As I pointed out in one of my mastermind invitations recently, we North American business people are still following the US Army slogan from the early 2000’s: “An Army of One”.
We’re very individualistic. We like to go it on our own. And us menfolk are especially prone: we’d love to declare that, “I am a self-made man!”
Truth is, that might get you to the top. But once you get there you find out it’s pretty lonely.
Who Do You Turn To?
When you need wisdom and counsel about your business, whom do you have to turn to? There are plenty of consultants out there waiting to accept a chunk of your hard-earned revenue in exchange for prolonging the problem.
Are your direct reports really going to help? They’re looking to you for guidance. Not only that, the authority relationship dictates that they must generally agree with what you propose. So the feedback is coloured by self-interest.
If you have stakeholders that you report to as a business leader, or shareholders as a principal, they have self-interest at play as well. It’s so hard to find objective wisdom in this position.
To further accentuate the point, you’re probably at the top of your company because, well, you started it. But, in all fairness, you’re pretty good at what you do. You’ve created success and pushed through entrepreneurial anxiety to build something bigger than you. Something that now supports many families, perhaps hundreds or thousands. Not to mention the clients you have that look up to you and appreciate the products and services you bring to them.
That begs the same question, “Who do you turn to?” What you need is a like-minded group of exceptionally talented people who can challenge, inspire and motivate you to continue to grow.
Enter the Mastermind Group
A mastermind is a small cohort of like-minded, advanced talents, who meet regularly (usually weekly or monthly) for mutual brainstorming and accountability sessions.
It’s that simple.
Think of it as an advisory board for your business. Except, you take your turn on the board for other members as well.
One of the core features of the mastermind is the hot seat. Typically, this is rotated amongst the members so that everyone gets a regular turn every second or third meeting of the mastermind. Whoever is in the hot seat will present the most pressing issue his or her business is facing. The group will then focus all of their creativity, experience and wisdom on brainstorming solutions, ideas and alternatives.
The hot seat is an incredible way to get you thinking outside the box. The participant is encouraged to openly receive and respond to all feedback. After a set time, he or she decides on action items to take away from the hot seat and back into the business.
Don’t Forget Accountability
Which brings us to the next key aspect of a hot seat. You know how your tennis game is way better when you’re playing with someone who really can challenge your game? Well, in a mastermind group nobody wants to be the one who shows up at the next meeting with no progress to report.
Yet, surprisingly, many masterminds fall down here. Not so with my groups: we are, to borrow a friend’s expression, “brutally loving” with each other. And that means we hold each other accountable! Questions are asked if progress isn’t evident.
Usually at the start of a mastermind session everyone checks in with their progress on action items from a previous hot seat. This is often shared along with a win of the week, possibly a tip or suggestion that might benefit the rest of the group, and then the facilitator dives right into the hot seats.
Masterminds Are More Than the Meeting
But there’s more: don’t forget that a mastermind provides a birthing place for awesome relationships.
I’m still in touch regularly with members of mastermind groups I’ve participated in years ago. One of the greatest benefits of a mastermind, especially ones that operate at a high level, is the formation of relationships between members. These are cherished for years to follow and have been the start of profitable joint ventures, partnerships or even just ongoing collaboration on new products and ideas.
More than that, when you gather exceptional talent and form these bonds, you also link influential networks together. This is very powerful and brings a person into opportunities that they might never have otherwise had access to.
How Do I Find a Mastermind?
Well, this is a challenge.
My advice to you is to find a group, preferably one where you have to pay a lot of money, and join it. When all of the members have some serious skin in the game, it weeds out the tire-kickers and brings together people who have a track record of success. You want a group where the members understand the value of investing in a group like this and are fully committed to bringing themselves and their wisdom to the group.
The problem is, great groups are hard to find. Ask around: reach out to your network. Some people won’t even know what a mastermind is but others may invite you to participate in one they have joined.
I myself have created a group that is by invitation only and is specifically for business owners who want to grow their business and maintain healthy work/life balance. So the masterminds out there have different focus points. But try to find one that fits your needs and is led by someone you respect.