Sometimes, incremental progress will do the trick. Other times, only a breakthrough will do.
2015 was a year I needed a breakthrough. I needed to put myself in an environment that I knew from past experience is a fertile ground for making a quantum leap: a mastermind.
What is a mastermind?
In the seminal book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill called a mastermind "the coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony."
By the time I read Think and Grow Rich, though, I was already well acquainted with the mastermind concept. I had my first experience with the concept working with Ray Waits and Associates in the 1990's. Ray ran an excellent motivation/success/personal development program in Charleston that was taught to small groups. The graduates of these programs were encouraged to segue into mastermind groups that continued ongoing. These masterminds were typically 5-10 motivated, high-energy types who would meet weekly in a "round table" format to support each other's success.
At the time I did Ray's program and joined my first mastermind, I was a young entrepreneur in the fitness industry. The mastermind concept seeded by the program had such an enormous impact for me that I more than doubled the size of my business within a year.
Over the ensuing years, I participated in several other masterminds. I started and facilitated a group as well as participating in others led by people who had worked with Ray and his system.
In retrospect, I realized that every time I was in a mastermind, breakthroughs happened. I was able to take my business and personal life past previous ceilings, conceptualize innovative new strategies, and put into practice systems and habits that led to rapid and sustained growth.
So the timing was right to start such a group this past autumn. As I recently posted on Facebook, "Third anniversary of losing Constance to cancer and also the third anniversary of meeting Meaghan, who became the love of my life. She joined my life in a time of loss and has been there for the last three years during which time I've lost my father, Constance, and 7 other people very close to me. I haven't really had a break from grief the whole time. I hope soon she gets to know me for who I am when I'm not surrounded by loss. It's coming."
I had lost multiple people, including my girlfriend, father, and quite a few close friends over a short time. And I realized the losses had affected me in numerous ways. I had lost my focus on serving my business' clients at the high standard I usually hold myself and my teammates to. I was taking little business conflicts personally. My passion for music, which had become a big part of life, playing regular shows with my original rock band Air Sculptures, was essentially gone.
So, I needed a mastermind. And, seemingly by magic, the right people were showing up around me. A I write this, I am five months into and feeling like a new person, with an exciting new business vision and renewed vigor for enjoying life
So, here are the 5 key things a mastermind does for me, the core reasons I started it, and what joining one can do for you, too:
Self employed professionals and entrepreneurs like myself often lack the accountability of a boss that a traditional employee has, or the board of directors that the leader of a larger business will report to. The mastermind can serve this "board of directors" function and hold the participant accountable to fulfilling commitments to actualize plans. When I have a group of motivated peers reviewing my success in accomplishing the steps towards a goal every week, I'm a lot more likely to follow through.
We are all affected by our peers. Since it was my intent to create breakthroughs and succeed at a high level, I knew I needed to surround myself with like-minded people in an atmosphere of support. Also, using some goal setting methods similar to what Ray Waits used in his groups and incorporating success strategies I know from NLP, we are utilizing the group dynamic to accelerate personal achievement and make the group a breeding ground for creating a highly motivated state and focusing it on clear, specific goals.
3. Structured Plan Development
A Mastermind, utilizing the group dynamic, can run the gamut from a very unstructured brainstorming group to tightly structured methods of plan development and actualization. This particular group is relatively structured, as I felt that is what I needed. It's also something I had to offer to the other members, using my experiences in business planning and familiarity with various goal setting and activity tracking strategies.
4. Multiple Perspectives
I was looking for a diverse group because I have found great value in having people from very different industries and backgrounds look at and give feedback on my plans. Jay Abraham, one of my favorite marketing experts, is an advocate for "importing" success strategies from different types of business into your own. Having a mastermind composed of people from very different backgrounds makes the group a place where this can happen.
5. The Power of Shared Belief
There is an exponential effect to having multiple minds focused with belief on the achievement of a result. Having other people who are successful and credible see your goals as if they are already accomplished cuts right through your mental barriers like a machete through warm Jell-O. In the face of a challenge, this can shift your state to one of intense, motivated focus.
If you are at a place in your life where you are ready to break through barriers, internal or otherwise, and achieve high results that connect with what you value, consider starting or joining a mastermind group. A mastermind formed with the right people and managed effectively, can be the springboard for achieving at levels that may surprise you.