The Iceberg Analogy for Masterminds
Written by Brad Hart on Jan. 24th 2019
I want to use a fun analogy to describe the process of how people move along their clarity journey and ultimately can see what they didn’t see before, so you, the facilitator can easily see where they’re at and where they still need to go.

First, the person on the hot seat comes along and they have their presenting problem (or PP for short) 

This PP is just the tip of the iceberg.  

If you’ve ever seen an iceberg in real life, or even just watched the movie Titanic, you probably know that 10% of the iceberg is what’s above the surface, and 90% of the iceberg is below the frigid waters. 

It might even be nice and sunny on top of that iceberg. It might be safe and warm, they might have built an igloo and be hanging out with some friendly penguins and seals and polar bears. 

But we all know now that the problems people present to us are rarely the whole problem, or the root of the problem. 

Sometimes up to 90% of the problem is truly under the surface. 

Another way to look at this is the idea that we only use 10% of our brains at any given time. This is actually true, but it’s out of context in which it really goes. 

You DO use 100% of your brain, but you only use 10% of your brain CONSCIOUSLY. The rest are subconscious processes like breathing, fight or flight, sleeping, repairing, digesting and all the other things that your body gratefully does without you having to think about it. 

This also, and here’s where this ties in, includes filters like generalizations, distortions and deletions. This includes possible traumas that are locked down memory wise and you don’t know why you’re triggered by what can be a very easy problem for someone else to move through etc. 

So just like the iceberg is actually 90% under the surface, we have to get clarity by asking clarifying questions until we can clearly see the whole iceberg. 

And people go through phases when this is happening that I’ll share with you now. 

The first step is they have a challenge which they are willing to confess. 

Without this, we can’t go any deeper. 

You won’t believe how many times I’ve had people try to defer on their hot seat saying “everything is great right now!” Or “my challenges are no big deal!” And they’re trying to be deferential to the group and allow them to get the time that they need. 

Most of this can be chalked up to worthiness issues or sometimes ego. 

Usually what we’ve found after literally thousands of iterations is once you get this person talking, there’s definitely a challenge or at least something that is stalled or slowed down that they want to move faster on. 

So keep on people. Get them talking. At least get them to share their name, what they’re up to in the world, and what they’re grateful for or celebrating right now. That will at least get them talking and build rapport so that you can easily transition into what’s actually going on. 

I’ll also tease them and say something like: “So your challenge if I’m hearing you correctly is that you have no challenges? You must be pretty bored. How can we add some exciting problems so this (gentleman, lady) has some worthy opponents in his/her life?”

Or kindly rib them that I’ll gladly give them one of my challenges to solve if they really have nothing going on. 

Usually this is enough to get them talking, but if someone really doesn’t want to share, you also don’t want to push too far and waste the group’s time, so just make a note to follow up after with them privately, make sure everything is actually alright, and then move along. 

The step after stating the PP or the challenge and being willing to confess it to the group is the most interesting to navigate. It’s the confusion that enters. 

Now, you’re off of the tip of the iceberg and in the freezing cold waters of Confusion. 

This is where clarifying questions are so key, because they’ll help people chunk up or chunk down as needed in order to gain outside perspective on the challenge, and get to the heart of what’s actually going on in the clear light of day. 

When clarity is achieved, you can now see the whole iceberg for what it really is. 

It’s just a big chunk of frozen water. No big deal. 

Now that you have clarity, you can begin to conspire with the group to fill in the rest of what you need to solve that problem. Clarity, accountability, support, and trust. 

Or if we’re keeping with the C’s alliteration: Clarity, Conspiring and Co Creation, Committment, Community support, Consequences if the plan is not executed by a certain date... you get the idea.

You’ll create a clear, step by step action plan which can look something like this, as you flesh it out. 

Problem: I’m not getting enough leads for my business and revenues are down. 

Potential solutions: 

Spend more money on advertising 
Create more content and publish on more channels with a strong message and call to action.
Ask your current customer base for referrals which you pay them for. 
Run a promotion or sale to drive more business. 
Ask potential referral partners to promote in exchange for an affiliate commission. 

Once the person has clarity on what the real problem is, and they have potential solutions, the next step is to create a container where they can truly achieve and accomplish the thing. 

This is where ongoing community support is so important. Most people are men/women of their words, but when there’s money on the line and consequences more than just saving face, more gets done faster which builds the execution muscles and that’s what’s needed most. 

Not what’s easy, not what’s convenient, not drifting from one thing to the next, but consistent, massive action. If the action they are taking is not getting the desired result, they switch to one of the many other solutions that are available. 

Finally, and this is key, because it’s happened to me in the past. You’ll find something that works and then not keep doing it. 

The habit you want to form as soon as something works in a business is to systematize it, by creating a video walkthrough, a workflow and a checklist, now this is a thing you can either automate, or hire out to do and then set up performance incentives for it to get done with checks and balances in the form of reports and reviews. 

Otherwise the likelihood that the thing is going to keep getting done and the result is going to keep getting achieved is slim to nil. 

