The Boardroom of the Self: Who’s in Charge of You?

Using a boardroom analogy to understand ourselves and how we make choices.

Posted Oct 16, 2020

In a typical corporate boardroom setting, a range of senior leadership officers is present, such as the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer, and Chief Legal Officer. Each has a duty to ensure their perspective is heard and that it informs the overall direction of the company.

The means by which we make choices or set upon a given course of action is not too dissimilar to a boardroom set up. Our choices and behaviours are often influenced by various, and in some cases competing, “inner perspectives,” which are put forward by the different “senior leadership officers” who represent the core physical, psychological, and spiritual processes that make us who we are.

The following outlines “who’s who” in the boardroom of the self, as well the key role that each board member performs.

Dr William Van Gordon
Boardroom Membership Key
Source: Dr William Van Gordon

Chief Body Officer (CBO)

The CBO’s primary role is to ensure that the body is as comfortable as possible. From the CBO’s perspective, it is vital the body remains well-fed, well-watered, rested, clean, and warm. The CBO will swiftly shout up if there is any form of physical discomfort, pain, or illness, or if there is anything interfering with the healthy functioning of the body.

However, the CBO tends to focus on the short-term comfort and needs of the body, rather than the long-term implications of the actions they recommend. For example, the CBO might opt for an extra serving of tasty dessert or staying comfortable on the sofa, without considering the consequences of gaining weight or remaining sedentary.

Chief Sexual Needs Officer (CSNO)

The CSNO works closely with the CBO, but their role is exclusively concerned with the satisfaction of sexual needs. The CSNO will be more or less active depending on factors such as access and exposure to potential sexual partners, general comfort and appeal of surroundings, temperature, stress levels, age, illness, and level of alcohol consumption.

The CSNO is typically somewhat sensation-seeking and urge-driven, and will sometimes team up with the CAEO as part of ensuring sexual needs are met. However, the CSNO can be persuaded by the CRO to calm a sexual urge, or channel it in a particular way with a view to maintaining or fostering a meaningful long-term relationship.

Chief Adventure and Engagement Officer (CAEO)

The CAEO values opportunities for being creative, new experiences, exploring new environments, and remaining mentally stimulated. They advocate endeavours such as learning new skills and knowledge, doing paid or unpaid work, travelling, trying new food, playing sports, exercise, engaging in hobbies, and using new technologies. They also value pleasant social encounters and meeting new people, and will liaise closely with the CRO in this context.

The CAEO might also work with the CSNO as part of seeking out new sexual experiences or encounters. However, the CAEO’s intolerance of boredom isn’t always understood by the likes of the CFRO, particularly when the CAEO is in favour of spending large amounts of money as part of finding adventure or entertainment.

Chief Relationship Officer (CRO)

The CRO advocates meaningful relationships with others. This might include relationships with friends, family members, work colleagues, and sexual partners. In general, the CRO places limited value on being alone, although they may acknowledge the merits of some occasional alone time so long as this doesn’t become prolonged or overly frequent.

Emotions such as love, recognition, awe, empathy, jealousy, rejection, and shame all fall within the domain of the CRO. The CRO stays in regular contact with all of the other boardroom members, but this varies depending on the context. For example, the CRO might be engaged in dialogue with the CAEO and CSNO regarding finding a new partner, but might also be talking with the CSO about opportunities for being compassionate.

The CRO will also normally see it as their role to apply pressure on the CBO to ensure that the body remains in good condition, thus maximising its attractiveness to others.

Chief Finance and Resources Officer (CFRO)

While the CBO is concerned with meeting the immediate needs of the body, the CFRO adopts a more forward-thinking perspective and strives to ensure the availability of the means and resources needed to live comfortably.

Examples of matters that fall within the CFRO’s domain would be whether the individual’s accommodation is suitable for the short and long term, whether it’s time to buy or upgrade a car, and whether there is sufficient money to pay for things such as material possessions, holidays, medical care and future living needs. The CFRO may also factor in the financial and material needs of family members or other individuals as part of their role.

Chief Psychology Officer (CPO)

A good way to think of the role of the CPO is as being similar to a CEO in a corporate setting. The CEO receives information from each of the other senior leadership officers and uses this to implement board decisions that are in the best interests of the corporation. However, the CEO might also disagree and have their own view in respect of another boardroom member’s work area.

In a similar manner, the CPO receives information from each of the other members that comprise the boardroom of the self, and this is then digested and rationalised to decide on the best course of action. If a situation was to arise where, for example, the CAEO proposed an early morning bike ride while the CBO preferred to remain warm in bed, the CEO would arbitrate accordingly.

Similar to how a corporate CEO might have one or several personal assistants to support them, the CPO has a number of “support assistants” to help them perform their duties. Some examples of these support assistants include thinking, attention, memory, emotion regulation, perception, metacognition (thinking about thinking), creativity, introspection, problem-solving and self-awareness.

However, although the CPO is in a good position to evaluate all available information and decide on the best course of action, their decision-making competency and well-being can be compromised in certain circumstances. Examples might be when a very strong message of tired or hungry is being circulated by the CBO, the CRO is advocating falling head over heels in love, the CSNO is in a particularly demanding mood, or the functioning of some of the CPO’s support assistants has become impaired for one reason or another.

Chief Spiritual Officer (CSO)

The CSO is always present in the boardroom of self but their influence and activity levels vary considerably between individuals. The CSO’s perspective can be incredibly persuasive, and in some cases, they can even take over from the CPO as the executive or most senior boardroom member. If the CSO assumes a dominant boardroom role in this respect, it can fundamentally change the extent to which other boardroom members have their voices heard. For example, the CSO might decide to reject some of the requests of the CAEO, CFRO, and CSNO in favour of a period of inner searching and cultivating mental calm.

However, the voice of the CSO can also be easily drowned out by the other boardroom members. In such instances, years or even decades can pass without the CSO having their opinion heard.