Line One
Marriage in the Long Run
Whom would you trust with your life?

This isn't about your physical well-being, like expecting someone to catch you from a burning building. This question concerns your life as an individual. Whom do you trust to look out for your best interests?

Most big businesses and government agencies are run by managers, CEOs or other people of distinction. But, if you look at the structure of an organization, you will see that the top line is composed of a board of directors. These people are the ones who oversee the future of the company. They don't get involved in the day-to-day operations, but they are responsible for the vision and the philosophy. These people are considered to be the most influential people involved in the organization.

If your life were similar to a company and you had to designate your own board of directors, whom would you choose? Would you designate your spouse or your parents to sit on your board of directors? What about your brothers or sisters? Would you trust them enough to guide you through life? How many friends would you consider to be part of your personal board?

Think about the people you are acquainted with and examine the qualities you admire in them. What are those positive characteristics? Do you enjoy friends who take risks, or are you a more conservative person? Are the important people in your life outgoing or more sensitive? Are you the type of person who seeks adventure, laughs a lot and is impulsive, or are you more serious? Would you select people who think the same way as you, or would you pick someone who would force you to look at the world in a different way?

Write down the names of at least four people who you would designate to serve on your personal board of directors. There aren't any rules to this process, so continue writing if you can list more. It's okay to name your spouse or significant other. In fact, your loved ones should hold a prominent place in your boardroom. These are the people who are expected to care about your well- being.

Once you've noted the names of these folks, make a list of the reasons why they qualify as influential people in your life. What do they do that shows you they care about you? What assets do they bring to your "organization?" Maybe you listed your mom because you know that her love is unconditional. Your wife or husband may be on your board because they encourage you and help you in your career or personal efforts.

What about your friends? Maybe you've got a friend who has stayed with you through good times and bad times. You would want to show that your friend is important because he/she overlooks your faults, or maybe because you can count on that person 24 hours a day. Whatever the reason, you have remained friends for years because you know that your friend cares about you.

Are there any others? Would you include your boss, your minister or a favorite teacher? Was there someone in your life who changed your direction and helped you become a better person? Why did you allow them to influence you?

After you've made a list of the special people in your life who compose your board of directors and you've noted the traits you admire, there is one more step. This is going to be the most difficult part, and many people will have a hard time completing this process. However, if you can bring yourself to do this, the rewards will be great and your board of directors will be even more of a factor in your life.

You need to tell them. You have to let each one of these people know that they are an important person to you, and that you would trust them to direct your life. Sure, it's not easy telling someone that you admire them and that they somehow affected you in a positive way, but they need to know. Send them a note, or call them, but make sure that they are aware of your respect and admiration. Once they understand how they have influenced you, and that you have awarded them a seat on your own board of directors, your relationship will never be the same.

Try it, and let us know how your "directors" reacted. We'll note some responses in a future issue of Land Line.