You are the sum of the five people you spend the most amount of time with.
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This quote while powerful has always felt a little off for me. The first reason is that for many of us, we may not be in a position to control who we spend the most of our time with. Work can often dictate that. The other reason is that there are some people who really influence me but I spend no time with. This could be due to distance, schedules or the fact that I have never met them. Authors, podcasters, motivational speakers and teachers from across the world all play a part in my personal growth and development. They just don’t know it. When I think of Jim’s quote, I am more drawn to thinking of this group of five as a Board of Directors. The purpose of a board of directors is to assess the overall direction and strategy of an organisation. To provide clarity, perspective and diversity to an organisation. The Board is usually made up of a diverse group of people with high level capacity and domain expertise. Their expertise in a field important to the school/business helps provide a lens that can be objective but they operate with the school’s best intentions at heart. They are invested in the success of the school or business.
What if instead of being the sum of the five people we spend the most time, we set up a Learning Board of Directors. A deliberate choice of people who inspire us, provide feedback, clarity and encouragement, who are interested in our growth and development and won’t shy away from the tough conversations. Some of the Learning Board members you may not know but their guidance from afar is through intellectual inspiration and advice in the form of blogs, podcasts or videos. Below is the list that I came up with.
My Learning Board of Directors
My wife – the love of my life and the giver of the toughest feedback. Always in my corner.
My Dad – my hero and a man who has taught me more about altruism than anyone.
Tom Barrett – Tom has always inspired from afar but we have become close colleagues over the past few months. Tom will be coaching me in an official capacity which I am pumped about next year. His ability to stimulate the growth of mental models is outstanding.
Srinivas Rao – Srinivas is the host of the Unmistakeable Creative, one of my favourite podcasts. I love Srinivas’ story and his willingness to not allow this to shape his life. As a host and a learner, he has taught me so much.
Steve Glaveski – Steve is a good friend and I admire him for a number of reasons. As a learner, as an entrepreneur and as a podcaster, Steve just excels at whatever he does. We are also mad heavy music nuts and NBA fans.
Clare Dea – I have been going through a nine-week ‘Craft of Public Speaking’ course with Clare and I have learnt more about myself in those nine weeks than I have in a decade. Her willingness to not step away from where we emotionally are is confronting and empowering. You can see why she is a transformation coach.
Dean Pearman – My brother from another mother. Dean inspires me in my current role and as a leader. There are no airs and graces, just straight up passion and love for what he does. Also the co-host of the Design and Play podcast.
Jamie Wheal & Steven Kotler – Jamie and Steve are two of the most intelligent and inspiring learners, authors, speakers and thought leaders. Their work on flow has changed my life. I am currently completing an Adaptive Leadership course online with Jamie and his capacity for insight and low tolerance for bullshit are just awesome.
Deb Sukarna – Deb has been my mentor for the past six years and I have learnt how to lead from the front, the middle and the back with her. As a thought leader, she is also phenomenal. She is just a top notch human!
In spirit, my brother Kev – While he is no longer with me, he is always with me and this reminds me every day that life is precious and temporary.
These people help shape the person who I am. Largely because I let them. I want their guidance, words and thoughts to help press on and shape my own. Their time on my Learning Board may be short and intense or long and supportive. No matter what, they are helping shape me to be a better human.
Who is on your learning board?