How To Create & Run A Success Circle

If you are a solopreneur working from a home office alone, you don’t experience the advantages of working as part of a team.  You may have a life partner who sometimes acts as a sounding board providing encouragement, but partners rarely have the kind of interest, knowledge or objectivity that will help you make good business decisions.  What you need is a group that will offer ideas and provide feedback that will help you expand your thinking.

MasterMind Groups were introduced by Napoleon Hill back in 1937 in his book Think and Grow Rich.  His contention was that no successful person has ever done it alone.  The purpose of a MasterMind Group was to support and encourage each other emotionally, personally and professionally.  (Today we hear several other labels for the same concept:  Peer Mentoring, Dream Team,  Success Circle.)

A Success Circle usually comprises 5 to 8 people and serves as a forum for giving and receiving, supportive relationships, enacting positive change, removing stumbling blocks and creating stepping stones.  This is accomplished by:

  • Sharing ideas, resources, knowledge and spiritual energy
  • Brainstorming together
  • Getting feedback
  • Discussing meaningful topics, books or business tools
  • Exploring everyday and/or business challenges
  • Holding each other accountable for goals and plans

 Success depends on the following factors:

  • Selecting the right people.
    • People who are not like you to ensure a broader perspective
    • People who are already “there”.
    • People outside your field
    • People who can benefit from the skills and knowledge of the others.
    • Common core values – trust/integrity, tolerance/understanding, cooperation/growth, caring/commitment, synergy/mutuality.
  • The commitment of members – This means building your appointments and timetable around the circle meeting time.
  • Developing together a mini-charter that spells out the ground rules – when & where, how often and how long to meet, what members will talk about/not talk about, and leadership responsibility.  Above all, discuss your purpose.
  • Participating with respect, thoughtfulness, inclusion, openness and honesty.  Listening with attention, speak with intention.
  • A facilitator who sets the agenda and keeps the group on topic and respecting time frames.

 Ask participants to bring something.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Something to share/give to the group (e.g. wonderful book you’ve been reading; a process you used that really worked)
  • A business issue you would like support or feedback on.  An issue you would like some brainstorming on. (e.g.:   brochure draft, a marketing idea, what could you do next)
  • An honest report of how you are doing and/or how you did on last month’s goals (e.g.  The successes, the things that didn’t go well, what you learned, what you would do differently…)

Sample Ground Rules:

  1. Confidentiality
  2. Authenticity
  3. Inclusion
  4. Shared responsibility for our success
  5. Respect
  6. Openness to new approaches
  7. Self-responsibility for own feelings
  8. Rules of feedback
  9. Questions versus advice

If you are meeting in a physical space, set up chairs in a circle so that everyone can see everyone. If you are meeting electronically (Hangout, Skype, Conference Call) ensure everyone is participating equally so that no one feels left out. Be sure to take the time for introductions; set the circle by inviting people to share something of themselves.  Ensure that everyone present has the opportunity to contribute, and that no one takes up all the air time.  End the meeting with some type of closure exercise such as inviting each person to state what they are taking away.

Mindset Monday Challenge:  If you are feeling isolated and overwhelmed in your work, consider finding a Success Circle (see the BeingYourOwnCEO Tuesday Success Circle on Business Hangouts) or form a new one.

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