Dream Teams Aren't Just for the Olympics
By Gail Rognan
A Collaborative Approach to Success Using a Personal Advisory Board
We all need other people to make our dreams come true. What often buries our best intentions is the false notion that we are supposed to do it alone. So whether you or your clients are searching for the ideal job or have a business and want it to make it more successful, rather than "just do it," get support.
I was 40 when I finally learned to ask for help. I grew up believing all the clich's of the rugged individualism that most Americans have been taught. I thought I had to face things alone, pick myself up when I fell, and keep a stiff upper lip through all of life's hardships. But my philosophy changed when I went through my own Annus Horribilis in 1995. I lost jobs, got divorced, went bankrupt, and experienced much more--before I hit bottom. It took having no job, no money, no car, and living out of a suitcase at different friends' houses for several months before I finally admitted that I needed help.
In asking for help, I learned that I needed to connect with my authentic self and began the process of being whole by asking some hard questions:
- What was my purpose?
- How do I express that purpose in the world and still pay my bills?
- What other questions do I need to ask myself alone, and what questions do I need support and conversation to answer to help me get where I want to go?
When I was able to honestly address these questions, I started a group, which I called my personal advisory board or dream team. These included people who understood what I was trying to do with my business and who bought into my vision. My dream team consists of seven women and one man who meet quarterly and give me on-going support, resources, contacts, and ideas. They help me get clients and give me feedback on fees and materials. Most importantly, they help me clarify my path. I wouldn't have made it through my first year of business without them.
So, what is a dream team?
- A dream team may be a personal advisory board, focus group, or team of coaches;
- A professional practice community of individuals with expertise and interest in a particular area who can share valuable insights, resources and knowledge;
- A peer accountability group (of not more than 8) that meets on a regular basis for problem solving, inspiration and motivation; and
- A group in which everyone "gets" your purpose and buys into it (requiring you to be clear on your purpose, i.e., to find your dream job, change careers, grow and sustain your own business, etc.).
The Benefits of a Dream Team
A dream team can have many benefits but two stand out:
- Accountability Aspect
This is the Weight Watchers' concept. You have to weigh in on a regular basis. In a dream team everyone reports on how (s)he did toward accomplishing the goals they set at the last meeting. It is often easier to justify to ourselves why we don't do something that would move us towards our dreams, so we keep putting it off. It is harder to keep facing a group of others and admitting you haven't done what you said you would do - what you know you want to do! Remember:
People often have better ideas for each other than they have for themselves; and
People often have more courage for each other than they have for themselves.
- Expansion of Resources
You are only one person with one set of ideas, experiences, and contacts. By joining with a team, you have access to the team's ideas, experiences, and contacts. Also, instead of focusing on the "one right answer" you came up with on your own, you can get to the second right answer (or third or fourth) of your team. People have a tendency to get into a rut where they see a limited range of options. Your team can help you think outside the rut and expand your options.
Forming Your Dream Team
The first step in starting your dream team is to know yourself, understand your purpose, and have an idea about where you want to go. You can't expect your group to do that for you. Most importantly, you have to take responsibility for your own life, and not expect your team to do all the work.
Next you need to decide who's going to play on your team. I suggest looking for soul mates, not necessarily friends or family (they already see you in a certain way). My team consists of other self-employed lifestyle entrepreneurs who have flexibility and freedom in their lives. Your team might be private practice career counselors or career coaches. Talk to people you know or people you meet at professional meetings about this concept. I look for people who are enthusiastic and positive; people whose "energy" I like. Some of the best groups I have seen started with people who just happened to be sitting next to each other at one of my workshops. The most important thing is to find people who want to figure out their goals and work towards them; people who want to be part of a successful Dream Team!
As Barbara Sher says, "the difference between success and failure is not your attitude, your mantra, or your toothpaste. It's lots of ongoing help." Don't wait any longer to start your dream team.
Gail Rognan, MA of Renewal of Spirit has over 20 years of experience in life work planning, facilitation and teaching. She is currently teaching classes at North Seattle Community College in Seattle, WA, and co-taught a class at Antioch University in Seattle on transformational leadership. She credits much of her success to her own dream team. She can be reached at
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