The word Mastermind means to plan and direct a difficult activity. The term applied to a group was first coined by Napoleon Hill (show of hands, who hasn't read “Think and Grow Rich”?), but the practice has been around far longer. I imagine it's been around since the dawn of man. Think about what the term means really, it's about seeking guidance from a group of driven, like minded individuals wanting to improve their skills and abilities. Ultimately the decisions for your life are your own, but anyone who has been independent long enough can tell you, having a sounding board is priceless. But perhaps the most important aspect that I appreciate about a Mastermind group is the accountability.
As an independent business owner having launched two successful consumer brands, a service business, and a non-profit, I know what needs to get done, but without accountability on well defined actions, who's gonna' know if I didn't get it done right?! No one. But it will show up eventually in lost opportunities. I am the CEO but I need a board to help keep me on the path from time to time. I can tell you from real experience that not having this in the past has cost me dearly.
So here are my top 5 reasons you need to find and join a mastermind group as soon as you can:
1) No man is an island*
No matter who you are or what you do, you have an interdependence on others around you. If you are planning on building a business and providing a good or service you need people. Even the most isolated artist (whether they intend to build a business or not) needs a muse or a consumer of their artistic expression. The challenge most of us face as solo-prenuers face is that we are often a company of one or very few. Unless you have VC funding you have no board of directors. While this really does streamline the decision making action, it can lead to a person feeling very isolated and alone. With a mastermind group, you have a board of directors to turn to. To help guide you and remind you that you are not alone.
*In case you want to know, that line is part of a set of 22 devotionals or meditations Devotions upon Emergent Occasions It's an interesting read if you never took the time before.
2) Reduce wasted time or tragic mistakes.
I'll admit it, there have been one or two instances in my past where I bobbed when I should have weaved. If only I had a counsel I could have turned to that could have helped me correct my course before I went down the wrong path. I can see things from my perspective, but it is really hard to see it from several perspectives. You get several people looking at things from their unique perspective and it is amazing the depth of insight you can get by listening to your trusted advisors.
I like to use talent contests as an example of what I mean here. Have you ever noticed how early on in the competition, the artist seems a bit awkward or rough but the longer they stick in the better they seem to get. They may have so much raw talent that is shines through from the very beginning but if you pay attention you notice they get better and better each time they perform. There is a very real reason for that. Each time the stand in front of the panel of judges, they pitch their (song or act) and then they get candid feedback from the trusted advisors. The more times they get this exposure and take action based on the feedback, the stronger they become.
It's like that when you are an active member in a mastermind group.
3) Diversity gives you powerful insight!
Masterminds often have a unique blend of professionals with a vast array of backgrounds and experience. The richness in the diversity gives you the most well rounded feedback and guidance. Certainly, it does not replace the value of the intimacy you can get from having a personal coach, nothing ever could. But wow what a bonanza to land in a mastermind of diverse people. Imagine the mastermind group led by Teddy Roosevelt, the Tennis Club. How about being a part of the mastermind group with C. S Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield (the Inklings). Benjamin Franklin formed a rather interesting group with a diverse group of tradesmen and artists who were known as the Leather Apron Club. Wouldn't you have loved to be one of the Vagabonds with Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Warren G. Harding, and Harvey Firestone.Okay, you get the idea. Groups like these can be tremendously powerful.
Expect to learn and grow a lot. Once you join and participate your life will forever be changed. You will be expanding your knowledge, your experience and your sphere of influence with a network that grows exponentially. I think it should be clear by now how your knowledge grows and how your personal experience expands as you are pushed to excellence, but what may not be real obvious is the social aspect. Being a part of a mastermind group increases your social reach by each contributing members social reach. Why? Because as you grow together you network together. It's human nature to want to help the people we know like and trust.
5) Keep your friends and family, your friends and family!
It's great to have supporting friends and family members that you can use as sounding boards, but they might not be the best business advisors for you. Would you really want to put your friendship on the line for candid feedback. Think about the role of a mastermind member. They are there to push you and sometimes that may not feel so pleasant. A good mastermind group will hold you accountable to what you have committed to for yourself. Your friends and family offer a different kind of support.
Still think you are too busy or maybe you just think you are doing fine on your own. Perhaps you already belong to a bunch of groups and the thought of one more makes your head spin. But before you say no, review those benefits again then tell me how you can afford to not be a part of one.
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