Somewhere along the way you were told that if your business was going to be “somebody”that you needed to have a board of advisers whispering in your ear. You needed to find the right people to drag onto a monthly conference call where you could lay out your problems and have them magically make your wildest dreams come true. But for all your attempts at making this happen you don’t seem to be getting the “magical” results that you imagined possible.
That’s because the days of having a board are over.
The days of committees and panels, check-points and “asking permission” just aren’t effective in the fast-paced, risk-averse economy your business finds itself competing in right now.
- While you are out shopping for mentors, your competitors are busy looking for prospects.
- While you are fighting for permission, your competitors are planning ways to cripple your potential.
- While you are busy keeping advisers happy, your competitors are making your life miserable.
At every turn you end up the loser. All because you are out looking for the golden unicorn of business success.
But don’t confuse this with the bigger issue.
Smart people are always a great investment.
Find them. Dine them. Ask them for help. Be their friend. Listen when they speak. Follow-through on what they suggest you should do.
But leave your own trail.
Be bold enough to make a decision without having enough experience to know all the angles. Be tough enough to keep trying when you get things wrong the first few times. Be honest enough to take responsibility for the advice and outcomes that you implement.
Own it. Your future. Your results. The best and worst of what you are trying to accomplish.
It might seem radical to go against the grain and figure things out for yourself, but some of the greatest success stories of all time have done it that way.
Be a board of one.
You might just end up doing something absolutely amazing:
- Sigmund Freud was booed off stage the first time he presented his theories to a group of scientists in Europe. He went on to win the Goethe Award for his work in psychology.
- Abraham Lincoln went off to fight in the Black Hawk War as a captain and returned home demoted as a private. He went on to become Commander in Chief.
- Winston Churchill failed his sixth grade and lost every public election he ever ran in for more than six decades. He went on to become Prime Minister at the age of sixty-two.
- Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was four, couldn’t read basic words until he was seven, and was expelled from school. He went on to revolutionize physics with his theory of relativity.
- Henry Ford failed at farming, being an apprentice, and as a machinist — going bankrupt five times. He went on to modernize mass production.
- Stan Smith was rejected as a ball boy for a David Cup tennis match because he was “too clumsy”. He went on to win eight Davis Cup championships and is considered one of the greatest doubles tennis players of all time.
- Charles Schultz had every cartoon rejected that he submitted to his high school yearbook and was rejected by Walt Disney. He went on to create the most popular cartoon series ever.
- Van Gogh only sold a single painting his entire life — to a friend’s sister for about $50. He went on to paint over 800 masterpieces; seven of which are worth together almost $1 billion.
- Leo Tolstoy flunked out of law school and was labeled “unable to learn” by his professors. He went on to become one of the world’s greatest novelists.
These people weren’t perfect. And they weren’t always great role models. But you know who they are because they fired their board and lived life on their own terms.
They didn’t compromise. They didn’t need approval or permission or empowerment.
They just decided to keep figuring things out until they got the results that they wanted.
That might just work today.