Being a Mentor is About Seeing Yourself as a Mentor

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Please note: While the opinions below are my own, I was compensated by Johnson & Johnson for this post.

In the United States more than 50% of the work force is women. Yet, less than 15% hold corporate board seats within global companies. Organizations that embrace women on their boards enjoy a number of potential advantages, including financial performance and problem-solving capabilities. However, the numbers remain dismally low.

It is clear that we are missing something vital — an unsung element that could possibly help more women reach their potential.

One such element that may be vastly underutilized is mentoring.

Without mentors, meeting our potential can elude us. We might fail to build the mastery and confidence we need, or envision our own potential. While there is ample research to back up the merits of mentoring, we need to pause and reflect on the topic.

Why are so many women seeking mentors — yet cannot find them?

It is time to pause and openly discuss this question.

One great example of elevating the mentorship conversation is Johnson & Johnson.

At Johnson & Johnson, they have a steadfast commitment to the role of mentoring in women’s careers — as they are committed to igniting the power of women to create a healthier tomorrow.  More mentors are stepping forward. Two ideas are central to this initiative. Firstly, mentoring is a valid tool to increase the number of women in management (at Johnson & Johnson this is 43% in the U.S.). Secondly, reaching out to young women in their formative years is critical. Through Johnson & Johnson’s mentorship partnership with Girls Inc., women executives are being paired with high school students who would like to make an impact within their own communities.

Why are mentors so scarce? While we often offer support to initiatives that seem worthy, our directed energy may not fully match our commitment. Not because we do not believe in what we are supporting, but because we are unsure how to move forward.

Check out their video, “Igniting the Power of Women & Girls Through Mentorship,” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NKs-IMDDL0.

Why are mentors so scarce? While we often offer support to initiatives that seem worthy, our directed energy may not fully match our commitment. Not because we do not believe in what we are supporting, but because we are unsure how to move forward.

Becoming a mentor can feel like a daunting task. However, it doesn’t need to be. We can all do more.

The bottom line is this: We hesitate to step forward and mentor women. Yet, mentoring relationships can alter someone’s life and career — serving as a loud, positive internal voice in an often noisy environment.

Strong, empowered women are raised by many.

Addressing the reasons behind our hesitation is vital. Research has pointed to the reluctance concerning time commitments and concerns about appropriate expertise. We need to collectively move past these thresholds. Move beyond our fear of a misstep, when we can do so much that is right.

Let’s pose a collective challenge.

Mentor another woman — a young girl, a student. A less established co-worker. Another woman’s daughter. Your niece. Your neighbor.

Someone who might truly benefit from your knowledge and experience.

A few things to consider:

  • You may not see yourself as a mentor — but you do have that capability. Every time a contributor reaches out to you, it is a signal. A signal that you may be viewed as a mentor. Explore the following questions: How can I help or support this individual today? Is there something I have learned in my journey that may help another woman evolve positively? To help them grow?
  • Mentoring is about small steps. We tend to think of mentoring as an overwhelming, grand commitment. However, it takes a community of people to build a strong career. Small moments can matter. They sum to a notably stronger foundation on which to build a career.
  • Be honest about your own journey. Although it may not feel entirely comfortable, reflect on the moments where you needed guidance and received it (or did not). Use these moments as a guide to help others.
  • Consider sponsorship as well. If you remain hesitant to make the mentorship commitment, consider sponsorship as an alternative. Shine the spotlight on another’s work. Make an introduction. Encourage productive collaboration. Help build stronger networks of expertise.

We do not need justification to nurture another’s talent or recognize a job well done.

Mentoring is about seeing ourselves in a supportive role.

It is about being generous.

Sharing what you know.

Supporting the same inflection points, where you may have needed a boost.

It is about building someone up.

Helping someone see their own potential.

Mentoring is the right dynamic.

You are perfect for the role.

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.

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Not Finding Your Tribe? You Might Be a “Wolf Pack” of One (and That’s Ok)

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Yes, I guess you could say I am a loner, but I feel more lonely in a crowed room

with boring people than I feel on my own. – Henry Rollins

By: Allison McLintick

According to just about everyone, you are supposed to “discover your tribe”.

Oh, that coveted tribe! That sacred group who will naturally “get you” and vibe with your very “essence.” They will “protect” you and explore life’s adventures with you and feed you with their own fingers and…I’ll stop.

My mockery betrays me. (In fact, it even smells a little like resentment.)

