Building a Personal Board of Directors

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Several years ago I read about a blogger who created her own personal board of directors. She used this board to help her decide on projects to take on or turn down. It was all in an effort to keep her commitments under control. She wasn’t good at saying no and she needed a group of people to help her define when she needed to say no, and sometimes say it for her.

Well, that wasn’t really my situation, but I thought it was a really cool idea anyway. Man, I thought my own personal board of directors would make me officially “important.” And I would like to feel important. Very much, I would like to feel important. This mommy-business is really good at making you feel rather un-important some days.

Years later, I was attending a conference with my husband where they discussed everyone setting up a board of directors for themselves, even me – just a stay-at-home mom. Wow! Really?

I wasn’t sold. What would I do with one, except walk around feeling important. But they insisted we do this exercise, so I came up with a few ways I could use one:

1. Help me turn work or volunteer projects down that aren’t beneficial for me. I have a habit of signing my name on any dotted line thrown in front of me only to ask later what it was for. It’s usually just heading something up.

2. Navigating kid-raising situations. Because, honestly, I have no idea what I am doing sometimes most of the time and some sound, non-emotional advice on raising my kids could do me (and my kiddoes) some good.

3. Processing personal things I deal with. Baggage, hurts, concerns, you know “my stuff”. I got lots of stuff.

If you look at it this way, EVERYONE could use a personal board of directors.

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You can see why I might need one.

If you are interested in creating your own personal board of directors, or PBOD as I like to call it, here are some guidelines to get you started:

1.  Define the purpose for your PBOD. Think about what areas you need help with. Parenting, health and wellness, motivation, business, marketing, speaking…

2. List possible candidates. They never have to even know. Look at the people in your inner circle, people whose opinions you value and respect, mentors older and younger than you, people you work with, someone you aspire to be – or be like, people you trust, historical figures (they don’t even have to be living, seriously). Then decide if you are one that needs a broad range of perspectives, or a few close and dear.

3. Ask, or if you are like me your PBOD doesn’t even know they are on your PBOD! Don’t even ask just start going to lunch or coffee with people and talking. Build the relationship so that when you need it, it’s there.

That’s really it.

As an aside I thought I was “all that” when I put Jesus on my list until I looked over and saw several others at our table had him on theirs too (yes I was looking on other’s papers). He’s popular, but I’m sure he has the time for one more PBOD if it’s yours.

At the Core of Vulnerability is Shame

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I carry more than a fair share of baggage with me in life and although I have done lots of work to unload it and deal with is in appropriate ways it still creeps up once in a while. We moved a few years ago to a new state and when we did I lost the support system I had spent seven years building at our old home. Although I knew it was very important that I had one I didn’t bother to build a new one until I crashed and burned. Oops, lesson learned again.

I found myself at a very low weight that I hadn’t seen in many years with anxiety through the roof. My heart was beating erratically, I had pain with no explanation, emotional craziness and I wasn’t functioning as the mom I want to be. I was checking out way too often.

I went to the doctor for some help. And I entered therapy again.

Things in my life that were completely out of my control were giving me great anxiety and I had no way to safely deal with them so I spiraled down very quickly. A little help from the doctor and a booster shot from the therapist gave me what I needed to get back on track.

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I’ve had setbacks before, but this was a bad one. And I had a lot of work to do to keep it from happening again.

One of the things that was significant in my search for answers were these TED talk by Brene Brown on shame and vulnerability. I posted about the vulnerability one yesterday. And I said then, I dare to be vulnerable IF it helps me live life wholeheartedly. Because that life sounds so very good.

Well, Brene goes on to explain where true vulnerability starts (you can listen to that TED talk here: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame). And it isn’t pretty. It starts with your shame.

After listening to this I thought, “Oh, I can be vulnerable, but maybe not with my shame. I take it all back, I would rather live in a cave. Forget the wholehearted living thing.”

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But truthfully, I do dare to live courageously and deal with my stuff so that I can live wholeheartedly. For me, for my husband, for my children, I dare. So I set out to rebuild my personal board of directors.

I searched my current contacts for people I might feel comfortable being vulnerable with. I reached out to them and started the process of building the friendship deeper. Some were a bust – that’s ok. Others were a gold mine. And I love them for it!

Brene Brown uses different friends for different situations. When a kid or mommy situation arrises she calls those friends. When a work situation arrises she calls on those friends.

I’m a girl with only a few friends at this level. I need about 2 or 3 so they need to cover just about all areas. I have to keep it close you know.

I built a new support system in about a year’s time and today it is working well. I have 2 (maybe 3) people who know my “stuff” and I can call anytime for help. A pre-requisite of mine was that they had to be vulnerable with me too. I don’t need a listening ear, I need people in this fight with me living vulnerably and open with their shame as well. Having a bunch of friends listening to your stuff who appear to have no stuff is not encouraging at all.

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In Brene Brown’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection” she talks about using her friends to bounce things off of immediately after she feels the shame. She urges you to never let shame sit there festering inside you, tearing you down. The longer that goes on the worse the ramifications are.

Shame grows in darkness.

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For me, shame feels like rocks in the bottom of my tummy. When it first comes on it feels heavy and sick. And if I don’t expose it to the light, talk to someone about it, it will grow and destroy – quickly. This is when I call on my girls. The faster the better.

Let’s say I am visiting a friend and they say something that really cuts deep. And it stirs up all my old pain. They may, or may not, have meant to hurt me, but they did nun-the-less. And it reminds me of my feelings of unworthiness, being unlovable and scared. I hear things like, “your not good enough, you need to be better, do more.” So when I get in the car, I send a quick text or make a phone call to ask for prayer and a little time to talk. Then I pray and ask God to remind me of how He thinks about me.

As soon as light is shed on your shame it knocks the legs right out from under it. Your friends can shed truth on it, God will blow it up with His truth every time, and all of a sudden it isn’t growing anymore, it’s dying.

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I wish I did this well every time. But, no chance. It takes work and courage and vulnerability. Some days I possess more of these qualities than others.

But I can say undeniably that when I deal with my shame well it is life-giving. The benefits are immediate.

I am enough. I am strong. I am courageous. I am loved.

Dare greatly with me to live vulnerably in your shame so that you may live wholeheartedly.

 

Living Wholeheartedly

Last week I talked about people who make us feel good by just being around them and I said I would like to be more like that kind of person. I keep thinking that those people must be very comfortable with themselves or they couldn’t give off the vibe they do.

Thinking along the lines of how to be a more approachable, comfortable, loving person myself, reminded me of a talk I heard a few years ago by Brene Brown on wholehearted living.

You can listen to it here: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability

This is Brene Brown’s definition of Wholehearted living:

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Oh, that sounds really nice!

I want to live wholeheartedly.

I long for this kind of life.

I desire to be this kind of parent.

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Wow, I want to grow up in that home, don’t you?

But how do you do that? Somehow I don’t think the answer is found on pinterest or in a list of 10 things you can do to increase the fulfillment in your life.

She says the answer starts with vulnerability.

So, In order to live life wholeheartedly, I not only have to accept my own imperfections but I also have to share them with others? Ouch.

That’s going to take come courage.

Do you dare?

I think I dare.