by Vasco Duarte
A while ago I got an email from Manuela Mitterdorfer. She wanted to share a ‘happy story’ with us about ‘finding one’s purpose and the role of a trusting environment that helped her grow beyond her expectations’. Since I love these kinds of stories, here is hers. By the way, she divided her ‘journey’ in stages herself, which I thought great. So I kept that for extra drama. She told me she was struggling with finding her purpose for more than 5 years. She had completed her studies in Software Engineering and was working in the field for a couple of years.
But she wondered; was this really what she wanted to do for the rest of her life? Yes, there where days on which she really loved what she did. But still. She read books about purpose and at one point even thought about becoming a kindergarten teacher.
Stage One – A Small Glimpse of her Purpose
During Christmas Holidays of last year, she met some old friends. And, as it often goes, she had the feeling nothing had changed since her days at school. Something was different though; a couple of her friends had had a rough year. Since she moved away from home almost ten years before, she hadn’t been in touch very often.
But suddenly it hit her: there were things way more important than work. She decided there and than to make 2014 her ‘Year of Friendship’.
It turned out only to be the first step of something bigger.
Stage Two – Entering an Environment of Trust
After the holidays she got to work on a new project. It had been a real struggle to get her on board and it only happened because one of her colleagues stood up for her. She loved working with him again. Not only because they got along fine, but also because he had lots of good ideas on how to help the team and the company grow. I even heard he talks about Management 3.0 stuff so I like him already.
As did Manuela, she and that colleague became close friends. It was that environment of trust and support that helped her to find her purpose: making the people around her happy. In retrospect, she found it ‘quite obvious as that was what she already had been doing, without realizing it’.
If someone had told me a month ago that I’d be running voluntarily at 5:30 in the morning, in February, when it’s cold and dark outside, I’d have called him crazy. I’m full of energy now, and feel balanced as never before.
Stage Three – Growing Beyond her Expectations
These days she wakes up around 5 o’clock in the morning – long before the alarm clock tells her to – and goes for a run. (Being happy does strange things to people ;))
She now has lots of fun thinking how she can make the day a little better for everyone. By bringing pretzels for the team when there’s a full day of meetings on the planning for instance. Or by sticking a ‘Keep Smiling’ note on the door of the building.
She doesn’t know precisely where all this is going to lead to. But, and that’s in my opinion what it’s all about, she knows there are people at work that keep the support up and encourage her to leave her comfort zone. It gives confidence to grow far beyond what she ever thought possible.
I don’t know the name of that colleague. But I do know we not only need more people like Manuela, but especially like that colleague of hers. So here’s big ‘thank you’ to him. You really made my day!