The FIRST TWO questions to ask yourself when thinking about your CAREER

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Oftentimes in my career coaching practice for executives I meet subtle requests for advice, such as:

  • “What would look best in my CV …x or …y ?

  • “What is the necessary step to do in order to enhance my career ?”,  “I hear you need to…

  • “Isn’t is true that”:

    • “Employers prefer candidates who have a similar position before?

    • “Employers prefer candidates who are working in the same industry?

    • “Employers tend to favor candidates with MBA …

And when you look at these “questions” what do you see?

Well, I see two questions to start from:


First important question would be: What do you really want to do ?

This exercise seems conceptual and far fetched at times. And for sure it is not giving us the clear & operational response we want immediately (which seems to be the case of most coaching clients). 

But there comes a time in life where it might be helpful to assume responsibility for your journey and not let yourself be guided by what your mother wants, by your fathers’ definition of success, by what your partner wants or the society at large and any other entity that you place importance on. 

Take my words with some “lemon” and filter them with what stands true for yourself. Everyone has this need to belong and to be accepted. 


The real question then becomes: To what extent do I want to be accepted for what I am really good at or for what I really want.   


If you did that exercise already, CONGRATULATIONS!It is a big step and you should be grateful. Just be aware that life happens and without even noticing external “shoulds” and “needs” from people you value and trust or even from people you envy are back in the game. And you start conforming to the norm. 


And it is nothing wrong about it – as long as it is a consistent choice! 

Your career is not a straight, crescendo line. It has ups, downs, detours … 

There is a wonderful metaphor derived from the Lincoln movie (which I highly recommend as an example to stay true to your values): your compass may show you the true Nord but you don’t know where are the swamps, lakes, forests and the road is not always straight. 


So, a detour of only a few degrees may make you end up in a totally different place. It is ok to make detours based on current circumstances but be aware not to completely derail from what’s true for yourself or what you really want. Especially if the “right” indications come from others. 


The second important question:  When do you want that?


This is not your normal SMART objectives question. This is to really place in your future what do you perceive to be possible and when…  

Let me explain: 

If you want something now, you may not need the next ACCA certification, the Executive MBA you believe you need or to jump through 2 similar positions in order to be validated for such a position. Of course, due to a pattern of perceptions in the market those solutions may be the right ones if you want your results in 2,3 years. That is one valid strategy.


Another way is to reconsider your way there. If you assume you are working on a niche target and what you really want is to search for people that can appreciate your current track record and who you are now, then you have a card to play! And there are more strategies to choose from.


Here are some stories that my clients are telling themselves:


“People would never accept a Chief Marketing Officer from service to products”

“I might need an MBA to enter the board”


Or from entrepreneurs I work with:

“Companies are aiming for the lowest price”

“The market in pandemics is not good for business”

“There is no more money in the market”

“It should be cheaper if it’s online”



And we all do! That’s why coaching is powerful! It may generate a strong perception shift and motivate you to rewrite your story now. 


That is happening when we go to the next questions: 

“Would you enjoy working with those people?” (those who think like this). 

Then… another one “Who would you work with?”

And most of the time an answer along these lines comes:

“I would like to work with people that “see me”, with people that appreciate who I am,  what I already know, are aware of what I have to learn and trust me to do the job.” 


So… How are you working on your stories?

Mihai ZANT

Mihai ZANT

Mihai ZANT is an Executive Coach, Trainer and Managing Partner at, and Having over 10 years of experience in leading teams and communities he concentrated his work in building Learning Organisations.

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