PEER GROUPS vs MENTORS HOW THEY HELP OR HURT YOUR SUCCESS, FOR THE EXPERT INFLUENCER, Part 1 of 3

There’s a popular misconception that you advance your success when you connect with a group of your peers, whether it’s in a training program, Facebook group or Mastermind.

I have found that to be NOT true.

 

In this first part of three blog posts, I’m going to discuss the benefits and risks of being in peer groups for the Expert Influencer. I’ve been on the inside of many. I’ve seen the pitfalls and I’ve experienced the connections. There’s a place for peer groups if you know how to manage them.

Peers play a distinct role. Peers have a place in your development, but the weight is not in helping you become the success that you seek. Some of you might be furious with me right now for having said that, but bear with me and let me explain.

Advancing your success achievement is a journey you walk alone. That journey is filled with people who influence, inspire, teach, prod and support you, so long as you remain open to staying on that path.

 

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   When you’re with peers

Being with a group of peers, you feel like you found a place to belong. This group of peers is just like you. One of our fundamental desires as humans is to belong. Having a group like this satisfies that need.

 

Your peer group understands your struggle better than anyone else because they are at the same place of struggling too. They can relate to your plight. They can commiserate with you. They can celebrate with you. They can laugh and cry with you. And that’s comforting.

 

A peer group feels safe. You get to let your hair down a little. It feels like friends, not business colleagues. You can have conversations that you would never have in a business meeting. You are likely to bring in very personal content that you typically guard outside of this group.

 

Because of the level of conversation, you can get very comfortable, very quickly. The dynamic moves into you the person, rather than you the Expert. Many life-long friendships are developed in peer groups. It can be so much fun to be with them. It’s personal.

 

You are connected with a like-minded group of people that share and understand your desire to be accomplished in a non-competitive way. It’s this very piece that separates them from the outside world.

 

Finding a group of peers you relate to validates your decision to choose the path you’re on. If there was any doubt before, this group will squash it.

 

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   The unspoken truth about peers

These are truths that I have experienced in dozens of groups that I participated in over the past several years. Your experience may be different than mine, but this is what I have learned.

 

Peers won’t support or promote you unless you give to them in kind or if there’s something in it for them. This is very much and ‘eye for an eye’ mentality. This comes from desperation to progress, at least at the same rate as you. Please note, they are not here to work your business; they are concerned about their own.

 

Peers will develop clicks, just like back in school. If you don’t conform, you’re out. They have (often unspoken) criteria to be met. They want you to be ‘just like them’. This is the ‘birds of a feather, flocking together’ in action. When you’re dismissed, you feel it.

 

When masterminding your issues, it’s a game of ‘the blind leading the blind’. It’s usually nothing more than guesswork on the part of the group. Often there are no ‘real-world’ solutions because they don’t have the answers. They can’t offer them because they are in the same dark room as you are. They can’t see over the fence.

 

Your peers will be offended if you make them an offer. They don’t want to be sold to, especially by you. Similar to the way friends and family cannot see you beyond your original relationship. They cannot see you as an Expert. This group of peers is unable to value your worth as an Expert. And just like family, they would expect you to ‘give’ them your services or at least highly discount it. What I know for sure, when you discount your services, the real value of what you do is never fully realized. They would be your weakest testimonials.

 

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   What peer groups are great for

In a peer group, you may experience developing a strong bond with a group of people on a similar journey to yours. As humans, we have respect for others who ‘have’ the courage it takes to be doing what you’re striving to do. Being with them gives you a heightened level of courage to keep going.

 

In a peer group, you are no longer isolated thinking that no one gets you. This group of people get you. So long as you don’t surpass them, it’s all good. [secretly they just don’t want you to surpass them]

 

You have easy access to someone who will listen and is most likely to ‘hear’ you when you need to vent, share or just speak your truth. They have the potential to fully empathize, even understand. That’s invaluable.

