Nothing great was ever accomplished in isolation.
Nothing great was ever diminished by asking for help.
At the core of both my personal and professional development is what I call my ‘personal advisory board,’ a group of informal mentors invested in my success.
They are the people who have my back, the people I run my craziest ideas by, and the people who have made me who I am today.
They are the Role Model, the Dreamer, the Challenger, the Jekyll, the Friend, the Peer, and the Wild Card. And, they are the seven people I find myself going to time and time again.
1. The Role Model
The classic mentor, the Role Model is the epitome of success in your eyes. She’s the “future you” made manifest. She’s whatever may be at the very top rung of your personal ladder: the chief marketer, the serial entrepreneur, the philanthropist, the world traveler, the working mother who leans in. She shows you not only what life at the top looks like, but (more importantly) the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to get there.
2. The Dreamer
The Dreamer is the first one you go to when you find yourself in need of a little motivation. He’s the rare whisper that “nothing is impossible.” He’s the one telling you to think a little bigger even when everyone else may doubt you. In a world of thinkers, he’s the Inventor, the Artist, the Doer. And, he’s your biggest fan.
3. The Challenger
Also known as the Devil’s Advocate, the Challenger steps in when the Dreamer is doing his job a little too well. He questions every assumption you make and forces you to consider new objections and worst-case scenarios. At times, he can be a downright critic, but he’s your critic – preparing you for the inevitable time when failing to build a strong foundation is going to cost you a lot more than a difficult conversation.
4. The Jekyll to your Hyde
The Jekyll to your Hyde is your character foil. Your skill sets seldom overlap; and because of this, she’s able to open up new worlds and plug any gaps in your knowledge of experience. She’s the CTO to the CEO and the IP attorney to the entrepreneur. Adding a Jekyll to your board is realizing that you don’t know everything – but that there are people out there who can help.
5. The Friend
By far the most important person on your board, the Friend is the one that supports you at your worst and raises you to your best. He’s the first one you go to when the odds seem insurmountable and the first one you celebrate with when it comes time to revel in your accomplishments. He’s the foundation of your success and the chair of your advisory board.
6. The Peer
A vicarious teacher, the Peer is the one fighting the same fights. Perhaps in a different role, perhaps at a different company, he is going through many of the same challenges when it comes to defining personal success and figuring out how to get there. He’ll likely have more questions than answers, but he’s someone you can compare notes with every step of the way.
7. The Wild Card
In the words of Bill Nye, “everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” The Wild Card is less of an individual than a philosophy. She’s the idea that everyone has a story and that every story has a moral worth finding. She’s the woman you keep running into at events and the random coffee shop encounter. Your paths may not have been destined to cross, but she’s the unexpected source of inspiration, the one you can run ideas by for a genuine, honest, stranger’s perspective.
These seven mentors combined are my muse. Whether I’m in need of a Dreamer to motivate my next project or a Jekyll to force me to consider the larger picture, I know exactly who to call on for any given situation and have come to the realization that success is larger than any one individual.
And that has made all the difference.