“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
A lot of people talk about this but I’m not sure everyone really gets it. Who do you spend the most time with? Are the top 3-5 people you talk to or work with everyday a positive or negative influence on you? Who do you go to when a big decision looms? Are you going at everything alone or do you have a couple people you lean on for guidance?
These are all questions I believe are vital to your success and happiness. Many people think they have to go at everything alone and are too proud to solicit feedback from a few trusted advisors.
So…why is this important?
If you look back on history, some of the most successful people leveraged the power of their tribe to do great things. Napoleon Hill talks intimately about Mastermind groups in his book, “Think and Grow Rich”. In fact he has a whole chapter dedicated to it. Hill talks about the power of the group and defines power as “organized and intelligently directed knowledge.” He then goes on to explain that the “coordination of effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.” The fact is that there is power in the accumulated experience of a group. I’m sure you’ve seen this magic happen in simple conversations where someone gives you their perspective on a situation you bring up. Imagine having this on a consistent basis and with multiple people.
One of the examples used is Andrew Carnegie, one of the world’s most successful businessmen, who later became one of the most generous philanthropists ever to grace this Earth. Not only did he sell his Steel company to JP Morgan in 1901 (for $480M by the way), but he later founded Carnegie Hall, Carnegie Mellon University and various other endeavors. Guess what? He didn’t do it alone.
Carnegie’s Mastermind group consisted of about fifty men. That’s a lot, I know, but the point is that he surrounded himself with people that pushed and inspired him. In fact, he attributed his entire fortune to the power of this principle. The examples are endless – Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, Mahatma Gandhi. All people who surrounded themselves with the right people.
The Seven Benefits of Joining a Mastermind Group:
- Awareness – Simply talking through what you’re doing will open up conversation with your trusted group that will bring awareness. You’ll get immediate feedback – both verbal and non-verbal and you’ll be amazed at what comes to light. You will either validate what your’e trying to do or gain some insight from someone that will enable you to tweak whatever it is you’re trying to do.
- Perspective – Speaking of tweaking, talking with others in a trusted format like a Mastermind with give you varying perspectives. Imagine having three very successful people in the room all deconstructing your challenge and providing potential suggestions. Instant feedback. Instant growth
- Support – Everyone goes through challenges. On the surface we see many people as successful and don’t think they face any self-limiting beliefs or failures. The truth is that we all do. There’s beauty in a forum like this in that you’ll start to learn what others are dealing with and how they’ve overcome things to get where they are.
- Accountability – Let’s face it. It’s hard to remain accountable to things we want to accomplish if we only keep it to ourselves. Sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and talk about your dreams, etc. There’s power in letting others know what you’re doing. It builds something subconsciously in your psyche and you definitely don’t want to let anyone down. The more you share in a forum like this, the more constructive feedback you’ll get. From there, you’ll have a vested interest in doing what you say you’re going to do. None of us like to let anyone down. You want a group that’s supporting yet tough when they need to be. Being called out on something isn’t always a bad thing. Just like the Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile barrier, we have many barriers to our success that are a direct reflection of our own self-limiting beliefs. It’s good to get pushed by others.
- Relationship Building – Most Masterminds meet on a consistent basis (typically weekly) at a set time and location. They typical amount of time is around 10 weeks but it can vary from that (either more or less). You’ll see immediate seeds of relationships being build in session one just by being there, but you’ll be blown away by about the third or fourth meeting. By that time, everyone will have a chance to cultivate an idea, challenge or opportunity they’re facing and I bet you’ll have either added value or had value added to you by each person in the group. Providing value builds trust immediately. The Mastermind forum is perfect for both adding value and receiving value.
- Resources – We all have a network that we cultivate daily and have built throughout our careers and lives. Each person in this group will have access and influence in ways you don’t. Just look at Linked In. I swear you can type in any name and you’ll find at least one person in your network that’s connected that person somehow. The world is flat and connecting with people is much easier than it used to be. People in your group will go out of their way to provide access to their resources.
- Achieving Outcomes – At the end of the day, this is probably the “why” behind being in a Mastermind group. Whether you want to push yourself into a philanthropic effort or ensure a big deal closes by the end of the year, there’s power in soliciting feedback from others. Add up everything above (awareness, perspective, support, accountability, relationships and resources) and you’ll be well on your way to achieving whatever it is you want to achieve
Some keys to getting started:
- Start small – You don’t need a big group, at least two or three to start. I recommend shooting for three to five because there’s a definite power in numbers. You don’t want to make a too big though, especially in your first one. You can start by asking people their thoughts and interest in being in a group like this. As soon as you start dropping the likes of Andrew Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, JP Morgan and John Maxwell, people’s ears will perk up. Don’t be pushy with it, just inquire and make it a conversation. Most people have interest in reaching their potential and that’s what a group is all about – bringing out the best in each other.
- Inviting the right people – Remember, you want people that are driven, positive and will push you through your limits….and, people that will be open to you and the group pushing them. Everyone doesn’t have to be just like you. Finding people that have differing strengths and skill sets is good. Just make sure everyone is on board with the process. Most people don’t want to be average and are striving for more – striving to reach their potential. Make sure that’s the basis for your conversation. You can start with friends, family and/or colleagues but make sure they’re people that inspire you and are open to being inspired.
- Set parameters for the meetings – You need to have some ground rules in place. Location, time of meeting, length of meeting, etc. Try not to have these in a public setting (i.e., Starbucks) as there will be too many distractions. If you can use a board room at someone’s office that’s perfect. An hour to hour and a half is a good amount of time. If you have five people, then each person gets about 10 minutes in an hour session. What you’ll find is you may focus on one person’s situation for a longer amount of time in a particular session. That’s okay. Just ensure each person has the opportunity to discuss their topic in ensuing meetings.
- Pick a focus area – You can pick a specific topic to cover for the overall Mastermind (i.e. Leadership, Business Development, Influence) or change this up for each meeting. It’s good to have a starting point for conversation though.
- Make sure there’s a leader of the group – There’s got to be someone running the ship. Keeping the meeting in check, facilitating conversation, prepping the topic, etc. It can be loose though. I believe there’s magic in having an open forum of discussion as well. Things will pop up in each meeting that you can expand on and really dive in (and help) the individual who’s the basis of the conversation.
- Keep track of the meetings – It’s good to note the high level conversations, successes, challenges, etc that each person brings up. This helps with accountability and future discussions.
My last piece of advice is to just get started. It’s easy to try and make sure everything is perfect or to tell yourself that you don’t know anything about Mastermind groups so why would people join yours. These are all self-limiting beliefs. If you’ve ever had a conversation with a group of people and you bantered around an idea (and came to a good conclusion) then you’re ready to run a Mastermind Group. My guess is that you’ve had a conversation like this, probably in the last month.
Additional Reading and other cool resources:
How to Make Sure Your Mastermind Group Excels by Mitchell York
How to Start and Run a Mastermind Group by Sid Savara
The Success Alliance by Karyn Greenstreet
How To Connect With Anyone by Scott Dinsmore
**Photo credit – Success Dynamo