dig deep, be accountable and set new goals, among other things. We typically end the meetings with commitments and declarations, expressions of gratitude, and a brief discussion of the next meeting date.
5. Follow Through.
Once you’ve established your group and formed the basic structure of your existence, make it happen! Get your members on board, meet, follow through with your intentions, and hold each other accountable. Make sure to throw in some fun activities, too! And remember, set those individual and group goals, or as I like to call them – big, hairy and audacious goals! Masterminds are not for wimps! You’re going to go after those personal and professional goals with vigor! You’ll also have the support of your new community, who will challenge you, forcing you to go outside your comfort zone to make it all happen (whatever that “it” is)!
So there you have it – the basics of starting your own Mastermind group.
It might seem a little overwhelming at first, and quite frankly, it can be! If you want to find out more about the process, or if you need my help, let me know. In the meantime, here’s a question for you: when is the last time you experienced a profound “meeting of great minds,” and what was the result?