What Would John Wayne Do?

The Board of Advisors SUMMARY: Need perspective? Why not create your own Fantasy Board of Advisors?

The other day I needed some additional perspective on my current activities, and I found myself staring blankly at the wall of pictures in my office. I put up these pictures a year or two ago, and it’s comprised of close family and friends. Its purpose is to remind me of the importance of community and that I am part of it; I find this to be rather reassuring, and it helps me set priorities. However, when it is time for action I usually end up thinking about what I would do given my limited perspective. As it happens I think I’m rather good at it, but I have to admit that there are limits to what my System of One can achieve by itself. But what if I created a new photo wall of heroes that I could look up to? The idea fell out of something that The Communicatrix and I were jabbering about on Google Wave as we were discussing Pam Slim’s Personal Jedi Council concept. I loved the idea, but I was finding it difficult to think of people to fill the seats on my Council. So instead, I cobbled together a rag-tag assemblage of people–some fictional, some real, and some dead–that I could imagine asking for advice. Thus was born my Board of Fantasy Advisors. I scoured the Internet for interesting photos that captured what I liked about each person, and put them in small wooden frames. It’s also nice to have them online, so I combined some workI I was doing with the sexy-free Flash-based Simple Viewer and made a Gallery of Awesome Peeps.

Here’s who has made the cut so far:

  • John Wayne, American Icon – The original good guy cowboy, keeps one eye always on the big picture and the other on the true prize that others have overlooked.
  • Douglas Adams, British Author, Humorist and Essayist – made a good living from his humor, warmth, and insatiable curiosity. Entertained millions through his writing, and got away with a lot of missed publishing deadlines. And, he never seemed to lose sight of the humanity behind science and modern life, framing it all with his insightful absurdities.
  • Lorelai Gilmore, fictional TV character played by Lauren Graham – Snarky single mom who eschewed family wealth to raise her daughter Rory outside of it. Sometimes lets her insecurities get in the way of acting when she should, but always she conspires to be herself. She’s strengthened by a strong community of oddball characters.
  • Mary Poppins, magical character played by Julie Andrews – Always knows best!
  • Ellen Degeneres, comedian and talk show host – Her public personal exudes a goofy and gentle wit coupled with a dangerously-sharp mind. Seems to have made a deliberate choice to keep things positive and uplifting.
  • Tina Fey, writer, actress – Under the funny self-deprecating nerd image, she seems to be a strong individual that has a real grip on Life’s many small truths. She then plays with them like a cat stalking a dozen mice.
  • Judd Hirsch, Actor – In every performance and interview I’ve seen him in, he’s always struck me as a good guy. He seems like someone who’s worked hard to earn wisdom and has chosen to be incredibly generous with what he’s learned.
  • Admiral William “Bill” Adama, fictional commander of the colony fleet in Battlestar Galactica as played by Edward James Olmos – Projects incredible gravitas, leadership, and strength under the most crushing pressure, sustained by the heart of a warrior and an even deeper humanity.
  • President Laura Roslin, fictional civilian leader of the 12 Colonies in Battlestar Galactica as played by Mary MacDowell – She’s the caring and deceptively-tough civillian leader of the human fleet fleeing the Cylons, is every bit as strong as Admiral Bill Adama. She’s not above getting her hands dirty for the causes she believes in.
  • Agent Olivia Dunham, fictional FBI agent on the TV series Fringe, as played by Anna Torv – Principled, dedicated, steely-eyed, and highly-trained, she is nevertheless a bit of a loose cannon. Still, you’d trust her with your life.
  • Agent Sealy Booth and Dr. Temperance Brennan, fictional pairing of FBI agent with Forensic Anthropologist, respectively played by David Boreanaz and Emily Deschannel – Sealy is the heart-driven boy scout and Temperance is the logic-driven scientist. Despite their extreme differences in working methods and personality, they complete each other.
  • Oprah Winfrey, talk show host, actress, and influential American media mogul — An accomplished, principled, warm-hearted woman who is yet highly ambitious and competitive. Built her own billion-dollar media empire and seems to have somehow retained her soul.
  • Shelley Winters, fictional character and mostly do-gooder drawn by my favorite webcomic writer/artist John Allison — She is preternaturally and determinedly cheerful, fortfied with more scoops of whimsy than strictly necessary. Adventure is drawn to her like sand to a jellyroll on the beach. Her advice as the 13th board member is best unheeded, but is often somewhat clairvoyant.

I’m not exactly sure how I came up with this group of 12 13 people, but they each represent some archetypical value that is important to me. And it’s important to note that each archetype is based on unsubstantiated belief; these people could be completely unlike how I imagine them to be, but since they are representing IDEALS, I don’t think it’s a problem so long as I maintain a clear distinction between the real person and my archetypical presumptions. Besides, it’s fun to look at.

Filtering my thoughts through those of another person—even an imaginary one—can come in handy. It broadens my perspective in ways I ordinarily would not have considered. And, these are all people, fictional or otherwise, that I would not to let down due to my own inaction.

Go ahead and check out The Board. The link that is in the upper right corner of the screen points to th URL of the site providing my source photos. I’d love to hear suggestions for people I’ve missed.