ID-10066164What do you want? More money . . . a career that excites you . . . a relationship that thrills you . . .  spiritual awakening? A mastermind group can get you the success you want faster than you could do it alone.

Imagine being a part of a group of inspired people you respect and admire. Each member is eager to see you succeed. They’re willing to give you their time and energy to help you get what you want. Can you feel what it would be like to have the complete support of your own personal team? The strength of their ideas heightens your potential. Their networks put you in contact with top notch resources. They hold you accountable for staying on course for getting what you want. Think of the impact this could have on experiencing what you want out of life.

Like me, you may have areas of your life where you’ve felt stuck. Have you ever reached a plateau in your profession or taken a downward slide? Do you run out of time for enjoying the people, places and things you care about?

When budget cuts eliminated my services with a large client, I was forced to change gears. With the positive expectation of my Mastermind group, I started a blog, and a year later I had an agent, and a book deal with a major publisher – “Who’s Your Gladys?” was born, and hit the bestsellers list. As I held the completed Chinese version of my book in my hands, I realized that for years I used everything and anything to put off creating it. I had no idea how joyful it would be to just go out and do it. Fear of the unknown, worry about what other people might think, and other such nonsense falls away with the accountability of a mastermind group. They kept me accountable to my word. If I said I wanted to reach out to mentor who had done what I wanted to do, they’d say, “By when?” My networks expanded and I got things done. Drawing on the strengths of my accountability buddies, I gained new beliefs about what is possible.

What have you been postponing? Could a Mastermind group fuel your desire to make things happen? Having an empowering source of constant support can do that for you. When your motivation runs low, you can count on the group to remind you of your higher vision, getting you excited about moving forward again.

Alone, you see things from only your own perspective, and if you don’t follow through, no one knows but you. A Mastermind group changes all that. As you draw on the unique talents, networks and perspectives your Mastermind members bring to you, your focus shifts in a positive direction. You become energized, as your group helps you plot a dynamic course toward getting what you want.

What is a Mastermind Group?

A Mastermind group is a success building tool. It’s used to bring together achievement-minded people who are determined to reach their highest goals. If there’s something you want, your Mastermind group will help you figure out how to make it happen. When a whole team of people brainstorm ideas together, the results far exceed what one person could come up with alone.

Mastermind groups meet on a regular basis, by phone, video chat or in-person. They celebrate successes, hold each other accountable, and achieve breakthroughs with the support of the group. Your deepest desires turn into tangible goals as you draw on the group to create powerful plans of action. It’s a safe and nurturing place where everyone believes in your ability to lead your life in the direction of your dreams.

HOW DO YOU JOIN A MASTERMIND GROUP?

If you are interested in raising yourself to a higher level of success through Masterminding, it’s time to join a group of your own. There are several ways of getting started.

Initiative. Start a group of your own. The basic steps to make this happen are right here for you to follow. Starting your own group puts you in the best possible position to bring together the types of people that would most inspire your successes.

Invitation. A member of an established Mastermind group may invite you to join. While attending a professional event, I enjoyed a conversation with a fellow professional speaker which lead to an invitation to join her group. That was 12 years ago. And I’m still in that group. Let people know you are looking to join a Mastermind group.

Facilitation. There are professionally run mastermind groups that pre-qualify and place you into the right group for you. If you’re interested in this option, email me for more information. The facilitator tracks and paces the groups. Sometimes these groups revolve around a specific goal such as writing a book or growing your business. It can be holistic as well, focusing on all areas of life.

Recommendations. Associations and clubs often recommend their members join Mastermind groups or choose one accountability buddy from the group to connect with between meetings. They may bring in a speaker to explain Masterminding and provide an agenda and details for running a successful group. Participants are then given the opportunity to select group members during the networking portion of the event.

MAP: The Three Fundamentals for Successful Masterminding

To set your group up for success, create a MAP. Having a clear MissionAccountability and People who work well together will give you the foundation for developing a strong Mastermind group.

Mission. Be clear about what you expect to get out of your group. Mastermind groups differ from one another based on the wants, needs and interests of its members. Write a clear-cut mission statement that defines the group. Some groups set goals for business only. Others take a holistic approach to success, including personal and professional goals. Some groups concentrate on topics such as health or spiritual growth. Set your Mastermind group up to succeed by putting a well-defined mission in place. Here is an example:

“We come together in an environment of trust and mutual respect, to share the strength of our combined minds, to turn thoughts into actions, and dreams into reality. As a group, we are committed to setting and affirming goals, providing accountability and support, believing in each other’s’ personal power to make a positive difference in the world and live a bigger life.”

