I See You -- Thoughts on Workplace Mentoring

In the movie Avatar, people greet each other with "I See You," In the Na'vi language.

"To see" is a cornerstone of Na'vi philosophy. "It is to open the mind and heart to the present, and embrace Pandora [their planet] as if encountering it for the very first time."

I think about the scenes from the movie and the words, I See You a lot when I think of mentoring others or how good it feels to be seen by others. The opportunity to be one's authentic evolving self.

People in their work want to be seen, but it often feels less than safe as we race on the hamster wheel of productivity. We carry things about ourselves in a teflon zippered luggage that rarely gets opened. Many hide behind computer screens and tablets. It can be a lonely place where we all spend more time at than with our own families and friends. But does it have to be? No.

I See You:
-- You are a mother first, a daughter, a wife, a boyfriend, LGBT, happy, religious, first born, sick today, a survivor...

I See You:
-- You are an artist, a comedian, a computer scientist, an athlete, suffering a challenge, celebrating an anniversary, grieving a death, driven, on fire with a new entrepreneurial idea.

I See You:
-- You had a professional failing and feel knocked down, or one of your greatest breakthroughs.

And you see me too or the parts of me I am willing to share at work. We all have so many more commonalities that we realized!

A mentor is often someone who is willing to see where you are now, who you are now, and where you want to be. You might have personal mentors and professional mentors. You hopefully also have a sponsor (professional advocate and champion). You might even have five or more mentors for different areas of growth:

1] To teach you the ropes of your job and how to work through internal politics and how to measure success. How to build the skills needed as your work evolves.

2] To help you with your spiritual goals. To help you let go of control and negative spiral thinking with understanding that there is a higher power. Things will get better.

3] To share with you how you can fall down and get back up, resiliency in marriage, at work, in dating, in your key personal and professional relationships.

4] To model aging and all the changes we all go through. To understand change. To meditate and find more serenity inside.

5] To challenge you to do more, be more, execute more, to let go of fear of failure, to not obsess about what others think, to be entrepreneurial at work and in life.

To encourage you to branch out, have more fun and get off the hamster wheel for 30 minutes. To have coffee chat with a peer, collaborate on a fun assignment, or share a joke with your boss.

P.S. A workplace mentoring program study we learned about from our friends at Chronus showed that at Sun Microsystems mentors were promoted six times more. Mentees five times more. Retention rates were higher for both groups five years later. This study was conducted by Wharton-Gartner.