Why You Should Join or Start a Mastermind Group
What is a Mastermind?
I first learned of this concept in college when I read Napoleon Hill’s book, Think and Grow Rich. He describes a mastermind as a third mind that comes from having two people engage in the exchange of ideas.
To give an analogy of how this works, let’s say I have an apple and you have an apple. If we trade apples then I still only have one apple and you still only have one apple. But, if we trade ideas then now I have two ideas (my original idea and now your idea) and you have two ideas…the real power of the mastermind comes from taking that a step further and possibly combining the two ideas so that we now each have 3 ideas and so on. The more people you add to the mix, the more ideas you have. That is the basic premise.
In his book, Napoleon Hill talks about one of the first mastermind groups he ever discovered that consisted of 5 original members: Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Thomas Edison, John Burroughs, and Luther Burbank.
Undoubtedly you know the first 3…Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motors, Harvey Firestone, founder of Firestone Tires and obvious choice for Ford to include in the group, and inventor Thomas Edison.
The other two men aren’t quite as well known. Luther Burbank was a botanist by trade and became somewhat famous in his day for his ability to combine and successfully grow different fruits, plants, flowers, grains, whatever.
John Burroughs was an essayist and philosopher, but also a federal bank examiner for the Treasury Department.
This eclectic and diverse group is one of the pillars that makes a successful mastermind group work so well. You need these different viewpoints and we’ll talk about why in just a second.
Ok, so now that we know what a mastermind group is, why should you join or start one?
Benefits of a Mastermind Group
Ability to Work “On” Your Business, Not Just In It
First, it gives you the ability to work “on” your business and not just in it. Every day you go to work you are most likely getting bogged down in the day-to-day minutiae of the operations and are doing the actual work or management that the business requires. But if that’s all you do, then you are going to either plateau in your business or get burned out. A mastermind group is a great way to take a few hours each month to plan, to strategize, to flesh out ideas, or whatever.
Camaraderie and Understanding
Second, is camaraderie and understanding. Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely proposition. It’s rare that anyone other than other entrepreneurs truly get us or understand what we are going through.
By regularly attending a mastermind group you will get to recharge those batteries. You’ll be surrounded by like-minded members who really do understand the challenges you are facing. You connect with them in a way that is different from how you connect with other people. In a lot of cases, you’ll make new, intimate friends. In fact, some of my lifelong friends are people I met in mastermind groups.
Third is a set of unique perspectives. Sometimes we get so close to the problems in our business that it is hard to see solutions that may be obvious to outsiders. I can block out the sun with a penny if I hold it close enough to my eye. We sometimes need people around us that can see what we can’t.
Whether you are thinking of starting your own mastermind group or joining an existing one, make sure it includes a very diverse group of business owners. Like Ford, you want to include some members from a variety of industries that aren’t necessarily related to one another in any way. You’ll be surprised at the ideas that come from a diverse group because they aren’t blinded by industry norms or established business practices. They are more willing to break the rules because they may not even know the rules exist. This is exactly what you want. Members who are going to give a unique perspective.
Fourth is motivation. Look, let’s face it. You may love your job and what you do for a living. You probably are passionate about your business and the products or services you offer. I’m sure you enjoy the lifestyle for the most part - otherwise what the hell are you doing to yourself.
All that being said, it can sometimes be a grind. It can take a tremendous amount of effort to keep going when things aren’t going right or when you want to give up. And just when you are on the verge of quitting, a mastermind group meeting comes up and the energy and passion in the room is almost palpable. You can feel it and like a battery being recharged, you can almost see and feel your energy levels being replenished.
I’ve been in mastermind meetings where a member was throwing in the towel. They had already decided to quit, but came to their last meeting to tell us all that they were going to give it up and get a job somewhere. We rallied around this person and convinced her to keep going. We gave her all the reasons why she should stick with it. We reminded her of her WHY. We assured her that she wasn't alone and that we would be there to catch her if she fell. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room and this frail, fragile entrepreneur wiped her eyes and jutted her jaw in defiance. We saw her transform right before us into a fearless warrior. She wasn’t going to give up and she didn’t either. She still has a very successful business going right now too.
We all need motivation every once in a while and a mastermind group is a great place to get it.
Number five is Accumulated Experience. Every year you are in business adds another layer of experience on your shoulders. Over time these experiences coalesce into a formidable skill set. You may still have a lot to learn, but your experience starts to guide you almost automatically in day-to-day decisions you have to make.
Sometimes though, we just get stuck. We come across a problem or a challenge that we’ve never seen before, much less solved before. But, chances are, someone in the group has. You can almost bet that in a group of 5-7 members, virtually every business problem that has ever existed has been experienced by at least one of them.
This is invaluable to you as a member. What it does is effectively lets you jump the learning curve and shortcut the learning phase of problem solving that particular challenge. This could save you hundreds of hours in time and thousands of dollars in costs.
Finally we have Accountability. Of the 6 benefits I included this one last because I believe it to be the most important.
In one of my groups I was kicking around the idea of going from meeting once a month to once a quarter. When I brought it up to the group there was an uproar. I almost had mutiny on my hands.
One of the more vocal opponents of this arrangement said, “The only reason I get anything done every month in my business is because I come in here and commit to it and there’s no way I’m going to show up the following month and lose face by not having done it.”
That settled it. We kept it at once per month. But this is the power of accountability. This is why alcoholics have sponsors in AA. It’s to keep them accountable.
It’s a powerful thing to have to report back to a group of like-minded and friendly associates on what you accomplished or risk embarrassment.
If this is what it takes for you to stay on track and keep moving forward then take advantage of it. Check your ego at the door and let the other members hold you accountable. Your business will thank you for it at least.
Ok, so those are the main reasons for joining or starting a mastermind group. I’m sure there are more, but those are pretty powerful in and of themselves. If you want more info on how to choose a mastermind group or how to start your own, I’d recommend picking up a copy of my book, Mastermind Group Blueprint. You can find it on Amazon.