My Personal Cabinet

Throughout my life, I have been blessed to know many kind, generous, and loving people. These people have come along at just the right time in my life to mentor me, help me grow and move on to the next level. One of my earliest childhood memories was when my dad lost his job, and we didn’t have enough money for groceries. I remember people from our church coming over to the house and stocking our pantry with food. At the age of 11, I started playing hockey. My coach was a Canadian that drove a Chrysler Sebring convertible. Every time we had a practice or a game, he would drive up blaring Celine Dion with the top down, a hilarious memory looking back on it. I started working at the age of 14 because a neighbor down the street saw me working in our yard one day and thought I had a skill he could refine and grow. As a high school senior, my youth pastor and I got together weekly over lunch to talk about my future and what I would do with my life. What’s the point in me telling you about all of these people? I give you a verse from Proverbs…

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” — ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭11:14‬ ‭KJV‬‬

This verse has played such a vital role in life, and I truly believe that I would not be in the job I am today with the house I live in or have the family I have without people along my journey in life making positive deposits. With that being said, a few years ago a new concept hit me that I knew I immediately needed to put into place. This concept is having a Personal Cabinet. Some of you just thought I meant an overly large, antique, highly varnished piece of furniture that you see in your grandparents house; this is not what I’m referring to. Since the very first President of the United States until now, they have relied heavily on their Personal Cabinet for advice, guidance, and encouragement during their presidency. In the Bible, when Moses was struggling to bear the burden of the entire nation of Israel, God guided him to select wise men, men of understanding, men that were known in their tribe to help make decisions. As my pastor says, “Even Jesus had a small group.” All throughout history, people who accomplished much often didn’t do it alone: they had a Personal Cabinet. Whether this is a new concept or one you’ve heard before, here are a few of my thoughts to leave you with.

The Purpose of the Cabinet

If I haven’t convinced you yet to get a Personal Cabinet, let me dig a little deeper. Why have a Personal Cabinet, and what is the purpose in you life? If you will be honest with yourself, whether you are a person of faith or an atheist, you left to yourself are not enough to make it in life. Some of you just threw something at the screen, but stay with me. Just being transparent with you, I didn’t know how much I didn’t know until I started to get to know other people. As the circle of people you meet throughout the years expand, the more you realize people are super passionate about a lot of things in life which often differ from what you are passionate about. I’m here to tell you, that’s ok. As recent as a few years ago, I thought I had to be an expert at everything. Take the field of technology, for instance. I thought I needed to be a professional photographer, videographer, web developer, producer, sound technician, and lighting engineer. I’ll be honest, I tried, but I quickly realized that people spend their entire lives to become an expert in just one of those fields. Getting back to our topic, you and I need somebody else in our lives besides ourselves to help us. As much as we all like to be self-sufficient, especially as a man, we are much better when we diversify our thoughts and energy by letting other people into our life. The purpose of the Personal Cabinet is to do just that, be allowed and given permission to speak into your life, positively as well as for correction. These people will most likely be the people at your funeral should you die before them, sometimes they might be the ones even carrying your casket!

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee.
John Donne

Selecting Your Cabinet

So you’ve decided you want to have a Personal Cabinet? Awesome! Now how do you go about selecting who will make up your Personal Cabinet? Let me warn you up front, this is going to take time if you do it right. I have always been warned to be really careful who you take advice from when you know you are in a vulnerable moment. So if right now you are in a tough season of life and especially if you are emotionally charged, this might not be the right season for you to pick your cabinet. But if you know you are in a logical state of mind, then proceed further. How do you select your Cabinet of people? Do you walk up to a stranger that is well dressed and say, “Hey would you like to mentor me?” Maybe you would take the approach of knowing who is a wealthy person you interact with frequently and pursue them to speak in your life. I submit to you a few criteria when picking the people who will become the biggest influencers in your life.

Trustworthy — Has the person you are considering inserting into your cabinet proven over time (and when I say over time I do not mean, a few weeks or months) that you can trust them? Can you trust them with your thoughts? Can you trust them with your money? Can you trust them with your family? Can you trust them with your innermost deepest and darkest thoughts?

Dependable — Has this person proven to be counted on in a moment of need? I once heard from an old basketball coach that the greatest ability is dependability.

Values Family — Does the person you might just trust your family with one day provide for and care for their own family? I mean this more than a financial way but in an emotional, physical, financial, and spiritual way.

Manages Time — Tony Robbins is a very quotable person, but one of the most impactful quotes that he said was, “The worst investment a person can ever make is to trade time for money. Because a person can always have more money, but they only have so much time.” Like it or not, we only have so much time on this spinning rock that we call earth. The people that I want to rely on for insight and encouragement place a high priority on the precious commodity of time.

Generous — Often people consider this word to be strictly financial, but there are more ways to express generosity than with money. I want the people in my Personal Cabinet to be generous with their advice, their thoughts, and their intention on speaking into my life constructively and positively.

These are the attributes, but how to you actual select the people? Do you have an awkward phone call one day and say, “Hey, I’d like for you to consider serving on my Personal Cabinet. It’s kind of like a board of directors for a major corporation, but instead of making money and decisions you’ll just be talking to me.” Do you print out a certificate and make them sign it? Do you slit your fingers with a knife and become blood-brothers like they did way back in the day? I would encourage you to just start with a conversation, as hard and weird as it could be especially if you’re a guy, and tell the person how much they mean to you and how grateful you are that they are in your life. From there, it’s up to you. Make it as formal or informal as you would like. That’s the great thing about this cabinet: it’s yours.

The Contents of Your Cabinet

So we have talked about the purpose of the Personal Cabinet and how to select the right people; now for the fun part. What kind of people will make it into your Cabinet? Stop and think about it for a second. Will they be plumbers? Architects? Humanitarians? Pastors? Family members? For the sake of anonymity, I will not give names to the people in my cabinet, but I will discuss the given positions that make up their vocations. In my cabinet, there is a regional vice president of commercial real estate, two youth pastors, two senior managers of a global retail chain, a chief technology officer, a missionary, my father, my father-in-law, and last but certainly not least, my wife. These people come from a diverse background socially, religiously, and economically. The amount of hours of conversation I have had with these people is seriously mind boggling to think about. I have needed these people for advice, for counseling, for perspective in making a tough call, for money, for emotional support, for planning vacations; you name it, and they have been there for me. If you are reading this as a member of my cabinet (and you know who you are), I am forever in your debt. I thank God everyday of my life that you are a part of my life. Without your support and encouragement, I would not be here today.

The Surprising Turn

What? A surprise ending? I know you weren’t expecting it. This entire article has been about having a Personal Cabinet and how THEY can help YOU. More than a hundred times I have thought about the people represented in the list above and that I am truly unworthy to be called their friend. The most surprising thing about having your own Personal Cabinet is that they are YOUR Personal Cabinet. Occasionally you get so close to people, maybe its strictly for selfish purposes, you literally need them in your life for that moment, but something surprising happens. The relationship starts off mainly one sided, you are relying on them for things that they can bring to the table. You need their help and support, you go to them for advice. But then the relationship takes a turn where they start to trust you and start coming to you for support, encouragement, and feedback. You might strictly start in acquisition mode like I did and need people to make you stronger. But mark my word, whether it’s 10 years from now or a month from now, at some point the relationship will become two sided, and you can become just as much of an encouragement to them as they are to you. This truly is some of the most rewarding times I’ve ever had in life, to be a positive force in the people’s lives that I trust most.

So where are you? Do you already have some people in mind you want to trust? Are you ready to start selecting or do you need some more time thinking about what truly would qualify as a right fit for you? Let me know in the comments and I would love to help.