WHO IS IN YOUR GROUP? I WANT TO KNOW

Have you heard of a mastermind group? It is a group of individuals, all with different skills, working together. Napoleon Hill in his book Think and Grow Rich explains the many benefits of having a mastermind group. There are two types of mastermind groups I believe you should have and they both have unique benefits. We will call them a public mastermind and a private mastermind. Not only do they serve completely different purposes, but they are both fun to put together. We will look at them one at a time.

PUBLIC MASTERMIND

A public mastermind fits the dictionary definition of mastermind group. This category can even be further broken down into personal and professional groups, but we will keep it simple. If you would like to expand and have several mastermind groups in your life that is up to you. Begin by thinking of the purpose for your mastermind group. Is it to further an organization you are part of? Is it to help a cause you belong to? Now decide what kind of people you would enjoy having in your mastermind group. Do you need a person with skills in marketing? Would an accountant benefit you? How about an author/postal worker/DJ who happens to be rather dashing and charming? Totally hypothetical there. The idea is to meet with all of these individuals on a regular basis for brainstorming sessions.

A few things to keep in mind when forming a mastermind group. First, pick people you can count on fairly well. Second, be prepared to give more than you get. What skills will you bring to this group. Here is the best part about this mastermind group. When a group of people gather to work on a common goal, a separate person is formed. It is the collective thoughts of all of the people present. As individuals they may be able to accomplish a great deal, but collectively they can accomplish a lot more and a lot more quickly. You must also keep in mind temperament. People who are easy to get along with make everything run smoothly. You may be a great accountant but if your personality is that of a proper ass, you may not be a good fit for a mastermind group.

PRIVATE MASTERMIND

This group is a bit more esoteric. In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill speaks of having a personal mastermind group. This is one that exists only in your mind. I must confess to being a bit skeptical as to how this could be beneficial. How can meeting with a an imaginary group of people help you? What Mr. Hill advocates is that we have an issue that may be vexing us. Go into a dark room and lay down or sit down. Get into a meditative state with our eyes closed. Imagine being in a conference room, board room, playground or wherever you would think of having your mastermind group meet. Then imagine them entering one by one. The fun thing about this group is these people can be living or dead. Why? This is only going to exist in your imagination. Now, as the meeting is called to order, imagine bringing your current dilemma to the group. Imagine how the discussion would go. What would each person have to say about it? Let your imagination run wild. Then imagine them all leaving one by one.

I must confess I dismissed this idea for quite some time. I couldn’t see the value of having an imaginary meeting with people who only existed in my head. After all, on any given day it can feel like there are several people in my head to begin with. While working on an idea for my second book the power of this hit me. Napoleon Hill alludes to perhaps some ethereal communication. Perhaps that was a bit more than I could absorb at the time. A more logical and sensible application caused me to take a fresh look at this concept. The reason you would select the individuals for your mastermind group is because they have qualities you aspire to have, admire or maybe both. In your mind you would imagine what would this person who has a reputation for being honest for example, have to say about your situation? How about the person who has the ability to work well with people? In that way you can make decisions based on these good qualities.

This will also help you in two other ways. First, it will help you take some time to relax and think in an almost detached manner about your problem. Sometimes we are so emotionally keyed up, that it can be hard to take a step back and spend quality time thinking logically about our problem. The second benefit is that by imagining how all of these different people would look at a situation, you are thinking of your problem from a few different perspectives. Even if the people you picked for your private mastermind group are similar to you, they are not you and probably have some differences.

In closing, I highly recommend forming both of these groups for the reasons mentioned above. A good way to start is with a simple pen and paper. Make two lists, one for each group. List the names of the people you would like in the group and why. Sometimes you might even have the why and need the person. For example you might want someone who is extremely productive and driven yet at the current moment most of your friends spend their free time on the couch playing video games. Then you must be on the lookout for a driven associate you can add to your mastermind group. As for the private mastermind group, think of who you would like to have in that group and why. That way your subconscious mind can create the thoughts of an individual with those qualities.

BONUS: As I work on forming my own mastermind groups I thought I would give you a few examples of just ‘some’ of the people I think would make a good fit. I would include my friend Curtis. He is driven, we think alike and has mastered the skill of interpersonal relations. My friend Nick and I meet for coffee and have great conversations. My coworker Amanda has some great thoughts on self-improvement and spirituality. My friend Sharon, who first taught me the skill of journaling, would be included. My soul friend Shannon and her stimulating knowledge would be a must. My friends Alisa and Anna would offer great insight and help with writing. Of course I would have to include my creative, funny and eager lovely lady Margie in this group.

As for my private mastermind group, I would have an eclectic group of people. Lao Tzu comes to mind as I like his way and manner of thinking. I admire Abraham Lincoln’s restraint and manner of speaking. Nat King Cole is not only my favorite singer, but a snappy dresser, loyal family man and had a great way of looking at life. Several Native American leaders such as Sitting bull, Black Elk and Chief Dan George spring to mind for their outlook on life. Think about all of those folks sitting and chatting with me?

