Mastermind? Try a “Minimind” instead.

Being part of a mastermind is great in theory –

Get a bunch of smart brains together.

Focus on a theme or topic. Get advice from different perspectives.

But time and time again, the masterminds I was in would reach a point of slow decay: crash and burn, failing to live up to expectations.

It made me wonder – what if I could simplify masterminds to work for me? What if I can reduce the cumbersome variables and rules that the typical mastermind uses, to be far more effective?

The solution I came up with was mini masterminds, or “miniminds.”

If you’re thinking about starting a mastermind or wondering why yours is failing, then read on to find out what prevents masterminds from being successful.

(Or skip to read why I think miniminds are better)

Masterminds: too many moving parts

Masterminds often don’t make sense for people who want some extra accountability in their lives.

That’s because they have too many moving parts by default.

The first task of a mastermind group is to recruit members into the mastermind.

  • More members requires more coordination and logistics, not to mention different personalities that may not necessarily gel too well.

The second task is to set up a structure and format for the mastermind.

  • The more group rules and the stricter the format, the lower the adherence (and motivation).

Oh, and there’s a magic #3 that kills motivation for mastermind groups: no end in sight.

Most masterminds are focused on success, and for this reason there’s no end date because ending a mastermind is associated with failure.

But the lack of a “time cap” can add to a sense of obligation that, over time, kills motivation. This is exacerbated if group members don’t feel close to each other.

The more variables added to the equation, the harder it is to stick to.

So after all this complaining, what are you suggesting Oz?
Is there a better, more flexible option? Huh??

Glad you asked.

Miniminds: The Easier Alternative to Masterminds

Miniminds replace the default variables of masterminds with simpler options.

Instead of creating a group, just choose 1 person to be your accountability partner.

This first step is the core optimization that makes everything else easier…

  • Scheduling with one person is easier than with many.
  • No special meeting software needed; simple phone calls will do.
  • Higher accountability when there’s just 1 other person. You don’t have to wait your turn as long either, compared to masterminds that have many members.

This means that choosing your accountability partner is everything.

3 factors I look for in an accountability partner

  1. Similar goals

Choose someone who’s on the same journey as you. Are they figuring out how to launch their online business? Are you both looking to increase income as a writer? When goals align, there’s more to talk about and more expertise to be shared.

  1. A different point of view

Ideally, this partner is someone who thinks differently from you. They tend to surprise (or even upset) you with their opinions. This is someone who can challenge your ideas and provide objectivity, pointing out potential blindspots in your thinking.

  1. Respectful communication

For the longevity of a fruitful minimind, respect is key. Both parties should be open to new ideas and opinions, as well as learn how to agree to disagree. It helps to focus on conversation as a way to develop ideas (“what if you tried this?”) versus mandates that can come off as condescension (“you need to do this”).

For all these reasons, it’s easiest to choose an accountability partner who you already talk to often.

I’m lucky that my two accountability partners are my best friends, who share similar goals but are not afraid to point out flaws in my thinking.

Run Miniminds as time-limited experiments

Another helpful tip if you’re just starting off with a minimind:

Start with a set number of meetings and an end date. Bookmark a date in a shared calendar – let’s say halfway in, meeting 4 out of 8 – to review with your partner to review the accountability thus far and if it still makes sense to continue.

Let’s try being weekly accountability partners for 1 month. By our 4th meeting, let’s discuss if this is still useful and productive for both of us.”

This helps create a flexible structure focused on adapting to changing needs, and prevents the obligation of having arbitrary meetings.

If you’re thinking “wait, that’s it?” That’s the point.

Miniminds specifically reduce unnecessary variables in order to maximize productivity and minimize effort.

When Jeremy and I first started our weekly calls, we had the idea to take meeting notes and record our calls.

This distracts from the purpose… there was a temptation to get attached to the idea of running a mastermind than the core benefits of masterminds themselves.

We quickly adjusted to simplify this and only take notes if someone felt like it.

(In other words, we stopped doing it ;P).

Masterminds aren’t all bad

Don’t get me wrong, people hold successful masterminds all the time.

I’ve gotten huge value out of masterminds, whether it’s a different perspective, business advice or just being able to air out my troubles out loud.

(Participating in a mastermind is better than never having tried one.)

But “regular” masterminds aren’t the only option, and often don’t make sense the first time.

My recommendation, if you’re looking for more growth and accountability in life?

Start with miniminds.

One accountability partner is often enough.

If there’s a damn good reason to add more people to the mix, then build up slowly to a mastermind.

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