Find your mission

By Doris Hofmeister

In January I was invited to have a workshop at the WU Executive Academy Vienna. The topic was about leadership career development, "How to identify your next step?".

When preparing for the session the first thing I did was change the title to: "How to identify your mission." After spending 20 years working with executives in professional life, I have learned that you really only find out about that "right next step" in your professional career when you work out what will challenge and enrich you longer term.

At the Executive Academy about 40 participants came from different backgrounds, ranging from Marketing to IT and coming from as far afield as Spain, Russia and Mexico. It was fascinating to see again the power of networking - as these participants who did not know each other started to connect and create opportunities. An easy exercise of mine I have learned works well, is just moderating a structured exchange between attendees. Sure enough, in not time the knowledge and ideas started to flow.

Values first

Another powerful exercise we completed was to identify participants own values and beliefs. Is the profession I am striving for the wish of someone else or is it really what I want? What are my values and how do I want to spend my time? The exercise "wheel of life" helps to find first insights. The wheel of life is a simple but powerful tool that helps you visualize all the important areas of your life at once. It is often used by life coaches and career coaches to give their clients a "bird's eye" view of their lives.


As often, it was also important to challenge the participants regarding their expectation after finishing their MBA studies. After all, we all know that it is still track record, personality and individual contribution that counts - and not only an impressive academic title. Whilst MBA's are needed for certain professions, it is the sum of our capabilities and potential that really define success. And these days, the network you have and bring to a role is also critical. So the type of networking as done during this event is extremely important too – not just to learn but to increase your potential. As Shawn Achor describes in his excellent book "Big Potential", the small potential is achieved alone and BIG POTENTIAL is achieved with others (S. Achor, 2018, Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being)

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Circle of influence

Often a change of company is not necessarily needed. It is important to step out of your comfort zone and ask yourself: What can I change in my current position for the better? What can I influence? "How can I develop my network and so my potential?


Confirmed by Barbara Stöttinger, Dean of WU Executive Academy, who said: I love my job, but I also always followed my passion and not necessarily strict career paths. She accepted an assignment in Argentina and her surrounding had nothing better to do than being upset: But you will lose a lot of money.


Following your passion might mean that the way to satisfaction in your professional career and life is not easy, setbacks will happen, and you might not necessarily earn a large package immediately. But what is the alternative? I often experience that people have a job and prefer to stay in their comfort zone. They are not satisfied but they also do not want to dare a risk. Does it sound familiar to you? Give it a thought.


It is of the utmost importance to believe in yourself and get rid of things that hold you back - don't sweat the small stuff! Change your environment to succeed, build a network that is new and stronger, and find what you believe in. Your mission. That's my advice from 2 decades of working with executives to fulfil their potential, or not.


So, what differentiates successful career builders from unsuccessful career builders?
It is a fact that successful career builders have a clear target and behave as they have already reached it. They focus on their capabilities, adapt to changes quickly and reflect their behaviour. And increasingly they are fuelled by a strong sense of purpose and a powerful network that creates opportunities and helps solve problems.

Just do it

It might be simple but also difficult. It is important to be proactive, step out of your comfort zone and believe in yourself. A first step is a strong network like the event at WU Executive Academy run by Mercuri Urval.