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Do you feel you are lacking a clear direction in a part of your career, your business or your life? Do you feel a little rudderless and unsure about the path that you're on? Do you feel you don't have the grip and the control on your life like you once did?

Are you ready to start taking control back? Something that really helped me and helps my clients, is to create a 'Personal Advisory Board’.

If you have just started a new role in your organization or your business, or perhaps you are going through some other sort of transition in your life, surrounding yourself with the ‘right’ set of advisors, can help you through change successfully.

Creating a Personal Advisory Board may help you:

  • find a clear path;

  • set your aspirations;

  • meet your goals and;

  • truly excel in your chosen field.

If you think about your life, like an organization or a business, then you need to ask yourself if you are the CEO of that business. Are you in control? Do you have a clear strategy? And more importantly, are you executing on it?

For many years in my life, I was not the CEO of my life or my career:

Several years ago, I went through a really difficult time in my personal life. I am South African, but I was living and working in finance in London. My marriage of nearly 11 years at that time had fallen apart. We had separated and were getting divorced. I was in a really bad place with my health - both mental and physical. I was alone in London, in the cold and dark winter and I felt really miserable. I was lost. I didn't have a clear direction. I didn't know what path I was on. Quite frankly, I just did not know what to do. I also didn't have the people around me and the support that I really needed.

So I packed two suitcases, and boarded a plane to return to Cape Town, South Africa to be nearer to my family. When I got back to Cape Town, that's when the really hard work began. I've tried to figure out what my path was and had to get back on my feet.

I decided to work with a coach and in one of our first sessions, she stopped and asked me

‘Alice, who is running your life?’

Her question reminded me of something I'd once heard Oprah say: “If you think about your life, as if it were a movie, then who is playing the main role? Who is the star? Are you the leading role in the movie called your life?”

My coach had me draw a picture of a table, to represent a board table of a business or organization. She then asked me to write in the names of the people sitting around that table. It took me some time. But the truth is, when I wrote down the names of the people I had around me in my life, having a say in my life, it really struck me that those were not the people who were my main supporters. They were not the people who believed in me, they were not people that would give me the perspective that I know I so badly needed. They were not people with the expertise that I needed. And worst of all, I barely had a seat at the table, never mind being the CEO or the person in charge!

Act as the CEO of your life:

If you want to take control of your life, your career or your business, then you need to stop going with the flow. You need to act as the CEO of your life. You need to step in and take control of your organization and take back your power in your life.

When you're the CEO, you also need to appoint the right people and the best people to sit at your board table and be your team of trusted advisors. You need your own high performing, top notch, powerful personal advisory board.

The difference between a mentor and a personal advisory board:

A personal advisory board is not quite the same as having a mentor. A mentor is usually somebody who is more senior to you, most likely in your line of work, somebody that you admire, or perhaps you'd like to emulate in some way. A mentor, mentee relationship is usually a more formal arrangement.

A personal advisory board is a more holistic, expansive approach to your career, business and your life. A personal board does not need to officially meet regularly as you would a mentor. These are people you turn to and communicate with regularly as your trusted advisors.

How do you find the personal advisory board that will best serve you?

  • Take a piece of paper and a pen and draw a rectangle, to represent a board table.

  • Around the ‘table’ mark out seats as places on your board.

  • Write the names of the people that are currently sitting at your board table.

  • Who is the CEO? If it is not you, why not? What do you need to do to change this?

  • What do you want to achieve or change in your professional life or life in general. What areas of focus of development are you wanting to progress?

  • Is anyone on there that really shouldn't be on there?

  • Is there anyone missing?

  • Start thinking about what you would like that table to look like in 6 months, in a year.

Aim for at least 5 people sitting at that table, apart from you as the CEO.

What to consider as you appoint your board:

  • Think about your life in general think, cast your mind back over your life to date.

  • Who has inspire you in the past?

  • Who has stepped up to support you in the past?

  • Who knows you well?

  • Who do you trust?

  • When it comes to your work, who do you trust and respect?

  • When it comes to your professional life consider peers as well as those more senior.

  • Have at least one person who understands the sort of work you do or at least the sort of industry that you're in.

  • Ensure you have a mix of people, a diverse group - you need a mix of perspectives.

  • Be conscious about ensuring that you're bringing together people who are going to encourage you and cheer you on but also be able to give you constructive feedback and challenge you when appropriate.

  • You want to find the people who are going to remind you of your values.

  • Your advisors also need to keep you aligned to your goals and aspirations.

Consider the different ‘seats’ available as different components/aspects of your life.

Potential roles could cover:

  • Business or career/work.

  • Financial health.

  • Relationships and family.

  • Spiritual growth and personal development.

  • Health: mental and your physical health.

  • Emotional well being.

Once you've gone through these prompts and selected who you want at your board, then reach out to those people. Tell them of your intention and desire to have a group of trusted advisors around you in your life. As the CEO, make sure you communicate regularly with the people on your personal advisory board. These can be informal discussions and regular catch ups.

Another powerful idea is to draw these people into your network, and considered introducing them to each others.

Most importantly when you are asking for independent advice from somebody on your personal advisory board, make sure that you approach the conversation with the spirit of service and the spirit of giving.

How could you perhaps help the advisors on your board? If you can't help them directly, perhaps there's someone in their family or one of their children that you could support.

If you want to find a clear direction in your life, if you want to take back your power in your life and get back on track and really excel in your chosen field, then it is essential to surround yourself with the right people.

When you are surrounded by a team of trusted advisors, and you will go further, faster. So choose wisely. Make sure you are the CEO of your board and most importantly, give back. Don’t forget to serve on the board of others.


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