Accountability. Each member of the Mastermind group is accountable for honoring the commitments they make to the group. If you say you will submit an article for publication on your topic of expertise by the time of the next group meeting, guess what? Your group will not forget about it. They will hold you accountable. If you don’t keep your commitment, they will brainstorm with you to figure out what steps you need to take to make it happen. The more accountable members are for their actions, the stronger the Mastermind group becomes.

Mastermind groups commit to hold meetings on a regular basis. If you think you are too busy to make a Mastermind group work for you, think again. The clarity and direction you gain from Masterminding will increase your ability to manage your life with power and purpose. It’s the group dynamic that amplifies everyone’s ambitions. When a member misses a meeting, the entire group loses out.

People. People are like spices. Certain combinations are unpleasant while others delight your senses. To create a group with zest, look for goal-orientated people with positive outlooks on life. Whether your group members are in the same line of business or different lines of work, select people who are not in direct competition with each other. Several members of my group are International speakers. Our speaking topics do not put us in competition with each other so we feel free to share ideas without reserve. Depending on the makeup of your group, you will form a wide or specialized perspective to draw on. Do you want people of the same sex, age range and expertise or would it be more helpful to interact with a mix? To create a dynamic team, vary the temperament, strengths and personalities of your members. If everyone in your group has the same traits, you’ll miss out on the contributions other traits can offer. If two members of your group are idea people, consider adding a detail person and perhaps a risk taker, or some other combination that will spice up the mix. The following is a small list of possible traits to look for in potential Mastermind members:

Creative, practical, strategic, intuitive, persistent, easy-going, intense, outgoing, decisive, disciplined, resilient, schmoozer, organized, risk taker, patient

What is the ideal size for a Mastermind group? A group of about five gives you a variety of unique perspectives to draw on without being so large there is no time to address your individual aspirations in detail. However, there are groups with as few as two members that have worked well. Larger groups have also found successful ways of working together. Be purposeful when choosing potential members. Set up a trial period to see if the group meshes well.

Respect the boundaries of your Mastermind group members. Even though members develop great affinities for each other, they do not always socialize outside the group. Discuss limits and expectations with each other to reduce potential conflicts.

WHEN AND WHERE DO MASTERMIND GROUPS MEET?

Mastermind groups meet on a regular basis to keep the momentum going. Depending on the type of group, meetings can be held once a week, bi-monthly or once a month. When you find a combination of people who work well together, it’s like magic. The results are so exciting that members who move great distances apart have been know to travel a couple times a year to spend days together for intense goal setting and accountability.

When deciding where to meet, choose a central location free from distractions. Some Mastermind groups meet online. Others teleconference. A quiet restaurant for an early morning breakfast or after-work dinner meeting, a conference room, home, a library or coffee house can work. Choose the way that best suits the needs of your group.

I am currently in two Mastermind groups. One is all business and we meet once a month on a Google Hangout (if you haven’t tried that yet, it’s great fun!) We’re all business owners so the focus is on growth and contribution. My other Mastermind group is a holistic group focusing on the personal side of life as well as our professions. We meet twice a month. We take turns hosting a three-hour Saturday morning meeting each month in our homes. We have a shorter early morning breakfast meeting a couple weeks later. I’ve also been part of a Vision Call Group – every Monday morning we’d each take 3 to 5 minutes each to share the vision of our week ahead. It’s a quick way to get fired up at the start of the week to live from your vision rather than from circumstances.

TOP 10 TIPS FOR RUNNING AN EFFECTIVE MASTERMIND MEETING

There’s more than one way to run an effective Mastermind meeting. The suggestions that follow have worked well for others. Feel free to pick and choose the ones that fit the unique style and interests of your group.

1. Take turns running the meeting. It’s helpful to have someone in charge of keeping the meeting on track. Allow everyone a specific amount of time for their turn. Sometimes one member may request more time. The group can decide together how to best meet everyone’s needs.

2. Start the structured part of the meeting by reading the group’s mission statement. This clarifies the purpose of the meeting and focuses the group. Some groups prefer to start their meetings with a prayer or an inspirational thought or quote from a book.

