Masterminds are the single best business decision you can make this week.  

Every guest we have had on the PivotMe Podcast has made mention of it. Every expert sings it. And admittedly, this was one of my own biggest career mistakes… Going it alone. I believed I would simply figure it all out on my own as I went. With wild ambition and sheer determination, I could and would bravely chart my own path.

At the beginning stages of my career, I did not seek out mentors or a peer-to-peer group. I did not have a team of people holding me to a higher standard, helping to accelerate my growth. I was attempting to DIY success without anyone else reviewing my roadmap. It was the Long Way Up. And unless you are Ewan McGregor or Charley Boorman on a couple of motorcycles, I don’t recommend it.   

 “Your life is a direct reflection of the expectations of your peer group.” Tony Robbins

But that all changed years ago when I leveled up my peer group and began participating in Masterminds. I learned that in business, as in life, you need more than a How-To book. More than a seminar. Dare I say it– more than an MBA.

 In an excerpt from The Road Less Stupid, Keith J. Cunningham writes, “The single best business decision you will ever make is to intentionally work with a peer group on a regular basis that questions assumptions, asks hard questions the kind you hope nobody will ask, alert you to icebergs, raise the bar, and hold you accountable.”

 I couldn’t agree more.

What is a Mastermind?

 A Mastermind is a small, but dynamic group of individuals, each in their own pursuit of a goal, that meet (either virtually or in person) on a regular basis. Often times they are business-focused, as many of mine are, while other groups lean more towards personal growth – i.e. health, healing, relationships, humanitarianism, etc. There is a broad spectrum of motivation for creating or joining a Mastermind, but the one commonality they all share, the core foundation within every group is this: outside perspective from individuals who are not personally invested in the outcome. And, when done right, they are a powerful combination of brainstorming, education, accountability, and support that challenge your status quo and advance your skills.

Accessing the Right Influence

 Imagine for a moment a highly successful entrepreneur or leader. Someone seemingly at the top of their game, wielding great power within their organization and beyond. Now imagine the people that surround this person. In your mind’s eye, who do you see?  

Now, let me tell you who I have seen.

I’ve seen formidable entrepreneurs, esteemed leaders, high performers at the pinnacle of their careers/endeavors, all consistently surrounded by their employees, stakeholders, and more frequently than not… you guessed it… yes-people.

No big surprise out of left field there, correct? Regular communication with employees comes with the territory for company leaders. Staying in consistent contact with stakeholders is often essential, and the yes-people? Well, sometimes the presence of yes-people just makes the day a little less… complicated.

But who does that entrepreneur or leader turn to when seeking new growth avenues or great personal change? With whom do they discuss their big bold ideas, their internal struggles.. their imposter syndrome?

The HR manager? The VP of Sales? Phil in accounting? Sure he seems to be listening, but I think he still has an ear bud in the whole time…

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with having well-intentioned folks in one’s orbit. But what happens when those same folks inadvertently create an echo chamber? One that insulates an ambitious leader from any honest, gritty discourse or rebuttal.

If a leader’s big bold idea could potentially bring in revenue down the road, but also cripple the current budget, can Phil from accounting be trusted to raise the red flag? Maybe yes. Maybe no. Is that a risk worth taking?

Napoleon Hill, in his book Think and Grow Rich, concluded that no mind is complete on its own. The mind needs others to grow and expand. In a purposeful, structured group setting, we can essentially borrow experience, perspective, and influence to advance us in the right direction. But here is the determining factor – it must be the right influence. A truly effective Mastermind team operates as a growth team, helping participants overcome obstacles and achieve success. They push you, challenge you, to set significant goals and to be accountable to what you say is most important.

If we are the average sum of the five people we spend the most time with, how often do we contemplate who those five people are?  We must choose our influences with strong intention. We must design our peer group. If you listen to the PivotMe podcast you’ve heard me talk at length about the importance of a Designed Peer Group. Without that intention, we inevitably stick with our default peer group. Who is that? Your coworkers or employees, your neighbors, your old friends, your aunt, maybe parents? While these folks may usually want what’s best for you, I must caution: Do not ride or die with only your default peer group.

Poof goes our excuses.

To the contrast, a well-designed peer group normalizes success in the arena of your goal. It’s more difficult to believe making the New York Times Best Seller List is impossible when you meet regularly with four people who have already achieved that success. You can no longer say that, with kids the 75Hard Challenge is unattainable – if you talk to a group of fellow parents that are doing it every week. 

How does the Mastermind Get Results?

You attain effective results through learning high-performance habits, best practices, and borrowing from the experience and perspectives of others. Consider this – your well-designed Mastermind group might have 100+ years of collective experience in your chosen field. Feasibly, that is decades more than any one person could attain alone. Decades of invaluable knowledge and advice from pioneers and trailblazers turned friends.

When people are genuinely focused on directing (or re-directing) their business and accelerating personal growth, Masterminds are the surefire way to do it. In the broad spectrum of life, it is a rarity to have a consistent, reliable forum that is laser focused on helping us to be better. A place where the only goals for the team are 1) Actively working to be better and 2) Giving and garnering support amongst each other to be better.

Further, faster, but together.

