Are two minds better than one?
The answer seems obvious but I've been asking myself this question throughout my life and could never find a definite answer.
During my school years, both in high school and college, I've been invited to be part of study groups before big exams. At times I found them valuable but most of the time I avoided them as they were time consuming and ineffective.
I've continued to wrestle with versions of this question throughout my professional life. As an IT manager I stressed the need for regular weekly management meetings but in the end, many of those meeting ended up causing delays and wasting time.
Even now in my current life as a solo entrepreneur, I prefer to rely on my own brain to come up with ideas and sort things out.
Lately, however, I started to realize the power of having two and sometimes three brains working together.
Over the course of the past year I've been part of multiple Mastermind Groups and the benefits were quite immediate and significant.
In this post, I would like to share with you why a Mastermind Group is such a key component for anyone who's serious about reaching big goals and why I would highly recommend it for anyone who wants to move their business, career, or their lives in a more focused manner.
But before I get ahead of myself and talk about these benefits, some of you may be wondering:
"What the heck is a Mastermind Group?"
Simply put, it’s a group of like-minded individuals with a common interests who meet together (online or offline) on a regular basis to brainstorm, support, and assist one another in their business endeavors.
It's important to note that a Mastermind Group is not a coaching session or a networking group. While a group can decide to bring in a paid facilitator or share leads and opportunities with each other, the primary focus of a Mastermind Group is the accountability support and brainstorming among the group members.
Mastermind Groups have been around for a while now, but it only took off with Napoleon Hill’s famous book " Think and Grow Rich ". Napoleon Hill interviewed over 500 wealthy people to see if there were any common characteristics between them. He published his results as ‘Think and Grow Rich’, which became and still is a best seller. One of the key characteristics that all the people interviewed seemed to share is that they had a Mastermind Group.
Hill describes a Mastermind Group as: "The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony"
"Now that's great,” you may be thinking, but...
"Why should I start a Mastermind Group?"
Mastermind Groups are a prime example of synergy: the total is greater than the sum of the individual parts.
When you put two people together and have them work on a common goal, you don’t have two brains. Rather you actually have three; the third being a mixing of the first two brains...
There is literally an exponential growth of creativity, ideas and suggestions as you increase the size of the group. (Though from my personal experience, a group of 3 people can hit the limit of efficiency so you want to weigh the pros and cons of a large group size)
This new synergy also means that you get the opportunity broaden your own perspective and hear other people’s ideas. When you have a few like-minded people in your group and everyone is focused, you can get an overwhelming amount of great feedback. This is especially true when you start talking about your biggest obstacle or opportunity.
Another major benefit of being part of a Mastermind Group is accountability. Putting your goals out there and sharing them with people who respect you can be a very strong motivator.
We all get off track a little now and then due to busy schedule or lack of energy and for some of us it may take time to get back up to full speed. And if you're self-employed like me, you know how easy it is to put off goals, or justify not achieving them.
In a Mastermind Group you feel accountable to your fellow group members and that keeps you from losing sight of your goals.
* P.S. If accountability becomes a problem (i.e. people are not following up on what their promises), I always recommend using leverages. There are two types of leverages: sticks and carrots. Sticks are basically punishments while carrots are rewards. Tip: money can be a great stick (i.e. fine) and a great carrot (i.e. prize).
Now that you know the benefits of being part of a mastermind group, here are a few recommendations of how to find a group and how to run it based on my personal experience.
How to find (or start) a Mastermind Group?
First, I'd like to mention that when I encourage you to think of a Mastermind Group, I don't necessarily want you to think of it as being a permanent, long-term group that is going to last forever.
People stay in a Mastermind Group because they see value in it. When new commitments arise or and priorities start to shift, people may leave and you'll find new members or join a new group.
So, like many things in life, it will probably go through a life-cycle. Just be aware of it and make sure that there is enough value for everyone.
Now, the word 'value' is important here. You want to join a group or add people to an existing group that can add value to every other person.
I applaud you if you want to help or teach others but a Mastermind Group is not the place for it. You're in this to grow.
Make a list of people who share similar values to yours and that have massive potential to help you be where you want to be in the future.
Be Picky. Look for people who have experienced levels of success and who are willing to make a sustained commitment to show up each time.
And now the big question:
How to run a Mastermind Group?
There's quite a lot of advice out there about how to run a Mastermind Group, but after experimenting with different models, I settled on a process that has proven highly effective.
