I was pretty lonely as a kid.
You see, I knew I was different.
I just didn’t know it was ok to be different.
From a young age, spending a lot of time with people drained me of energy. It took me years before I understood that it was not that I was shy but rather that I’m an introvert.
When I was young I used to find bars, nightclubs and even parties overwhelming. It took me years before I understood that I am pretty high in what’s known as sensory processing sensitivity.
I have always loved to read, study and discuss leadership, psychology and personal development. And it took me years before I understood that other people might not want to talk endlessly about this stuff!
Emmett Shear is the founder and CEO of Twitch, a video game live streaming service that your kids have probably used! He sold it in 2014 for close to a billion dollars.
Recently he described one of the essential steps to success that I see constantly in high-level leaders:
“Over time, develop a huge vision that’s bigger than any specific thing you’re working on. Put it as far in the future, and make it as huge as you have the guts to.”
I have a knack for drawing together successful, talented and ambitious people who dream big and break the rules.
For over twenty years I’ve created communities of leaders who are unique, idiosyncratic, mavericks and non-conformists.
My mission is to push them to dream bigger than any of us could alone. We inspire one another. We challenge one another. And I create a safe space for people to screw up, make mistakes and fail—again and again and again.
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Who are the trusted advisors to the trusted advisors?
When your life and career is about supporting others, who supports you?
For years I’ve found ways to create massive amounts of support for other people.
But I’ve never been alone.
I’ve had a range of different mentors, coaches and trusted advisors over the past 25 years.
And I’ve been part of a small, closed Men’s Group for the past 15 years.
But I have another secret group of advisors who I’ve never talked about publicly before.
My Inner Council
There are a number of people who used to be part of my inner circle but are sadly no longer alive.
Meet my Inner Council of advisors.
- Nigel – My friend Nigel was killed by a drunk driver, over 30 years ago, when we were both teaching in Botswana. Nigel was an amazing harmonica player. He used to play in the back of open bed pickup trucks, as we hitchhiked across Africa. Nigel reminds me to enjoy the music. The children he taught had a star named after him. And, to this day, I think of him every time I see stars in the sky.
- Rafael – My friend Rafa was a didgeridoo player who performed at Carnegie Hall. He was also a shaman and a coach with billionaire clients. He was part of a group of tourists, tragically killed by the Egyptian military in 2015, when they fired on them in error. I still miss him deeply. Rafa’s spirit animal was what he calls a “crazy chicken!” He reminds me to be silly when my default is to be serious.
- James – My friend James was a Navy bomb disposal expert who served in Afghanistan. He died tragically from a brain aneurysm at just 28 years old. James helped military veterans to regain a sense of purpose. And he had a deep belief in his mission to end all war. I still can’t believe he’s gone. James reminds me to be brave when I feel afraid.
- Elizabeth – My client Elizabeth was also on a mission—a mission to help families foster and adopt children. She adopted four kids of her own and they lost their mum far too early when she died of leukemia. I still remember standing on a street corner, taking a call from Elizabeth and giving her space to talk through her big dreams, despite her diagnosis. Elizabeth reminds me to always put family first.
- Sean – My friend Sean was the smallest person I’ve ever met but the most powerful person I’ve ever known. Sean had brittle bone disease and lived in a wheelchair his entire life. Sean had a PhD in human behavior and he quickly saw that my default pattern was to try to be liked and to not get thrown out. Sean’s constant reminder to me remains the same as ever: try to get thrown out!
- My dad – After he passed away, Dad’s older sister said to me, “He was such a gentleman, your dad.” I looked up the dictionary definition of the word. “A gentleman is a man of calm demeanor, strong preserve, intellectual thinking and polite yet meaningful speech.” That was him to a T. For the last 7 years of his life, he had a cruel and unrelenting, degenerative condition, called MSA (multiple systems atrophy). I don’t want it to define him but it does illustrate the man he was. In all that time I never once heard him utter a single word of complaint. I never witnessed him be anything other than optimistic about the future. My Dad reminds me of just that, to be relentlessly optimistic about the future.
I’ve cried a few times as I’ve written this piece. But that’s the point. There are some people in life whose mission is to stir and drive you, long after they are gone.
Who is in your Inner Council of advisors?
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