What could you accomplish if you had unlimited brainpower and several lifetimes worth of experience to solve a problem? Well, you’d either have the start of a not-too-original concept for a TV series based on an immortal superhero protagonist, or, in the real world, you’d have an effective mastermind group.
Merriam-Webster defines mastermind as “a person who supplies the directing or creative intelligence for a project.”
Wouldn’t it be amazing to have the chance to learn from and share experiences with people with this kind of leadership and know-how in an area that’s not exactly your sweet spot? Multiply that level of amazing by two or more, and you’ll get a sense of what a truly incredible, game-changing resource a mastermind group can be.
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A mastermind group — a concept I first learned about from Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill — is a place to share ideas, learn best practices, and benefit from others’ brains, experience and beliefs. The book calls it “a coordination of knowledge and effort and a spirit of harmony between two or more people for the attainment of definite purpose.”
As a member of a 9-person mastermind group of entrepreneurs, the benefits of such coordination have been invaluable to me personally. Each group member has contributed valuable insight that has helped me overcome HR, marketing and financing challenges, among others.
Here’s four ways to reap the benefits of a mastermind group:
1. Assess yourself.
Consider all the tasks you’re responsible for, and identify a few areas where you excel and a few where your skills could be sharper.
2. Explore your network.
See who you know, or could get to know, who has a strength you’d like to develop.
3. Assemble the team.
Pitch the idea when you meet with potential mastermind colleagues. Let them know what you’re looking for and what you bring to the table.
4. Share the wealth.
Introduce connections to one another. Get the ball rolling by finding ways to support a new colleague using your unique strengths.
You have the makings of a mutually-beneficial mastermind group. Here are a few experience-tested pointers to keep it going strong:
Know your role.
Don’t confuse your role within your company with your role in your mastermind group. As a leader, you are used to being a designated mastermind. In contrast, your mastermind group should consist of peers, each of whom has areas of expertise valuable to the group. No one is the leader, and your role here is not to manage or be managed.
Think outside the industry.
Find group members with varied skill sets. Look to other fields for colleagues who can help you see things in a whole new way.
Let the group develop organically.
You’ll have a feel for when it’s about the right size to meet everyone’s needs. Since it’s not a managed group and a lot of the interactions can happen one-to-one, there’s no need for it to become exclusive. If a new colleague wants to introduce someone he or she has found to be particularly helpful but you just don’t see the value, wait for it. Some of the best connections I’ve made over the years have come from unexpected sources.
Assembling a mastermind group and staying in regular contact with its members will put you in position to thrive — both professionally and personally. Think of it as a way to take the adage “work smarter, not harder” to another level.