Mastermind groups can help you grow both your business and yourself. But when a group settles into a routine, it can sometimes lose its effectiveness. That’s why I want to share five ways that you can breathe new life into your mastermind group.
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Napoleon Hill introduced the idea of the mastermind group back in 1937 with his bestselling book, “Think and Grow Rich.” And the idea still works today: a group of two or more people working in cooperation and harmony toward a definite, mutually beneficial end.
I began my own mastermind group over a decade. Since then, my my fellow mastermind group members and I have become each other’s personal board of directors. We offer each other counsel, wisdom, and accountability. And sometimes — when it’s needed — a good kick in the rear.
While some mastermind groups will adopt a laser focus — like how to run a particular kind of business — the group that I created takes a more holistic approach. We discuss everything from investments to business management to marriage and parenthood.
Over the years, we’ve had to take stock and ask whether the group still delivers value. In this article, I want to look at those gut-check moments and give you five concrete ideas to revitalize your mastermind group.
1. You Take Out What You Invest In
This is the most important principle to remember about mastermind groups. You take out of it what you invest into it.
But this idea isn’t just about your own level of commitment. Everyone in the group needs to be invested at the same level. If you’re the only one who’s putting in energy and effort, you’re in the wrong group. And if there are stragglers who are less invested than the others, you should tell them that they can’t keep leading the group on. Say, “Hey, you’ve got to commit. Are you in or are you out?”
We’ve had to do this at various times in my own group. We’ll ask people, “What is it that you’re getting from the group that’s been valuable? Is this group still giving you what you need? Is there something that needs to change?”
Over the years, these moments of self-reflection have prompted three or four members to transition away from the group, and we’ve brought in new folks to replace them. Doing this has kept the group alive.
These are also questions that the whole group should be considering — whether the group should continue meeting and, if so, what expectations you should hold for each other.
During this period of introspection, it can helpful for the group to have everyone clarify what they value. In my group, you might hear things like, “I find that I get support and accountability in a way that I don’t get from other people.” Or, “Hey, you guys know me so well that you can challenge my automatic thinking and point out things to me in a way that’s both loving and direct.”
Getting clear about the value of the group always inspires deeper investment.
2. Focus On High-Value Activities
Now that you’ve got everyone’s buy-in, ask, “What can we do to make this group even more valuable?”
For example, in my mastermind group, we found that as nice as our biweekly tele-meetings were, our in-person gatherings actually created much more value. So, as much as it’s a pain to travel, we decided that it would be worth the effort to do it two or three times a year.
When you clarify what your group finds most valuable, consider whether there’s a way to put more focus on those elements.
3. Brainstorm Interesting and Valuable Topics
Now that you’ve given thought and attention to the broader goals of your group, ask what specifically the group should do with its time.
One way to get this brainstorming going could be looking at your group’s weaknesses. Maybe your group would benefit from a session on email hygiene or employee management.
You can also do the opposite, giving attention to your team’s strengths. If someone has expertise in technology, she can lead a session on that subject. Or if your group has a lot of parents, maybe someone can lead a session on effective childrearing.
You can also find great session topics on your nightstand. If someone’s reading a great business, self-development, or productivity book, perhaps they can share what they’ve learned.
When we did this, we asked questions like:
What are some technology tools that are making your life better?
What are ways that we can be more effective leading our respective companies?
What are places where we have a glaring weakness, with how we interact with our families, or spouses, or in the workplace and how can we deal with those weaknesses? Then we had someone commit to taking the lead on each item that those questions uncovered.
4. Come Prepared To Lead Sessions
In our mastermind group, we take session leadership very seriously.
Session leaders create agendas and get them out at least a day or two in advance. And we expect those agendas to cover for the majority of the session’s duration.
Sure, we’ll spend some time checking in with each other, offering quick feedback on what people are facing and dealing with, but that’s not supposed to account for any more than half of our time. Probably thirty to forty minutes of an hour-long meeting follows an agenda that one person has prepared.
We expect session leaders to bring real value to the table, posing essential questions and offering insight-generating ideas about business and family life.
5. Bring In New People
Earlier I mentioned the importance of mutual investment and benefit. If someone isn’t able to contribute or derive value from the group, it might be time to make a change.
My group is comprised of busy business owners. So we understand that not everyone can make every session. But if someone misses sessions regularly or doesn’t come prepared or doesn’t want to lead sessions, those are warning signs.
We also found that, as people’s lives change over time, not everyone can continue getting what they need from us.
It doesn’t make sense for these people to stay in the group. You want to make sure you have people who truly want to be there — people who are getting something of great value. Because those are the people who dive in deeply and give back to the group. That input and output of value — that spirit of gratitude and generosity is critical to the success of a mastermind group.
These groups can be incredible tools for fostering community as well as personal and professional growth. Perhaps you’ll find that your mastermind group can give you terrific support in your business or perhaps your group will become like mine — your own personal board of directors for your whole life. Either way, I hope these five suggestions will help you revitalize your group.
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