The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lurkers, Sulkers, and Critics

Lurkers, Sulkers, and Critics

We've all had that experience in a class, mastermind group or writing circle: someone in the discussion considers themselves to be in competition with you. They tear you down, criticize, snark, sabotage, try to create alliances against you, sulk, and loud-talk you.

In certain contexts, a competitor can make you stronger, faster, better, smarter. But in a Mastermind group, it is essential that every single person be in alignment for...wait for benefit and welfare.

One of the most important aspects of a Mastermind meeting is the "Hot Seat," where every member takes a turn reading their work, discussing their plants, asking for help. Then every member of the group offers insight, support, ideas, and encouragement. Again, the best analogy for a "mastermind" is a "superbrain." You start with a single "lobe" of your brain, make certain that it is operating at the highest possible efficiency, then add ONE new person (lobe). The communication must flow smoothly and in coordination across the nerve bundles. If, and only if, that communication is smooth you may seek ONE more person ("lobe") and repeat the process. Smooth cooperation and communication is the MOST important thing--a person of superb ability who is not aligned with you can destroy the entire thing.

So, then, new people can be added if:

1) They agree to 100% of the rules of your mastermind.
2) They can meet with the other members at least once per week, or agree to post on the board, exchange emails, Skype, phone, or however you have agreed to communicate.
3) If you are in a business that actually DOE have direct competition, you may not want to have a competitor join the group. You can have two plumbing supply businesses on the same block, but unless they can find a way to function in synergy, they probably can't both be in the same Mastermind.
4) There are people who just naturally try to dominate and "rank" others, show off, brag, boast and cut others down. REGARDLESS OF THEIR RESOURCES OR STATUS, do NOT let such a person into your group.
5)If people will not both share with and support the others in the group, they cannot join your group. No "lurkers" who listen without contributing.

Remember--this is not a coffee klatch, or a bunch of buddies. This is a weekly meeting to support each other, to move forward toward goals and dreams, not to "feel good" or "relax" unless that has a DIRECT influence on our goals. Be very very careful of time wasters, negatives, whiners, lurkers, and of course, eternal competitors. Whether in terms of personal traits, relationship glitches or mastermind goofs...they can destroy your dreams.



hospodi said...

The idea of a single brain is very helpful to me in understanding mastermind. I need to understand it because I feel the need for allies and powers in my life.

thank you steve.

Anonymous said...

What if you *are* that person who just naturally tries to dominate and "rank" others, show off, brag, boast and cut others down? Are you just out of luck, since that's what comes naturally to you?

David said...

My take on that, which Steve may disagree with (and pay attention to him if he does. He's more successful than I am by almost any measure) is that you need to build a mastermind that you are not in competition with. That doesn't mean you can't compete, but you can't compete with the members of your own mastermind. If you can't define them as "my team, that I don't try to defeat or outdo" then you have some personal work to do before any mastermind would be helpful anyway. My opinion, as I said, for what it's worth.

Steven Barnes said...


If you need to cut others down, you are operating in constant fear that others are above you. You need to resolve that issue, within your own heart. Then and only then will you be able to gather around yourself the manner of Tribe who can lift you to the heights. No one with a smidgeon of self respect will tolerate the company of people trying to cut them down.

Crapping our diapers comes "naturally" to us as well. Toilet train your emotions, friend.

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