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Mastermind Group Postcards
Quinn McDonald : Playing and Growing in a Creative Mastermind Group

Playing and Growing in a Creative Mastermind Group

By Quinn McDonald

Developing a Creative Mastermind Group was pure inspiration. Bonnie Barnard and I are both members of the Phoenix Writers Club, and Bonnie approached me after my presentation of One-Sentence Journaling, an ever-changing class that encourage people to journal, even if it's just a sentence. (Two, if they are ambitious.)

Bonnie asked if I would like to get together and do something creative with a group of powerful women. As I agreed, the phrase "Creative Mastermind Group" jumped to my brain and out of my mouth.

Mastermind Groups are the brainchild of Napoleon Hill, the author of the 1937 book, "Think And Grow Rich." To write the book, Hill interviewed 500 successful people, including Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, George Eastman, John D. Rockefeller, Charles M. Schwab and William Wrigley Jr. Hill noticed that many of the people he interviewed drew their knowledge from groups. Hill recognized the power that comes from working in a group. He called it Mastermind: "The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony."

What struck me about Hill's ideas was what it had in common with my kind of creativity coaching, called co-active coaching. Hill said, "No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind." That's what happens in coaching — the coaching itself becomes an entity, and when that happens among equally skilled people in a group, genius emerges. That third entity makes Mastermind Groups so powerful.

When I suggested the Creativity Mastermind Group, I had no idea how to put it into action, but it made sense to me — everyone is creative in some way, it would be interesting to explore that strength and use it.

Bonnie, possessed of a big heart and an amazing network, gathered a group of women. I added a name or two, and we had a group — all smart, strong, and willing to try something new. We started our 12-week process with a sense of adventure.

To set the intention for the evening, Bonnie and I designed an opening and closing ritual that honored the work we were about to do.

As each person comes into the house, she sees a basket, pencils and paper. "Write what you want to leave outside," I said, and Bonnie added, "it goes into the fireplace at the end of the evening."

We sit at a long table. At each place is a tall votive candle. We light our candle, listen to an inspiring piece of music, sit in meditative silence for a minute or two.

Each person then takes a turn talking about her goal (the first night) or the work done toward the goal (subsequent nights). Each person speaks for five minutes, then has another five minutes to continue to speak or ask for support or ideas from the others.

We honor what we were asked to do — give support or offer an opinion. No "fixing." "Fixing" is a generous, but misguided act. A person hears someone else's problem and immediately takes on the responsibility of solving the problem for the other person by telling them what to do. It doesn't work. We can't do someone else's work for them, and requiring someone to feel better because we gave them our ideas generates resentment, not gratitude.

Paperback Covers

After the 10-minute-per-person round of uninterrupted attention, we turn to a creative project. Each week, we create a postcard. It's a small canvas for an idea, an affirmation, or a reminder. On the image side we each develop a small work of art with the technique of the week. I'm in charge of this process, and it can be challenging to invent a 30-minute process that creates inspiring art. One week, we made postcard-size vision boards with collage, another week we used paperback covers as postcards and found meaning in the book blurb. I mail out the cards the day after the group meets. Each person receives a card mid-week as a support or reminder.

Mastermind Group Postcards

After the creative session, we each commit to our intention for the coming week via another round of comments. Then we blow out our candles and leave in silence — a powerful idea that concentrates the energy and enthusiasm of the evening's work.

We've set the Mastermind Group for 12 weeks. We are more than halfway through and none of us wants to think about the group ending. The support, the ideas, the generosity of spirit is a touchstone for energy throughout the week. •

© Quinn McDonald, 2011. All rights reserved.

Quinn McDonaldQuinn McDonald is a writer, artist and certified creativity coach. More »

2/24/11