Forming a group of like-minded peers can bring the encouragement, coaching, and focus you need to bring your practice to the next level.
Who is influencing you? Who are your mentors? When was the last time a group of your peers called out the very best in you? The people who work at their very best have no doubt surrounded themselves with others who are equal to their greatness. Olympic athletes train with and regularly compete against other Olympic athletes. CEOs of Fortune 100 companies have lunch with executives from other Fortune 100 companies. And great salesmen and women choose to constantly learn from other talented sales people. Greatness is not new. But learning to choose to be better can be new for you.
There are many ways to grow and learn. You can choose to read one book a month. You can listen to an inspiring audio or video series. You can attend industry conferences and seminars. You can join communities of like-minded people, and you can hire a personal executive coach. But one thing I had never successfully been a part of was a mastermind group.
Then in September 2010, I was invited to a financial-services industry conference and was serendipitously placed in a mastermind group of four financial advisors and one executive coach. This group was only supposed to last the two days of the conference, but as time unfolded our group has met once per month for the last seven months.
Here are seven ways for you to create and participate in a similar mastermind group:
1. Know the point of your mastermind group
Our group is very small, and from our very first meeting we connected on a very personal level. During our first face-to-face meeting, I spoke of a turning point in my life as a friend faced cancer. Brian S. spoke of a near-death experience as a teenager. Mike S. shared what his life was like after surviving a stroke at age 37. Hal G. shared about his life with four daughters. I knew this was going to be much more than how to do more business; this group was going to change my life.
2. Have a committed professional or executive coach lead the call
Our mastermind group is made up of successful entrepreneurs who have chosen to take their life and their practice to the next level. Running a mastermind group is different than simply being a member of a mastermind group. We have a paid professional, Whit R., as our leader. Whit creates the call schedule, takes the minutes of all of our calls, sends out reminders for our next call, creates the agenda for each call, and leads each call. He is a thoughtful executive coach who gently keeps us on time and on track.
3. Share similar goals and values
We are primarily interested in gaining greater life clarity through identifying immutable life principles. We want to understand our purpose, our priorities, and our passions. We are learning that our success in business will be directly correlated to the success and fulfillment we find in life. Whit reminded us that business merely becomes a vehicle for manifesting a higher quality of life for our clients, our families, our co-workers, and ourselves.
4. Commit the time to attend every call
For a mastermind group to succeed; there must be a high level of commitment to the group. Our group has conscientiously planned each of our calls around all five of our busy schedules. These calls must take precedence over the regular demands of daily work. Each call lasts exactly 90 minutes--we start on time and end on time. And each one of us is fully present during the call.
5. Allow equal time for every participant
Led by our executive coach, he begins every call with a two-minute personal "check-in." During this time we find out how everyone is doing on a personal level and get a quick update on spouses, children, vacations, and any other exciting news. Next, we are each asked to review our progress regarding the goals and action steps we committed to implement. We talk about our successes and our challenges, and we discuss what is working and what is not working. We are honest with each other and we laugh frequently as we see ourselves in each person's circumstances.
6. Be accountable to your group
As time passes, I find myself wanting to live up to the challenges our group has set for ourselves. When we share what our individual goals will be for the next month (and each person often has radically different areas to work on and goals to accomplish)--I want to make sure that these goals stay top of mind. The accountability of knowing that I have to present my results to the group in a short four weeks has greatly helped me stay on task.
7. Call to greatness
Being a member of this mastermind group is impacting my professional and my personal life. I can only relate it to an event that one of my team members recently experienced. Susan Naylor and I have worked together since 2002. About three months ago, Susan decided to take up running. Six weeks ago she ran in her first 5K. She had never run three miles before this race, and she wasn't sure she could. But her results were amazing; the excitement of being a part of the race--surrounding herself with other runners--called out the very best in her. Not only did she finish the race, but she finished it in 35 minutes!
As we were finishing our last conference call, one of our members asked, "How can we know when we have a deeper understanding of life clarity?" Hal G. answered with an incredibly insightful point, "Your body will tell you, your relationships will tell you, your stress level will tell you, the clutter around you will tell you, your productivity will tell you, and your spiritual health will tell you."
Are you surrounding yourself with people who are like minded--who share the same vision and goals? Who are willing to encourage you along the way? I believe a mastermind group can change your life. It is changing mine.
Allyson Lewis is the author of, The Seven Minute Difference. She speaks on improving time management, increasing productivity and rediscovering purpose. Find out how you can own a copy of Allyson's new online video training program: www.The7MinuteLifeSystem.com, subscribe to her blog: www.AllysonLewis.com, and follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/allyson7minutes