To Tell Your Own Work Life Story — Discover Your Mentors
Most of us would like to inject the wisdom of a mentor into our work lives. As we read the stories of successful individuals describing the impact of these “guiding forces”, we find ourselves feeling a bit left behind.
Real mentors — those that can can shape and re-shape our work lives — are few and far between. To coin an old adage, they “don’t grow on trees”.
On a related note, I happened upon this incredible post by Nancy Duarte, who instructs us how to the tell the stories that matter. She shared techniques that have helped her clients build the stories of their own lives, that engage and motivate others. (The process involves reflecting on people, places and things.) Most of us are challenged to recall the events and conversations that are no longer in the forefront of our minds. Through her process, we might recall those moments and possibly identify those in our lives that have served as mentors — yet we haven’t identified them as such.
She calls these bits and pieces, “latent stories”.
One of Duarte’s techniques involves placing your name in the center of a piece of paper and mapping the connection between people, places and things — ensuring the we describe the dynamic of each. As I began the process, names ended up on the paper that I hadn’t thought of in years. In fact, their positive impact had been buried under a myriad of negative experiences that can hover (and cloud) over more positive experiences. For example, my own schematic revealed a middle school teacher who instilled a sense of pride concerning my strengths in math and science. She encouraged me to make a lasting contribution to the world, although at 13, my wish was simply to be accepted and blend in.
Bingo. I hadn’t really labeled her as a mentor — but there she was. What were the lasting lessons she taught? There were others, I had minimized as well. Those that shared the “one-liners” along the way, that shifted my self-view or path, ever so slightly.
We may think that we do not have a strong a mentoring story to tell.
However, if we explore the past we might just see the individuals, who saw potential within us.
They showed this — by taking the time to share.
It’s all about that story we tell ourselves, isn’t it?
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.