Last year, I was preparing to launch my new book, Discipled Leader, and build my leadership development platform. While it was an exciting time and a dream coming true, I felt overwhelmed and lacked direction. I was in unfamiliar territory. It was my first rodeo. I’d never published a book before, let alone start a business. It seemed to be a daunting task.
Poet John Donne wrote that “no man is an island.” Meaning I couldn’t accomplish something extraordinary on my own. Success would require the help of others. I knew that I’d only reach my potential with wise counsel and support. And if I reached my potential, others could reach theirs as well.
“No man is an island”John Donne
That’s when I got the idea to develop a Personal Advisory Board (PAB). I discovered the concept in the Wall Street Journal about how successful business executives surround themselves with trusted advisors to help the business executive develop and accomplish their goals.
The Latin phrase is correct, vident oculi quam oculus – many eyes see more than one. I set out to create an inner circle that would assist in navigating unchartered waters and help me reach my potential. But I wasn’t looking for “yes” people, those only patting me on the back and telling me what I wanted to hear. I sought guidance, not validation. I wanted to surround myself with people who would push me, ask probing questions, give feedback even if it’s hard to hear, provide creative input, offer a business perspective, and signal watchouts. I needed folks who could help me solve challenging problems and make complex decisions. Lastly, I desired individuals that had experience with my chosen path; they’d gone before me. I wanted them to share their successes, failures, and learnings. Ultimately, tap into their wisdom.
There’s one other reason I wanted to develop a PAB. I crave positive affirmation. But when I receive it, I can easily get big-headed and begin to think I’m all that. Pride creeps in, I get puffed up, and I tend to take credit for things that go well or blame others when they don’t. I know my weakness, and I can become arrogant without an external party pointing it out to me. My egotistical and self-absorption bent made personal and professional accountability a must. I had to stay grounded and remain humble.
So, I began recruiting PAB members. In the initial communication, I shared with them why I was starting a PAB, what I was trying to accomplish, and then invited them to participate in something bigger than themselves. If they’d joined me on the journey, they’d be able to shape the outcome.
I recruited six original members that agreed to serve for 12 months, two women and four men, including a former NFL player and corporate executive, a head pastor, an internationally renowned composer, a healthcare consultant and seminary student, and two best-selling authors that own speaking/training small businesses.
I began monthly, ten-minute, one-on-one meetings with the PAB members. Our initial meetings were clunky, but we slowly got the hang of it. Before the sessions, I sent an executive summary, including activity updates and areas where I needed feedback.
They’ve helped me make many sound decisions, provided creative input, offered penetrating feedback, and encouraged me when I was down. I couldn’t have done it without them. Ultimately, my book launch was successful, and my platform continues to evolve.
The other good news is that each PAB member renewed for another 12 months. We’ve even added another member, a former beverage industry executive, and leadership coach.
So, do you want to start a PAB? Here’s what I recommend…
- Define your why. What are your business or initiative’s purpose, contribution, and impact? I recommend using the following Why Statement: To (contribution), so that (impact). For example, “To engage and inspire people, so that people are motivated to do something creative every day.” Writing a Why Statement will help you distill your thoughts and articulate them to others.
- Design your ideal board member profile. Imagine what your perfect board member would bring to the table. What complementary characteristics, skills, or experiences will an individual contribute to your journey? Do they have a thinking style different than yours (e.g., strategic, creative, analytical, critical)? Do you trust and respect the individual? Will the potential board member openly share feedback, ask hard questions, encourage you, give advice, pray with you, support your effort? Is the person influential and well-connected? Do you share similar values and faith? What will you have gained from and given to the participant a year from now? Answering these questions will help you think through the ideal board member.
- Identify candidates and recruit. Based on your ideal board member profile, begin thinking about your circle of influence and connections. Look across your friends, colleagues, mentors, and broader network for potential candidates. I identified a list of people I believed would want to partner with me for my initial PAB. Then, I sent an invitation email to the candidates with my Why Statement, what I hoped to accomplish, why I identified them as potential candidates, and how they’d make a difference. I invited them into something bigger than themselves. If the individual was interested and wanted to learn more, I’d set up a follow-up Zoom call to share more details.
- Manage time expectations. How you view time is a mindset. Are you asking the advisors to spend time with you or invest time with you? If you invest in something, you’ll experience a return, directly or indirectly. If you approach the requested time as an investment, people will be more open to supporting you. And be upfront about the time investment you’re requesting. I asked folks for a 12-month commitment. It takes time to develop an effective process and productive sessions. I found that almost everyone is willing to invest a 10-minute, one-on-one, monthly appointment to help. Lastly, I highly recommend that you honor the time commitment. Be concise and be done. Do your best to stay within the scheduled time allotment. If you are in deep conversation, ask permission to extend the appointment or schedule additional time. Time is the most precious resource we have. Respect others’ time, and they will appreciate it.
