King Arthur is a name synonymous with leadership, lion-heartedness and action. His legacy is lasting and inspiring, and his Sounding Board – the Knights of the Round Table – is legendary.
“This is the oath of a Knight of King Arthur’s Round Table and should be for all of us to take to heart. I will develop my life for the greater good. I will place character above riches, and concern for others above personal wealth, I will never boast, but cherish humility instead, I will speak the truth at all times, and forever keep my word, I will defend those who cannot defend themselves, I will honor and respect women, and refute sexism in all its guises, I will uphold justice by being fair to all, I will be faithful in love and loyal in friendship, I will abhor scandals and gossip-neither partake nor delight in them, I will be generous to the poor and to those who need help, I will forgive when asked, that my own mistakes will be forgiven, I will live my life with courtesy and honor from this day forward.”
In Part 3 of the series on taking action, I highlighted the importance of getting support and touched on the idea of a Sounding Board. You can think of a Sounding Board as the Round Table that King Arthur formed to get advice from his Knights on how to rule the kingdom.
Who Should You Knight as a Member of Your Round Table?
Every successful person – whether royalty or not – recruits at least one of the following four key people for his or her Sounding Board:
The Wise Elder
- Serves as a model of success for you because he or she has mastered what you are trying to accomplish and is now in a position to teach you how to do it yourself.
- Is the keeper of wisdom and stories and shares this information with you freely.
- Supports you through your life journey by caring about your decisions, progress and challenges.
- Doesn’t tell you what you need, but asks insightful questions to help you find the answers for yourself.
- A generation ago, people consulted with wise elders regularly. In the more disconnected society of today, however, we consult with our elders less and less frequently, somehow marginalizing the role of the Wise Elders. Don’t miss out on this wealth of support for achieving your goals. Identify your Wise Elders and invite them in.
The Committed Listener
- Permits you to be transparent
- Listens deeply without judging you.
- Gives you the dignity of your story without attempting to fix you.
- Loves you as you are.
- Stays focused on your needs.
- Is genuinely interested in you and wants to see you succeed.
- Isn’t in it to be loved; just happens to be loved because of who he or she is.
Sometimes we just need to be heard because being heard is being validated. When we have a Committed Listener as a member of our Sounding Board, it is affirming. Gone are any feelings of isolation, fear, or trepidation just by simply sharing your story with this supportive person. When I am in the role of coach, my number one objective is to listen, and then ask questions. Your Committed Listener will operate in the same fashion, supporting your ability to take action and realize your dreams.
- Inspires you to act and take risks.
- Is not afraid to push you.
- Is willing to give you a nudge in the right direction.
- Always tells you the truth, plain and simple.
- Believes in you and encourages you to step forward.
Perhaps you can recall times in your life when you checked in with a mentor – someone who can answer the question “what would you do in this situation?” The catalyst is this sort of person – the mentor who can listen to your struggles and then give sound, action-oriented advice. To add the most effective Catalyst to your Sounding Board, choose someone that you can talk to easily and that you trust.
The Thinking Partner
- Supports you with ideas and strategies to achieve your goals.
- Is an idea generator, thinks outside the box, and is not limited to the orthodox way of doing things.
- Sees possibilities.
- Does not worry about whether his or her ideas are perfect or not.
- Is not overly invested in what you ultimately decide to do.
- Does not try to control you.
Talking with a good Thinking Partner is an exercise in mind expansion, and sometimes the ideas that come up may seem a little wacky. This member of your Sounding Board is critical to thinking of all the possibilities available to you so you don’t stay stuck. You are always at choice about whether you want to accept their ideas. The effective Thinking Partner is perfectly supportive whether you take their idea or not, so don’t feel bad if they don’t take his or her advice. You only have to be willing to listen, acknowledge his or her contribution, and consider it worthwhile.
Where and When Is Your Round Table?
Benefiting from your Sounding Board doesn’t necessarily mean scheduling a meeting around a table as Kind Arthur did with the Knights of the Round Table. For the purposes of getting the support you need to take action, your Sounding Board can be a virtual organization, with regular one-on-one check-ins between you and the members of your Sounding Board as you navigate your plan of action. Your interactions may be face-to-face, by Skype, or over the phone. Check in with your sounding board as often as the need arises.
So What Is King Arthur’s Secret?
So here’s the big secret to King Arthur’s success, and the reason that most of the people who read this post will not put this advice into action. In order to get the support you need from your Sounding Board, you will need to ask for help. And the fact is, opening ourselves up and asking for help is difficult for a lot of us. This is especially true when we are sharing something as private as our dreams and vision for the future. We are afraid they will get shot down. We are afraid of being vulnerable. We are afraid of feeling weak.
But King Arthur knew that without getting help – the right kind of help 0 his kingdom would be doomed. So he chose his Knights carefully and you should, too. Look beyond the obvious choices. Your spouse may not be a good member of your sounding board. Think carefully about the characteristics of Wise Elders, Committed Listeners, Catalysts, and Thinking Partners, then choose accordingly.
So go ahead, ask for help. King Arthur did it. And now with your Sounding Board, you can, too.
Will You Share Your Thoughts?
How do you get the support you need to take action?
How could you benefit from forming a Sounding Board of your own?
What people in your life have inspired you as Wise Elders, Committed Listeners, Catalysts, or Thinking Partners?