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Who is on your Personal Board of Directors?

We have the opportunity to learn each day be it knowingly or even unknowingly. We experience things at work and at home where we make split decisions on how to perform a task and either goes well or it doesn’t. Maybe it just didn’t occur at the speed at which we wanted it to. With each of those moments we learn from the work and if we do it again, we take what we learned from the first time and adjust how we do it the second time. Those are unknowing learning opportunities. But how often do we have knowing learning opportunities? Intentionality in knowing learning opportunities is an intangible characteristic to success in life.

Knowing learning opportunities exist often from us seeking out the help of others. Or maybe it is just from intentionally watching others as they navigate life’s decisions in work, home, church, or play, and being a sponge to their success or failures. If they become repeated learning opportunities we often call them mentors. The definition of mentor as a noun is an experienced or trusted advisor. The definition of mentor as a verb is to advise or train. Mentorship can come through a positive training experience or a negative training experience, what I call an “ass chewin”. Or as my son refers to what I do sometimes, “Did you give them a “pep talk” dad?” All of these things occur on a daily basis whether intentionally or unintentionally, knowingly or unknowingly.

Mentorship can come through a positive training experience or a negative training experience, what I call an “ass chewin”.

For me, my first knowing negative mentorship occurred in the summer of 1987 on my first farming job after my 8th grade year. I had taken a week off to go on a family vacation. As I got back to work that Monday after vacation, John, the farmer I worked for, came to meet me at my car as I pulled up to park. I thought, hum, “that’s weird, he’s never done that.” As I got out, he began talking to me firmly, “Where the hell have you been?? We have lots of farming to do and you have been gone a week and I didn’t know you would be gone a week!” I responded saying how we had talked about me being gone, but in my poor communication I wasn’t clear when I asked off. He thought it was just going to be for the weekend and not a whole week. He then sent me home to get a list of the days I needed off for the summer so we could be clear on the days I needed off, and added a few other colorful words!

This was an example of a mentorship moment in which I learned my communication was inadequate. It was a bit negative, but I promise I never took another day off without complete clarity! It was a teachable moment in which I learned. I could have been upset about how he handled it, and I was a little, but it was my own fault, not his. The main point is it was my first real sticking point intangible lesson taught to me on communication. And I’d bet John likely may not even recall it.

Life moved on, and over my 44 years of life at this point, I have had the extreme value of having many mentors starting with John, the farmer. I worked for two other farmers until I graduated vet school and they were valuable mentors. I have had a great number of vets as mentors and still mentors. I have had business folks like another Jon that has been a valuable mentor to me. Others that, like the banker that loaned me $750,000 to buy the clinic, or an accountant like Rick, that was mentor through the purchase and for a few years. I have had many mentors over the years. Some have known they were mentors of mine, and many have had no clue they were a mentor as I was simply watching them and what they were doing and learning.

Some have known they were mentors of mine, and many have had no clue they were a mentor as I was simply watching them and what they were doing and learning.

And as life has progressed, there are a handful of mentors whom I can really rely on and trust deeply for extreme advice in situations of need with life, business, leadership, marriage, parenting, spiritual, and financial. I can call them at the drop of a hat and they typically always answer and have good, sound, sage advice. This handful of mentors that have turned into my “personal board of directors”. I have never told any of them they are my personal board of directors, but it is my board. A very sincere, trusted group of people that I know will tell me “No” that is a bad idea or a bad thought, or they will tell me if I am headed in the wrong direction if I ask, or they will push me harder if I need to be pushed.

A personal board of directors aren’t “yes” people, they are people that have the courage to tell me the truth from their perspective and wisdom. They will tell me things and realities I may not want to hear or I may not know. They will challenge my thought process. They will be the devil’s advocate to help think about all angles and all through processes. They aren’t just “yes” people always telling me what I want to hear but what I need to hear. Because that is what it takes for great success and for me and my family to be the best versions of ourselves possible. And I can’t “go it alone”.

We all need a personal board of directors. We all need people to be honest with us as we walk through our life journey. Yes people are just along for the ride, while honest people are along for the journey of you reaching your full potential. So who is your personal board of directors? Each of you have trusted people you reach out to. If you don’t, then get them. And if you do, tell them to not just be yes people. Tell them to be honest people for you to achieve the greatest version of yourself!! Get it done!!


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