- Send a pre-meeting executive summary. Before every round of PAB meetings, I send an executive summary of what I’ve accomplished since the last meeting, plans, feedback requested, decisions I’m considering, or problems I’m trying to solve. I’ve found that the executive summaries prime the discussion pump and give the members something to respond to. I advise the PAB members that I’ll reach out individually to set up the next one-on-ones. Then, I move to text and converse with the PAB members to schedule time.
- Conducting the session. This is the fun and value-creating time. I always ask if the PAB member received the executive summary and if they have any specific questions. This is where the conversation can go in many different directions. Caution! Sometimes a PAB member doesn’t have immediate questions or feedback. If this is the case, I’m prepared to give a brief update or ask a question related to PAB members’ skills, experience, or interests. Be sure to summarize the key takeaway to the advisor and discuss potential next steps. I always recap the key takeaway during the next session and provide a progress update. Listening and acting will demonstrate to the PAB member that you value their insight. Lastly, always ask how you can help the PAB member. You want to create a reciprocal, mutually beneficial relationship. Not only receive value but return value.
- Rinse, refine, repeat, recruit. Like I said earlier, the process may feel a little clunky as you start out. Evaluated experience is the best teacher. Reflect on each round of one-on-ones. What worked, didn’t work, and what can you improve? Apply your learnings to refine the overall process and PAB member experience. Lastly, keep scanning your network for potential PAB members and cultivating relationships. Anticipate that people will eventually rotate off your PAB, and you’ll want to have a pipeline of people to fill open slots.
One of the best things I’ve done is create a PAB. The members shaped my mission, influenced my thinking, and molded my approach. They’ve helped me navigate unchartered territory, solve perplexing problems, and make sound decisions. Even better, they feel they’re engaged in something bigger than themselves, something extraordinary.
I agree with John Donne; we aren’t islands. We can’t do it alone. We need others on this journey we call life. How about you? Do you have a dream, vision, idea, or a burning passion, but you’re unsure where to start? Surround yourself with a PAB, meet your goals, and watch your dreams come true.
Want to learn more about becoming a leader others will gladly follow? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
Preston> Read More
“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” — Proverbs 4:26 NIV
Moses. The hero of Israel. Deliver of the Hebrew people. Visionary, prophet, wise leader. A man of great judgment and character. A significant historical figure. Moses’ name is found some 750 times in the Old Testament and approximately eighty times in the New Testament. The Bible even says that he was God’s friend, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11 NIV). What an incredible privilege.
Moses was also very human and made some bad decisions.
In Numbers 20, the Bible tells us that the Hebrew people were still wandering in the desert before arriving in the Promised Land. They set up camp in the Desert of Zin, “a terrible place” according to the Hebrews. There was no water to quench their thirst, let alone for their livestock.
The people became angry and gathered in protest. They argued with Moses and said, “Really? You brought us all the way out here and there’s no water. Are you trying to kill us?”
So, Moses goes to God, his friend, and asks what to do.
God tells Moses to speak to a rock and water will flow from it. Easy enough.
Moses gathers the people around the rock. But he is frustrated, even angry with the people. He becomes irrational and doesn’t carefully think about potential consequences. Standing with his staff in hand, Moses cries, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” (Numbers 20:10 NIV).
The Bible tells us that Moses struck the rock twice with his staff and water immediately flowed from the rock. Did you get that?
He struck the rock. Twice.
He didn’t speak to the rock as God had directed. Moses acted out of anger and frustration and made a bad decision. The consequence?
God told Moses that he wouldn’t enter the Promised Land with the Hebrews. That’s hard news.
Moses’ frustration and anger were barriers to his ability to make a sound decision. Like Moses, you’ll face many barriers to making quality, sound, wise decisions, including:
- Emotions: In addition to frustration and anger, feelings like anxiety, depression, despair, envy, fear, jealousy, and resentment can compromise your rationality. It’s best to step away from your emotions and examine the situation. Consider what’s triggering your feelings and think about potential consequences of emotionally driven decisions. Exercise self-control. The Bible says, “Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city” (Proverbs 16:32 NLT).
- Knee-jerk reactions: Ever had your knee tapped by a rubber mallet? What happens? Your leg automatically kicks out. Similarly, automatically reacting to a problem, issue, or circumstance without thinking it through may lead to making a bad decision. When you’re hit with something, don’t react so quickly.
- Personal bias: The way you see the world and your preferences and prejudices are often a barrier to sound decision-making. You lose objectivity and lean toward your own assumptions. To overcome bias, seek facts, evidence, diverse advice, and define reality. TV journalist and author Tom Brokaw said, “Bias like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder. Facts are your firewall against bias.”
- Analysis paralysis: Overanalyzing or overthinking can be an obstacle to sound decision-making. It will stall momentum; no decision will be made, and no course of action will be taken. Recognize that you’ll never have all of the facts and take a risk. Someone once said, “It doesn’t matter in which direction you choose to move when under a mortar attack, just as long as you move.”