The best way to get something done is the mechanize it and make sure someone is paid to always be feeding that machine, with regular checks and balances in place along the way at specified (and sometimes surprise) intervals where there is a reporting and reviewing structure in place. 

That in a nutshell is how you go through the entire cycle, from challenge to a clear committed process that makes sure the problem stays solved for good. 

And if it’s not broken, you don’t have to fix it. 

The whole goal in business is to get off the time for money wheel as soon as humanly possible and get a machine in place to add value to the marketplace in exchange for money whether you’re there to turn the crank or feed the machine or not. 

That’s how you become an owner, not an operator. That’s how you start having the ability to work ON the business and not IN the business. You are no longer a bottleneck through which anything needs to pass or any cog in any part of it. You, as Tim Ferriss so elegantly put it in the Four Hour Work Week, are simply a cop on the side of the road. You can step in and handle something as needed, but mostly you’re just letting the traffic go by And making sure the money is still piling up as intended. 

Your job becomes more of a diagnostician, and that’s the most valuable skill in business. 

People who can accurately diagnose and solve problems are the very best mastermind leaders and the most valuable people in any business, period. 

Anyone can do the work once the process is figured out to get the result reliably.  

The real genius is seeing what others don’t and being able to transform a problem that people have into an opportunity for continued value addition to the marketplace, which equals revenue generated which equals potential impact across all areas of life. 

The mastermind is just one more way to sharpen your skill set, which in my opinion is the number one skill set that everyone should seek to hone to the very best of their ability until they’re world class. 

Using this process you can literally solve any problem that shows up in life. 

We’ve had people in our masterminds come through with every single type of issue you can imagine: health challenges, relationship challenges, business challenges, personal challenges, spiritual challenges... you can’t even imagine the types of shifts that people get using this simple but powerful framework. 

It never fails to work if you work it. 

I’m so endlessly grateful to be able to share it with you so you can now go off and use it to solve any problem in your life, or really, any problem in the world. 

And if you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, remember: Clarity is the key to everything. 

PS: Forgot to add this in in the beginning: 

If people are having some resistance in the beginning to masterminding, or just genuinely unsure what to focus on in their lives... here’s what I recommend starting out with. 

There’s an incredible exercise called the wheel of life which can be an invaluable way of getting clarity on what area of your life you have the most challenges in right now. 

It’s simple, you just draw a circle, and then pick the following categories and make slices through the circle so each one is a wedge. 

Then you label them: Health, business, finances, relationships, spirituality, giving, etc.

And you begin to ask yourself without judgment how you feel about each area in turn and assign it a 1 being totally awful to a 10 being a slam dunk and everything is legitimately outstanding. 

Then, as you look around the ‘wheel’ that you’ve now created it will begin to become very clear that you can go slow with this wheel or deal with the bumps, but if you wanted to go fast and start really getting after it, one of these areas is a bump in the wheel that’s going to make it fly off and you’re going to crash.  

The solution is to simply focus on the area where you need the greatest improvement and use that as a starting point on a challenge. 

I’ve had complete atheists with no respect for God, religion or any tradition come along and realize that spirituality was their weakest place in life. Now granted, they were willing to commit and admit that they would like more in that particular area and were willing to work on it with the group and gain their actionable advice and insights, and that’s what he got: A tailor made plan for him to develop his own relationship with the divine, as it made sense to him. 

It’s not about knowing exactly what you’re going to get, gently remind people, it’s about being open to whatever might show up when we are receptive and we work the process. 

It really does work when you work it. 

Consistency and commitment. 

What I’ve noticed after many years of doing this now is that people get addicted to masterminding, they see how effective it is and see how each session their last biggest challenge is no big deal anymore (I have yet to encounter a problem that can persist in the light of this group work) and they’re ready and excited to work on whatever shows up next as a challenge or something they want to simply move faster on. 

They go from being stuck and feeling out of sorts or even worst, worthless, to feeling alive again because they’re stoked at how much progress they’re making. 

It’s truly a gift to watch and I want others to take this model and repeat it in their local communities as a service. 

You’ll be amazed at how many people will come to you with open arms, sometimes in tears wanting you to be more involved in their lives, eager to help you however and with whatever they can, and how deep the relationships can get on all fronts. 

And if you want to do this professionally for money, the best way to get the reps in is to do it for your local community on a weekly basis. 

We do ours every Weds night from 6-9, with the last hour being for networking. It’s really become an incredible group. The Facebook group recently crossed 300 members and we routinely have 15-20 people show up per week! We’ve had to limit the hot seats to 10 but we usually can get everyone in if we keep it tight, and the group gets stronger as time goes on as well. 

If you’re interested in doing this as a paid part of your business, it’s an amazing model. 

Click here to learn more about how to add $100k+ in profit to your business in 5-10 hours a month by building a mastermind group.

Brad Hart


Brad Hart helps people start and grow successful mastermind businesses. He is an expert at helping people create their own mastermind programs using a fundamental framework and making things super simple to understand. If you're interested in starting your own mastermind business as a primary (or additional) way to create more income and impact then definitely reach out and request a complimentary clarity call today.
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