(Note: This is a long article about joining a mastermind group. If you want to learn more about the ManTalks Mastermind without reading this entire article, please watch this video:
“Joining a mastermind group was the single best decision I’ve ever made.”
I know dozens of men who’d confirm that statement. With the support and challenge of their mastermind group, I’ve seen men survive all sorts of crises, achieve major victories, take control of their health, radically improve their intimate relationships, build their band of brothers, and much more.
Yet many are still oblivious to what a mastermind is and how it works.
When people first hear the word ‘mastermind’ they jokingly say something like, “What the hell is a mastermind? It sounds like some kind of a crime syndicate.”
In fact it is, we are planning to steal the world’s largest diamond. Tell no one.
Kidding of course. In reality, a mastermind is a group of individuals coming together to push and support each other in the drive to live a life of purpose.
Purpose drives men. If you ask women what they find attractive in a man, they will often answer that a man with purpose is sexy.
So, if you join the right mastermind and develop a deep sense of purpose, it may end up being the single decision that shapes your life the most in the years that follow. You’ll feel fulfilled, be more successful, and be more attractive to women (whether you’re in a relationship right now or not).
To help clear up some of the confusion about masterminds, I’m going to show you what a mastermind group is and what it isn’t. Then I’ll outline how to find an incredible mastermind group, or, if one doesn’t exist nearby, how to form your own.
This article is a complete guide to find a mastermind group.
What a Mastermind Group IS
The concept of a mastermind has gotten really popular these days. It’s now a buzzword, and is often used by groups that aren’t real masterminds.
So, in this section I’m going to discuss the attributes that a mastermind group must have to earn the name “Mastermind.”
Modern men are notoriously slippery and unable to commit. In a generation of last minute texts and ‘maybe attending’ RSVPs, an incredible number of modern men are no longer as strong as their word. Too often men say they will do something and then cancel last minute or they make up an excuse or just don’t show up.
It seems small, but this lack of integrity to the word is an insidious force holding modern men back.
The main cause of this ever-fading commitment is a lack of accountability.
When a whole culture does it and accepts and friends and family learn to accept this flakiness, it gets easier and easier for men to drop the ball. There is good news and bad news in this. The bad news is that if you’re a modern man, you probably do this, too. But the good news is that once you change internally and become a man of your word, you will stand out from the crowd easily.
The fastest way to make a man accountable is to surround him with a group of likeminded individuals that are willing to hold his feet to the fire. A great mastermind group must have accountability as a core tenant.
Note: A tip for next time, if you can’t make an event or don’t want to go. Simply say “No I can’t make it, thank” and move on. Do not be wishy-washy or try to please. An inability to say no is typical ‘Nice Guy’ behavior and it’s causing your life more problems than you realize.
Challenge and Support
This is the magical dynamic that a mastermind must have. Most men are surrounded by ambivalent people, who could care less what they do or don’t do. The people in your life who do care are often “yes-men,” who will support and high five you regardless of what you do.
But where are the real friends who will call bullshit when you’re in the wrong or off course? Where are the brothers who will call your out for lack of integrity?
Frequently, men don’t have these challenging relationships to help us push forward to our highest self.
Men grow through challenge and adversity, but often when we go through challenges we also lack the support to take the treacherous road directly into our problems. We falsely think we need to ‘do it on our own.’ This is bullshit. Men, as much as anyone, need support when going through the challenges of life.
A great mastermind will thread both needles of support and challenge simultaneously.
There is no point in support and challenge if you’re not going somewhere.
Setting strong goals that align with your purpose is an integral stepping stone in growing your impact. This is where a lot of groups fail. They get stuck in the cycle of catharsis. I’m not knocking catharsis. It’s an important process, but a mastermind group aims personal growth towards actual change in the world. Taking action must always be at the forefront.
A well-organized mastermind must have systems in place to help men routinely set, take action towards, and reach goals.
Purpose, Fulfillment, and Legacy
Too often purpose, fulfillment and legacy are buzzwords we relegate to the ‘will think about someday’ list. “Someday I will find my purpose, someday I will create a legacy, and someday I will feel fulfilled.”