3. Inquire, “Who wants to go first?” This allows the person with the most pressing needs or exciting news to start.

4. Members start their turn by sharing their successes and setbacks. Share your dreams and use the combined minds of the group to fine tune specific plans of action to make those dreams a reality. Make commitments to accomplish specific actions by the next Mastermind meeting.

5. When it’s your turn, the focus stays on you. Others offer suggestions, feedback and encouragement. Let the group shed light on your blind spots. Brainstorm together to find solutions to stumbling blocks and come up with innovative ideas to get you closer to your goals.

6. Feel free to use part of your turn to network resources. “Does anyone know a top-notch lawyer who specializes in franchising?”   “What’s a good source of funding for my project?” “How do I find a parent-of-teens support group?”

7. Set up solid ground rules. This clarifies the agreed upon intentions of the group. There will be less chance of conflict or misunderstandings if ground rules are in place for dealing with specific group situations, like adding a new member, exiting the group, or keeping commitments.

8. Give each member an affirmation when his or her turn is complete. For example, “I acknowledge you for writing the first draft of chapter one of your book this week!” A word of caution: Be authentic in your affirmations. If you don’t mean it, don’t say it. When you show authentic appreciation it rings true and uplifts the whole group.

9. Ask members to give themselves a complement at the end of their turn. It might feel uncomfortable at first to sing your own praises. However, the nurturing environment of the Mastermind meeting is a safe place to claim your successes. Here’s an example: “I’m proud of myself for spending 30 minutes a day exercising this month.” This might sound like bragging. It isn’t. It reinforces and encourages the behaviors that make you successful.

10. Write down your goals and commitments in a Mastermind notebook. Look back over time to see all the accomplishments you’ve made. This record is a source of inspiration and keeps you motivated to make progress on your current commitments. A notebook will also help you prepare your intentions for upcoming meetings. Some groups use e-mail for listing their commitments. E-mail is a great way to send encouragement and network between meetings.

Before I joined a Mastermind group I had a raft of concerns. How would I find people who have the same interest in achieving and growing? Will anyone take this seriously? What if I ask someone to join a group with me and they say no? I decided to take the risk. I wanted to participate in a Mastermind group so I made a commitment to myself to do it.

Members of my Mastermind group have successfully run a $100,000 kickstarter campaign, three have won Emmy awards, started new businesses, creating multimedia products, gained access to international marketing opportunities, several of us have written bestselling books, finding peaceful ways of parenting through divorce and remarriage and more. I wish I had joined this type of productivity-building group straight out of school.

WHAT’S STOPPING YOU?

Belonging to a Mastermind group is exciting. You may be interested in joining one, but something is holding you back. What’s stopping you? Four common success stoppers are:

ProcrastinationConfusion, Lack of Time and Negativity. Let’s take a look at some powerful ways to approach these success stealers so you can start achieving your highest goals through Masterminding.

Success Stopper 1: Procrastination

I’ll do it . . . later.

I’ll wait until I get motivated.

Someday I’ll get a Mastermind group started.

When exactly is “someday”? We can only take action in the present moment. All the good intentions in the world will not produce results without committing to a focused course of action. Replace open-ended words like “someday” with a specific date on the calendar. Do you want someone to invite you to join their established Mastermind group? Then network regularly. Ask people you respect to refer you if they hear about Mastermind group opportunities.

Did you know that procrastination can be good for you? The way to make it work for you is to procrastinate doing things that take you away from your goals. Procrastinate on watching television. Procrastinate doing low priority work. Procrastinate eating a giant chocolate covered cupcake at the mall. Just say to yourself, “Someday I’ll eat that cupcake.”

If you want to achieve higher levels of success in your personal and professional life through powerful goal getting with a Mastermind group, procrastinate doing those things that stop you from starting a group.

Success Stopper 2: Confusion

How do you do something that you’ve never done before? You might want to join a Mastermind group, but you’re confused about where to start, whom to ask or how to explain it all to someone else. Confusion could stop you in your tracks. It’s helpful to recognize that everything you do for the first time you do without knowing with 100% certainty that you can. It’s true. You don’t really know you can do something until you’re doing it. Do you remember learning how to ride a bike for the first time? It seems impossible. You try. You fail. It doesn’t matter how much advice you’re given, you can’t ride until you’re riding. It’s not until you’re doing it that you “know how.” You don’t know how to swim until you are swimming. You can’t whistle until you’re whistling. You don’t really know how to ski until you are headed down the slope.

