Who’s Not on Your Reinvention Board

The “Do Not Call” List

You may be tempted to add certain friends to your board or hold open auditions to widen the field of candidates. Don’t do it!

There are plenty of people who have much to offer under different circumstances, but who are all wrong for your board. Now is the time to be discriminating, because your Reinvention Board has to be, above all, a safe space where you can hammer out the kinks in your plan.

To be effective, its members (as in corporate boards) should have no conflicts of interest that could color their input. Anyone who puts their personal agenda above yours is likely to offer self-interested—or worse, downright awful—advice.

Here are a few people who should NOT sit on your board:

Your spouse or partner, who has an investment in every decision you make. It might sound unfair to make a restriction here since this is the person who is supposed to be your main source of emotional support. But this is also the person who is the most likely to hyperventilate when you talk about chucking your law career to become a jazz musician. Anyone so affected by your every hiccup is going to have a tough time being impartial about your plans to change the status quo.

In my seminars, I always run into people—at least one per class—who insist that their significant other is above such petty territorial concerns and should, therefore, sit on the board. I like to point out that it’s not fair to such wonderful, sainted partners to expect them to ignore their own interests. Their needs should also come into play when you make decisions that affect both of you.

Your parents who, although they love you, remember the time they had to bail you out when you were stuck in Italy after college with no money, and that’s why at forty-three you should not consider moving overseas to study with a sushi master in Tokyo.

Your Reinvention Board is not the place for discussions about what you “should” or “should not” do. Even if your parents won’t personally be affected by certain decisions, they’re accustomed to having an opinion—and sometimes voicing it loudly—about everything you do.

“Frenemies,” those secretly competitive types who find ways to undermine you while smiling angelically. Don’t put them on your Reinvention Board no matter how powerful or well placed they are. They’ll talk about how much they want you to succeed, but you know they’ll do everything in their power to ensure you don’t walk away with more of the marbles.

Unhappy people who are frustrated with their lives or burned out and caught in a downward spiral. You want board members who are content, not bitter—and not only because it’s a drag to be around party poopers.

A study by Dr. Nicholas Christakis in the British Medical Journal showed that happiness is transmitted through social connections. If the people around you are happy, you will be, too. “Clusters of happiness result from the spread of happiness and not just a tendency for people to associate with similar individuals,” concluded the study.

A happy friend who lives within a one-mile radius gives a 25-percent boost in probability that you’ll be happy, too.

Pack your Reinvention Board with successful happy people, and your garden will grow.

Coaching Action Steps

Click on this link to download the Assembling Your Reinvention Board Action Guide for tips and exercises to help you to Assemble your Team.