“I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass
A colleague I worked with in South Africa recently passed away post an extended battle with cancer. I knew her to be an exceptionally hard worker, dedicated to her role in training & development of staff, an avid listener with a keen sense of humour. She was popular and well liked by her fellow colleagues. We spoke almost daily as our roles were quite intertwined. Her family posted their eulogy on her Facebook page on the day of her memorial and of course it showed up on my Facebook feed. It was a beautiful eulogy of course, but what struck me almost instantly was that what I knew of her was maybe 10% of what I was now reading in her eulogy!
Although we worked closely almost every day for a period of 18 months, I only knew the ‘work side’ of Tricia. Reading through her eulogy I learnt that Tricia was an avid horseman with a passion for the ethical treatment and care of racehorses. It further made mention of her talents in crocheting and craft – something she was really good at and a talent she transformed into a little sideline business. Of course it spoke to the side of Tricia I knew as well, her love for people, dedication to work and her passion to make a difference in the workplace – but I realised that there were so much more to her that I would’ve never known had it not been for the eulogy.
This got me thinking a little bit about GSL and its people. What do we really know about each other outside of what we show one another as our ‘GSL side’? In one of my earlier blogs I spoke about wholeness and the importance of looking after our whole selves: body, mind and soul. So if we stick to the theme of wholeness, then of course there’s so much more to us than only our ‘GSL sides’!
Now you know when I’m in thinking mode I like challenging my theories against what’s out there on the ‘great internets’. So I hit a bit of research and didn’t have to dig to deep before I came across Charles Horton Cooley’s Looking Glass Self theory.
Charles says: “Perception Is Reality: Through the Looking-Glass Self…individuals develop their concept by observing how they are perceived by others”
AHA!!! I thought.
It confirmed it for me. We observe, we look, we watch. This inputs into our perception of what is needed to fit in. We adjust and we become what is needed. Whether that’s in a particular conversation, in a role or in a relationship. Sometimes, it’s a match and we find a kindred spirit to match with, the perfect role or relationship or conversation. We can be ourselves, our true selves and we can show everything about ourselves because we trust, so we feel safe.
But sometimes it’s not a match and for some reason we feel that we have to be something or someone else. We don’t disclose our other side, for whatever reason. We become what other’s view us to be.
In GSL we have many colleagues and we are constantly growing and expanding. We don’t often get the opportunity to know all the faces – there are so many, let alone each other’s personal attributes, character, interests, hobbies and special features. We often only show each other our ‘GSL side’.
I thought back to my interactions with Tricia. It saddened me that I valued her as a committed and dedicated colleague only. That I never took the time to delve into her personal values and attributes. I felt cheated out of an opportunity to know a truly great ‘whole’ person!
So I’ve decided to challenge myself and others a little moving forward. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be working closely with a few others that have also identified a similar need. Only last week Olivia shared some thoughts about her findings and experiences and ways of overcoming possible barriers. It made me feel so good to know that these little quandaries were not only my own!
Our mission for the next month? To actively build on infusing trust into all our relationships. Trust brings about confidence. Confidence to speak openly because we feel safe in our environment.
We will aim to find different ways of making our teams and staff feel that we honor their ‘whole selves’ not only their ‘GSL side’. To listen with keen interest when a colleague engages about their weekend or their personal goals. To develop platforms for our teams that will motivate actively sharing about themselves, their life experiences, their cultures, interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes.
What a beautiful match it could be if our ‘whole selves’ felt truly comfortable and accepted for who we are, even when we are at work!