The idea of creating a support network and finding mentors isn’t new. It is an incredibly powerful concept - especially during times of transition at the different stages of our lives. Why not take the idea one further step? Think of it like this. You are the CEO of your life. Great CEOs build personal support systems, recruit talented people and develop links with external experts who can help them to excel. Why not apply the same approach to your life and career? How about creating your own virtual board of directors – people who will guide and encourage you.
Start by considering who you already know and what they might be able to contribute to your board. These people might be friends, family, work colleagues, business contacts, social connections, fellow alumni from your school, university or previous job. The chances are that you will find they hold a range of different skills that will aid your return to work and sustain you beyond. You might also see that they can make introductions to others with further skills that might help you.
Imagine how you might structure such a board of directors. First, consider the skills and types of support that might assist you. Ask the individuals you identify if they would provide you with their input. Make your request specific as you will gain so much more if the members of your virtual board do not have to guess what you need from them.
Keep a notebook and jot down the questions you’d like to ask the members of your virtual board. Use it to record their suggestions. Reflect on how you might apply the learning to your situation. Don’t forget to give something back such as sharing an article that you have seen on a topic of mutual interest. Or maybe offer to be on their virtual board.
And who says they must be personally known to you? What about taking inspiration from role models that you admire? Scan their blogs for ideas, find out what challenges they have surmounted and how by reading their autobiography. Allow yourself to think: ‘what would she do in this situation? How would they advise me right now’?
There is a famous African proverb which says it takes a village to raise a child meaning a child has the best ability to become a healthy adult if the entire community takes an active role in contributing to their rearing. The same philosophy applies to us as adults. Start today, on International Women's Day. Take the first step towards creating your virtual board of supportive directors. You will be amazed at the difference it will make to your ability and will to succeed.