On Sunday September 27 I managed to walk 70,000 steps for cancer research. That was 26.2 miles following the Boston Marathon course and it was, at least for me….really hard. I don’t mean “I’m having a tough day” kind of hard; I mean “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” kind of hard.
What I learned, however, had less to do with the walk itself; the big lessons were discovered in the lead up to the walk and were all about the power of collaboration, support and accountability in reaching stretch goals.
Lesson #1: Great things happen when someone raises their hand and has the audacity to set a big goal. By raising your hand and asking ‘why not’ you spark the same question in others. By taking action you spark something in the people around you who want the same thing but simply needed a push. In business, the strongest leaders are not necessarily the ones with all the answers, they are the ones that create a vision for what’s possible. In my small example that vision was sparked by registering for the walk and letting people know that I was going to do it – only to find that 15 other people wanted to walk beside me. OK, in fairness I was way behind but you get the picture.
Lesson #2: There is incredible power in bringing small groups of people together with a similar goal and creating some structure and accountability. One the best things we did was create a Marathon Mastermind Group – a small group of walkers, all with similar goals, who met weekly to share information and ideas, offer support and set goals. In the process we tapped into a wealth of information, created accountability and made each other better.
It started with a question. What if the people around you refused to let you fail?
The answer? You cross the finish line – battered, bruised and mildly humiliated at the length of time it took – but you cross!
If you want to get better, I honestly believe that a mammoth stretch goal is the place to start. Marry that with the accountability created with a Mastermind Group and you can change your life. (Excuse the hyperbole, but I’m really excited about this idea.)
What is a Mastermind Group?
A Mastermind Group is a group of professionals who meet on a regular basis to share their experiences and ideas and create accountability to support mutual growth and development. Meetings are held in person or virtually and typically each participant is given time to check in and share a specific issue or challenge with the group. At that point all eyes and ears on that person. The power of the group is focused on each individual at some point during the call and therein lies the power.
The concept of Mastermind Group is not new; Napoleon Hill is often cited as the source of the idea when he wrote Think and Grow Rich in 1937. But something is in the air. It seems that every week I hear of another successful person who says they are part of such a group.
Broadly speaking there are two types of Mastermind groups:
Issue or Goal Specific. Like the group I described, a group comes together to discuss a specific topic or objective. For us it was ‘how are we going to survive walking 26.2 miles’.
For you that might be:
- Building an effective online presence
- Working effectively with families
- Building an engaged team
- Increasing referrals
- Targeting younger clients
On-going. Many (if not most) groups are on-going and are more broadly focused on helping individual members overcome specific challenges.
Whatever structure you choose, the big difference between a Mastermind Group and a study group is that the entire group is 100% focused on helping each member solve individual problems that they have raised and defined for the group. That kind of brain power focused on your problem or challenge is incredibly powerful.
How Do Mastermind Groups Work?
I interviewed Caroline Miller about this topic some time ago and you can listen to that five minute interview here. However, there are some basics to consider.
1. Define Your Purpose
Know exactly what the group is trying to accomplish. Everyone in the group needs to be completely supportive of that singular purpose.
2. Create Some Guidelines
Like any group it’s much easier to determine the guidelines up front rather than when a problem arises. Consider the following:
- How are decisions made?
- Who facilitates the session?
- What are the rules of engagement (e.g. no whining)?
- Who can be part of the group and when is someone no longer right for the group?
- How confidential is the information you discuss and share?
- Are there consequences if someone misses multiple meetings or is often late?
3. Assemble your Team
If you are starting the group, think long and hard about the kind of people you want in the group. You want to learn from them and, at the same time, feel confident you have something meaningful to contribute. Liking the people in your group is a necessary but not a sufficient condition of membership. This is about bringing the right expertise and experience level together.
Most Mastermind Groups are self-formed and regulated however there are an increasing number of groups being launched and managed by industry experts. For example, Beverly Flaxington runs a program for advisors as part of the Advisor Sales Academy which she facilitates.
4. Determine how you will meet
Some Mastermind Groups are held in person and many are virtual. I use Zoom to conduct video meetings and find it to be an extraordinary and cost-effective tool. I still use Go To Meeting for webinars but for video meetings this is a great tool – up to 25 people on the screen and you can record meetings and share a screen if you want to view documents. Some groups meet virtually throughout the year and then plan one in-person get together over a day or two.
5. Set the agenda
This is a really critical part of the process. The basics are these:
- If someone has an issue they want the group to address, they submit that in advance or at the outset of the meeting. In another group I’m in we try and provide sufficient context before the meeting so that the others have time to consider the issue.
- During the meeting each person, who raised an issue, takes a couple of minutes to present the issue, background and objective.
- Each person in the group has time to ask questions (without providing solutions).
- Once all questions have been answered, each person offers up some solutions.
- The person who raised the issue recaps what he or she heard and what steps he or she plans to take (and then checks in at the start of the next meeting to confirm those things happened).
To sum it up, there are three things about this process that drive enhanced performance.
- Content. Access to great ideas from peers.
- Community. A forum for you to gather immediate input and insights on specific challenges from those in a similar position.
- Accountability. A process to help you follow-through by building in clear next steps and accountability.
I’ll stop short of saying you need to experience it to understand it, but there is an element of truth to the statement.
Thanks for stopping by.
P.S. The $15,000 that Team If Not Now raised for the Jimmy Fund Walk and Dana Farber Cancer Institute made the pain and occasional humiliation entirely worth it. I’m going to do it again!