Some friends in my line of work and I had dinner together last month, catching up on each others’ latest projects and hearing what’s going on behind the scenes. We all had speaking events on the horizon, all of us recently finished whirlwind writing projects, and we each recently had abnormally busy travel seasons.

These women not only understood the oddities of my work and life, but they also understood the toil it can put on our families.

We were talking about knowing how and when to say yes or no to various opportunities when one of my friends said something powerful. It was my big takeaway for the evening.

Find your Board

Companies have Board of Directors, and together, these people make decisions for the good of the company. As a hive mind, they vote on the major decisions that have significant consequences on the company’s direction.

  • They decide when and whom to appoint as the company’s new CEO.
  • They might sign off on a major purchase.
  • Sometimes they’ll write new rules, or make addenda to old ones.
  • And many times, they act as the collective representative of the company, making official decisions with the company’s best interest in mind.

It’s this last role we spent the evening discussing. We had heard of some other solopreneurs who created for themselves their own Board—a collection of people that would help them make decisions.

None of us had done this for ourselves, but we were tantalized by the idea. Other people, helping us make hard decisions for us? Sounds amazing.

Photo by Juliana Couthino

This board could look at my calendar when I’m asked to travel, and they could be the ones to say yea or nay. When I’m presented with an opportunity, this board could decide whether it’s a good opportunity, or if I should pass.

These people would have their best interest in the “company”—in this case, me. They’d care about my health, my family’s health, and the overall purpose of my work. Why? Because they’re my friends.

More than just passing the buck to let other people say no on my behalf (though, admittedly, there is a certain appeal to that), this board could step back with a clearer perspective better than I could, remove emotion or guilt, and make decisions based on rationale and good judgment with the good of the “company” in mind.

They wouldn’t make decisions based on pleasing people. (Not that I’ve ever done that.)

All it is, in a nutshell, is accountability. I’d wager a guess that many of us could use a Board in our own lives, whether we work for ourselves or not. Have people who love us help us look out for ourselves? Impart wisdom when we need it to see the difference between the better and the best? Yes, please.

My evening with my friends compelled me to find a Board—not just for my work, but for my personal life, too. I want a Board of friends who could help me make solid choices about my health, my inner life, my relationships. And I want to do the same for anyone I know well who’d like me to bless them, too.

I need this input in my life.

  • I need someone to check in with me to ask if I’m getting exercise.
  • Sometimes I need a friend to tell me to stop working and go to sleep already.
  • If I need to have a hard chat with someone, I want someone else who’s got my back to ask if I did it.

I haven’t gathered my professional Board yet, but it’s still on my to-do list. We need each other, friends.

(Top photo from The Hudsucker Proxy.)