However, the truth is this: I’ve discovered that I’m a little bit “wolf pack of one”.

I haven’t found a tribe.

I have also discovered, that I don’t want one.

We are offered contradictory messages 1) Being deeply connected to a like-minded group is the Holy Grail of belonging. 2) only inside that safety, are we then praised for being courageous, independent and self reliant.

Huh?

If however, you are someone who actually prefers to walk alone (as I am) and find yourself outside of a group (yet, self reliant) —  you might be looked at skeptically. In fact, you may be told that you just haven’t found that tribe yet. It may also be decided that you haven’t experienced the real joy of life.

Worse yet, potentially viewed as an unapproachable loaner.

What?

My own intense reaction to the idea of “tribe” seeking, is actually a little laughable. For years, I’ve tricked myself into thinking I was experiencing profound feelings of loss and loneliness because of my “non-tribe” status. I’ve always felt like an outlier, alone in a crowded room.

I have also discovered that tribe after tribe, didn’t fit my vibe. The notion of becoming “tribal” actually made me feel strangled, forced and confined.

I found myself trying to back away.

Not sure if you prefer to be tribe-less? Here are a few things I joyfully observed about myself, being the lone wolf.

Perhaps you’ll relate:

  • Groups fail to energize you. You might hang out with a group and don’t feel like you have anything to contribute to the conversation. It just doesn’t interest you all that much.
  • The topics don’t fit. In many groups, you find the things you want to talk about are things that pretty much no one else wants to talk about. (Frankly, you are a little relieved, because they wouldn’t do your awesome topic any justice.)
  • You avoid the hootenanny. You don’t want to go to Wanderlust with a bus full of people — or discover sand in crevices it should never be in — at the Burning Man festival. (Moreover, another Young Living Oil party and drink wine on a Wednesday night.)
  • “Give me space” is your mantra. You actually love Young Living Oils (I do!,) but you would rather shop online from the privacy of your own home.
  • Just no. Shopping with another person makes you itch.
  • You are not often a “regular”. You walk into a yoga class and everyone stops talking and turns to stare. “Who is that?!” someone asks and everyone shrugs.
  • Your need for contact is “Camel-like”. You intensely enjoy a few really great people and every time you see them you think “I love being with him/her” — even if you don’t see them again for months.
  • You don’t drink the Kool Aid. When people start a conversation and it starts to go a little (or a lot) like “group think” you want to bolt.
  • You are content with doing your own thing. You genuinely do not feel a bit jealous when you see group photos of everyone’s fabulous tribes having great fun posted just about everywhere.
  • You totally, genuinely, love being alone.

For all the tribal folks reading this, please know that tribes are great if that is what you are seeking.

But, not everyone requires one.

If you are like me, try not to automatically feel you are less of a full spirit or missing out of something “sacred”. Finding a tribe may be important to many people. However, that doesn’t mean you are one of them.

Keep doing what makes you feel energized and whole.

Be that wolf pack of one.

As for myself, truth be told — my tribe consists of my son, my daughter and my husband.

Because you know what?

They totally “get” me.

Allison McClintick is a seasoned coach & speaker — specializing in influence and consciousness development. She’s a Mom of 2 (20 years & 6 years), a ridiculously talented house painter, lover of quantum physics and is currently pursuing a PhD in Psychology. To balance all that life, work and play — she’s attempting to “think” more effectively with practiced meditation. She’ll keep us updated.

Live.Work.Think.Play shares observations concerning a wide array of topics from running a company — to the fragrance. It is designed to share lessons learned from a variety of perspectives.

 

 

Career Vision Silence

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Most of us keep our wildest career dreams under wraps.

I’m convinced this is completely normal.

What we value most — is always the most heavily protected.

However, most of us have a story to tell.

When I decided to become a psychologist, I really didn’t know my own mind or what I had to offer. Over the years that picture has become more defined. It has also pivoted away from the original dream that flashed through my mind’s eye at 17.

That is also completely normal.

When we are young, everyone asks about our career “dreams”. Where we want to go, what we would like to contribute.

As we get older — not as much.

That’s where organizations can fall flat. Either managers do not have the time to discuss such things or contributors aren’t encouraged to force the conversation.

The best places to work, get things done. But career vision is always in the corner of their eye. It isn’t ignored. They acknowledge that when work life begins to markedly depart from our vision, we can disengage.

That is why it is critical to share those dreams.

