I’ve been a freelance writer for more than a decade, but in recent years my passion had dwindled and I feared I might never get it back. A couple of months ago, however, I suddenly developed a clear picture of how to recapture that energy by slightly shifting my mission and overhauling my services. The evolution wouldn’t be easy. I knew I needed help.
At the time of this epiphany, I’d been listening to a lot of business podcasts and had noticed a common thread among the successful people interviewed–each belonged to a mastermind group. I had heard the term before but didn’t really know much about it. Turns out, the concept was introduced by Napoleon Hill some 75 years ago in Think and Grow Rich. Basically, masterminding is peer-to-peer mentoring; a group of people using their collective smarts to tackle problems.
Bingo! A mastermind group was just what I needed to take my business to the next level.
Finding a mastermind group in my area proved nearly impossible because I couldn’t afford the hefty fees levied by most well-established groups. Instead, I took initiative and started my own group with four like-minded women. (Want to start your own mastermind group? Read my tips.) We are different ages and at different stages in our careers, and each of us works in a different industry and has different goals. What unites us, however, is a commitment to improving ourselves and each other.
We meet once a week for an hour, with each member getting 10 minutes to use however she wants (I typically spend a few minutes sharing a pain point in my business and \the remaining time getting feedback). At the end of a meeting, we each set goals for the next week and share our progress at the beginning of the next meeting. In between, we encourage each other via social media, including a private Facebook group. We have ground rules, including no shameless self-promotion or begging for leads, no bitching or backbiting, and no secret agendas. The goal is a collaborative, supportive group where each member gives as much as she gets.
It’s been about 18 months, and the group has helped me nearly double my business and grow as a person. I can say with confidence that any goal-oriented person can benefit from masterminding.
Learn why masterminds work, what makes them fail, and the keys to starting one that succeeds. Plus, you'll get a worksheet to guide you through the startup process and a sample email to invite potential members.
4 reasons to join a mastermind group
Unless you’re completely closed minded, there’s no way to avoid learning and growing when you spend an hour a week with awesome people doing awesome things. Just hearing their stories and successes will make you dream bigger and push yourself harder. Even better, you’ll have a sounding board and support network to ask questions, offer perspectives, and suggest solutions or connections you’ve never considered.
If a mastermind group appeals to you, it’s probably because you’re a big thinker and your brain is always racing with ideas…to the point of overwhelm. Preparing for my 10-minute block of the meeting each week has forced me to break my big, scary goals into manageable, bite-sized strategies that are actionable on a weekly basis. Thanks to these meetings, my business plan has become clear and less formidable.
Some people are great about setting goals and sticking to them without external support. I’m not one of those people. Having other people checking on my progress each week helps me get shit done (I don’t want to the only member who didn’t meet her weekly goals!). This isn’t punitive; it’s positive. We offer gentle reminders and always celebrate successes.
If you work from home, a mastermind group is a great way to avoid feeling isolated and feel like you’re part of a team. No matter your circumstances, you’ll benefit from having a small, reliable group of supporters and advisors in your corner. Also, although the point isn’t cross-promotion (as with a BNI or similar group), there will be natural opportunities for partnership and network expansion that can help you move forward in your goals and career.
Note: If you’re already in a mastermind or consider joining an existing one, read about the 5 signs of a bad mastermind to make sure it’s a great fit. Oh, and if you’ve never attended a mastermind retreat, check out the reasons I think you should consider it.