Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What Would Your Mentor Do?

I was perusing the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly when I stumbled upon a quick writeup on actress Amy Adams who is listed as a "must sizzling star." She has a movie coming out later this summer called Julia & Julia which costars Meryl Streep. In the piece she reveals, "When I am in a hard scene, I always go, 'What would Meryl do?' Whether she's there or not, she is my invisible mentor."
This brings to mind an exercise that I first read about in Michael Michalko's Thinkertoys. This "Board of Directors" exercise involves several steps:

1. Select three to five people you admire. Although Michalko specifically mentions business movers and shakers, they could include writers, artists, athletes or even family members.

2. Get photos of your Board and pin them on your wall.

3. Research your heroes. This means reading their biography, autobiography, news clips, quotes, etc.

4. Take notes. Look for ways your heroes overcame an obstacle and anything you find interesting about their lives and how they solved problems. Keep these notes in a file that is easy to refer back to.

5. When you encounter a problem or challenge, consult your Board of Directors. Think of ways that your mentor overcame these problems and challenges and apply them to your life.

I'm sure many of us already do this exercise already, although less formally. For example, when I first joined Toastmasters nearly five years ago, there was an excellent speaker at the club who told us about the secret to his success - practice. He revealed that he practiced each speech more than 30 times before he delivered it to our club. For me, this was important to know.

As someone who took improvisation classes and often had an, "I'll wing it" attitude, I realized that I would need to put in a lot of work and preparation just to get competent as a speaker. While I am still working to become the best speaker I can be, I still remember the wisdom he shared with us even though he is no longer at the club.

Who are your Board of Directors? What have they taught you? How are you applying their wisdom to your life?


Lance said...

Hi Tim,
This sounds like a pretty great exercise to complete. One possibility that comes to mind is Ralph Waldo Emerson. I'm going to think about this further, see if I can put something together.

And...you're in Toastmasters! Awesome!! I used to be, and dropped out about 3 years ago. I just couldn't make many meetings with all the kid activities going on in our house. I hope to pick it back up someday. The Toastmasters organization is such a great resource for anyone looking to improve their public speaking skills, no matter the level. That's what is so awesome - the caring, supportive atmosphere of the local clubs.

Tim said...

Hi Lance:

Ralph Waldo Emerson is definately an interesting guy and a brilliant thinker - great choice.

You are so right about Toastmasters, which has helped me tremendously. I have also met some very interesting, successful people at the club.

MindFul MiMi said...

Hi Tim,
This is a good idea. I am taking Christine's Uplevel your Life class and I do find myself sometimes thinking 'what would Christine do?'. It works.