Napoleon Hill – The Law of Success
Have you ever felt lonely at your work?
Running a business – as we, musicians, do – on our own, without any co-workers or team members can feel lonely.
It is great if your family is there and happy to support you in every possible way. However there may be a limit as to how much they can advise you on, say, your communication strategy. Or the latest Google Analytics report from your website. Or newsletter set up.
Wouldn’t it be great to talk to someone who understands at least some of your dilemmas? Someone with a similar experience, who would listen to your ideas and could give you a professional feedback on them? Somebody who has been with you on at least some of this journey? Who knows what your goals are and where are you coming from?
That was roughly my thinking a few months ago. And these days, if you are searching for something (or more precisely – someone), what is the first place you head to? You guessed it – the mighty Internet. And this is exactly how our team of two – Magda and Zuzanna – came together!
I am a harpist and harp teacher living in Scotland. Magda is a Polish language teacher living in Australia. We both teach, we both run a business online, and for the last 3 months every Tuesday we have been meeting (via Skype) for what we call mastermind sessions.
A week ago we shared the idea with a group of fellow harpists through a joint Facebook Live. Since we received many questions about the mastermind concept and the process of setting up such group, we decided to share more in this post!
What is a mastermind?
Mastermind is typically a group of 2 – 4 people, although it is not unusual to find groups having as many as 7 or 8 members. The bigger the numbers, the more varied points of view. However, this may also mean longer meetings or less time and attention that could be spared for each individual member.
The main purpose of a group is discussing business-related issues. A mastermind brings together people who wish to work towards similar goals. Their individual professional circumstances often have much in common.
In our mastermind we both want to work on improving our online presence and communication, each within her own project.
Area of expertise
It is recommended that members are not in competition with each other. However they need to have similar professional experience or be on a similar “stage” of running their businesses. If you find that your knowledge and skills far exceed the general level of the group, you may not benefit as much as you would with more senior colleagues.
Zuzanna: it is possible to have two harpists working together in a mastermind-like setting. However it can all become a bit of a bumpy ride if you are working on a competing project, for example preparing for the same audition. It is possible, but will require a great deal of maturity on both sides!
All members of the group commit to attending regular meetings. These can be arranged weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly… Of course the more frequent the meeting, the more beneficial they will be for you.
It is often recommended for new groups to start with weekly meetings to establishing the routine and flow. We are currently meeting once a week and we both appreciate the rhythm.
Meetings can be held online or in person. With almost 10,000 miles between us the choice here was rather obvious!
You do not need to commit to the group for the rest of your life. Most groups work together for a certain period of time, but as members’ needs and long-term goals change, they may want to leave the mastermind or start a new one – and this is perfectly normal.
What happens when you meet?
Ideally all sessions should have some sort of a structure. Depending on your needs and preferences, this typically includes all or some of the following:
- sharing positive news, successes, and anything else you are grateful for
- reporting on progress – based on the goals set in the previous meeting
- presenting ideas and asking for feedback
- discussing problems and offering advice and support
- brainstorming new ideas
- reviewing long-term plans
- setting goals to be achieved by the time of the next meeting
Of course there are days when we jump from one topic to another without following any particular order. However we always strive to establish tasks we are going to commit to in the following week. We also confirm the date and time of the next session.
How can a mastermind group help me?
We are sure that as we continue to work together, we will benefit from our sessions in many new and different ways. So far, the benefits that we listed below turned out to be most meaningful for us.
Long term strategy
Our time together is dedicated to working on long-term goals and strategies: where do we want to get, when, and how. We often find ourselves running around and chasing our own tail, frantically writing down multiple to-do lists. The time we put aside every week to think of our projects helps us keep our most important goals in sight.
Putting ideas into action
You may often find yourself dreaming of future dreams and plans. The bigger the goal, the more pleasant it is to dream about it – and the more scary to act on! Saying it out loud means making a commitment.
Staying committed to the goals is easier if you have also made a commitment to a colleague. You know that next week they will remember to ask about your plan, so you put your head down and do the work. Instant procrastination stopper.
Extremely valuable when you’re are learning a new skill or doing something for the first time. Instead of frantically googling about different functionalities of Mailchimp (a popular newsletter platform), you just ask members of your group who already have a newsletter running.
Even if you are very like-minded, your life experience will still be different and each of you will have their unique perspective. What is more, your partner can certainly look at your work from some distance. They are not involved as deeply as you are, and that gives them ability to look at it from a different angle.
Help and support
If your things are not going too well and you feel the need to share your worries, the group will offer a sympathetic ear (or even a few ears!) along with some helpful advice. Sometimes all you need is to be able to say your thoughts out loud and you’ll find the solution. At other times, your group will come up with ideas you would never have thought of.
Over the time, the level of trust between you may allow discussions not only on business, but also personal topics. However you need to remember that the primary purpose of a mastermind group is discussing work. It is very different from a 1:1 coaching, and it definitely cannot serve as a substitute for psychotherapy.
What do I need to start a successful mastermind group?
Commitment from all members
Absolutely essential. You have to be there, and be on time.
Time to spare
It is up to you to decide how often do you meet and for how long, but you need to make sure you can find that time. We currently assign between 30 to 60 mins per meeting and we make sure to find the time for a session each week.
Mutual trust and understanding
We both agree that these are the two major values that make a mastermind group successful. We trust each other – our opinions and intentions. We both wish the best to the other one, and we help each other as much as we can. But the trust would not matter much without being able to feel at ease with one another. To create a good mastermind group you must like each other – then it has a chance to click.
Similar experience and goals
As we said before – you need to have at least some basic understanding of what the other person is trying to achieve in order to be able to listen to them and offer help. If you work on projects that have nothing in common, exchanging ideas and offering meaningful support will be extremely difficult.
And last but not least – something that we would call…
Basic people skills
Yes, you are there to give each other feedback. But can you give constructive criticism? Can you use rational arguments when reasoning against an idea of your colleague?
And vice versa – can you accept feedback which is anything less than enthusiastic? Can you reflect on the advice that you were given?
Don’t get us wrong – you don’t have to go for any of the solutions offered. You are always free to choose – after all, this is your work and your life! All you need to do is consider the options on the table. Your partner is there to help you find more of them, but the final decision is always yours.
Is mastermind really for me?
There is only one way to find out – just give it a go. If any of the benefits described above sound appealing, don’t wait. Use the internet, talk to people, join or create a group. The gains are priceless.
Magda is a professional Polish teacher living in Bunbury, Australia. She has extensive experience teaching Polish as a foreign language using the latest tools and methods. Her interests are bilingualism and creating online courses students can access through her website.
Zuzanna is a professional harpist and harp teacher based in Edinburgh, UK. Aside from performing solo and with orchestras she shares educational resources with fellow harpists and harp learners through her website.