I use a tool called a “mastermind group” which helps me keep my resolution and also provides support for my alternative or unconventional visions, even when my closest friends and relatives do not. Finding a supportive group can be a big challenge for social entrepreneurs, people who try to live according to their environmental values, activists or anyone on an unconventional path. This post is about to how to set up a mastermind group of your own (or how to join one of my How To Be Alive Mastermind Groups if you prefer).
Sometimes my priorities in life and my “alternative” values have left me feeling a little lonely. Also, I have, at times, felt short of mentors and advisors to help me build the life and have the impact on the world that I want, because there were too few people in my midst who shared my unconventional visions.
But, for quite a while, I have used a tool called a “mastermind group” or a “mastermind alliance” that both provides companionship and the mentorship and advice I need. It also gives me a chance to offer the same companionship on the path and mentorship to others.
The combination of the mastermind group with group video chat technology like Google Hangouts, Skype and Zoom mean that we can reach outside our immediate vicinity to find and work with people who really embrace our values, no matter where we are (each of the links give instructions for group video chat on the particular platform).
What follows are directions for putting together your own mastermind group. But feel free to click here if you are interested in joining one of the paid mastermind groups I am starting to run for people with shared values and aspirations.
What Is A Mastermind Group?
A mastermind group is a collection of a small number of people who are committed to meeting regularly–in person or by phone or by computer–to support each other in achieving each other’s aspirations. They do so in an atmosphere of love and harmony and dedication. Somehow, the problems and challenges of everyone in a mastermind group get solved much more quickly than they do working in isolation.
Now, I know that mastermind groups are typically associated mostly with achieving financial success, but I have used masterminding for everything from making my daily life choices in line with my values to figuring out what I want from life to manifesting my calling and to finding ways to earn a living that I believe help the world.
One of my big interests is adapting the tools that people use to achieve “conventional success” to instead build, and help other people build, the more alternative lives and more caring world we want to see. Why can’t we use success tools people use for conventional success to help us build the kind of lives and world we believe is compassionate and loving?
How A Mastermind Group Works
Recovery movement groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Alanon or Narcotics Anonymous work according to the principle that “You have to give it away to keep it.” If AA or NA members want to stay sober and clean, they are encouraged to help others stay sober and clean. That’s what occurs at recovery movement meetings.
Mastermind groups work according to the same principle. Members become successful in manifesting their visions, in part, by helping other people in the group manifest their visions. A central principle of the mastermind group is that everyone in the group is fully dedicated to the success of the entire group.
In one of his talks, Napoleon Hill, who first promoted mastermind groups (he called them alliances), says:
“There are times when, if you undertake anything above mediocrity you are going to face opposition. You are going to meet with people who chide you and poke fun at you. Some of them will be right close to you, perhaps your own relatives.
“You need some source to which you can turn when you are going to aim above mediocrity to get your batteries charged and keep them charged so you don’t quit when the going is hard. So you won’t pay any attention when someone criticizes you.
“I am immune to criticism. It is like a bullet bouncing off a rhinoceros’s hide. I became immune through my relationship to my mastermind alliance. They would always say ‘Stand by your guns. You will come up on top.'”
You can listen to two short talks about masterminding by Napoleon Hill here and here. They are good talks, but I should warn you that they are old-fashioned and normative. It is worth listening past what you might disagree with though.
What Can Mastermind Groups Be Used For?
I use mastermind group work to align my life with my values. That can mean anything from exercising more to having more fun to making more money to finding ways to be of service to the world. Basically, it is a group to help you understand what kind of life you lead, come up with strategies for getting there, and then undertaking them.
It is like having a board of directors for your life. People to brainstorm with you. Listen to you. Hold you accountable to your goals. Help you figure out what will really make you happy. Get you get past being stuck. Learn how to change the world. Meanwhile, you are offering the same for everyone else in the group.
(By the way, the How To Be Alive Mastermind Groups I run are primarily for people whose vision includes working, in some way–even if it is just daily life choices–to make the world a better place. They ofter support to people who want to have balanced, prosperous, purposeful lives while having meaningful positive impact.)
Recruiting Members Of Your Mastermind Group
The key to a successful mastermind group is to find people who support each other’s values and vision and who are dedicated to each other’s success.
One cool thing Napoleon Hill suggests is that you can mastermind the formation of the group itself. All you have to do is find one other person committed to the group and then the two of you together can mastermind the third person. Then, what is now the three of you mastermind the fourth. And on and on until you have a manageable group of as few as six and probably less than ten (unless you plan to break up into smaller groups to do the work).
One of your group is likely to be the coordinator but no one person should attempt to dominate. You need to work in perfect harmony and to act with one mind as the group turns its attention to each person’s life, vision and challenges.
Choose people that are likely to be successful or are successful in the aspects of life that you care about. Napoleon Hill suggests you choose each person with as much care as you would when hiring an employee. He suggests six qualities in your group members: Dependability and loyalty should be at the top of your list. Then ability. Positive mental attitude. Willingness to go the extra mile. And someone who has an applied faith or optimism.
In recruiting members, try to figure out what benefit they will get from your group–not just what benefit the group will get from them. If you can figure that out, you have a key to persuading them to join.
How To Run The Group
In many ways, this is the easy part. It really isn’t rocket science. The magic comes many minds and hearts coming together around a single purpose–the advancement of each person in the group. If you did your recruiting work well, each person in the group will be dedicated to ensuring that no other member of the group fails in achieving their vision.
Once you have decided how you will meet–in person, by video conference or by phone–a simple meeting structure goes like this:
- Agree together how long each meeting will last and how often you will meet.
- Get everyone to agree to adhere to the meeting length and to commit to attending meetings.
- Enclose the group under a cone of non-judgment and confidentiality and get each member to agree that proceedings are secret and that they will approach each other with open hearts.
- At the beginning of a meeting, appoint a timekeeper. Everyone should agree to respect time limits.
- Start each meeting with a dedication–a few moments of silence or a reading or a prayer.
- Negotiate for time. Let’s say each person normally gets ten minutes of focus from the group. Ask if anyone needs any more time or anyone needs any less. This way you can deal with bigger issues that come up for members.
- Speak, listen and brainstorm. Each member uses their time to talk about a challenge or vision–professional, personal or otherwise–while the group listens. Then, the group together brainstorms solutions until the timekeeper says the allotted time is up. Move on to the next member.
- Make a commitment to push yourself. After everyone has shared and had their brainstorming session, go around the group and have each member commit to an action they will take–one that stretches them–by the next meeting. The action should be concrete and measurable (i.e. not “I will socialize more” but “I will call three friends and invite them for coffee”).
- End with words of gratitude. Each person takes a turn to say why they are grateful for the group or another member of the group.
- You might also want to set up some sort of online chat system for in between meetings where members can check in and share events and resources.
And that is it! The whole thing is very simple but very powerful. It may very well feel a little awkward and stiff. But encourage each other to be intimate and vulnerable–remember the cone of confidentiality and non-judgment. It will come with time. For many people, the mastermind group is the most powerful tool in their lives.
I hope this helps.
PS If you don’t want to do the work of starting your own mastermind group, check out what I am doing with my How To Be Alive Mastermind Groups. I am really excited this is happening, especially since it will help a lot of people get connected in supporting each other towards achieving the lives and world we want to see.
PPS If you have experience with mastermind groups or similar tools, please let us all know by telling us in the comments!
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