Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Personal Board of Directors

In August of 2015 I reached out to some trusted friends to implement an idea I had picked up from somewhere: a personal board of directors. (I wanted to credit the source, so I looked through the books I read in 2015 and didn't see anything related. I searched the Internet for the phrase and found a bunch of articles from people acting like they invented the idea. So who knows where it came from? Heck, maybe I invented it!) The idea is to have a group I consult regarding goals and actions, a group to whom I'm accountable for follow-up on decisions. These guys were:

  • Childhood Friend
  • Mission Friend
  • Friend Who Became a Professor #1
  • Friend Who Became a Professor #2
  • Adult Friend

In my first report to the board (September 2015), I outlined what I was looking to accomplish.

As a minimum, I hope to outline my current goals and the steps I'm taking to move towards them. I will aim for writing at least once a month, preferably on the first Sunday of the month. Perhaps I'll also ask for feedback or advice, but the nature of the group is such that any unsolicited feedback, advice, or criticism should be considered welcome. I don't just want to tell you I'm awesome and have you respond, "Well, of course!"

I lasted eight months. In April of 2016, I realized that I had unreasonable expectations. I wanted friends who would respond with insightful feedback, but these guys had their own lives going on. This was illustrated vividly when Childhood Friend began his PBOD that same month; I knew what I wanted out of my board, but now that I was serving on someone else's board, I didn't put in the effort required to be helpful.

I wrote one additional report to my board that December, and since then nothing has happened.

I kind of want to start it back up, but only because I want the idealized version to work. But that's the version that doesn't exist. So I don't know. Professor #1 and Professor #2 I feel (probably unjustly, but still) would be unforgiving of the fact that, what I'm supposed to be doing I can't do, but they did it just fine. Mission Friend has had setbacks in his personal life and I don't know if he's still up to the task. Plus, he posted a picture of Facebook and I joking said he looked like a friendly Syrian pimp, but it turned out this was his "I'm back in the game, ladies" picture, and he didn't want me pointing out to his lady friends that he looked like a Syrian pimp (even a friendly one). So he might be mad at me. I feel guilty that I sucked as a board member for Childhood Friend, so I can't very well ask him to let me use him on my board. Adult Friend has been very good about trying to maintain contact with me, even when I have actively tried to wind down my personal connections.

I have three more people who might be good to add to the board.

  • Slightly-Older Adult Friend
  • Former Classmate Who Became a Professor
  • Significantly-Younger Adult Friend

But there are problems. Slightly-Older Adult Friend is pretty heavily ironically detached from most things and I don't think he'd take me seriously. Former Classmate isn't a member of my church, which could mean he'd offer a good alternative perspective, but also means that he might not understand my reasoning sometimes. Significantly-Younger Adult Friend is impossible to contact--he doesn't read e-mail or listen to voicemail, but then he also is spotty on his responses to texts. I refuse to accommodate someone who thinks you can unilaterally ignore a particular communication medium, especially one that can operate on a phone as easily as texting does. David Allen has written

I need to trust that any request or relevant information I put in an e-mail, on a voice mail, in a conversation, or in a written note will get into the other person's system and that it will be processed and organized soon, and available for his or her review as an option for action. If the recipient is managing voice mails but not e-mail and paper, I have now been hamstrung to use only his or her trusted medium. That should be unacceptable behavior in any organization that cares about whether things happen with the least amount of effort. (Getting Things Done, p. 251)

As I have noted before, in the words of Joey Morphy (a character in John Steinbeck's Winter of Our Discontent), "There's nobody as lonely as an all-married man."

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