Our own lives are often the most difficult to interpret.
Good companies, companies that last, have a Board of Directors and sometimes a Board of Advisors.
Directors give you mandated direction.
Advisors aid you in charting a course.
Last year, I formed a Personal Board of Advisors to aid me in the key decisions and directions of my life: personally, professionally and spiritually.
This Board of Advisors was constructed by personal invitation. These men are exceptional in their respective trades. They work in various different industries: Law, Publishing, High Tech, Ministry, Real Estate and Finance.
Mercenary and Missionary
Most of them have a unique perspective on the intersection of life and business. I like to term this convergence being a Mercenary with a Missionary heart.
I trust them personally.
They are selected because we have invested in each other’s lives personally and professionally. In order to yield to their insights, I want to know I can trust their motive for me.
I receive raw unfiltered scrutiny.
As a result we are able to skip past many layers of niceties or suspicion and get straight to the core issues. I trust their intentions and therefore their advice.
Group conference call
On a practical note, we have a group conference call one to two times a year. In addition, I reach out to them individually as things come up. The purpose of the group call is to huddle up on a particular topic or pending decision.
I prepare for this call just like I would a board or executive meeting. I provide a summary, some back-story and then the options or paths that I am considering.
Honestly it makes me nervous at times.
These guys have played in the big leagues for a long time. At times I feel like I’ve been playing for the farm team. I have to push past that nervous nudge and move forward trusting that the gain is greater than the pain.
Here is some of what I have to get past:
- You’re wasting their time.
- They have better things to be doing.
- They’re tired of me asking for help.
Sometimes I even tell them this is what I am struggling with.
As you’d expect they graciously say “that is non-sense”.
I thought I was the only beneficiary.
It turns out that they are grateful to be helping me. I accidentally modeled something for them that they wished they had in their own lives. As a result we all win. As they connect with other men who were strangers to them but all centered around the common goal of “help Aaron”, something good happens.
Humility is a pre-requisite.
You have to assume that you do not have all of the answers. If that is your posture, then go for it. If you are looking for a circle of people to just praise you without challenging you, don’t waste your time and theirs.
NY Times article.
I came across this article in the NY Times. It offers another perspective on this idea. See NY Times article about the purpose and approach behind a Board of Advisors-For Your Life.
Notice the distinction this draws between Advisers and Directors. This was an important definition for me as well.
Feel free to ask me more questions about this.