A consciously crafted mastermind will take these nebulous terms and bring them concretely into your life. When purpose is no longer a buzzword but a guiding light, you immediately notice the bedrock of your personal foundations shift.
You begin to see your life in an entirely new way and the importance of the rat race, the new iPhone, an extra bonus, or a corner office begins to fade. Truly powerful actions like connecting with the people you love, taking control of your health, and having a positive impact on others begins to guide you.
What’s shocking to most men is that the actual dollar figure of wealth creation means less, but counterintuitively most men suddenly start earning, saving, and investing more. Wealth creation is a nifty by-product of living a life of purpose, building legacy, and being fulfilled.
Openness and Honesty
Ever tell someone you were thinking about going on a diet, or drinking less, or maybe going to join a new exercise group and they tell you “that’s a waste of time, your just gonna quit. You never stick with that stuff. Don’t be such a try-hard.”?
Every time you build up the courage to move out of your comfort zone, your social circle hammers you back into place, quashing your dreams of a better life. We truly do become the average of the five people we spend the most time with. This is proven by a ton of research and I bet if you audit your own life and social circle you’ll find that it’s true for you, too.
A great mastermind works the same way, but with the exact opposite results that most of us get from our friendships. It reaches into you and helps you pull out the dreams and aspirations that you have buried deep within yourself.
The key to this is creating an environment that encourages thinking and speaking without fear of punishment or criticism.
In a well-organized mastermind, directness and honesty are built-in. There are chances to be open about your aspirations and dreams at every meeting and equal chances to provide feedback.
Unselfishness (Give What You Want to Get)
It’s well-known that the secret to living is giving. Or should I say that people give lip service to this idea? If it was truly well-known, I think more people would practice it.
Everyday I meet people whose greatest joy is to give, yet their path in life has somehow forced them inwards and taught them to believe they need to protect themselves and all they have to offer. They fear that by giving too much they will somehow lose.
A well thought-out mastermind addresses this problem by challenging men to step up to the plate and to give openly to others with no plans of benefiting. Spending time, effort and maybe even money helping others is one of the activities that men tell me had the biggest impact on their mindset.
Commitment to Real Relationships
When you join a great mastermind, you will find yourself developing real, deep relationships. Why? Because speaking openly and honestly is the perfect recipe for deep, meaningful relationships. As Stephen Mansfield once said, “Modern men are drowning in a sea of casual friendships.”
Chatting about sports and cars has its limits.
You don’t join a mastermind to add a couple Facebook friends or get some advice on stocks. A key foundation of a mastermind is to foster deep relationships between men that help connect you in the ways men frequently ignore.
This will allow you to help other members and be helped by them in ways you’ve likely never experienced. Connecting at a deeper level can be awkward, frustrating or difficult and that’s why most individuals rarely reach this depth on their own.
A great men’s mastermind can guide you through and past the discomfort towards real relationships.
(Spoiler alert: everything else in your life improves when you develop more real relationships.)
One of the key benefits to a great mastermind is that you’re surrounded by a diverse group of men. Each member brings his own strengths and weaknesses, and a variety of experiences and outlooks.
Oftentimes a number of mastermind members are men you wouldn’t normally meet. This gives you the opportunity to hear opinions from a completely unique perspective and get exposed to ideas you may never have heard otherwise.
It also allows you sometimes to lead and sometimes to take a backseat role to others. If you’re used to leading at all times in your normal life (family, community, work, etc.) it can be refreshing and enormously beneficial to sit silently and learn from other leaders who are like you but have different insights.
System of Personal and Professional Growth
What do you do to improve yourself? A surprising number of people don’t have a consistent answer for this. They know they’ve made changes in the past, but if pushed to give a substantive response they are forced to admit they don’t know how they did it.
Major changes often coincide with doing personal development work, but without being able to pinpoint how they did it, they remain dependent upon a specific guru or teacher. This is where you get the term, “personal development junkie.” It’s nothing more than a person who uses personal development events or seminars to recreate the feeling of making change, often without actually making the change.
