Over 10 years ago I started a Mastermind group with one other gentleman. There was one individual I wanted to get to know better but we ran in different circles. I always respected this individual and told him that. I asked him if he would be willing to join me creating a group. He agreed and suggest he bring four and I would bring four (including ourselves).
We had many missteps in launching this group and creating the process we use now. We tried being a book club. That did not work. We tried using Dan Kennedy’s marketing material for discussion. That did not work. We tried being an accountability group. That did not work because we all had enough people to hold us accountable. We tried adding women to the group and that did not work (not sure why.) I tell you this because it would have been easy to throw in the towel and quit. It required open communication to work through the start-up issues and later the issues associated with creating a high performing group.
Here is what we needed to do to make the group work: Openness to give and receive constructive feedback, a willingness to be vulnerable (not easy for 7 middle-aged men), it required a commitment from all to play all out and a flexible format that allowed each person to play at the level that made sense for them that month (forgot to mention we meet monthly from 7-9 AM.)
We did turn over several people (for a variety of reasons) and we settled on a strong core of commitment members with the youngest member being in the group four years. Four of the members are original members.
At our last meeting, I asked them to talk about their biggest learning (both good and bad) they experienced in being a part of this group. Below is a summary of their answers.
“I learning how to asked good questions, not just questions.”
“I learned to be more interested in others and make myself less interesting.”
Several people mentioned the power of using “in what ways,” instead of “how,” and how it changed the both the quality of the question as well as the quality of the answer.
One gentleman spoke of how he would ask himself, “What question would the group ask of me when I share this with them?” We are his ghost accountability partners.
Another person spoke about how, “I learned to ask deeper questions and look for the connection between how someone feels about something and how they think about something.”
The consensus about the group’s success is around 100% ownership of an issue and acting on that ownership.
One gentleman talked about the “power of transformation through the power of intention” with acceptance (not necessarily agreement) of each other and how he create lifelong friendship with each member of the group.
Others faced personal demons and with the help of the group, confronted them. Others made major life decisions (divorce, family priority, etc) based on feedback they received.
Finally, one person talked about how it is an oasis for him to be “self-reflective, force a pause in daily life and get clear on what is really important.” This allowed for a personal reboot.
I hope you understand that getting here was not easy. Beliefs were challenged, feeling were hurt, misunderstanding occurred, and yet the group was committed to each other.
The most powerful change agent for me has been this mastermind group. I shared things I never shared before and I was accepted for all my flaws. It is a very powerful feeling to know such respect and love.
I learned so much because everyone is a business owner or senior manager in a larger company. Sharing business problems and getting unvarnished feedback can be hard, especially if you are the problem.
There are many good groups out there. Some are business focused, some are marketing focused, and some are a combination of both. Some focus on the under 40 crowd and some on businesses with less than $10M in revenues.
Get clear on what you want from a group and visit groups you think will help. Look closely at the group’s culture. It might be a highly effective group, just not for you. Are their members with more experience than you (you really want that, especially if business growth is your purpose.) The range of ages in our group is early 40s to late 60s.
Last resort, create your own group. Pick people who are different from you. It makes no sense to surround yourself with people just like you; how will you grow and learn without someone who not afraid to challenge you.
May Blessing Be Upon You!