In that way, we can flesh out what is there (or not). In that way we can hammer out a path or at least away to incorporate that passion into our lives.

I challenge you to share your next dream chapter with 3 people.

Consider how that vision can become (at least in part) a reality.

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.

Planning: It’s All How You Look at It

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I’m a planner.

I do not share this fact casually.

In fact, as a “planner” nothing about the way I think or act would likely be deemed “casual”. I like to map out what might go right (and wrong) in any situation. This applies — whether I’m going out for a meal or an interview.

Some might label this as obsessive. Others might call this outright anxiety.

I call it smart. I call it planning to avoid trouble further down the road.

I may not stick to my first or even second rendition of the plan — however, starting with a plan is vital.

I’ve been around the block enough times in both life & work to realize that things can go wrong. (This has more to do with experienced data points, than outright pessimism.) Granted, if you are one of the lucky individuals to experience mostly smooth sailing and very few glitches — great. Bravo. Hooray. Wing it.

However, in my mind, a good plan beats luck every single time.

I feel the planning process helps us protect the goals & dreams that are most vital. It helps us see what we might lose. It helps us move forward.

I’m all about parables and a positive attitude. I’m all about “attracting” the right vibrations. But, I will stick with hard core planning every single time.

Call it what you will.

It just feels right.

Are you a planner? Do you like to plan the ups and the downs?

More on the topic from Allison Rim:

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.

Job Interview Jitters: Try A Dose of Mindfullness

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When we lose ourselves in a stressful moment — a workplace situation can quickly escalate from challenging to completely overwhelming.

For many of us, job interviews are a common scenario that can trigger strong responses; anticipation, excitement, trepidation, even extreme anxiety.

If you’ve sat in the interview chair, you are likely aware of the struggles we all face to remain calm and focused. As much as we might attempt to stay composed our minds can race out of control, just like a runaway train. Managing ourselves through this stressful dynamic is key.

Could the concept of mindfulness possibly help all of us through the challenge of an interview? Recent research tells us that it can.

Tough workplace scenarios can cause our “fight of flight” response to kick in — and job interviews qualify. Labeled “Amygdala Hijacks”, by psychologist Daniel Goleman, these moments are characterized by a neurological process where our “rational brain” (Neo-cortex) becomes overpowered by our emotional brain. This renders us in a weakened position to deal with many situations effectively.

Mindfulness — is defined as, “The psychological state where you focus on the events of the present moment.” — and allows us to observe the events of our lives from a safer distance, without necessarily reacting in that moment. One key element, is the notion of equanimity, or “non-reactivity” to the events happening around us. Mindfulness tells us to pay attention and acknowledge both one’s inner experience and the outer world, without labeling what is occurring as good or bad. It allows us to absorb what is going on around us.

Discussed at length, concerning its impact on both our psychological and physical well-being (See here), mindfulness can help us remain balanced in many situations that might normally derail us. One recent study links mindfulness to effective workplace behavior. The research revealed that mindfulness may help with roles that require a series of decisions in quick succession — not unlike the multiple decisions/responses we face during a job interview. Managing our automatic responses, and re-focusing that energy toward staying composed is key.

How might mindfulness help us during an interview? Above all, you want to represent yourself accurately. Regrets concerning what you may have forgotten to mention, (or did mention and didn’t mean to reveal) can prove critical. During interviews we can become overwhelmed and “lose our heads”, losing focus on the goals of the conversation. (You might also find yourself either rushing ahead or reviewing your last answer, for example.) Above all, if you fail to remain fully present, you may miss important conversational cues that will help you to represent yourself well.

We needn’t wait for our next interview to develop techniques to become more mindful. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Practice the art of “micro-meditation. These are short periods of time to stop (perhaps when you feel yourself becoming anxious) and become fully present in the “here and now”. For example, while waiting for the interview to begin (seems these things are always delayed), utilize the following acronym taught at Google: S.B.N.R.R. — Stop. Breathe. Notice. Reflect. Respond.
  • Tame the “inner voice”. Don’t let an inner monologue take over during the interview. (For many of us this is negative.) Be aware of a “less than supportive” inner dialogue that might rear its ugly head. Consciously interrupt it and replace it with a less judgmental voice.
  • Refocus on your ultimate goal. Remind yourself of the purpose of the interview: to accurately portray yourself as a contributor. We all have topic “triggers” that cause us to lose focus and react. Monitor your reaction to these topics, and remind yourself to stay ahead of your usual response pattern.
  • Stay in the moment. While we can’t halt the interview for a quick meditation break — we can silently “tap ourselves on the shoulder” to remind ourselves to remain fully present. When you feel your mind racing ahead or meandering back to something already said, mentally pause and “tap”. (As suggested here, plant a reminder to help you re-calibrate, such as wearing your watch upside down.)
  • Bring along a mental list. Enter the interview with 3 or 4 critical points that you wish to leave with the interviewer. Use mindfulness techniques to pause, circle back and ensure that these key points are brought into the conversation.

