What does the word “Mastermind” conjure up in your mind?
If you’re in Britain, first and foremost it’s likely to spark fond memories of a TV quiz show, that’s run continuously on prime time BBC since 1972. Veteran broadcaster (Icelandic by birth, but Scottish by residence) Magnus Magnusson hosted it for a 25-year run from its inception, and thus burned his persona on the minds of a generation of my countryfolk.
His famous catchphrase, said when time runs out while a question is being read:
“I’ve started, so I’ll finish”
…lived on in the quiz beyond his tenure as host, and embedded itself as a motto in the psyche of this of us who hate not finishing something. This is so much a part of British culture, that if you’ve had an exposure to one of possibly a hundred other pieces of Brit TV, it’s likely you’ll have come across references to the show, Magnus, or his famous expression.
The terrifying thing about this Mastermind was, you were out there alone, in the famous black chair. You were the expert. You were being grilled. In public. Even the show’s theme tune was called “Approaching Menace”, for goodness’ sake.
Then, and again primarily if your childhood was swamped in Brit culture, there’s the Mastermind board game, with it’s famous Bond-villiainesque box lid. A “game of cunning and logic”, its code-maker-breaker setup was guaranteed to hook my early competitive problem solving impulses, and I played this game solidly for maybe 6 or 8 years.
This Mastermind was a two-player game. You are pitted against each other. There was a clear winner and a clear loser. If you broke the code, you were clearly destined for a career in the secret service, in some sort of modern day Bletchley Park.
If you’re into your Myers-Briggs personality types, then you may know that the INTJ type is usually cast as “The Mastermind”.
These Masterminds are analytical, independent, creative problem solvers. They’re often seen as experts, too. I happen to be one. Luckily, (though entirely speculatively), two of my favourite fictional characters (Harry Burns and Mr Darcy) have also been labeled INTJs, and this, to me, has always been something of a revelation and comfort, and somewhat comedic.
In its newest popular trend, the word Mastermind has been rediscovered as the name applied to a peer group that supports each other, finds solutions to common issues, and otherwise benefits from the kind of focussed hive-mind experiences that can only happen when people get together to talk about what they each understand. It’s not a new concept. It was originally coined in 1925, and slowly grew in appreciation and usage over the course of the next 90 years.
It’s also much, much less intense than most other Masterminds you may have recently learned about! 😊 There are no spotlights, no winners or losers, and no awkward social interactions.
Now, masterminds are recognised as a powerful means to promoting the success of all the participants.
I host a monthly virtual mastermind through Support Driven.
And now, I’m bringing the experience live to London for a second time. Will you join me?
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