Who would be in your mastermind groups and why? I would love to hear!

ARE YOU A GOOD ONE?

Whatever you are, be a good one. It seems like a pretty obvious statement. After all, we would never want to be a bad one of anything I would guess. Sometimes the simplest statements can be some of the most profound. That holds true in this case as well I feel.

Let us look at ‘what you are’. In life, many of us play several different roles. As a personal example, I am not only the creator and main content provider behind this website, I am also an author of 2 books, I am a food critic for the website Chow Down in Milwaukee, I am a Postal worker and DJ as well as writing for several magazines. Looking at that in print it seems like a bit too much. That is without factoring in the speaking and seminars that I do. How do I not become overwhelmed? I just focus on what I am doing at the moment. If I am writing a book, I do my best at that. Working at the Post Office, I do the same. As I write these blogs I do my best to convey something that is both entertaining and useful.

What are your roles? Are you a CEO? A bartender? A parent? A grandparent? Whatever it is, we should do our best to be a good one. We are all someone’s friend. To that end, do your best to be a good friend. This seems rather obvious but have you ever really sat down to think about how best to be a good one? This occurred to me on the way home from writing the other night. I asked myself, “How can I be a good friend?” Are there ways I could listen better? I could communicate how much people mean to me and how important they are.

One of the ways I have unconsciously used this to make the biggest change in my life is in my romantic relationship. Asking myself, and the love of my life, how I can be a good man for her has brought about some of the greatest breakthroughs. Whatever roles you fulfill in life, stop and ask yourself how you can be a good one.

Two quick closing thoughts. Ask yourself this question often. As we grow and learn in life more ideas will come to us. There is always room to improve. Include others in the asking too. They may offer suggestions to help. Lastly, remember the quote doesn’t say “Whatever you are, be a perfect one.” If you make a mistake that is alright. In fact, mistakes allow us to be good ones by providing us a chance to demonstrate being humble and gracious. Admitting, and better yet working to atone for and correct our mistakes, makes us a good one. We might not be a perfect friend, a perfect parent or a perfect spouse. If we are doing our best to be a good one, we will get better and soon our life will be amazing!

WWJD? MORE TO THE POINT, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

Chances are you have seen a version of this bracelet somewhere. The letters on the bracelet stand for the words “What would Jesus Do?”. For Christians it helps remind them to act as their savior would. In that particular case, it would include love and acceptance for all. It would include preaching faith by actions and not mere words and it would include living life with a great deal of love.

This principle will work for anyone, Christian or not. While reading Napoleon Hill’s legendary book Think and Grow Rich, I came across and idea he used that we can all adapt into our lives. Mr. Hill would relax and get into a meditative state. In this state he would imagine walking into a board room full of the people he admired. The list included people like Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and others. In these ‘meetings of the mind’ he would pose questions to these figures he so admired.

He claimed he would receive advice and words of wisdom from these individuals. Whether this was just his mind using the aggregate of knowledge he already had on these people to compose what their answers might be, or whether it was something far more esoteric he would not say. Even from the more logical previous option, this can help us. Is there people that you admire? Qualities they embody that you wish you had? I would suggest having this ‘meetings of the mind’ could really be helpful.

This may not be for everyone but you do not have to go to such extremes. Having a picture somewhere you can see to remind you of the qualities that you are aspiring to could be helpful. I admire how Walt Disney was told ‘No’ by over 300 banks but still pursued the idea of Disneyland. Thomas Edison had well over 1000 failures before finding what worked to create the light bulb. If you were to have a mental meeting with these wonderful gents, I would assume they would encourage you to push on and persist when it comes to your dreams. Simply having a picture of that person by the coffee maker say, could remind you daily to chase your dreams with a fiery passion.

In short, whether you wear a bracelet that reminds you to live and not just speak your faith, whether you have mental meetings with figures you admire or even just have a picture of someone whose qualities you admire posted to admire, using these reminders can help us emulate positive qualities while remaining true to ourselves. I would love to hear about who inspires you and why.

THE BEST ACCESSORY 

Last year people spent over 55 billion dollars (yes that is billion) on cosmetics. Jewelry and fashion were both multi-billion dollar a year expenditures as well. We spend time and money reading and perusing fashion and style magazines. Presidents and other leaders in both politics and business pay people to write speeches for them and even pick out what they are going to wear. Why? Everyone, whether you are a leader or a follower wants to look good.

Still, the number one thing we can do to look good is often over-looked and does not cost a thing. What is this accessory? A smile. When we meet someone and they are wearing a smile we are more likely to believe what they have to say. We are more likely to trust them. When you are wearing a smile people are more receptive to your ideas and what you have to say. Not to mention wearing a smile feels good and makes those we come in contact with feel good.

With all these benefits why is everyone not wearing a smile? It’s free, it is emotionally and physically healthy, it encourages others to listen to you and makes them more receptive to what you have to say. You would think every job interview, every first date, every important business deal and appearance by a public official would all contain many smiles.

