“The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.”
That’s a pretty good definition even today.
I’ve been participating in a Mastermind group for over two years now. We came together as a result of a writer’s lunch when the three of us simply hit it off and decided to meet again. In fact, you know my two Mastermind partners – at least you’ve read some of their writing.
Helen Chang is one and Lauri S. Friedman is the other. Our “definite goal” is continued success as freelance writers.
We meet monthly for lunch. We do a little bit of chit chat, but mostly stick to our agenda. We make sure we’ve got our notebooks because part of the secret is the ability to track our actions over time. Sometimes we take notes for each other, but my handwriting, even when I’m careful, is so awful we mostly keep our own notes.
Our agenda looks like this:
- First on our agenda is celebrations of our wins or successes for the last month. We each have a turn and we talk about what worked. Often we hear about new clients, and completed contracts; sometimes we report on progress of one sort or another. We often ask each other to tell more about the good stuff.
- Next we talk about challenges. We’re careful not to jump in and tell another how they should do whatever to solve the problem. If the person talking about a challenge wants feedback she’ll ask for it. If one of us had direct experience solving that problem we may mention that, but we don’t give gratuitous advice.
- Finally we do a round where we each say out loud our goals for the following month.
At the end of the year we review the goals we set, and set new ones. And we often review those goals in June or July.
It’s pretty simple and there are other ways to do Mastermind groups. If you don’t like this format, just Google Mastermind and you’ll find a gillion. Just be sure whatever format you follow allows for mutual support as well as mutual accountability.
Ours works, I think, for the following reasons:
- Each of us is a true professional earning our living with our writing. This is important because we don’t need to carry each other and teach each other the ropes.
- We have similar goals – not identical, but similar. They boil down to continuing success as freelance writers.
- Our clients and our writing while similar in some ways, is quite different when you get down to the details. There’s no real competition between us.
- We’re three women who mostly stick to our agreements with each other. I say mostly because over the months I think each one of us has had to cancel or ask that the meeting be moved to another date. So we’re flexible too. But somehow we know we have each other’s interests at heart.
How would you start such a group? Look around you. What writers do you respect enough to share your success, failures, hopes and visions with? Invite one or two of them for lunch and ask them what they know about Mastermind groups. You may get lucky as we did, finding the right combination of people with the first try, or you may have to take several stabs at it before it clicks.
I think it’s worth the effort.