I used to think that if I didn’t do everything in my business by myself, I was “cheating.” The idea was that if my success didn’t come entirely from within myself, then it wasn’t really mine. I didn’t want to pull a fast one; I wanted to earn every inch of success by myself. And while that was a noble viewpoint, it wasn’t a very realistic one.
Why? Because it meant that I had to master a dozen different subjects of study (some of which I had very little interest in) and then do all of the “heavy lifting” myself.
Let’s be clear: I have no problem with working hard—that’s not the issue. There just literally aren’t enough hours in the day for you to master a half-dozen subjects to the same level of depth as someone who specializes in one or two. Work done by a generalist is never going to be as good as work done by a specialist.
The Foundations Of Human Civilization
Human beings are social creatures. Even before the invention of agriculture and the wheel, we lived in groups and tribes. Individuals were shunned; exile from the group usually meant death. We’re biologically programmed to socialize, learn language, and cooperate with each other.
Because a group of people is stronger than the sum of its individual skills (this is the lesson that I took so long to learn). A group of people has the potential to do much, much better work than the same number of individuals working on their own. That’s the foundation of human civilization—individuals specialize in the jobs that they’re good at, and then come together in groups to complete bigger projects.
That’s why mastermind groups are so powerful.
What Is A Mastermind Group?
A quick overview for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about:
A mastermind group is a group of individuals who come together to improve themselves and their work. They’re not classes—there’s no teacher—and they’re not marketing or networking associations. Mastermind groups are peers who come together to access advice, accountability, creative energy, and expertise that they may not have available otherwise.
The concept predates the title, of course. Napoleon Hill used the term “mastermind alliance.” Benjamin Franklin called his “juntos.” Alexander the Great had a team of advisors (which included Aristotle—yes, that Aristotle) who were instrumental in his meteoric rise to power.
A good mastermind group provides accountability, perspective, and encouragement. Finding one (or building one) is absolutely instrumental in helping you achieve your own goals. Remember: groups of people are more powerful than individuals.
Let’s dig into the ways that this works.
Accountability – One of the most important functions of a mastermind group is to hold its members accountable to the goals that they set for themselves. Because of the way that our brains work, it’s much easier to break a promise to yourself than it is to break one that you’ve made to a group of your peers.
Publicly commit to your goals and you’ll find yourself much more motivated to work toward them—it’s embarrassing to tell everyone that you spent the week eating cheese puffs and watching Jerry Springer instead of coding your app.
Perspective – When we’re buried in the problems of our own projects, it’s easy to get tunnel vision. We get stuck, it’s because we’re too close to the problem at hand to see the solution.
A good mastermind group is made up of people with varied backgrounds and viewpoints. They’re exactly the ones who can see your problem from a different angle, and suggest the solutions that you can’t see. And even money says that you can do the same for them.
Encouragement – All of us get to the point in our projects where we start to doubt whether or not we can pull it off. Whether they’re challenges from outside forces or doubts that start to take root on the inside, there’s always a moment of darkness in any project where you consider giving up.
The flip side of this phenomenon is that on the far side of the moment of darkness usually lies the reward you’ve been looking for. When you’re on your own, it’s hard to believe that you’ll get through it . . . but when you meet regularly with a group, you start to see the pattern in others and in your own life. A good mastermind group will always have your back, and will help you get through these moments of doubt.
You don’t have to be an expert at everything, and frankly you shouldn’t try to be. The resulting mediocrity will kill your business faster than anything. Instead, specialize in what you’re good at and build or find a mastermind group of experts who can fill in the gaps in your own knowledge.