Why do more people not smile? I guess there are several reasons. One, is they simply don’t realize they are not. I used to be guilty of this in the past and to some extent are still in the present. We get lost in our thoughts or what we are doing and may unintentionally find ourselves wearing a blank look, or even worse a scowl when really our inside emotions do not match. Eventually our physical actions affect our emotional well-being. If you are feeling down, try putting on a smile and leaving it there for 2 minutes. Slowly you mood will begin to shift. Try also looking at pictures of people (or animals) smiling. I have several pictures of people smiling on my phone. My screensaver is my lady wearing a bacon hat with the biggest smile on her face. Looking at these pictures will also help bring you out of that funk.

Another reason I have heard people do not smile is they are afraid. Afraid of smiling? You bet! Why would people be afraid of smiling? I have been told they are worried people will think they are up to something. To me this is foolishness. We are all up to something and if us looking happy makes people nervous that is on them. I’ve also been told that “I’m afraid people will take it as an invitation to start talking to me.” Yes, this sometimes does happen. As long as you do not make it a habit to smile at the strange man on the corner in a clown suit holding a knife what is the worst that could happen? In fact, some people are lonely and looking for someone they can share their stories with. You never know, sharing a smile with someone may even save their life. When you feel that nobody cares a smile from a friend, or even a stranger can turn your day, and your world around. Think of how you feel when someone shares their smile with you, why would you not want to give that gift to others?

So let us all do our part to share a few more smiles. Still nervous, uncomfortable or afraid? That’s ok start slowly. I suggest begin with the person in the mirror. Give yourself a smile every morning with a positive affirmation like “Let’s make this a great day!” Then, begin to branch out. Start with loved ones, maybe move on to friends, coworkers, the person helping you at the coffee shop? When you see how good it makes people feel and how they react to you, trust me, you will be tempted to share more. Also try practice wearing a smile while you are engaged in work. I have started this when I am writing and notice I feel a lot less tired when I am done. I am going to close this with a quote from the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln “Every man over forty is responsible for his face.” I am sure Mr. Lincoln meant to include woman in that statement as well.

I would love to hear about your experiences sharing a smile in the comments below!

A GOOD ONE

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“Whatever you are, be a good one”

-Abraham Lincoln

Here is a juggler/comedian i saw at this year’s state fair. I am a fan of juggling although I do not have such a skill. Perhaps that may be just why I am such a fan of this skill. It takes a lot of practice and patience. Two things that I do not always excel at.

When you do a blog on positivity and now are a motivational speaker, you are always on the lookout for inspiring ideas. So what great profound idea did I receive from a man juggling in the state fair? Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with juggling. In addition to being very skilled at his profession, here is what separated this man from all the other performers – his charisma. He had mastered self-deprecating humor, to a point where the audience didn’t know whether to applaud or laugh.

What is the point we can get from a funny juggler? It means not only did this person master his skill he also mastered the art of relating to people. Think of whatever your profession you do. Are you doing the best job at it you can? In todays world of fluid job situations it is even more important than ever to be the best you can be. As the quote from the 16th president above says, whatever you are doing, be a good one. That may also mean learning other skills. No matter what profession you are in, people skills are always a great idea to master. In an ever shrinking world, no person is an island. So if you want to learn any skill I would recommend investing some time and effort into improving you ability to relate to others. I strongly recommend picking up a copy of my favorite book How to Win Friends and Influence People.

So remember, whether it is a truck driver, bartender, blog writer, mother, brother or friend. Whatever you are doing today, be a good one

PICK A HERO..

I was reading a very interesting book entitled “Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude” by Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone.  In it they give a great idea for staying motivated and providing us an extra tool in living an amazing life.  Pick a hero, someone you aspire to.  If your goal is to give of yourself to those less fortunate, perhaps a picture of Mother Theresa would be good.  If you wish to be a fine leader of men, maybe George Washington or Abraham Lincoln.  Even a picture of your father or mother if they represent the person you wish to become.  Then when challenges arise, as they must in order for us to grow, pull out your picture. If you have it hanging on the wall so you can see it every day, so much the better.  I might suggest hanging it next to your Vision Board.  That way you can have a double dose of inspiration right away.  If you are not sure what a vision board is I welcome you to read that blog post from earlier.  If you need a picture of me, feel free to use the one from my profile page on this site.  In all seriousness, when you are troubled, look at your picture and picture what the person you have chosen would do.  Of course you may need a few of these ‘heroes’ depending on what advice you are seeking.  You may even ask, the picture “Mr. Lincoln (or whoever you have chosen) what would you do?”  Now obviously the picture will not answer and if it does, come back when you have had less to drink, or seek professional help.  What this does do, however, is get our minds both conscious and subconscious focused on the person, who really just represents a set of ideals and values we aspire to, and our own situation.  An answer will not usually come right that second, but sometime throughout the day it may just pop in your head when you least expect it.  I cannot tell you how many times a day things just pop in my head, but in this case it will be something useful.  You may have to ask several times, or sleep on it, but it will sure keep you focused on the way to act that would best achieve your goals. Enjoy your weekend and I will see you on Monday with more secrets to an amazing life!