No hidden agendas

Traditional networking groups all have an agenda: Getting business! From growing your clientele list, to creating new marketing strategies – the focus, in one way or another, is on enhancing your bottom line.

And when there is an agenda, vulnerability cannot exist

Because now you have a dog in the fight. Tim, who is working on referrals for his construction business, would be remiss in mentioning his struggle to make payroll that month. Sonali is unlikely to feel at ease discussing her impending divorce with a networking group for whom she is also their CPA. Agendas are valuable in networking groups, whereas impactful Masterminds are free of ulterior motives.

Let’s get into what makes them great.

The 5 Ways a Mastermind Accelerates You:

1. Consistency. Masterminds are concretely scheduled. They do not get moved. I have various groups that meet weekly, some monthly, and others quarterly. But the time never changes. We manage what we measure, and experience has taught the more frequent the meetings, the more effective they are.

2. Pursuit. No two individual goals are the exact same. Therefore, it’s common to have members whose ambitions differ greatly. One member might seek to write a best seller while another may endeavor to franchise their business. The only required similarity? Everyone should be in ACTIVE pursuit of their goal.

3. Accountability. Show up, be seen, hold yourself (and others!) to a standard. If you get off track (spoiler alert—we all do) you get back on track faster and have the courage and ability to call out your Mastermind team when they are off track. There is no perfect execution, you aren’t a Swiss watch, you just need consistency.

4. Vulnerability. Yeah, I know. This can be particularly challenging. Especially for high performers and successful leaders. But you can sit next to someone in your office for fifteen years, and never let them really see you. Being without an agenda means you can be free, unfiltered, and vulnerable with your group. In the right Mastermind, you can and will enjoy deep connection and form lifelong friendships with people who “get you” and honestly rally behind your success.  

5. No Dog in the Fight. Rarely do we have a place in our lives or business, where someone does not have a dog in the fight. If you make mention of training for a marathon, your spouse’s first thought may be “ugh, that means the alarm will go off earlier and I’ll lose sleep!” Or if you are considering a new business venture, your current business partner may feel abandoned or threatened upon hearing of it. So where to turn? That’s right, your Mastermind peers.

The hard truth is much of our default peer group is heavily invested in keeping us the same. And though the people that love us may have our best interest at heart, they are rarely capable of separating their personal self-interest from the matter.

So, what? I’m meant to leave my loved ones, my current peer group behind? Nope.

Don’t think of it as subtraction. Think of it as addition. You benefit from adding in a group of people who, like you, are hustling for something more. Think of it as locking arms with other ambitious folks, people who are ready, willing, and able to help you achieve your goal. No soldier left behind.

What does this result in?  

 Better business performance. Stronger relationships. More contribution and impact. Goals are achieved quicker, and the journey is a hell of a lot more enjoyable with a squad of people willing to push, pull or drag you across the finish line.

But it’s hard to find the time…

Is it? Is it really? I’m gonna spill some truth tea here. I’m a very productive person. But… the second I try to say “I don’t have time” I can immediately grab my phone and look at my screen time. Social media watch time. Do you know how much time I spend watching paddleboard videos, time management hacks, and baby fox Reels? It’s astonishing.

Actually, it has never been easier to be part of a Mastermind group. Some meetings are in person, but most are now virtual – making for a more expansive reach. One benefit from the “upside down-ness” of 2020 is that it gave many people an opportunity to get comfortable meeting virtually. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Facebook, there are so many ways to connect with your Mastermind team – without the added time and pressure of a commute!

Does it have to be a “paid” Mastermind?

In theory — no. It can simply be a tight band of people that agree to meet regularly. But going it alone, without a facilitator or coach, has its own set of drawbacks. First off, if you don’t already know a group of folks who are interested in meeting, how and where do you find them? Who facilitates and sets the structure of the meetings and who ultimately holds the members accountable for staying focused?

Now let’s talk financial commitment. Full disclosure: people who pay, pay attention. Paid Masterminds have a built-in facilitator who does the legwork of finding strong, reliable members, structuring meetings, even providing lessons and exercises, and holding everyone accountable. Masterminds that go without tend to slowly fall apart.

Let’s Recap

1.     Masterminds shorten the path to success and fulfillment through experience, accountability perspective, and connection

2.     Absence of agenda is critical for impactful Masterminds

3.     A consistent schedule creates predictability and growth

4.     Structure and financial commitment are correlated to their longevity and success

5.     Vulnerability is required for true connection and richer achievement. Be honest about both the joy of achievement and the pain of growth.

If you are reaching for that next level of success, don’t do it alone or just with your default peer group.

I started this article with this quote “Your life is a direct reflection of the expectations of your peer group”. So, let me ask you, what is your current peer group expecting of you?

Masterminds give you the power of perspective, connection, experience, vulnerability and – perhaps most important – accountability for the future version of you. 

Choose your peer group. Choose the team you are doing life with. Don’t let it be by default.

What Next?

To learn more about what makes Masterminds so successful, or to get information about the PivotMe Masterminds we run weekly (and have for years– you know, before masterminds were cool), send us a message. Until we meet again.

#mastermind #mastermindgroup #highperformance #designedpeergroup

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This article first appeared on April McKeegan-Garcia LinkedIn page.

#goals #personalgoals #productivity #goalsetting #goalgetter