Sometimes you have to do some personal housekeeping to get your career on track for success. By personal housekeeping I mean examine the people you are surrounding yourself with. Are they supporting or discouraging you in meeting your goals? Do they respond like a resource or a deterrent when you look to them for advice on meeting your goals or overcoming obstacles?
If you are seeing a pattern in your answers to the above questions, you need to start focusing your attention on people who can give you the support you need, even if they are imaginary. This doesn’t mean disregard all the people you know and care about, it means creating your own personal support system.
In his book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins refers to the “first who”. This means surrounding yourself with the types of people you want on your side. These are the people that you admire and share commons ideals with. They may not be your boss and co-workers, so what do you do then? Jim Collins says he came up with idea of a “personal board of directors” while he was working in an office in his twenties. In his words in an interview with BusinessWeek, he says he “drew a little conference table on a sheet of paper with seven chairs around it and wrote the names on them of people I admired. I pasted it above my computer and would look up and in my mind poll the personal board when I was wrestling with tough questions. If I was really stuck, I might talk to some of them. It’s sort of like a group of tribal elders that you create for yourself “.
Think about who you want to be on your “personal board of directors”. If you feel a little stuck thinking about this, think of all the people you admire or want to work with. Write their names and their qualities on a sheet of paper. Take time to look this list over and see how many of the people you have chosen embody the characteristics you are looking for in a mentor or colleague. Narrow your “personal board of directors” to this group of people and keep them in mind when you are faced with challenges. How would they support you? What advice do you think they would give you?
Of course it’s always great if you can find a person you can meet with in person or on the phone to bounce off ideas and strategies. This is often referred to as a mastermind partner. It can be someone who is on the same level as you are and is motivated to achieve in a similar way. You can help one another with accountability issues and share tools and resources with each other. You may be able to find this person in classes you are taking or professional organizations. You may also be able to find them on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. I have personally found some extremely helpful and inspirational people using social networking websites. Keeping searching for them, when you have a clear idea of who you are and what you want, you will find them.