The Mastermind Groups I facilitate meet at least once a month through Skype for approximately 45 minutes. We operate on a structured process that enables the participant to explore new ideas and commit to a course of action.
It includes the following 3 main components:
- Check-in: Time to say what we've been working in since we last spoke, indicate if we reached our last month's goals and share some success stories.
- Feedback & Brainstorming: Time to provide specific feedback regarding reached and unreached goals and bounce ideas off one another in order to foster creativity and generate solutions to a problem
- Goal setting: Time to set goals for the next month, announce our primary goal and set penalties for failing to attain primary goals.
Finally, but not less important, we make sure we have fun with it.
A few ideas, suggestions and recommendations
- Each meeting focus on a different member of the group and review his or her biggest challenges/opportunities (Often referred as the "Hot Seat"). There’s also a lot of value that members get from listening to ideas and solutions generated for others.
- During the Feedback & Brainstorming stage, try to focus on how to make the other Mastermind members more successful.
- Set a few ground rules and be disciplined about your start and end times.
- If the conversation starts to veer off course, make an effort to get it right back on track so that people feel it's worth their time to be part of these meetings.
- After the meeting has ended, share your goals via email or through your online goals application for added accountability.
- If needed, keep the dialogue going via email/phone in between meetings. You can also create your own email discussion list for free by going to groups.google.com.
- Before you start a Mastermind Group, make sure you commit for an agreed period of time. I suggest that the minimum time should be 3 months. You need time to connect to one another, to form trust, respect and rapport.
- Consistency is key. Keep to a regularly scheduled time and ensure all members are punctual. Note that if meetings are too far apart, momentum is lost.
- Communication is important. If your Mastermind date is getting close and you haven't heard from everyone, make sure you send out something to the group.
- Remember, all Masterminds have a lifetime. There will inevitably come a point where either you're Mastermind is scheduled to end or you just feel it's losing its effectiveness. You'll want to end it with positive tone.
- It might be worth it for you to join (or start) more than one Mastermind Group. Simply pick a key area in your life and find the right people for the group.
- Make sure your group is small enough to ensure that everyone can participate (I like to be part of a 3 person group). Smaller groups tend to work in a more cohesive manner.
- Construct it in a way that EVERYONE in the group participates.
- Start with success stories instead of failures. Positive atmosphere does matter. Something that help to set the right tone and mindset for the rest of session.
- Hold all comments until someone finishes speaking. I usually write my questions and suggestions on a notepad while I listen to others.
- If you conduct your sessions using Skype, consider using a free MP3 Skype Recorder to record mp3s of your calls.
- Don't treat the Mastermind Group like a class. There is no need to lecture others. Instead, encourage everyone to work with each other like a peer advisory board.
- Select at least one goal to be completed by the next meeting and hold others accountable for their goals.
- It really helps if everyone shares similar values and it’s even better if they have similar interests (i.e. entrepreneurship, personal development, etc.).
- Make sure you have a good facilitator. Masterminds are not half as effective if not well facilitated - time is wasted, agenda is not clear, conversations go off-topic, there's lack of follow-through, etc
So, are two minds better than one?
Like many things in life the answer is…it depends.
I find that when there is a need to come up with new ideas or get feedback, the answer is yes.
But when the need is to execute those ideas or to make a decision about them... well, the answer from my perspective is usually no.
The essential idea I want you to take from this post is that utilizing multiple minds in the form of a Mastermind Group is extremely valuable and effective way to achieve your goals.
Think of a Mastermind Group as a Board of Directors for your life, business, or both.
Wouldn't it be fun to to have a group of advisors who are already doing what you're doing and who motivate you on regular basis?
I'll let you answer it
Live Your Dreams!
P.S If you're interested in me facilitating your own mastermind group or having a one-on-one mastermind session with me, please fill out the form in this link. This service is offered on a session-by-session basis AND the number of slots opened. Beside managing the structure for each session, I also provide advice, feedback, ideas, and resources.
Tal is unbelievably reliable at organising mastermind sessions, and always ensures that we stay on-topic. Despite this, he's a lot of fun to speak to, enjoys a laugh, and possesses multi-disciplinary insight that's exceedingly rare. Basically, he's one of those people that you wish you could clone. Ashley Bloom
I have been involved with a mastermind group that Tal initiated and was the key facilitator of. Tal has come up with a structure for these mastermind sessions that I found to be extremely effective and efficient. I found Tal to have great active listening skills and he was instrumental in keeping the sessions going and not exceeding the allocated time. Michael Ginsburg
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Photo Credit: MIT OpenCourseWare