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  • 02.29.00

Create a Personal Board of Directors

Dear Richard Leider, I read with great interest and heartfelt sadness your column: “Should I Keep My Day Job?” It seemed to be speaking to me. I have a six-figure day job and am a national leader in my field, but it is not what I am supposed to be doing. I own a small consulting firm. For the past 13 years I have grown this small venture into something I am proud of and something I should be doing full time. I’m damn good at it!

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I read with great interest and heartfelt sadness your column: “Should I Keep My Day Job?” It seemed to be speaking to me.

I have a six-figure day job and am a national leader in my field, but it is not what I am supposed to be doing. I own a small consulting firm. For the past 13 years I have grown this small venture into something I am proud of and something I should be doing full time. I’m damn good at it!

My problem, like so many others, is simply fear. I know it. My wife and family (who are totally supportive) and all of my friends know it. I know what my responsibilities are: my family, our mortgage, one son on the way to college with another to follow in a few years. We have been getting ready for the shift for the past 12 months by reducing our debt. We really only have a mortgage (we own our cars and have no credit card debt to speak of).

I just can’t pull the trigger. It weighs heavily on my spirit and my thoughts are always filled with the struggle. Any suggestions?

Sincerely, Fearful

Create a Personal Board of Directors

Many of the successful people I coach or whom I meet at my seminars tell me that they have accomplished powerful individual goals by creating a personal board of directors. In forming this group, they tap into wisdom they normally would not have access to and they develop a support network.

A personal board will accelerate your entrepreneurial learning curve and it will help you take some of the fear out of the transition process. A personal board provides both wisdom and support for the attainment of a specific purpose. In your case, that purpose is to help you cross the chasm into the free agent world. Often in making big decisions, not enough options are considered.

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To form your own board of directors, get started today by contacting four to six people who you feel you could learn from and who have wisdom in creating new enterprises. Approach your prospective members and arrange to start meeting at least every month. The board should not include only friends and family members. It should be a diverse group that can pose the big questions that need to be asked. Consider having one or two free agents along with a clarifier who asks clear questions, a connector who leads you to other people, a challenger who helps you act boldly, and a wise elder or sage. You want to draw upon the wisdom of people with diverse perspectives who think differently than you do.

Your board can meet quarterly, monthly, or weekly with your precise questions setting the agenda for the meeting. You can meet individually or collectively. And thanks to technology, you can include virtual members by using the telephone, e-mail, and live chats — although you’ll want to meet face-to-face occasionally.

Show board members your business plan. Discuss the challenges you are facing and ask for input. Tell them you’re going to commit 30 minutes every single day to your new venture until it becomes a reality. Ask your board to suggest books, people, resources, clients, and other free agents for advice. The daily 30-minute practice will reduce fears and build confidence as you devote at least some time and effort to important and overwhelming tasks. Watch and see how well it goes once the entrepreneurial juices get flowing.

The board is all about “win-win” benefit so you must be willing to give as much as you receive. Consider ways to add value to their lives and their work. Board members will benefit from their involvement, which may inspire their own free-agent spirits.

I have learned through my coaching and seminar experiences that people are not happy because they are successful. They’re successful because they’re happy. And what makes them happy? It’s working their own plan, not someone else’s. It’s using their talents to build something they feel passionate about. Your personal board of directors can help you face your fears and decide whether to keep your day job.

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