By definition, a mastermind is a group of people committed to helping each other attain a particular goal. All the members of the mastermind group have a singular goal, and even if they are coming from different backgrounds, they work together as they push each other towards that singular goal.
A mastermind group is the religious equivalent of an accountability group.
Mastermind groups today are majorly a business thing but mainly because other professionals have not taken advantage of their usefulness. In this article, we will focus on mastermind groups for academics (and beyond).
Mastermind Groups that Changed the World
You may not have realized but some of the most outstanding works of art, strategy and events have been built around mastermind groups. I will highlight just a couple of these groups to show you how important a mastermind is.
The Knights of the Round Table
The famed British leader of the 5th and 6th century, King Arthur gathered a court of prominent warriors whose goal was to ensure the security and protection of the kingdom. Each of the men had equal status and was responsible for the security of the kingdom.
This product of oral history is depicted in popular British TV series Merlin.
This was a group of successful writers and poets who met at The Bird, a pub in London between 1930 and 1949. They included C. S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Hug Dayson, Lord David Cecil, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield and seven others.
These men, most of whom professors at Oxford were bound together by their love of narrative writing in fiction and they met to with a singular purpose of reading through each other’s unpublished works. One of the most outstanding works to have come out of this group was C.S. Lewis’ Christian classic, The Chronicles of Narnia and Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
‘The Steel Mill’ of Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie owned and controlled much of America’s iron and steel operations and transformed the industry. But to many people’s surprise, Carnegie didn’t have that much knowledge about the iron and steel industry and how it operated. His secret was a network of people who understood the steel mill, those are the people he surrounded himself with.
You can say it is because of Carnegie’s Steel Mill revolution that the skyscraper was born—from a guy who knew so little about iron and steel.
The Nine Old Men
The Nine Old Men was what Walt Disney called them. It was a group of young Disney animators who brought us such classics as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Mickey Mouse etc.
Why you should Start a Mastermind Group
Epic Stuff needs to be done, and someone needs to do it.
There is work to be done, and someone has to do it. There are goals to be set and someone has to set them. Every one of us wants something done, and we embark on the journey of accomplishing it but a few arrive. Someone has said that “the main reason people fail is because they didn’t start.”
It’s true because I have seen it. People re-take papers because they spent the entire semester waxing eloquent about hard the course was and how pathetic their professor looked like. Remember: “Epic stuff needs to be done.”
In the group that I belong to, one person said something that I believe is true. He said that: “When you share with someone about the [habitual] sin you are struggling with, it will be hard for you to fall back into it.” This is what mastermind groups do. People are accountable to others and chances are high that they will accomplish the tasks at hand.
You have heard people say “don’t quit” and you have seen many people quit. Sometimes it’s good to have an exit strategy but most of the time we quit because of fear of failure, not because the goals are unachievable. There has to be someone to encourage you to move on, when the going gets tough, trust me you will need your team.
An Extra Dimension
You may have a goal, for example, maintaining a CGPA of 4.40 and you may also know how you are going to achieve it. Wouldn’t it help if you listened to some two more guys with a similar goal on how they are going to achieve them? Mastermind groups add more bullets in your gun. That is what the Inklings did when they read through each other’s unpublished work.
How to Start a Mastermind Group
Now that you know why you should start a mastermind group for your studies, I will take you through the process of starting one. Note that a mastermind group is not a discussion group or a course assignment group. It’s different as we shall see.
What do you want to achieve? Is it getting a first-class degree? Passing a tough exam? Or you just want to pass, just passing and getting done with school? You should clearly define the goal. It may be more than one, but nonetheless, it has to be defined, clearly.
Find your Team
Some people would bring this step before defining goals but that is disastrous. I will tell you why: someone has to take the initiative to lead the group—someone already passionate about the goals. This person will recruit others who will buy into his idea and share the same ideals.
A mastermind group is a small group, keep it that way. From two to about six people should be the number. It should be manageable and everyone in a group needs to be listened to. Remember you are all accountable to each other, and the bigger it gets the less accountable and unmanageable it becomes.
Set some Ground Rules
Now that you have a team who share a singular goal, you need to bind it together. What better way can you do this than set up some rules? You have to be serious about your goals and whoever tries to pull you down should face the wrath of the law. For example someone who has run a mastermind group before has said that whenever a member broke a rule, they donated $25 to a charity.
It may not be $25 for you, but you need to bind the group together as if their entire livelihood depended on it.
I would suggest meeting once a week for strictly one hour. Again members will give excuses but you have rules. Make sure everyone gets a few minutes to talk about how they are faring in relation to the goals at hand—challenges, victories, lessons learnt—among other things.
And moderation? Please rotate this role, as the leader, you needn’t monopolise it. Everyone should get a chance to lead the group meetings. That may as well help with attendance as people give more apologies than they attend meetings.
Accomplish some Epic Stuff
You are now on the road to some serious milestones. It is not an easy road, but let the hurdles be your propellers. Learn valuable lessons and move on. Someone has said that life is: fail, eat, sleep, repeat. But also remember that for people who get things done, failure is the fuel that powers them to go on. They repeat over and over and over again until they are there.
About six years ago as a freshman at Makerere University, I dared to start a mastermind group of five people. We met a couple of times and it later collapsed. We barely knew each other but we shared a singular goal. Then I started another one, two people from the old group and two new members. One has fallen away but the three of us are still intact to this day.
After university, we had to set sights on new goals which took over three years to come to something tangible. But I can say we are moving. One of the products of our mastermind group is randyhacks.com—the website you are reading right now. My point is that a mastermind group is a sure foundation to accomplish some epic stuff even outside passing exams. Go for it.