One of my favourite books of all time is the classic “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. There are dozens of big ideas in that little book but the one that I think I’ve found most value in and certainly the one I’ve implemented most effectively is the “mastermind group.” In fact, I like having mastermind support so much that I’m part of several groups, and they consistently prove themselves to be invaluable for both my business and my life.
A mastermind group, for the uninitiated, is a group of people who come together to support each other’s goals. Usually convened for a business purpose, the participants are relatively equal but different, everyone gives and receives in similar measure, feedback is direct and constructive, ideas are offered generously and accountability is non-judgmental. Great idea, right? But oddly, it took about fifteen years of being in business for myself to figure out that I really do need other people I can turn to and talk with and from whom I can get help when I need it.
In the first few – okay, many – years of my business I was “too busy” to join or start anything that didn’t generate revenue. Then I had some success and found myself acting as a mentor and advisor to others, which was fun and good but over time was too much one-way. But I didn’t know how to turn the tide until I got a really cool call. Someone I really respected in my profession – someone who I also really liked and enjoyed as a person – wanted to create a mastermind group with me as one of the members. I was thrilled to be asked. I felt appreciated for what the other individual thought I might bring to the discussion. And I felt a little twinge of imposter syndrome because I felt less accomplished and less successful than the other members.
Thankfully my fears were illogical and that first group continues, and while we don’t meet often I think we all appreciate the guidance and candor of the other members. On the strength of that original experience I then joined a year-long program that I thought would help me out during the launch of my book and lo and behold I found myself a whole new tribe of supporters. The objectivity and different perspective of the various members means that there are fresh eyes on my business – and my life – and I’ve come to place great value on the input these people generously offer.
Nowadays I’ve got a peer coach, a local mastermind group and a virtual mastermind bunch that were part of the larger mentoring program. Each has its group personality and tone and each provides a different kind of environment and support structure. All are incredibly valuable and in spite of the fact that the meetings take time, I always find I learn something and derive extraordinary value (in addition to laughing and supporting the other members and occasionally eating good food).
I’ve also suddenly found that I’ve got many people I can reach out to if I have a question, want to bounce an idea around or need help with something. Funny, I don’t think the number of wise, generous people in the world has changed much recently, so how is it that I’ve now got all these amazing people in my corner? I’m guessing that I’ve learned something about how to receive.
What I do know for sure is that if my current groups ever disband or reach their natural end, I will find others. For someone who started out as a stalwart, stoic, “I got this” kind of business person, I’m now crystal clear that everything is better with input from smart people who’ve got my back. So my recommendation to you is that you find yourself three or four people you respect and trust, and talk to them about creating a mastermind group. Establish the ground rules and be clear on the expectations – and let yourself be open to the group experience for whatever value it will bring. And it wll.
Note: I believe so strongly in the value of having a mastermind group, no matter where you are in your career, that I included it in the model featured in my book, The Complete Executive: The 10-Step System for Great Leadership Performance. Want to know how “complete” you are? Check out the free assessment here.