Be gentle with yourself. Anything worth doing is worth being a bit confused about at first. Accept your feelings of confusion and keep moving forward. Create a vivid vision of what it would be like to have a supportive Mastermind group who believes in you. Imagine what type of goals you would reach for if you had a group who believed they could achieve anything they put their minds to.

Success Stopper 3: Lack of Time

- I don’t have time to add another commitment to my life.

- I don’t have time to listen to other people talk about their goals.

- I’m too busy just trying to keep up to think about planning ahead.

You’re busy. It’s no surprise. Do you want to know what is surprising? How you spend your time is greatly determined by your habits. Too busy is an illusion. Being present makes time accessible. You will have less stress and increased abundance in your life by planning you time with purpose. If you aren’t getting the results you want in your life, then it is time to make some changes.

It might feel like the world will come to an end if you took time out to attend your Mastermind meetings. Why is that? We get so wrapped up in doing things the way we’ve always done them. We get trapped into believing there is no other way. It is common for Mastermind group members to turn down money-making opportunities to attend their meetings. Why? Masterminding takes the blinders off. The group helps you see the areas of your life that are out of balance and which habits no longer serve you. Losing a few hours of work or play is well worth the wealth of clarity and purpose you bring back from your Mastermind meeting. Masterminding is a life-management strategy aimed at redirecting time to your advantage.

Success Stopper 4: Negativity

Even the healthiest people get an occasional cold or flu. The virus wears you down and makes you feel horrible. Congestion distorts your voice, your appetite fades and it’s hard to get anything done. Negativity is like a virus. Even the most optimistic person can catch it. Unlike the flu, negativity does not run its course and leave. Active steps need to be taken to change our mental environment to one that negativity cannot thrive in. How do you do that?

Use empowering language. Any time you hear yourself say, “I can’t” replace it with, “I choose not to.”  Look at how this works: You’re left feeling hopeless when you say, “I can’t start up a Mastermind group.” Change it to, “I choose not to start a Mastermind group.” This puts full responsibility back on you. It leads to the question, “If I want a Mastermind group then why am I choosing not to?” Before you know it, your desire replaces negativity.

Redirect yourself. Shift your focus from negative to positive. How often do you catch yourself thinking about the negatives? For example, “I don’t want to ask someone to join.” “I don’t want to figure out where we’ll meet.” “I don’t want to end up with a group I don’t like and then have to start over again.” The more you concentrate on what you “don’t want” the further you fall into negativity. Make a mental list of what you do want. For example,

“I want to network with others to create positive goal-setting alliances.”

“I want to belong to a group of achievers who believe in me and expect me to win.”

“I want to maximize my success by drawing on the perspectives of amazing people.”

With a positive outlook, your mental environment becomes healthy and forward-focused.

Getting Started: Top 5 Ways to Start Your Own Mastermind Group

1. Start your group with one other person and grow from there. You don’t have to wait until a full group is in place to benefit from Masterminding.

2. Look for people who have succeeded in some area of life that inspires you. Then take a deep breath and invite them.

3. Seek out group members in organizations, Facebook or LinkedIn groups that specialize in an area of interest to you.

4. If teleconferencing or online Masterminding appeals to you, look for potential members at national events. If you’re a speaker, association meetings like the National Speakers Association are fertile ground for members to find like-minded people to Mastermind with. I’m a past chapter President of NSA, and I’m on the board of directors for the Evolutionary Business Council.  It’s no surprise to find that it’s common for organizations like these to encourage masterminding.  I’ve even been asked to travel to chapters to teach people how it’s done.

5. Invite a speaker to present the concept of Masterminding at your next business or association event. Association members often have a lot in common with each other and match up well for Masterminding.

The most exciting part of Masterminding is watching the process in action. First you put your most desired wishes for success into words. When you say the words out loud to your group, you turn those wishes into goals. Goals turn into a series of action steps. A series of action steps turns into a set of achieved accomplishments. Sets of achieved accomplishments turn into success. This is how dreams come true. Mastermind groups are a powerful resource for creating success. I encourage you to give yourself the gift of Masterminding.

Do you have a mastermind group or an accountability buddy? If so, what has been the biggest benefit for you? If not, why not? 

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net