A great mastermind produces consistent results for a couple of reasons. First, it puts you in a culture of actual doers. A great mastermind won’t elevate the ‘personal development high’ above actually making real change. Second, it will show you a simple, replicable system for making real, substantive change in your life.
In the ManTalks Mastermind, that system is a process of self-awareness –> planning –> execution. Our members move through all three of these steps in a single meeting, so that the member walks out of the meeting with their plan of action and will report back the next meeting about the actions they’ve taken.
What a Mastermind Group ISN’T
Now that we’ve seen some of the most important characteristics of a mastermind, let’s take a look at the opposite side and see what a mastermind group is NOT. Keep in mind as we go through these that different groups have different goals. It’s okay if groups have these characteristics. Just make sure you know what you’re looking for and don’t end up in the wrong type of group.
Group therapy is a powerful tool and can serve an important role. That being said a mastermind is not meant to be group therapy.
The key difference being that group therapy is built for helping and healing trauma. Whereas a mastermind is built to create growth through challenge and support.
Performance and success are integral to a mastermind. But these aren’t necessarily the goals of therapy. Some members of our mastermind simultaneously do individual therapy. This is fine, and is actually a pretty cool combination.
The important thing is not to confuse the two. Don’t try to get therapy out of the mastermind group and masterminding out of the therapy group.
A Place to Commiserate About How Bad Things Are
Life’s tough. Your boss sucks, your wife hates you, your kid’s a brat, you’re out of shape, you can’t get a date, and on and on. Everyone is dealing with shit.
While we don’t believe in blind ‘positivity,’ as that attitude leads people to pretend problems don’t exist, we do support relentless optimism and above all action-taking to overcome problems immediately.
Dwelling never solved anyone’s problem. The problem with dwelling is that, in talking about the problems, our minds are tricked into thinking we’re doing something about the problem. This is the same reason it’s a bad idea to ‘tell the world’ about your biggest dreams and goals. The better method is to get to work immediately. Then, when you succeed, people are shocked and surprised.
But in loudly declaring what you’re going to do, your mind begins to rest because it thinks you’ve done something, when in reality you’ve only talked.
A well-organized mastermind is geared towards taking immediate and decisive action to change your situation. We don’t stew in our problems. Instead, we challenge each other to move forward and then support each other as we do it.
A Place to Only Take and Never Give
Oftentimes, people have the attitude of, “Maybe this will help me make more money. Maybe someone here can get me a better job. Hopefully I can sell these guys my product.”
If this is why you’re looking for a mastermind, please think again. The growth you get out of a mastermind is directly proportional to what you give into the group.
Yes, you’re allowed to be selfish (in a limited sense), because you’ll always be your own top priority, but to truly succeed in a mastermind you must also give. If you come with an open heart and open mind, you will leave with a new family and a new outlook on life. When you actually give a fuck about the other members and they give a fuck about you, there is no limit to the lengths you’ll go to help each other succeed.
A Passive Group of Individuals
If you are planning to just sit in the back and take notes, think again. There is no auditing of this course, you need to get involved. The school system seems to have taught a lot of us that just learning is enough.
Learning is great, but a mastermind is designed to prompt you into immediate and decisive action towards your goals.
If you walk away from your mastermind feeling good but nothing actually changes in your real life, then you might be in a passive group.
Setting goals is important but is just a part of the puzzle, you must take action if you want to experience growth. A great men’s mastermind will not allow anyone to be passive and simply wait for life to happen to them.
A Place for Lightly Committed Men, Excuse-Makers, or Flakes
When you join a men’s mastermind, you make a commitment to every other man in the group. You are committing to change. You are committing to helping them and to helping yourself.
These commitments should not be taken lightly. You can’t achieve progress if you’re only committed to the group when it’s easy or convenient. Rain or shine, you have to be there for the other men, because they will be there for you. One member uncommitted or who flakes on his commitments is a liability for the entire group.
