Instead of relying on one or two mentors, select your personal board of directors.
Just as you can’t be another person’s everything. One person can’t do everything for you. We all need a team supporting us and inspiring us.
But rather than try to assemble a board all at once, here is a step-by-step process that is easy to implement.
How to get started
Start by taking a quick moment, just 5 minutes, to reflect on the different dimensions of your life. If you’ve read my article for WIRED, you already know I like to use the following major categories.
Under these, you, of course, will have subcategories. Take a moment to consider those, too. Some examples…
- Under pursuits, you might have your career, volunteer work, or a learning project.
- People could include family members you care for, friendships you want to maintain, and career networks you want to build.
- Personal should include your physical and mental health.
- For possessions, I have things like home, wardrobe, and digital life (which includes digital photos–ugh!).
Questions to ask yourself
- In which area, would you most want to see some improvement? Note: It doesn’t have to be the one where you believe are performing the worst. It is probably best to pick an area where you gravitate toward the most right now. Whatever it is, pick one.
- Thinking about that aspect of your life, who do you know that seems to be doing it well? Or, who is doing work in that area that you admire? This could be someone you know or maybe someone well-known.
- What about that person do you admire?
- What are some specific things about that person you are curious about?
Do your homework. If you know the person well, then take some time to think of some specific questions you want to ask. Or, maybe, you don’t need to ask them anything, perhaps you may learn a lot just by observing what they do and how they do it.
If the person is someone you don’t know, maybe even someone famous, find out as much as you can about the person. Do some digging (stalking?) online. Study their website; look at their social media feeds; review their LinkedIn profile. Maybe the person has been on a podcast; you can search on Listen Notes.
If you want to make contact, make it short, specific, and easy to say “yes” to or answer your question with a short reply. Don’t ask to “pick their brain.”
Your goal here is not simply to ask for advice but to learn what they did and how. People are often not good at sussing out what they did to create their success. Plus, it’s not always easy to recreate what someone has done because your circumstances are different.
When you’ve gotten some information, whether you made contact or not, consider sending a handwritten note. Everyone gets emails today, but we rarely get snail mail. It’s a lovely gift. And, it helps you stand out from the crowd.
Be sure to also take some time to reflect. Note what you’ve learned and plan out something you’d like to try. You may also want to set a reminder in the future to check in with the person again.
Next, start over and pick another area to tackle. Repeat the steps here. Over time, you will have selected your personal board of directors.
Who is inspiring you right now? Please let me now.
Do you have a good question you want me to answer in a subsequent post? Submit it here.