“The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.” Napoleon Hill

There is something to be said about beingin a group of like-minded people that sparks creativity, excellent and growth.  We like to think we can ‘go it alone’, but this occasionally isn’t possible if we are really going to succeed.  Exams are the same. A Study Mastermind is more than just a study group. A Study Mastermind group challenges you and allows you to learn from each other. It is a mentoring group (it is suggested that 3 to 5 people is the optimal, however, as little as 2 people can be in a Mastermind Group.)

Think of it this way: everyone has an expertise. However, we are not experts in everything no matter who we are.  We can’t always just read a book and expect to know it. I know there are people who learn better just from reading but sometimes you need some one who has the experience to be about to teach you.

Of course, that is just a part of it.  You can teach people what you know as well. Your expertise could prove to be essential in the other group members learning. The other part is, the group can challenge you!  We all need to be challenged at times especially if we want to excel. When we think about it, all the great leaders of government, industry and business were involved in a group of some sort.

When we think about companies like Apple, it was Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne or Facebook we think of Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin and Chris Hughes. Despite any troubles afterward, these people worked together to create a product and name that is now known worldwide. I am 99.99% sure they would not have succeeded to this level on their own. Even Einstein worked within a community of scientists to come up with his ideas and equations.  My point is we learn from those around us; we grow because of those people we have gravitated to and have challenged our thinking. Think is what a Mastermind can do for you, especially in the area of Exams.

So, you get the idea of the value of a Study Mastermind group, now let’s seehow we can start one.

As I have said before, many find 3 to 5 people is optimal, but this isn’t written in stone and you may find the numbers should be higher or even just you and one other person maybe best. You may want even more then three, (just keep in mind the time scales may make this more difficult.)  I have provided a link below which gives you ideas on starting a Mastermind group, again, it suggests 5 to 6 people, however most of the other books and websites I have visited and read suggested 3 to 5. You find what suits you because at the end of the day, they are your Exams!

[http://www.thesuccessprinciples.com/resource/TSP-Mastermind.pdf]

I’m going to go through a quick set of instructions, you work them to best suit you however, I suggest you stay fairly strict to them for your first time to give you an idea of what a Study Mastermind is.

1.     You have to have the right group.

This shouldn’t be too difficult to understand, if you are doing an exam in a particular area of Accounting, don’t invite people who have no Accountancy experience.  Use Skype, WhatsApp or Facetime on your phone. I would recommend you use something with a camera so you can see everyone.  If it is just audio, people may take the opportunity to multi-task and the purpose of the group is to have full involvement. Best of all Face to Face though!

2.     Set a standard weekly time to meet

I think this is one of the most important tasks for setting up a Study Mastermind.  Strict structure and timing are needed for it to work.  A standard weekly meeting is what is suggested, but if an exam is coming up and the group feels they can handle more than one meeting per week, then there is no reason this shouldn’t happen. Taking an hour for each meeting should be very good for brainstorming and to establish each member’s challenges.

3.     Have a clear structure

a.     Choosing a chairperson. – This will obviously be done on the first meeting and I would recommend setting sometime limits for this.  This depending on the group, and the ground rules must be set.

b.     Identify challenges – This will be the bulk of the meeting as the whole idea of having a Study Mastermind group is to find and identify the challenges. When studying for exams, each person should really consider what they find challenging to them about the topics. There are going to be obstacles within the subject that as will challenge each member.

c.     3 questions…..

What is the goal we are currently working towards?
Your goal is ultimately to pass your exam! Think about your short-term goals though. Again, you will have to consider the timing, however, I will assume here you have some time before the exam. Think about the topics you’ll have to tackle and what you are having difficulty with. Working towards understanding and having the backing of the other members of the group are what you are working towards.  Remember, they are working towards the same goals and may or may not have the same expertise then you. Take advantage of what they know and share what you know.  That is the point of a Study Mastermind.

What did I do to commit to this goal in the last week?
This is what I think set this apart from other study groups. You have to show what you have actively done over the week regarding your weekly challenge. This makes it ‘Real’ in my eyes. You have to produce and you have to show the rest of the group what you have produced! This gives everyone an incentive to learn and complete their challenge.

Did I accomplish this?
This is the results of Study Mastermind group – you have achieved and you have given yourself a sense of satisfaction. Not only will this improve your grade, but it will give you added self-esteem. Can you see how this process works even beyond what you are trying to achieve, and this is why they are so effective?

What I have proposed above is not written in stone, you can structure your Study Mastermind Group any way that you see fit. Just remember, it needs to be formal and structured because without a defined structure it can defeat the purpose of a Mastermind.

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