Mentors and Getting Closer to Our “Real”


This morning as I drank my coffee, I listened to Eddie Vedder singing “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter in a Small Town”. It is a haunting melody about life and thoughts and the passage of time. As my husband passed by, the music caught his attention.

“Who’s singing?”, he asked. “Pearl Jam”, I said. “I thought that was Eddie Vedder”, he replied. “Such a great vocalist, it’s a shame he is so studioized.”

Of course, he was joking — as Vedder was essentially performing alone with his guitar. But this led me to think about how we present ourselves everyday in the workplace. Are we “studioized”? With all of the talk about authenticity and transparency, are we really “real”? How does this affect our forward progress?

In the course of my work, I concentrate on the stories of work life and career. Of course I believe that work is an integral component of an individual’s life, but the process of finding the best path is often wrought with challenges and emotions. However, when you get to the core of it all, work is all about reaching your potential and hoping to find a bit of fulfillment there. In my opinion, the best part of work — is when the “real” you is at the root of success.

How do we become a closer representation of our “real” selves at work? This seems like a complicated question — yet it might be surprisingly simple to answer; Admit to being human and find a guide. Seek a mentor — an advocate — a sounding board. An individual that will help you explore both your strengths and weaknesses, and inch closer to that “real” you.

I am a great believer in mentoring. Mentoring can open our minds and envision who we can be, and what we can accomplish.

So, I recommend looking for that mentor with great conviction. Use all of the tools available to you, to find that individual. Expose them to the individual you would really like to become at work. Learn to listen to the inner voice that directs you to points unknown, and explore those thoughts with a mentor. Through this process, we might learn to trust, our single, toughest critic — ourselves.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist. You can also find her on Twitter and Linkedin.