Just as you wouldn’t want to go to war with one uncommitted squad member, you don’t want to mastermind with one flake in the group’s midst.
A Cult-Like Group With One Central Figure
A men’s mastermind is not a pyramid scheme or a top-down organization. The facilitator’s role is to create the situations and the vessel for other men to pour their gifts into.
It’s an immediate red-flag if you’re not allowed to question the format or give feedback. More commonly, you will find groups where the leader is thought to be infallible in his opinions and advice. Whatever he prescribes the members will do without question.
A true mastermind is peer-to-peer mentoring. Nobody is flawless and each members’ feedback and insight are equally valuable
Why You Should Join a Mastermind
If you’ve read through this entire article, you should have a clear understanding about what a mastermind is and isn’t. So it’s pretty simple. Search your mind and heart. What, if anything will best serve you? Now that you know the difference between a mastermind and other types of groups like therapy groups, which is the best fit for you.
Make your decision based ONLY on your internal guidance system and NOT on what other people are doing, what looks cool, or what an influential or charismatic figure thinks you should do.
If you are still unsure, read my previous article on the “5 Signs That it Might Be Time to Join a Men’s Mastermind.” These signs are:
- You’re ready to live with purpose
- You want a deeper level of self-awareness
- You’re ready to grow your impact
- You’re ready to be held accountable by other high-performers
- You crave passion in your life
If you feel any of those, remember that tomorrow never comes and there are enough excuses and busy work to fill every day from here until your last.
If you recognize how precious your opportunity to be alive is and want to make use of the gifts you have been given, then it’s time to start the search for a group that will support you on your new adventure.
Why You Shouldn’t Join
You shouldn’t join if what you really need is therapy. False mastermind groups that focus on therapy, without the proper, constant guidance of an excellent therapist often just confuse members and send them down the wrong path.
If you need therapy, get therapy. A mastermind has a different purpose. Some men join a mastermind and do therapy simultaneously. That’s a great idea.
But please do not confuse the two. The mastermind is for relationships and taking action in your life. It is for making deep, mutually beneficial connections and growing forward. It’s for setting goals and achieving them.
Therapy is for therapy.
This Can Change Your Life. Will You Let it?
The impact of your mastermind experience will come down to two things, 1) your own readiness and commitment, and 2) the quality, consistency, and system of the group itself.
The two are equally important, so take the time to look deep within yourself and be fully prepared.
Make sure you do your research so you don’t waste your time on groups that haven’t taken the process as seriously as you. There are many steps in the process but it is worth the time invested.
If you take thoughtful and deliberate steps forward in the process and are fortunate enough to find a quality men’s mastermind, I guarantee the changes you see in your life will blow you away.
Of course, I’m biased and I believe in the ManTalks Mastermind. If you’re interested, please click here for more information. But if you’re not interested, or if you live someone that our mastermind doesn’t exist, then use this guide to help you locate and/or develop your own kick-ass mastermind.
Connor Beaton is the founder of ManTalks, an international organization focused on men’s health, wellness, success, and fulfillment. Connor is also an international speaker, podcast host, CEO, and leader of ManTalks mission to build a global brotherhood. Before founding ManTalks, Connor had a brief career as an opera singer and worked at Apple, leading high-performance sales and operations teams. Since founding ManTalks, Connor has spoken on stage at TEDx, taken ManTalks to over a dozen cities internationally and has been featured on platforms like Forbes, Influencive, HeForShe, The Good Men Project, UN Women, CBC, CBS, and the National Post.
Zander Robertson is the ManTalks CMO and master of online content. Prior to joining ManTalkZander had an illustrious career ghostwriting books behind-the-scenes for business and personal development leaders across North America. Zander is at his best when learning something new every day and applying it. These days he’s geeking out on psychology, philosophy, SEO, PPC advertising, and Blockchain technology. Zander has written over 20 books [he lost count] and plans to write more in the future. Why did he join ManTalks? After building his own band-of-brothers, he saw the need and importance of building this space for men. It’s all about the vision, baby.