Stretch Not Stress: The Ultimate Guide to Picking a Mastermind

If you’re a regular round these parts, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of mastermind programs.

Over the years, I’ve been part of a number of different mastermind groups, and I can safely say that they’ve played a massive role in my success and in the way that I’ve been able to scale my business so quickly.

In fact, I was such a fan, and the results I experienced were so profound, that a few years back, I decided to start a mastermind group for my own clients – one that was specifically focused on e-Courses…

(Aren’t they a gorgeous bunch?! This is our 2016 gang on creative retreat in beautiful Palm Cove.)

Now, if your inbox is anything like mine (and I’m betting it is!) you’ve probably started receiving a bunch of notifications about various masterminds that are about to kick off. (After all, NOW is the time that you’ve got to line things up, if you want to take part in one in 2017.)

BUT… I also know that it can be a really tough decision. I mean, let’s face it – sometimes it can be hard to decide on what you want for breakfast, let alone what group you want to commit to for 12 whole months! So today, I thought I’d share with you my ultimate guide for choosing a mastermind – so that you know what to look for, and can make a decision with confidence.

Stretch Not Stress: The Ultimate Guide to Picking a Mastermind

When choosing a mastermind program, there are 8 different elements to consider…

#1. The leader – a.k.a the coach, mentor, guide, etc.

The person who’s leading your mastermind will set the tone for how your entire experience unfolds. So it’s no exaggeration to say that the most important factor of all is that you connect and ‘gel’ with them, on a heart and soul level.

That’s why I always recommend scheduling a quick chat with someone before signing up for their program. You’re going to be working with each other very closely over the coming months – so it’s imperative that you’re on the same page, and are able to communicate freely and easily. (If you can have a bit of a giggle together, all the better!)

After ensuring you’ve got a personality match, it’s also worth considering:

  • Their business and business model – Does their business embody aspects that you’d like to emulate? Is their model something that resonates with you? If not, they might not be a great fit.
  • Their level of experience – Have they proven their mettle? Earned their stripes? Walked their talk? It’s always far more powerful being taught by someone who’s actually been on the journey themselves (and isn’t just regurgitating stuff from someone else’s webinar!).
  • Their values – If you’re someone who values health and relationships as much as you value your business, and you sign up for a coach who values results at all costs… well, it ain’t going to be an easy year for either of you! Having values that are aligned makes everything a lot smoother, and means that they can help you get to where you want to be without compromising on things that are important to you.

#2. The focus of the mastermind

Some masterminds have a very general focus. Like, say, ‘to help you achieve more balance.’

Others have a very specific focus, so you’re honing in on ONE aspect of your life or business, and aiming to make as much headway as possible in that one area (the Ultimate e-Course Mastermind is one such example).

Both types have their place, and both can be wonderfully supportive and powerful. Just make sure that your own personal goals are in alignment with the objective of the program.

#3. The format of the program

Are you craving plenty of one-on-one time with a mentor, to get your strategy sorted?

Do you love sitting in on hot-seating sessions and group calls?

Maybe you’re aching to get away on a luxurious retreat a few times throughout the year?

Or perhaps you prefer to stay home and participate digitally, getting awesome guidance in the comfort of your own living room?

Whatever it is that you’ve been imagining, make sure that the program you choose has a format that ticks your boxes and lights your fire.

#4. The level of support

Some mastermind groups are very intense – with coaching calls every week, and get-togethers every few weeks.

Others are the opposite – you might only have a coaching call once a quarter, or they might all be group sessions, with no individual support.

Neither of these choices is inherently better than the other, but it IS important to make sure that the program you choose is structured in a way that reflects how you best work and achieve goals.

For me, that means enough meet-ups and coaching calls that I maintain direction and momentum, but not so many that I feel stifled and hemmed in. There’s a Goldilocks-in-the-middle point that’s my sweet spot, and that’s always helped determine which masterminds I sign up for and how I structure my own.

#5. The investment

Investing in yourself and your business can sometimes be a stomach-squirming experience.

But it’s an incredibly important one, too.

The first time I signed up for a mastermind it was one of the most significant investments I’d ever made in my business, and I was all kinds of nervous about saying yes. But ultimately, there was a part of me that knew that if I wanted to fulfil my potential and get my business to the level I knew it could be, then I needed quality support to make it happen.

So I sucked in my breath, grounded myself, forked over the cash… and never looked back.

You might have heard people say before that every time they make the decision to invest in their business, it’s closely followed by a giant leap forwards in results. Even though it’s crazy-scary when they do it, they reap the rewards straight after.

I don’t know why this happens, though I do have a few theories – that it’s the Universe rushing in to meet you halfway; that investing solidifies your intentions and supercharges your manifesting; that ‘putting your money where your mouth is’ opens you up to abundance like nothing else… whatever it is, all I know is that it’s true. Which is precisely why I make strategic investments in my business at regular intervals – it’s a powerful way to keep propelling myself to the next level.

BUT! (Yes, there’s a but!)

But even though investing in your business is necessary for it to grow, you have to invest the right amount of the right resources at the right time for YOU.

What do I mean by that mouthful-of-a-sentence?!

