I had a chat about mastermind groups today. You know – mastermind groups, networking groups, meetings with alliteration in the name. (Women Who Work! The Wednesday Wowers! The Networking Nerds!) Basically, we're talking formalized methods of getting together to support one another.
The person I was talking to is on the fence. She dreams of a mastermind group that truly supports her. She wishes for a group of business owners who are her “right people”. She is hoping to find her tribe.
Her conflict stems from two places. One, she doesn't know if those people exist. Two, if they do exist, they might be hard to find.
The process of separating “right people” from “Oh my God, I hate these people” might be gruelling.
This is a common issue. The perks of a great mastermind group are, well, great. And bad mastermind groups are the ninth ring of hell. Sorting through an unknown number of bad ones to maybe find a good one is unpleasant.
So what should you do?
Joining a mastermind group is kind of like getting married.
When you’re in the dating marketplace, you meet a lot of theoretically viable candidates. If you are a straight single woman, there are a lot of straight single men in the world. (New York City notwithstanding.)
The guy driving your bus might be single. The guy pouring your drink might be single. The guy two mats over at yin yoga is definitely single because he vocally laments it every Saturday morning.
There are a lot of men out there, but not many of them are a great fit.
Maybe you like him and he doesn’t like you.
Maybe you like him and he likes you, but he’s 22. Your youngest child is 26, and you’re just too self-conscious to go there.
Maybe you mostly like him, but he has this one habit. It makes you want to drown yourself in a latrine.
Maybe you like everything about him, but he has no ambition. You know that won’t work long term.
Maybe you like everything about him, but he has too much ambition. You know that won’t work long term.
Maybe he doesn’t want kids.
Maybe he wants kids a little too urgently.
Maybe he already has nine kids and you don’t like any of them.
There are plenty of reasons that something might not work out. If you consider 100 single straight men, probably only one of them is a great fit.
It’s kind of the same with these groups.
Out of 100 theoretically suitable humans, probably only one is a great fit.
In a marriage, you have to find one person to meet four criteria. You can't hate them. They can't hate you. You both want to be married. Neither of you is already married to anybody else.
In a mastermind, you need six of these people.
Your odds aren’t fabulous.
I like marriage. I do. I started getting married at 18, and I can’t seem to stop. Marriage can be a rewarding endeavor, if done consciously and with a suitable and compatible person. Marriage is good stuff, but you have to be willing to look and keep looking.
You can’t look around on the bus, not see Prince Charming, and say never mind, marriage isn’t for you. You can’t go on one sucky date with the bartender and one with yin yoga guy, and promptly write off the whole institution.
At the same time, you might not want to go too far the other way. You might not want to make finding the right marriage partner your whole life’s work. You might not want to make it your mission. You’ve got to be prepared to wait a while for the right fit. Yes, look around. Yes, be available. Yes, make your interest known. But obsession is bad for your liver.
“Is it a good idea to join a mastermind?” is a similar question to “Is it a good idea to get married?”
You’re going to want to be very careful who you ask. But the criteria for joining a mastermind group isn’t that far off of the criteria for marriage. Granted, sexual compatibility is probably less crucial. If your members get progressively fatter and more conservative as the years go by, you’re unlikely to care all that much. But there’s a lot of similarity.
You want people who know how to listen without interrupting. (You also have to know how to listen without interrupting.)
You want people who support without agenda. (You also have to support without agenda.)
You want people who will be there for you when you need them. (You also have to be there when they need you.)
If you can find those people, you don’t have to worry so much. Don't worry about similar styles, similar philosophies, or similar industries. You wouldn’t want to marry your twin, and you wouldn’t want to be in a mastermind with your twin either.
Our differences make us dynamic, in marriage and in masterminds. Opposites create polarity, yin and yang, energetic conversations, life.
A group of good people, with your best interests at heart, who are willing to listen and support and grow – that’s all you really need. It may take you a lifetime to find it, but I have no doubt it would be worth it.
So should you join a mastermind group?
Just sign a prenup, okay?