Monday, March 14, 2011

Who's of Your Board of Directors?

My son Jordan works at a facility for troubled youth. When they take in new students, they have orientation sessions to help them identify the thinking and communication patterns that led to the choices that landed them there in the first place. One of the concepts they introduce is that we all have an “itty bitty mind committee” made up of people who influence us the most. It got me thinking about my choices and the greatest influences on me. At some periods of my life, I've had some pretty negative people and attitudes dictating my behavior.

A few months ago I was in a meeting where a presenter challenged us to think of our life as a corporation. She asked us to name the twelve people who have influenced us the most and who might be called our board of directors. Like a board of directors guides the course a company may take, friends, families, philosophies, principles and values influence each one of us. Christians would list Jesus Christ, of course, on their board of directors. I also listed family members and particularly influential teachers. I am who I have become because of them. Whether we're shy or outgoing, an optimist or a pessimist, we all make judgments about the world according to our own experience, and those on our board of directors are most often the people we trust to help us interpret and make sense of the world.

We could all probably find specific areas of our personal lives where we have a board of directors, too - work, volunteerism, family, parenting. As a writer, I include my alpha readers and my editor as people who influence me the most. My board of directors changed with changing circumstances of my life - when I left home, when I married, when I had children, when we moved to a new neighborhood. That's the ebb and flow of life. But we don't pass through this life in isolation. Consciously or unconsciously, we are always influenced by our belief system as well as who and what is around us.

Who’s on your board of directors? Is it a large group or a small one? What standards do you require of them? Who needs to have more or less influence on you? How can you dismiss someone from that position of influence? When we stop to think about it, we're all on somebody else's board of directors, too, and the inevitable question is: are we doing a good job?