Let’s pretend that you have a mastermind group focused on real estate investment. John, a member of the group, wants to mastermind about his divorce. Should that topic be allowed?
It doesn’t matter what the primary topic of your mastermind group is, the purpose of most mastermind groups is to create success in your personal and professional life, as EACH PERSON defines success.
Ah…but what do you do when a member want to talk about something off-topic that is affecting his success? What are the rules and guidelines you use to figure out whether to allow that conversation to blossom or to nip it in the bud?
Here’s my take on off-topic conversation in a mastermind group: if the topic of conversation affects the member’s performance in the MAIN focus area of the group, it should be allowed.
So let’s go back to John’s story. The emotional, financial and physical aspects of his pending divorce ARE affecting his ability to be a good real estate investor. His judgment is clouded. His financial resources are low. He’s overwhelmed and preoccupied.
Allowing him to talk about his divorce — and how it’s affecting his success as a real estate investor — will give him new insights and creative options, as well as support and encouragement. Refusing to talk about his divorce hog-ties his success.
For both the Facilitator and the group members, the trick is to not turn your mastermind group into a psychotherapy support group. You’ll all need to work together to focus John’s conversation on how he can find creative solutions and get the support he needs. If all John can talk about is his divorce then he probably needs to find a different kind of group to help support him during his divorce. Then you can invite him back to the mastermind group when he’s ready to begin moving forward again with his real estate investing.
As you can imagine, it’s a fine line to walk: should we allow off-topic discussions or not? I think as a mastermind group facilitator, you can tell whether the discussion has gotten off track or has turned too negative. Trust your own judgement. If you’re not sure, poll the group and ask for feedback.
As the Facilitator it’s your job to pay attention to repeat behavior, repeat topics and repeat performance. If John wants to mastermind about his divorce once or twice, I wouldn’t worry about it. But if it becomes a repeated topic and outside the scope and purpose of your group, then you’ll need to speak with John about his situation.