Iron Sharpens Iron: How Mastermind Groups Will Change Your Life

The proverbial saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.” Aristotle also once said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Or, as leadership guru John Maxwell likes to say, “None of us are as smart as all of us.”

When you survey people who have made a dent in the universe, you find one common denominator: they were embedded in an intimate support network. Earlier this year, over a period of 13 weeks, I participated in my first Mastermind group session with six like-minded yet unique individuals who all aspired to become better leaders. Every week our leadership coach James Toudy facilitated a 75 minute call with us based on weekly readings from “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.” Above all, undergoing this mastermind group process has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my personal and professional development.

What is a Mastermind group?

Napoleon Hill, in his magnum opus, Think and Grow Rich, introduces this concept known as a ‘mastermind.” He defines it as “coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.”

He further says, “Every mind needs friendly contact with other minds, for food of expansion and growth.” Hill’s concept of the “Master Mind” was inspired by Andrew Carnegie, wealthy steel magnate. According to Hill:

“Mr. Carnegie’s Master Mind group consisted of a staff of approximately fifty men, with whom he surrounded himself, for the DEFINITE PURPOSE of manufacturing and marketing steel. He attributed his entire fortune to the POWER he accumulated through this ‘Master Mind.’”

In a nutshell, a mastermind group provides the infrastructure that nurtures and supports growth.

Watch the following short clip from Napoleon Hill explaining the concept of a Mastermind group.


Why Should I Join a Mastermind Group?

1.       Enhanced Self-Awareness – To make a meaningful contribution to a group discussion, participants need to intentionally reflect on their past experiences. The more you intentionally review your “life’s history” you develop an acute sense of self-awareness. This reflective exercise of introspection resulted in greater confidence as I was able to discover my ‘authentic self.’ As Oscar Wilde says, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”

2.       Enlarged Perspective – The diversity of experiences during a mastermind discussion is rich. When you listen to people who have walked different walks of life, not only do you find this inspiring and motivating, but your perspective in life grows. It feels as if you have reached an uncharted territory or traveling. Your perspectives are stretched and your thoughts are shaped by defining moments that radically alter your perspective in life.

3.       Mutual Accountability – To truly harvest key learnings in a mastermind group, participants need to apply it in their day-to-day lives. Each participant in the group is expected to keep his/ her fellow participant accountable in the development or change of a new action and behavior.

4.       Platform for Growth – Mastermind groups accelerate your growth and development as a better person. This quick learning curve was simply one of the favorite benefits I’ve gained in joining my first mastermind group. When I’m surrounded by people who have a growth mindset, I am encouraged and compelled to push myself to the envelope reaching my maximum potential.

5.       Life Long Friendships – Joining a mastermind group will not only provide you with all the previous four benefits, but also it will help you cultivate life-long relationships. This may perhaps lead you to new doors of opportunities in life.

What are Famous Examples of Mastermind Groups?


The Inklings – a group of poets and writers including C.S. Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield who met in Oxford, England in either Lewis’ room at Magdalen College or at a local pub. They would also meet on Tuesday mornings just before lunch. These old friends would then share thoughts and insights or as Lewis referred to as the “the cut and parry of prolonged, fierce, masculine argument” over tea, pipe smoke, and beer. The members of the Inklings would read aloud from their most recent writings such as The Screwtape Letters and The Hobbit in the case of Lewis and Tolkien respectively. All these efforts culminated into the classic books such as The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings.

The Vagabonds: From left to right: Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Warren G. Harding, Harvey Firestone

The Vagabonds: From left to right: Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Warren G. Harding, Harvey Firestone

The Vagabonds – a group of individuals who included Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and the President of United States, Harvey Firestone, founder of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. They used to engage in lots of camping trips competing in impromptu tree chopping and climbing contests which inspired what Edison called “Nature’s Laboratory” to inspire them to novel ideas sitting around the campfire discussing their various ventures and enterprises.

Question of the Day: What type of Mastermind groups would you like to participate in?