In the classic personal development book Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, a mastermind is defined as:
"Coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose."
In my opinion, nothing can derail ambition and energy faster than being surrounded by the wrong people. You know, the naysayers or constantly negative people or when you feel like you're the only one in your life with big dreams.
When I was frustrated about being in a job but feeling trapped, guess what? Most of my friends were also frustrated full time employees who hated their jobs. Like attracts like. Because that's all I saw, I couldn't conceive of people who actually made a decent income working for themselves.
It wasn't until I actively sought out other entrepreneurs, that I started to believe it was possible. Now the majority of my friends are self employed. I rarely hang out with people who bitch about bosses and meetings. It's all about creativity, marketing and strategy.
I started making the switch by creating my own masterminds. Why? Because it's harder to do it by yourself. It creates a valuable support network. It increases your self belief to see other people achieving awesome things.
I'll be honest, it also sets up a little healthy competition, especially if you have the right mix of people. It's motivating to surround yourself with successful people who also have a vested interest in YOUR success.
Types of masterminds
Not every mastermind has to be formal. It can be a loose collection of people striving for the same goal, or it can be a specific arrangement facilitated by a leader. You can pay for masterminds or they can be free.
You don't need a board-room to mastermind. You can do it over the phone, skype, in person or even in the most informal settings. I've had mastermind meetings in resort spas! Wine is optional.
They can be a long term relationship or even come together just for a specific event to debrief and talk about actions. (For example - I went to a weekend Hay House conference with two other awesome ladies, it really added to the event to mastermind all weekend about the content and speakers).
I used to feel really lonely, both as an entrepreneur and as a self-improvement junkie. Now I have many different groups that I can share my passions with.
I like having multiple masterminds depending on what I need at the time. It's how I roll. Here are just some of the masterminds I've had in the past few years:
- Six months of formal group coaching with 2-5 other entrepreneurs facilitated by a coach
- Semi-formal weekly mastermind with two other colleagues at work (when I was a consultant) to keep each other accountable to our outside work project
- Monthly lunch with other women entrepreneurs. A loose agenda of sharing and bring challenges to the group
- An active Facebook group of entrepreneurs who ask questions and help each other (this is like having a 24/7 mastermind)
- A weekly check in with a fellow participant on a certified coach course we're both doing. We keep each other on track and practice on each other.
- An entrepreneurial friend who Skypes with me at least once a week to psyche each other up
Basically, I believe that most people need an enormous amount of support and community to create big dreams. (This doesn't even count the 1:1 private coaching I believe is imperative for achieving goals).
Principles of a successful mastermind
Notice though, it's not always necessary to be involved in a mastermind with people of the exact same income, as long as the mindset, energy and ambition matches. The more "successful" people will get bored if the less successful people don't hustle to raise their income dramatically and everyone must feel like they are getting something out of it.
I've been in masterminds where I was the most energetic and ambitious, plus I like to move very quickly on goals. The other people were more considered in their energy and wanted to gently pursue longer term plans. It was frustrating for all of us.
Back when I couldn't afford to work with a coach, I formed a mastermind group with two other friends and work colleagues who also had BIG goals for their life.
We called it Fight Club, well.. because... for obvious reasons. But for 9 months we met weekly to keep each other accountable on our goals. We brainstormed ideas for each other, supported each other through the inevitable breakdowns and celebrated every win.
It was a big commitment to meet for 9 months, but that's how we set it up from the beginning. Just be clear on what sort of commitment everyone agrees to. Miss two sessions and you're out? Whoever can make it? It's your decision.
Are you a joiner? Do you like to collaborate with people? I personally don't like a lot of commitment unless it something I really want to do.
Some people love the structure of a very formal mastermind with rules, agenda and bullet points. Others like a loose one. I've heard of a great introduction where everyone brings their challenge for the week and rates it out of 10. The people who don't have an urgent challenge bow out to others,(as long as it all washes out in the long run).
The "right" people
I don't recommend going into an accountability relationship with your partner, husband, parent, sibling or necessarily even your best friend. Why? Because they are too close to the situation and they might have an unconscious vested interest in you remaining the same (especially if it directly affects them or your relationship).
They don't have to be in the same industry, but you need to be with people who can kick your butt, understand your goals and ambitions and have similar goals to your own.
A mastermind is an investment in yourself, in either time or money (usually both), so it's worth setting up from the beginning.
But if it doesn't work out? You can stop, bow out, kick people out, invite new people in or try something different. Like with anything, there aren't any rules, you can totally create it in the best way for you.
How to get started
- Decide what kind of mastermind you want
- Set an intention to find the right mastermind for you
- Ask around
- Find a mentor you admire and ask if they have a mastermind you could join
- Set one up yourself
- Ask like-minded people if they'd be interested in creating one with you
- Give it a try
Masterminds have been brilliant for me and I know they will for you too!