Interview Edith Bosch: 'Make time to develop your autonomy and personal leadership'
17 May 2021
What is the core of your message for the (young) professionals of Athora?
"If I had to describe that message in one sentence, it would perhaps be 'stop for a moment once in a while and take the time to contemplate'. The impression I got during the preliminary meeting is that you have very ambitious employees who work very hard. I myself was also a young ambitious top athlete with only one goal in mind: to become the best in the world. Standing still and reflecting was not for me at that time, which was only logical. Looking back, I missed out on a lot and short-changed myself.
What I see in my coaching practice nowadays is that people invest a lot of time in work and gain work-related knowledge. Time for reflection and developing your socio-emotional side is much less common. You see the same thing in professional sports. Endless hours are spent on training to become better, but much less on other aspects such as how do you work together and what is your part in that? If you are young and ambitious, that is often a secondary consideration. Becoming technically better at something is relatively easier than looking at yourself in the mirror. The trick is to really stand still and determine what you want and who you want to be."
How did you learn that lesson yourself?
"At a certain point, I got completely stuck in my own ambitious life as a sports woman. A coach helped me and gave me an insight into where it went wrong. The results were really cool and made such an impression that I decided to enter the profession myself, and have been doing so for the past ten years with great pleasure. Many of the things that we struggle with as human beings are universal. If you start to see that your life and your career are a process, then the possibility of growth is so great. People see it as something difficult or heavy to really look at themselves and to take up challenges, but if you can do it, then you create a lot of space and you become able to make better choices instead of going where the wind blows."
You help people believe that they can do more than they think, how do you do that exactly?
"That has to do with one thing only. We are constantly holding ourselves back with our own negative beliefs, that are false. If you become aware of what those false and inhibiting assumptions are for you and learn to see that they are not true, that you can work with them and seize them, then you grow more than you ever thought possible. You will feel and experience that you are no longer holding yourself back and you can become more autonomous and take control of your life.
Where do things often go wrong in mutual cooperation?
"To summarise: we are often unaware of what is going on inside ourselves and unable to have the necessary conversation. When the going gets tough, it is safer to stay on the substance than to address someone on behaviour. While it is precisely on the human side where 'the gold lies', to use sports terms. Performing under pressure becomes more fun and more enjoyable if you can add that piece."
What tips do you have for people at the beginning of their career?
"My main tip for young professionals would be: there is no right or wrong. It is good that you are driven and ambitious, but also give yourself time to develop your autonomy and personal leadership. Seek out people in the organisation who can help you with this, because that is where true growth lies. Even if it is the most difficult. If you know what you can bring to your work, everything becomes much easier. That is precisely where you can distinguish yourself as a young professional. Moreover, I would advise everyone not to pretend to be someone else while at work. After all, you are one person, so how nice it would be if you could integrate your private and professional self."