Do you have a personal advisory board?

| Apr 1, 2022

Do you remember movies with a lone cowboy? The cowboy takes on the world by himself. Just him and his horse on prolonged journeys into the wilderness with no contact with the outside world. The ideal “manly man.” Except that’s not remotely true. Life isn’t supposed to be a solitary experience. Life is a team sport, not a single-player sport.

No one attains anything by themselves.

I wouldn’t be a college graduate, I’d be addicted to who knows what, and I sure wouldn’t be married with kids if it weren’t for the individuals in my life that have kept me on track. You live your life on the promises or broken promises of those before you. In the same way, your word, and your follow-through will affect those that come after you. Like it or not, we are dependent on one another in life and business. 

You need others for many things — support, encouragement, success. And when it comes to success, you especially need others for accountability. You are held accountable not only for what you do but also for what you don’t do. Without accountability, you can’t get to where you want to go in business. You can’t live up to your potential and can often settle for “good enough.”

Running a business with accountability is a more gratifying experience. While accountability revolves around keeping your promises, it also involves the people you choose to be connected to your business. Accountability is like a check engine light in your car. It tells you when you have a problem. It exposes the problem, but it does not fix the problem.

Creating an advisory board is a constructive approach to creating accountability and gaining wisdom for your business. In 2016, I began to do just that. I flew from Seattle, Washington, to Orlando, Florida, for a week-long intensive certification with John Maxwell. After the week was over, I decided I wanted to get him on my board of advisors, so I did.

After John Maxwell was on board, I added a consultant named David Fields. Following David, I made sure my wife was on the board and two other friends. Finally, I wrapped it up with Andy Andrews. My board was a powerhouse of advisors. Eventually, I removed John and David and replaced them with Dr. Caroline Leaf and Karen Kimsey-House.

If you’re in the world of leadership, you may recognize John Maxwell’s name. The others, you may not. Did John really sit at a table and advise me? No. But his books, courses, and speeches did. The same can be true of the other board members that aren’t mentors, friends, or your spouse. A significant value to having your personal board of advisors is that they can be alive or dead, aware or unaware of their seat on the board, and you may remove them at any time! 

The ideal board consists of 3-4 individuals with whom you are familiar and can converse, along with 1 or 2 people that are gurus outside of your circle of influence. My board now has a few business acquaintances, a business mentor, and a coach. Outside of personal connections, I’m giving a lot of attention to Michael E. Gerber of E-Myth fame. 

Jim Rohn famously said, “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” 

Who are you spending most of your time with? Is it the actors on your favorite TV show? Is it the talking heads on the news? Your spouse? Friends? Be conscious of who you choose to spend most of your time with. To help you do this, answer the following questions..

  • In the world of entertainment, who do you spend the most time with?
  • Who’s on your relationships board?
  • Who do you get advice from about your finances?
  • Who advises you on your health? Fitness?
  • Who helps guide your business decisions?

In all areas of life and business, people and things are constantly “advising” you. The greater control you have over “who” and “what” is sitting on your “board,” the more likely you are to achieve your objectives and find success (as you define it). The method to build your board is simple, figure out who your 3-4 members are that you know, and begin to reach out to them regularly for their input. 

You can also take the time to observe them from a distance and learn about how they raise their family, run their business, stay fit, etc. The point is that you are purposeful in getting advice from them in conversations or observations. Below are tactical ideas to help you implement the things you are learning. Here are five things you can do to maintain uncommon accountability in your leadership and business.

  • Sign a commitment contract addressed to yourself.
  • Put it on a wall you look at all the time.
  • Share it with the people you do active accountability with.
  • Email it to yourself and set the delivery for a week from when you signed it.
  • Mail it to someone else and challenge them to sign a commitment contract.
  • Mail it to yourself.

Ask great accountability questions of yourself.

  • What am I committing to in this situation?
  • What role did I play in this not working out?
  • What can I do to make changes within myself here?
  • What mindset needs to change in me?

Finally, hire a coach as a success partner. Here’s what they should be providing you.

  • Helping to keep you accountable to your commitments.
  • Helping you make more significant commitments.
  • Strategizing with you to solve future problems you didn’t know will exist. 
  • Holding you to account on inaction and excuses.
  • Calling you on your BS.

The buck stops with you as the leader. When you build a board of advisors, they serve as your check engine light and help you not do it alone. The boundaries of what you can accomplish drastically alter when you employ the skills of  Accountability

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