When you are interested, you do it when it’s convenient. When you are committed, you accept no excuses, only results. -Ken Blanchard
A few years ago, I joined six other business owners from across the country to be a part of a mastermind group. The purpose of this mastermind group was to provide coaching and support to each other around our individual business goals, thus creating greater accountability and results for each of us. In order to do this, we agreed to fully participate in biweekly conference calls, plus attend quarterly retreats where we would all get together in person for more in-depth information sharing and coaching. We also created group norms around things like punctuality, meeting behavior, and performance expectations. The group was very serious about its purpose and the commitment level that was required.
Or so I thought.
During my first conference call, one of our members could be heard typing away on his computer throughout the session. Although that behavior might not be unusual in some settings, it broke our norm to turn off all electronic distractions during our calls so we could be fully present with each other. Since I was the newest member, I didn’t say anything, even though I found the typing to be a bit distracting.
At the end of the meeting, Sondra, our organizer and group leader, spoke up. “Michael, may I ask you what you were doing typing during our meeting?”
Defensively, Michael shot back. “I had no choice, there were a couple pressing emails I had to get out.”
“The reason we created group norms, like no electronics, was so that we could be fully present with one another. You agreed to those norms and yet disregarded them,” she pressed.
“Well,” he replied firmly, “It was either miss this conference call or get those emails out, Sondra. Sometimes norms have to be broken.”
“What’s the point of having group norms if we are not going to follow them,” said Sondra. She invited the rest of us to chime in.
Before others could speak, Michael continued his assault. “These rules are childish. They need to be suggested guidelines and nothing more!”
Just then, other members spoke up, siding with either Michael or Sondra. Within seconds, people were raising their voices, in an effort to be heard. Chaos ensued, like the freefall of a rollercoaster on its way down the tracks. Things got totally out of control, and the conference call ended.
The next morning, Michael resigned from the group. An hour later, Marilyn resigned, followed by Thomas. Just like that, we were down to four, and I hadn’t yet fully committed to being in the group.
Later that morning, Mark, my buddy who brought me into the mastermind group, called to check in. “Dude, I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry you had to witness all of that on your first call.”
“Is that how they all go?” I questioned.
“No, of course not. Tension had been mounting between Michael and Sondra and everything hit the fan yesterday. How are you doing with all of it?” Before letting me respond, he added, “Obviously the group is falling apart. This would be the time to bail, if you want to quit.”
I must admit, I was relieved to know that I had an out. My first and only conference call with this group had been an uncomfortable experience, even though I was primarily a bystander. “I’m not sure.” I replied. “What are you going to do?”
“I think I’ll stay,” he said. “Seven seemed like too many people anyway.”
Before responding, I reflected on why I wanted to join this mastermind group in the first place. I recalled the excitement of having my own business advisors; people I could really talk to about my company, my clients, and my services. I also liked the support and accountability that framed the purpose of this group. Where else you going to get that? I thought. But to be in a group like this required a commitment that included adhering to the group norms, something that Michael, Marilyn, and Thomas were unwilling to do.
“You know what, Mark,” I said with conviction, “I’m totally in! It was never about the size of the group for me, it’s always been about the purpose and the commitment to each other. Yes, let’s do this.”
So we did. Our mastermind group lasted for three years and was one of the most powerful experiences and fondest memories of my business life.
My Mastermind Group, a.k.a. G-7
The “Greater Yes!”
The mastermind story demonstrates what I call the “greater yes.” The greater yes is an unyielding commitment to something or someone that is so compelling that it will override any adversity or challenge. For me, the benefits of staying in the group far outweighed any of the negative aspects, such as the tight structure of the meetings. In short, I wanted to learn what this group had to offer, and I was willing to give up some freedom to make that happen. That was my greater yes.
Often, we commit to something without identifying our greater yes. In that case, we haven’t committed at all. That was the case with Michael, Marilyn, and Thomas. They wanted to be in the group as long as it was convenient and met their immediate needs. But the moment their commitment was put to the test, they bailed; not because they couldn’t gain anything from the group, but because they weren’t willing to abide by the ground rules that they agreed to follow. In other words, they didn’t have a greater yes.
Signs when we are missing a greater yes:
- We’re easy-going, yet hesitant to get overly involved in something.
- If we’re not feeling it, we’re not doing it.
- Our actions don’t match up with our words.
- We always have one foot out the door, ready to abort on a moment’s notice.
- We find ourselves going through the motions, but not sure why.
- We’ll commit to something—until something better comes along.
- We have a “wait-and-see” attitude about everything.
- We’re not quite sure what we want, so anything will do—at least for now.
- We’ll let external circumstances dictate our decisions.
- We have a hard time looking someone in the eye to say, “Yes I will!”
The greater yes reveals our passion, purpose, and desire. We don’t wonder “if” something is going to happen but “when” it’s going to happen. We have confidence that we will achieve something, even if we don’t know exactly how.
Signs when we have a greater yes:
- We know what we want.
- We are willing to do whatever it takes to make something happen.
- We view adversity and challenges as merely obstacles to get around.
- If at first we don’t succeed, we try a different approach.
- If we’re not feeling something wholeheartedly, we try it anyway.
- Our word is our commitment.
- We make things happen instead of waiting for things to happen.
- We look people in the eye and say, “Yes I will.”
- If we don’t like something, we either change it or find a way to embrace it.
Having a greater yes begins when we know what we want and why we want it. Add a little passion and determination to the mix, and you’ve got your greater yes.
This book is filled with stories that required me to have a greater yes. That’s why I could overcome many of the challenges I faced. Even writing these stories and publishing this book are proof of my greater yes. I never questioned whether it would get finished. I always knew it would, one way or another.
So, the next time you are questioning your level of commitment to something, ask yourself what is the greater yes? If it exists, identify it, embrace it, and make the thing happen. If it doesn’t exist, move on to something else. It’s not worth your time.
* From Geese’s latest book, It’s All About Me: Stories and Insights from the Geese