 

You get to practice some of your wisdom and expertise on the group. You get feedback [although it may be false feedback, which is dangerous. They want to stay positive so they cheerlead you, rather than provide useful feedback*see next section] Even sharing a new idea out loud helps you to recognize its potential. This is a safe place to do that.

 

It can be a lot of fun. You get to meet fabulous people. You might do things together, have regular calls together or even create something together. Peers can bring a lot of joy to your work. You may develop life-long friendships.

 

They are easy to use as guests for your audiences. They love you and will speak highly of you. Likewise, you know them pretty well and can speak fluently about what they do. It’s reciprocal.

 

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   The risks and dangers of depending on the peer level

You may find that you exert a lot of effort into the group for a small ROI (return on your investment) toward your growth. Because it feels good to be with this group, you want to hang out there, rather than spending your time on developing your Self and your work. We all want to feel good and it’s hard to find this kind of acceptance anywhere else.

 

While the intentions of the group may be legit, they have little impact on what you actually accomplish. Your accomplishments have little to do with the group. Everyone in the group is trying to figure out what to do. It’s a little like being in the same box of crazy’s trying to find the magic button to open the door.

 

*You receive false feedback. They don’t mean to, they can’t help it. Their ability to guide you is as limited as your own. They want to be kind and supportive, so they encourage everything, rather than giving useful feedback. They are not your ideal client. Plus, they have not yet evolved to the point where they have the capacity to mentor you. That’s what Mentors are for [more about Mentors in Part 2].

 

Your opportunities rarely rise above the current status / level of the group. There are many factors impacting this reality, including your own degree of sabotage that keeps you connected with a group of people you enjoy. [those advanced in personal growth recognize this principle.]

 

You don’t want to make a move without them. You don’t want to disappoint them. You will even turn down an opportunity if it means they’re not coming with you. Or you might accept opportunities that do not match your Vision to be a ‘player’, but in reality wasting time trying to affect results by addressing the wrong audience.

 

They cannot promote you properly because they don’t get your brilliance. They think you are no different or advanced than they are. At this level of relationship, they see you as a peer, nothing more. They are unable to accept your true Genius, therefore, they don’t differentiate you. They want the sale before they’re willing to help you get one.

 

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   Mistakes peers make

They try to be your friend and they want you to be their client. You can’t do both. You have to pick which side of that fence you’re on.

They hijack the group’s time. Peer groups have to segment allotted time for every member. Of course, your issue is important, so is every else’s.

 

They don’t speak up. They don’t get the benefit from the support or encouragement peers can offer. And they hold back helpful comments toward others.

 

They don’t do their part to include everyone. A coherent peer group needs to be mindful of all their members and step in when they see someone feeling a little less than relevant. ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’ Aristotle said it best.

 

They show up unprepared and end up rambling rather than getting to the point. Other people’s time is valuable. Give it the respect it needs. Help them to help you by knowing what you are coming to the table asking for help with. This also gives you the best shot at getting what you need.

 

They expect to get coaching and/or mentorship from the group. Peer groups are NOT set up for this purpose. While you may get some help this way, it is limited. Limited to their ability. Limited to how much of their time they are willing to give you. You will never spend enough time with them to develop any real depth. It will lack consistency because you are not their client. They are not ‘committed’ to develop your success. More often than not, a lot of time lapses between conversations depleting important momentum for you.

 

 

 

 

It’s awesome to have a really cool peer group that you connect with. Learning the role they play in your success development is key to managing your expectations and outcomes. There are as many traps as there are benefits to having a peer group. Learn to discern the difference.

 

In Part 2 of this blog post, I will discuss the role of Mentor for the Expert Influencer. What it’s like having one, why you would want to use one, the different ways to work with one, the risks and benefits, and the truths about Mentors rarely talked about.

 

Then in Part 3, I’ll summarize some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned about Peer Groups and Mentors.

 

 

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