JMT Certified

Mastermind Groups

I never had my best ideas.  

This month marks 20 years since I moved into my current house, and it’s prompted some wonderful memories and fascinating reflections.  In addition to all the personal reflections on so many lovely family occasions, I was drawn to reflect on the best ideas I never pursued.  

One of these was an “All Estate Agents” Website.  Twenty years ago most estate agents had their own website, but I remember having to tour a series of websites to be able to view all the properties in my area.  I had this grand idea of creating a one-stop-site for all houses for sale or rent, as a venture funded by all of the estate agents in my area.  Now, 20 years later, we have websites like rightmove.co.uk and zoopla.co.uk, and more recently onthemarket.com.  

Some of the other “best ideas I never pursued” include a speed controlled volume adjustment for in-car audio which I prototyped in the 70s, and first noticed in production cars in the 90s.  Another was an idea to use my local Post Office for Bank deposits & withdrawals, prompted by my increased use of banks when I started my own business in 2002, and that was actually implemented by the Post Office in 2017.

I also have a list of “the best ideas I never had”.  These are ideas I ended up pursuing which I didn’t come up with initially.  Three of these are the three books that I have now published, and the idea for all three of them has come prompted by someone else.  The first was prompted by a peer mentoring session with a fellow coach in the John Maxwell Team, the second was prompted by a thought emerging from a talk by a publisher given to a small group of professional speakers, and the third was prompted by a discussion last Christmas with my son when he came to visit.  

On each occasion, I was engaged with a meaningful discussion with a like-minded professional in a similar field of work.  What’s more, these aren’t the only times that great ideas have emerged from a discussion, and often generate ideas that none of the participants would have come up with alone.  These ideas have emerged from what is sometimes referred to as the “master mind”, or the extra mind that seems to emerge whenever two or more people gather together around a common idea.  

This concept isn’t new, although its use in organisations today is not very widespread.  Wherever it is used, however, it seems to have a really strong and enthusiastic following.  A popular name for such a group today is Mastermind Groups, a phrase seemingly coined for the first time by Napoleon Hill in the early 20th Century, initially in his book entitled “The Law of Success” and subsequently in a later book entitled “Think and Grow Rich”.  

Mastermind: “A friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose.”

~ Napoleon Hill describing mastermind groups

Hill acknowledges Andrew Carnegie as his source of inspiration for writing his books, and Henry Ford as the person who contributed much of the material from which his writings were developed, and overall his work as based on more than 20 years spent studying over a hundred people who had “achieved unusual success in their respective callings.”  The people who were included in this research read like a who’s who of successful influential people from all walks of life.  Based on those interviews Hill claims not to have created anything new, however, rather he says that he has simply collected and organised old truths into a concise and usable form.  

‘The “Master Mind” may be defined as: “Coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.”’

~ Napoleon Hill

In simple terms, a Mastermind group is a group of people who come together around a common purpose and to explore the topic, with a view to personal development and to achieve better decisions and results.  Some groups are facilitated by a dedicated group leader who sets the agenda and holds the attendees accountable, while other groups are peer-led with no one person leading the group.  According to Hill, the key concept is that an additional mind, or Master Mind, emerges from a harmonious alliance of two or more minds.

Similar concepts to the Mastermind Group can be seen in other traditions too, with John Wesley establishing Class Meetings and Band Meetings in the 18th Century.  These were small groups of about 12 or 5 people respectively who came together to discuss a particular topic; the Class Meeting would discuss “How is it with your soul” and the Band Meeting would discuss their struggles together.  

John Wesley encouraged different kinds of small-group to develop so that both leaders and members of the societies could receive support and challenge in their faith. These groups, called ‘classes’ and ‘bands’ met regularly, and the idea was to be accountable to each other about how each person was living the Christian life.

~ The Methodist Church

Around the same time in the 18th Century, in Birmingham, a society formed that called itself “the Lunar Society”.  It was so called because they met during a full moon in order that their journey home by carriage would be well lit and thus both easier and safer.  This meeting was again attended by Matthew Boulton, Erasmus Darwin, James Watt, Josiah Wedgwood and many others.  Memorials to the Society and its members include a statue of Boulton, Watt and Murdoch by William Bloye which used to stand outside the old Register Office on Broad Street in Birmingham.

The present-day Lunar Society provides a dynamic forum for its membership to influence change through focusing and informing debate, linking social, economic, scientific and cultural thinking, and catalysing action on issues critical to the common good.

~ The Lunar Society

The concept is also used to great effect by several Business Development groups such as Vistage, which is an international peer mentoring membership organisation for CEOs, business owners and Executives, and the former Academy for Chief Executives (now acquired by Vistage).  

According to a 2017 study by Dun & Bradstreet, CEOs who joined Vistage grew their companies at over twice the rate of their competitors.

~ Vistage

I currently participate in two Mastermind Groups, each with a different focus, and have run many others over the years.  I am also privileged to have contributed to Mastermind Groups run by others who want to learn more about Leadership principles and practices.  In my experience, they are one of the key elements for personal development and growth for me and for my business and I can link my most significant growth to participation in these groups.  If these groups are new to you then I would urge you to consider making the time to join one, and if you would like to discuss the topic further I would be delighted to make time for a call.

About Roger Fairhead

Roger is a leadership specialist delivering Leadership for Business Achievement through Speaking, Training and Coaching to business leaders and entrepreneurs.

“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.

Leadership for Business also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.