Since 2016, I’ve run a mastermind for school leaders. We’ve served over 100 leaders in our community from schools around the world.
It’s hands down the best professional development for school administrators, but it’s not for everyone …
Here are 10 (objective) reasons you shouldn’t apply to our mastermind or join another one.
You feel guilty investing in yourself.
I didn’t realize this was a thing.
One of my favorite leaders I coach is Eileen. She leads in China and recently we met in London for lunch and a walk around Kensington Gardens. Eileen was there for a teacher recruitment fair.
While we walked around the gardens she said “I had to get past the guilt to join the mastermind.”
I wondered — Did I do something to make her feel guilty?
She continued, “I don’t think twice about investing in nice clothes. After all, I want to look professional and to look the part of a leader. Before the mastermind, I never invested in my own personal growth like that. I felt guilty, but the more I thought about it … the more I realized how much more important it is to invest in my mindset and decision making as opposed to how I look on the job.”
It’s more important to “be” a leader as opposed to looking like one.
You don’t have the time.
I really want to work with Elizabeth, but right now she needs to say “No” to more things rather than add something else to her plate. She has two kids of her own in different after-school activities as well as a few professional activities she is already investing her time in.
The mastermind requires between 2-4 hours of work a week.
- 1 hour a week will be the cohort meeting
- 1 hour for reading leadership materials
- (optional) 2 hours to connect with other members on Voxer or the Go! Community.
You think coaching should be free
If this is you, don’t apply, we don’t want you.
Every top-performer I’ve met who has a coach invests in that coach to hone their craft. It doesn’t matter if it’s in education or industry.
Another secret: top coaches are never free. New coaches and amateurs are free.
In the mastermind, we read The Checklist Manifesto. The author, Atul Gawande, explores in this New Yorker article — if top executives, athletes, and singers have coaches maybe you should have one too.
The article’s title is “Personal Best” which sums up why people invest in coaches and join communities like a mastermind.
Although the majority of members pay out-of-pocket, we do accept purchase orders.
If you’re on the journey of finding your personal best, we’d love to help.
Ready to apply? …let’s go!
Not all masterminds are created equally
I predict that masterminds will be common for school leaders in the next 5-10 years. Education often mimics best practice in industry and masterminds are all the rage with CEOs these days.
However, not all masterminds are created equally.
When I joined the Iron Sharpens Iron mastermind years ago, I trusted it would be a positive experience:
- The facilitator had years of experience as a member in a mastermind
- The group was open to men interested in legacy and significance over success.
- The community was a generous one. Selfish individuals were not allowed to join.
- Iron Sharpens Iron shared resources to accelerate members’ development and freely shared ideas.
- Finally, I liked that we met in person 2x a year.
Some questions I’d ask if I was new to a mastermind:
- Is the facilitator currently in a mastermind (or is he working with a coach)? Has he ever been in a mastermind?
- How often does the group meet? Is it virtual or face-to-face?
- Who is an ideal member of the community?
- What do current members say about the mastermind? Can I talk to a member?
- Is there a contract?
- Is there a discount if I pay for the year in full?
- Why do members leave the mastermind?
- How big are your cohorts (At BLBS they are considered “full” at 15 … I’ve heard of masterminds as big as 100. That sounds more like a lecture vs a collaborative group).
You have a personal board of directors
My mentor calls a mastermind “a personal board of directors.”
If you already have 5-10 people that you can be candid with and admit not only what you don’t know but how you’ve made a big mess at your organization, then you probably don’t need a mastermind.
This is uncommon. One reason masterminds are so powerful: they connect otherwise isolated leaders into a thriving and compassionate community.
The best part of this “personal board of directors” is that they won’t fire you. We’ll tell you the hard truth, share ideas of how to win, and cheer you on along the way.
It’s more comfortable to lead with blinders on
Many leaders struggle with self-awareness and don’t reflect on how to improve. Other leaders ignore “feedback loops” and choose to focus on their own narratives.
Such a style of leadership is easier, no doubt, but usually only in the short run. In the long term, this kind of behavior leads to blind spots and a regression of leadership ability.
I know a brave leader when I see one because those are the only leaders I work with. One common thread between these courageous leaders — they want to know when they have spinach in their teeth. It may be embarrassing, but they want to know how they can be better.
They also don’t take feedback personally. It may sting at first, but elite performers are able to absorb criticism, hear the truth, and take action in order to grow.
Our community is a special place where this kind of feedback flows regularly. However, it’s not for everyone. Leadership is easier with blinders on which is why they say “ignorance is bliss.”
You don’t read
Expect 1 hour of reading per week. That’s not a lot, but there are some leaders who actually don’t read. I think these individuals aren’t actually leaders.
“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
There are some very talented leaders who don’t read because they’re dyslexic. That’s not what I’m talking about.
People who aren’t either reading the printed word or listening to audio are no better off than illiterate individuals.
We attract leaders who are hungry to grow and learn. So if you don’t like to read (or listen to audio), don’t apply.
There are givers and there are takers.
Some leaders want to win and think others have to lose for this to be a fact. One of my main criticisms of education is that we don’t share well.
In Chicago, I worked at a selective enrollment high school. All of these specialized schools “competed” for the same group of students. It was a fierce environment. Schools did not share recruitment “secrets” nor did they lend a helping hand when needed.
Some leaders want to “crush” the school down the street or be #1 in the state and in the same district!
The mastermind plays a different game. Our game is infinite vs finite. We define the rules (after all we invent them, don’t we?). We value win-win scenarios and share what works.
We are a generous community.
You’re on a professional improvement plan
There might be masterminds for leaders on professional improvement plans (and I hope there are). But at BLBS, we only run masterminds for high achievers and people hungry to get better.
I recently talked to Mike, a leader in Kentucky, who exemplifies the leader I want to work with. He told me, “Daniel … I want to be learning until the day I die.”
We won’t stroke your ego and we definitely don’t let in leaders who think they are so good that they have nothing to learn.
Your district is meeting your developmental needs
This final reason is rare, but for some lucky leaders their leadership development needs are being met “in house.” If this is true, you probably don’t need a mastermind.
Next Steps …
If you’re “all in” and want to apply then you can do so below. Each day the BLBS team looks at new applications. Once we see that you apply, we’ll reach out and schedule a strategy session where we can learn more about you and answer any mastermind related questions you have.