Did you know that Orville and Wilbur Wright worked tirelessly for four years before successfully making the first controlled, powered, and sustained heavier-than-air human flight? Did you know that Admiral Robert Peary attempted to reach the North Pole seven times before he triumphed? Did you know that Thomas Edison failed in his attempt to create a working light bulb 10,000 times before creating one that worked!


No matter what your endeavor, there is always a reason to quit! Accordingly, John Maxwell insists that the most important thing to have nailed down is the reason you start. This is especially true for pursuits that require long-term investment and self-discipline. As you might have guessed, building a ‘Personal Board of Directors’ is one such goal. Consequently, if you’re interested in developing your own ‘Personal Board of Directors,’ the best way to begin is by answering the question ‘Why?’

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Why do you want a ‘Personal Board of Directors?’

Answering this question can be much more difficult than it seems!  Some answers are obvious, but others run much deeper – even to the heart of your failures and insecurities. The only way to get at them is to continue asking ‘why’ repeatedly. Don’t let yourself off the hook! Persist, and you will forge a robust foundation on which you can build a life-long asset. Your answers are important because they help determine which candidates you approach.

Note that your reasons may change over time just by virtue of the perspective you gain during the process. For example, you may not be capable of identifying your deeper motivations at first, but some of these may appear in response to meaningful conversations or challenges issued by a [potential] Board member. Either way, your questioning will raise many different considerations. To help you organize your thoughts, here are the two main categorical answers to the ‘why’ question. You’ll find that most of your answers fit this framework.

  1. Personal Development – I thought leaving home for college was great! It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized I had lost a very significant asset: My parents’ wisdom and guidance (and discipline!!!). Of course, my folks are still only a phone call away, but proximity also plays a role and they are no longer part of my daily life. In addition, my parents do not always have relevant experience from which to advise me, and have not pursued the same dreams I hope to achieve. Thus, I need additional insight! Perhaps you’ve identified a similar insufficiency? This is where your ‘Personal Board of Directors’ enters the picture. Are you looking for some perspective, or help fostering a better attitude? Do you have questions about your faith, or a desire to hone your vision? These desires are great motivation to develop a Board. My Board has aided me in all these areas. They also help me deal with failure constructively and steward success well. In short, a ‘Personal Board of Directors’ can challenge you and help you continue to mature! As Oscar Wilde once quipped, “With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.” Don’t let that be you!
  2. Professional Development – This is perhaps a more familiar context. Most large organizations have some methodology for partnering new employees with better-established counterparts to provide a reference point for cultural context and plotting career trajectory. Nonetheless, you don’t need to wait until you land a big job and are assigned a partner! In fact, developing a ‘Personal Board of Directors’ has even more potential in this area right now in that it allows you to test career paths and gain from the experiences and hindsight of others before you make any commitments. Such wisdom can also prevent your own potentially costly mistakes and allow you to proactively cover your weak spots. As Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, observes, “”You can’t change what you don’t notice and not noticing won’t make it go away.” Don’t needlessly pay the expensive price experience often exacts! Surround yourself with a ‘Personal Board of Directors,’ and embrace the benefit of their insight!

Developing a ‘Personal Board of Directors’ can benefit you in many ways, helping you continue to grow as a person and succeed as a professional.  Anyone can develop a ‘Personal Board of Directors,’ and everyone stands to benefit from doing so! Once you’ve identified your ‘whys,’ you’re ready to take action!

Editor’s Note: This is the second post in a series dedicated to helping you learn to develop your own ‘Personal Board of Directors.’ If you found this post helpful, be sure not to miss the others – subscribe to this blog via the link in the upper right hand corner!

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