- Time pressures: The amount of time you have to decide will greatly impact its quality. If you’re under the gun, how you consider and choose between options may be distorted. You’ll make mental shortcuts and not think deeply about significant decisions. You’ll lose objectivity and be more influenced by intuition. And, you won’t have the appropriate time to gather all of the necessary information. When you can, slow down to speed up.
When thinking about decision barriers, ask
- What barriers do you face when deciding?
- How do the obstacles affect you?
- What will you do to avoid or overcome the impediments you face?
Decision barriers impact your ability to make sound choices. Don’t be like Moses when he struck the rock out of frustration and anger. Exercise self-control, temper reactions, mitigate personal bias, don’t get stuck in analysis, and slow down. If you do, you’ll overcome the impediments and make sound decisions.
Want to learn more? Visit www.prestonpoore.com
1 Wayne Jackson, “A Character Portrait of Moses,” Christian Courier, last accessed July 5, 2020, https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/253-character-portrait-of-moses-a.
2 Tom Brokaw, “Lesson from a Life in Journalism,” NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, last modified October 8, 2004, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/6207274/ns/nbc_nightly_news_with_brian_williams/t/lessons-life-journalism/#.XwG8VpNKjUI.
3 Jeff Boss, “How To Overcome The ‘Analysis Paralysis’ Of Decision-Making, Forbes, last modified March 20, 2015, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffboss/2015/03/20/how-to-overcome-the-analysis-paralysis-of-decision-making/#6b9822031be5.> Read More
“My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace.” —Proverbs 3:21–22 NLT
Indiana Jones is one of my all-time favorite cinematic heroes. In the climactic scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy and the Nazi collaborators, Elsa and Walter, find themselves in a cave after an arduous journey searching for the Holy Grail. Legend has it that the cup was used by Jesus during the Last Supper. The Grail is purported to have mystical powers granting eternal youth, happiness, and abundance. Whoever finds the highly sought-after relic will possess great power, and the Nazis wanted it for evil purposes.
The old and weary Knight guarding the Grail stands in front of a broad shelf displaying several vessels, all different shapes, and sizes, many of which are ornate. Any one of them could be the Holy Grail. The Knight proclaims, “Choose wisely. The true Grail will bring you life. The false one will take it from you.”
The villains go first. With glory in her eyes, Elsa chooses a lavish chalice and hands it to Walter. He admires the chalice and says, “It certainly is the cup of the King of Kings.” Walter fills it with water, toasts to eternal life, and takes a drink. Walter looks satisfied when suddenly he starts to shake and cough. Expecting to find eternal youth, he experiences quite the opposite. In horror, his age accelerates, and he disintegrates right before their eyes. Life was taken from him.
The Knight states, “He chose poorly.”
Next, Indy surveys the vessels, discerning which one to choose. He knows history and looks for a humble cup. “The cup of a carpenter,” he says. Indy reaches to the back of the shelf, past all of the lavish chalices, and chooses a simple goblet. To test the cup, he fills it with water and takes a drink. Nothing happens.
Indy turns to the Knight and hears, “You have chosen wisely.”
Indy exercised discernment. He had good sense, a particularly keen way of seeing things that seemed hidden or obscure. But what exactly is discernment? Scottish Theologian Dr. Sinclair Ferguson sums up the attribute beautifully: “True discernment means not only distinguishing the right from the wrong; it means distinguishing the primary from the secondary, the essential from the indifferent, and the permanent from the transient. And, yes, it means distinguishing between the good and the better, and even between the better and the best. . . . It is the ability to make discriminating judgments, to distinguish between, and recognize the moral implications of, different situations and courses of action. It includes the ability to ‘weigh up’ and assess the moral and spiritual status of individuals, groups, and even movements.”
God-given discernment will help you go deep below the surface of an issue or problem to see the motives, causes, and agendas. Additionally, it will enable you to distinguish good from evil (2 Samuel 14:17) and to see through outward appearances (Proverbs 28:11). Discernment will also help you to be sensitive to potential trouble, be keenly aware of danger, and prevent unintended consequences.
Do you choose wisely? Consider these self-reflecting questions.
- How can you exercise discernment in your daily life?
- What’s blocking you from being more discerning?
- Would people say you have “good sense”?
- Why or why not?
When faced with a decision or problem, don’t be like the Nazi collaborators who lacked discernment and made the wrong choice. Be like Indiana Jones, exercise good sense, and “choose wisely.”
Do you want to learn more? Visit www.prestonpoore.com
 Sinclair Ferguson, “What Is Discernment?” Ligonier Ministries, last modified May 8, 2020, https://www.ligonier.org/blog/discernment-thinking-gods-thoughts/.> Read More
I’m a disciple of Christ and an executive at a Fortune 500 Company. In my blog, The Discipled Leader, I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work.
As a certified coach, speaker, and trainer with the John Maxwell Team, I help others grow their relationship with Christ, develop their leadership skills, and understand how they can make a positive difference in today’s chaotic world.
Let me help you reach your potential.
I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work. I invite you to subscribe to my blog and learn how to develop Christlike character, influence your culture and change your world.