Members of an academic department are peak achievers. When we are fulfilling our mission we are advancing and extending knowledge through education of our students and the public at a brisk pace. In order to keep up our extraordinary impact and high energy we must be able to keep one eye on the ultimate goal of our work. Understanding what drives us is crucial to motivate us to excel during those late nights (or early mornings) when we need to get one more replication of an experiment completed, we need to proof read a paper again before we send it out the door, or any other task that requires that we work longer and harder. That is one reason why a personal mission statement, displayed prominently in our work space, can be useful and why I try to help people craft their personal mission statements (https://bullpennblog.wordpress.com/personal-mission-bull/). Personal mission statements help us keep focused on what is important.
What if in addition to our personal mission statements, we had a board of directors too? A board of directors is an elected group of individuals that are responsible for overseeing the activities of an organization. They are responsible for the long-term welfare of the
organization. They discuss and vote on affairs of the organization to ensure that the organization has the resources to advance its mission. If you could recruit anyone, who would you have on your personal board of directors? Who among your mentors, family, colleagues, and most respected influences are your top advisors? Whose views do you want guiding and encouraging your activities and actions?
This weekend I spent time making a slide show/collage of my virtual board of directors. I chose photos of the people whose opinions, actions, and impact I want to be part of the organization that is me. Next time I have a sticky issue to solve, I am going to pull out this slide show/collage and “ask” my virtual board how to solve the problem. I have often done this with individuals in the past. I have thought, “gee, how would Patti handle this situation.” That gives me more options than just my own reaction and way of functioning. I look forward to looking at issues through the lens of the entire board of directors. In some cases, I will actually reach out to the living breathing board members, but not all my board members are alive. Additionally, I have set up a virtual board meeting at the end of each month to give me time to ask the big questions of my board: Am I being positive about the products and services or am I being self-deprecating and thus not inspiring my organizations? Am I getting the training and education I need to excel in my personal mission? Am I truly leading or just pushing the ball in the direction it has always been headed?
I hope you are intentionally building the support system you need and that you are working in ways that make others count you as part of their board of directors.
Have a great week.