How do you stay calm and focused during an interview? Share your strategies.

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.

To Move Forward — Be Constructively Critical (of Yourself)

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We all like to think that we do things well — and a strong belief that we have the skills to succeed helps us in most workplace situations. However, there can be unwanted “glare” that can create a gap in self-knowledge.

In fact, our own confidence can impede us from looking at our own behavior with a constructively critical eye.

Succumbing to bias concerning our own workplace strengths is an easy dead end to face. Moreover, the areas that we most value in ourselves (and derive the most satisfaction) — can be the most heavily protected. As a result, we are less likely to look for opportunities to examine our skills critically. In fact, research has shown that we tend to view our own skills more positively than our peers see us. So it is possible to be unaware that a problem may be on the horizon.

Organizations that have enjoyed success — can blindly stop looking toward the future. People that have proven expertise, can also stop looking for avenues to grow. It is a looming weakness that we all should consider. It is important to realize that meeting our goals, does not ensure our continued competence. Only a keen eye and professional development, can help us stay in the groove.

So I’ll pose these questions

  1. What skills do you personally value most at work
  2. Have you paused to critically examine your performance in these areas recently?
  3. Can you identify an element that could improve?
  4. How would you improve? What actions would you take?

I challenge you to look at your own skills critically and find a strategy to stay “skill healthy” longer-term.

What did you identify?

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist and workplace strategist. 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.

The Very Difficult Art of Letting Go

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Photo Credit: jzaccordesigns.com

Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go. –  Hermann Hesse

Research has shown that our minds burns 20% of our required energy — even though it represents only 2% of body mass. Even at rest our brains remain quite active. The quest for coveted energy is endless, as our minds are continually working.

In a sense, wasting energy is squandering our own potential. Especially when it is of our own making. Most of us have experienced an impasse where we need to leave something behind. We may feel that the rewards for a time investment are not realized, or that we simply feel drained.

Whether in work or life — something needs to go.

How you would describe your own personality in this regard? Do you find it easy to let go? Or are you challenged to do so? If you lean toward the stubborn and notably inflexible end of the continuum (as I do), the process can be arduous. Although tenacity can come in quite handy, problems emerge when we fail to revise an inflexible stance. (Personally, this applies just as easily to coffee machines or career paths.)

I freely admit, I am challenged to let go; of people and things and goals and dreams. To people because I continue see the best in them. To things, because I just cannot imagine a better option. To goals, because I’ve often made a firm mental commitment. To dreams, simply because they are dreams.

However, all of this hanging on doesn’t always serve us well. It can bring a fog that clouds new opportunities and fuels bitterness. But turning away and leaving these things behind can be challenging. (For some, this can even bring a certain sadness.)

Letting go of people, things and even dreams that define yesterday, can be quite good thing. If you wait too long, an exhaustion that can begin to dominate. However, it requires reflection and practice.

On a very basic level, we must change our outlook concerning the process. Here are a few thoughts on what letting go is and isn’t:

Letting go isn’t a defeat.

It does not signal a failure on your part.

It does mean you have committed your best effort — and the outcomes/rewards weren’t there.

It is about moving your energies to greener pastures.

It is about being agile.

It can build resilience.

It can build a sense of adventure; a certain hope and confidence in the future.

It can mark the moment of a new beginning.

There is an art to letting go.

Mastering it, means we can be ready for the next chapter.

Is letting go challenging for you? Have you mastered the art? Share your experiences.

More ideas on letting go:

Dr. Marla Gottschalk writes about life and career as a LinkedIn Influencer. Her posts have also appeared at various outlets worldwide — including US News & World Report, Forbes, Quartz and The World Economic Forum.

Live.Work.Think.Play shares observations concerning a wide array of topics from running a company — to the perfect fragrance. It is designed to share lessons learned from a variety of perspectives.