We were fortunate to have Cathy Scharetg, VP of Operations at Intero Real Estate, Director of Women Wise & Worthy and valued OneUpOneDown mentor, run a webinar on the topic ‘ The Essence of Connection’.
In this webinar, Cathy introduced us to the concept of image management vs essence management. It is a profound concept that addresses the ability of some mentors to get right to the heart of what their mentee needs at that point in time, with results that are simply and profoundly transformational.
If you have the time, I highly recommend watching the full video as Cathy does an exceptional job of explaining the concepts with stories and observations from her own life.
If you aren’t able to watch the full video at this time, this blog captures some of the key takeouts. All credit for this content goes to Cathy Scharetg.
Comparing image and essence management
The concept of image and essence management relates to how a person shows up to connect with another person, and what they are focusing on managing – their own image or the essence of the relationship.
If a person is thinking about themselves from the perspective of “I should be” or “I need to be”, this is image management, as they are comparing themselves to an image of how they should come across. When instead, a person is entirely focused on understanding the needs of the other person, in this case, the mentee, without thought of their own self-image, this is what Cathy described as the outcome of essence management.
To dive a little deeper and apply these concepts, here are some examples that you may relate to, either in your role as a mentor or other areas in life.
In many situations, a person may have a perception of themselves and how they should behave in particular roles. This is an image they have created for themselves, which is largely influenced by their beliefs about certain roles they play. They may have an image of how they should be when they show up for work, how they want to be perceived by friends, they may also have an image of how they think they should be perceived as a mentor or a mentee for that matter.
When this person shows up in these relationships with an image of how they should behave, look and sound, they are judging themselves from the perspective of how other people will think of them, and adjusting their behaviours accordingly. This is image management.
“Image management is when I’m more concerned about what you think about me, than what you are saying” –Cathy Scharetg
When the ideas a person has about how they should behave fall away and instead they are fully present for the person they are connecting with, this is what Cathy describes as Essence Management. The mind is not focused on what should be said and done, it’s focused on listening to this person, and responding to their needs with the relevant wisdom and experiences.
You will likely have experienced both of these states, one when you are thinking about yourself from the perspective of your image, the other when you forget yourself and instead are just focused on the person you are connecting with at that moment. This later state could be described as being in flow with the person you are engaging with. Self-consciousness falls away and the result is a deep and authentic connection.
This requires allowing yourself to go beyond thinking about the role you am playing as a mentor and into a state where you can be fully present.
Being able to get into this state on cue takes time and practice, like any other skill. If you’ve practiced meditating for a long period of time, for example, you will know that it can take weeks or months of following a guided practice before you effectively meditate without the guidance.
The question becomes how to get to this state as a mentor.
How does a mentor get beyond image management and into essence management?
As Cathy eloquently put it in the webinar, you don’t move beyond so much as “dropping the rock”.
We all have phases in the day when we are more concerned with the dialogue in our own head than we are with the person in front of us, not because we’re bad people, just because that’s the way we’re wired as humans.
When it comes time to be a mentor, being present requires getting in a state of mind where you are there for the mentee, you are with them and you’re present to what is going on for them.
As Cathy suggested, there are ways to help a person become wilfully present for the other person they are engaging with and silencing the chatter of our own thoughts. A quick practice that you can use to be more present is centred breathing for a few minutes before your session.
General practices for creating space, such as mindfulness and meditation are useful practices that flow into all areas of life. We cover more about the benefits and practice of meditation with our webinar with Bette Chen.
“If we have a product in mentoring, our product is presence”Cathy Scharetg
If what was shared in this blog resonated with you, I highly recommend watching the recording of the webinar, not only for the wisdom that Cathy bestowed on us but also because she really does practice what she speaks of. You will witness her ability to connect with the people on the call on a deep level, which left us feeling quite elated after the session.
It only seems right to conclude this article with the following words shared by Cathy in the session and to re-emphasise our deep gratitude for her time, and the time of the other wonderful women who are part of our community. Together we are creating something special.
As mentors, the first gift we give our mentee is presence. This is the honest witnessing of inner gifts of the individual we are mentoring and space for these gifts and ideas to take form.
The second gift is the ability to reflect back to the individual the real-life capability they already have, to make a lasting difference in their own life by making decisions based on new insights and a deeper understanding of themselves.”– Cathy Scharetg