Have you ever considered creating a board of advisors for yourself? While it might sound strange at first (and maybe a *little* egotistical), there’s no reason why individuals shouldn’t reinvent this common business practice.
Here’s the thing. Almost all companies have either a board of directors or advisors. We even have a Board of Advisors at The Disruptive Element.
The purpose of these boards is to provide diverse perspectives, expand thinking, explore risks and opportunities, and help lead the company down a successful path. They’re an invaluable source of support, guidance, and forward momentum.
Creating a board of advisors for yourself can have a similar effect for you as an individual.
Now, you might be thinking, “Okay, sure, but why? What’s the point?” Well, there are several reasons for surrounding yourself with trusted advisors, backed by brain science. So, let’s chat about them.
Surround yourself with people you trust and who can help you become a better person.
Why Your Brain Needs a Personal Advisory Board
Our brains are designed to act on predictions and keep our thinking the same because it’s safer. But we don’t want to keep thinking about things the same way all the time, especially if our current thinking isn’t giving us the results we want.
A board of advisors can help us reevaluate the way we’re thinking about things. It can help us see a new perspective and show us how to use new information and experiences in transformative ways.
Just having a group of trusted people available to ask questions like, “Am I thinking about this the right way?” or “Is there something I’m not thinking about?” can propel you toward open possibilities.
But a personal board of advisors is about more than just expanding your thinking.
We’re social creatures, and fundamentally we need to feel connected. But, people are busy, so connecting with family or paid professionals (like therapists, life coaches, etc.) isn’t always an option.
A personal advisory board gives us an added avenue for connection. Connectivity is critical because not only does it feed our fundamental need for connection, but it also keeps us from feeling lonely. When we feel alone and disconnected, we can feel threatened, which leads to a whole new bundle of issues.
Of course, for this to work, you have to have a group of people you trust on your personal advisory board because otherwise, your brain will tune their advice out.
In addition, our brains believe whatever we tell them. Over time, our self-talk becomes our truth, so most of the time, we need to hear other people’s opinions to challenge our own thinking. Otherwise, we could be hanging on to some really flawed and limiting beliefs about ourselves and the world.
This challenging of beliefs happens all the time in professional settings, but it’s not as common in our personal lives — even though we need this type of guidance to grow and thrive.
Having a board of advisors isn’t just about challenging your thinking. Sometimes it’s about helping you get out of your own way. For example, let’s say getting in shape is one of your big goals. But, when you’re alone all the time and stuck inside your head, it’s easy for you to convince yourself that you don’t need that workout. You have the tendency to rationalize it away (I’m too busy, I’m too tired, etc.).
Including a fitness advisor, or just an exercise enthusiast, on your board can help you break out of that cycle by providing encouragement or meeting you for a walk around the block or an hour at the gym.
3 Steps for Building Your Personal Advisory Board
A personal advisory board shouldn’t just give you new ideas. It should also help you make decisions, develop courses of action, and hold you accountable.
A lot like an exercise buddy, your board of advisors should understand your goals and what you need to get there, whether through accountability or ongoing support.
Your board of advisors doesn’t have to be formal, but it will require some intentional action and proactivity. You’ll also need to leverage some of your resources. Here’s how.
Step One: Figure you out first!
Before you start forming your personal advisory board, think about what would be most helpful for you. For example, do you need help with your health? With your career? With balance? All of the above?
Different people play different roles in your life, so start by figuring out what you need before you determine who you need. You might even realize that you need a separate board of advisors for multiple areas of your life.
Figure out what you need from your advisory board and the right people will follow.
Step Two: Be picky!
Once you know what you need, start looking for your people, but be picky. Choose safe and trusted advisors who will challenge you in a healthy way and keep things confidential.
This isn’t a time to worry about hurting peoples’ feelings because you need to pick the best advisors for you. In other words, don’t feel like you have to include your relatives or friends. Instead, find the people who will challenge and push you outside of your comfort zone.
Keep your board small, somewhere between three and ten people. Consider choosing an odd number of advisors because if you need to take a vote for something, you won’t have to worry about a tie.
Step Three: Make it official!
Now, here’s what makes an advisory board different from just having a group of friends. Your board doesn’t have to be super formal with contracts or anything like that, but it does need to feel real.
Treat it like a business board and conduct regular meetings. You might have an annual meeting to reset, or you can meet on a more frequent basis. Just be sure to schedule the meetings in advance.
In addition, set some guiding principles, like confidentiality or engagement rules. You really want to take the time to establish a safe environment for yourself and everyone involved.
Be sure to record your meetings to hold yourself accountable, but know that this is a board of advisors, NOT a board of directors. In other words, you don’t have to take their advice. You still hold autonomy. But it’s worth exploring their suggestions and using them as a sounding board for your life.
Remember, you still hold the control over your decisions — your board is there to help guide you.
A personal advisory board can be whatever you need it to be. It could be a board you consult with before every big decision in your life, like buying a new house or car. It could serve as accountability for your goals or as a space to expand your ideas about your life path.
When you think about it, having a personal advisory board is the opposite of egotistical because it’s about admitting that you need help, accountability, and connection to thrive.
The most important thing is to create a safe space of trusted confidants to help you when and how you need it.
If you’re curious and want to learn more about the personal advisory board concept, reach out!