Everyone Needs a Board of Directors

A number of months ago, I heard a presentation by a large company CEO about the impact others have had on her success. She emphasized the importance of identifying mentors in different areas of her life and in cultivating meaningful mutual relationships with them. She noted how this "Board of Directors" has supported her through the victories and trials along her journey and has made her a better person for it.

I was reminded of this concept in a conversation I had yesterday.

I have been having a really hard time over the past couple of months. The combination of dealing with a highly stressful job that may not be the best fit for my abilities, two teenagers at home seemingly suspended in that never-never land between complete independence and reliance upon me for support, a series of new financial burdens, illness in the family and a host of other mundane issues have conspired to stretch me in a whole lot of different ways. At times, the past two months have felt like I was a pinball careening between crises, each bounce sending me in a different direction only to collide with another one of the issues in my life. I felt trapped — the situation seemed inescapable — and my self-confidence had taken a significant hit.

Yesterday, I met with a person who had been recommended by a close friend. His approach — sitting, listening and helping me to re-focus on the efforts that really matter, succeeded in radically changing my perspective. All of a sudden, I remembered the priorities I had laid out for this year and saw how the primary goal I set — achieving more peace in my life — would contribute to dealing with all of the other issues that had popped up since. Instantly, the conversation helped me regain the energy and momentum from 2018. I still have a lot of issues to address, but I can now see the path again. The amazing thing — all it took was a conversation with someone whose perspective was different from my own.

My takeaway: cultivating a solid Board of Directors — a group of close mutual relationships with people whose perspectives and interests are different from my own — is critical to keeping me sane and helping me grow. It also gives me an opportunity to "give back," which is one of my Areas of Focus.

A sustaining Board of Directors will have several important characteristics:

1. Diversity of Perspective - The power of my conversation yesterday was that the person I spoke with saw beyond my own perceived blocks and was able to help me get there.

2. Mutuality - To be effective for the long term, any relationship must be mutual. I am fully committed to listening, providing perspective and generally being there for the other person. I'm not adverse to paying for relationships that I need, but developing mutual relationships seems to be far more sustainable.

3. Commitment - Regular conversations can help me avoid "going off the rails" as severely as I feel like I have over the past two months.

I am committing to building my relationships over the upcoming year. Anyone want to be on my Board of Directors?

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