Well, sometimes, your money is better spent elsewhere. Like, if you’re struggling to meet your mortgage repayments each month, or if you’re worried sick each night that your bills aren’t going to be paid, then it might NOT be the right time for you to spend precious resources on a mastermind.

My personal litmus test for determining whether an investment is right for me (i.e. the way that I figure out whether the stomach-squirming nerves I’m feeling are the good kind of scary or the bad kind of scary) is this: stretch, not stress.

I want my investments to stretch me to the next level – even though I might not be prepared, even though I might think I’m not ready, even though I might be second-guessing myself and my abilities. Those are the kinds of fears that I want to bust right through and karate-chop in the shins.

But stress? That’s different. If the thought of an investment makes me feel stressed, overwhelmed, worried, constricted, or like I’d be betraying my higher self, that’s my sign that it’s not right for me at this moment. Which isn’t to say that it won’t be right next month or next year, just that right now, my soul wants me to sit tight and not spend.

So all of this is to say: consider the price of the mastermind you’re interested in, in this context: Does it stretch you? Or stress you? The former is something you should run towards… The latter, though, might be a sign to ease off.

(By the way, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the hidden costs of some mastermind programs. Many Aussies have found this out the hard way – signing up excitedly for US-based programs, without factoring in the cost of 3 long-haul return flights each year. So make sure you’re clear on ALL of the costs that are involved BEFORE signing on the dotted line!)

#6. Past success stories

With new mastermind groups popping up left, right and centre, it’s important to make sure that the one you sign up for has a great track record.

The best way to do this is to check the testimonials of past students.

A few sneaky things to look for, when perusing testimonials:

  • Are they from actual past students? Or just the coach’s online friends and business besties?
  • Do the testimonials have names, photographs and website links (if appropriate)?
  • Do the testimonials mention actual results (look for numbers and metrics)? Or do they just contain general wishy-washy praise?
  • Are there only one or two testimonials? Or are there plenty? (If 20 people went through the program, but there’s only 1 testimonial, that might be a red flag).

#7. The group you’ll be part of…

‘You are a product of the 5 people you hang around with most.’

You’ve probably heard this saying before. And it’s totally true.

But you may not have heard this one: ‘You are a product of the 15 people you mastermind with most.’

Okay, okay – the reason you haven’t heard it before is because I totally made it up (trademark pending!) But that doesn’t mean the sentiment behind it is any less important: the people who make up your mastermind group matter. A LOT. You’re going to be spending a significant amount of time and energy with them, so you want to make sure that the nature of the group aligns with your underlying goals and values.

My personal take on the group side of things is this: We learn best when we’re surrounded by people with similar values, who are at a similar stage in their business.

Meaning: if you’re a go-getting person who prides themselves on productivity, then it’s super important that the people around you have a similar approach to business and life.

But I know what you’re thinking as you read this: That’s all well and good, Kath, but I can’t bloody well control who else signs up for the mastermind!!

And you’re right, you can’t.

But what you CAN do is get sneaky…

  • Read the sales page carefully: What type of people does the coach invite to join? How many will be in the group?
  • Does the coach conduct interviews (or require applications) to join? Or is it an open-slather free-for-all?
  • Do some reverse engineering by looking at the testimonials (again!). What type of people seem to join? How far along are they in their business?
  • And if all else fails, you can always take the blunt approach too: Straight-up ask the coach about the group during your introductory call. “It’s important to me that everyone in the group shares similar values. Can you tell me what you’re looking for in participants? And is there anyone you won’t allow to sign up?”

#8. And finally, the sales pitch

When you read the sales page for the mastermind (or when you chat with the coach in the discovery call), what are they selling you?

  • Are they promising you “six-figure results” in lightning fast time?
  • Are they promising to solve all your problems and zoom you to fame and fortune?
  • Are they promising you a business that’s bursting with rainbows and puppy-dogs and pink sparkly unicorns?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, I have a recommendation for you: steer clear.

An experienced coach knows that setting realistic goals is incredibly important for your success. They’ll openly state that you’ll need to work to see results. And they won’t try to sell you on the idea that it’s going to be an easy-peasy pony ride to six (or seven) figure success.

The truth is, a mastermind – just like any coaching service or learning program – is not a magical silver bullet that’s going to fix everything. Instead, it’s like a support system – one that can keep you motivated and accountable, that can provide strategy and insight, and that can propel you further down the path you long to walk on.

… But you’ll still have to work at it.

I like to think of masterminds as “force multipliers” – meaning, whatever you bring to the table, the mastermind will amplify and expand. So if you’re expecting a free ride, and want to coast through on your coat tails… well, you’re only going to attract apathy and ennui from the Universe, so why bother?

But if you bring a bucket-load of energy, enthusiasm and commitment to the party? Well, you might just blow yourself (and everyone else) away.

So, look through the sales pitch to see the truth of what’s being offered. Take big promises with a grain of salt. And know that if anything seems too good to be true, it probably is.

But if what’s being promised is realistic yet exciting, expansive without being over the top, and will stretch you without stressing you out?

Well, my friend, you’ve found yourself a winning mastermind.

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