We’ve met Verena Wiget at The Arc Lisbon 2017. Being a constant passion-seeker, she has now taken the leap to say yes to her vision of building a global women empowerment programme. Here’s how she overcame her perfectionism and other saboteurs that would hold her back. – interview by ASTRID SCHRADER
Astrid: Verena, who are you?
Verena: “Changing the world with energy” is the vision of my employer Polarstern, a social business and independent energy provider in Germany. This motto summarizes my own efforts quite well. However, discovering the world was already a first, rather difficult step. When I didn’t find my home town Munich on the world map in the age of 6, I decided to figure what the rest of world is about. Took me another 12 years to start the first adventure abroad. And sure, didn’t always work out as imagined
Today I call myself a bridge builder, I love being the interface. Many years I saw myself as indecisive, somebody who can just never make up their mind. I studied European Affairs, a little bit of everything, I lived in many countries from Sweden to Mexico, I worked in big corporations and small NGO, I specialized (in Russian, leadership & e-Mobility, after each other ;-)) and returned to a generalist’s position, I wanted to achieve a classical career and lost myself in voluntary engagement. And I decided over and over to just be happy with my life and not always ask for the deeper meaning. Has not worked so far, I am still looking for the purpose of life! For now I feel at least on the road again, what has helped me a lot was the concrete statement of my core values: responsibility, justice and relationships.
I wanted to achieve a classical career and lost myself in voluntary engagement. And I decided over and over to just be happy with my life and not always ask for the deeper meaning.
Astrid: Verena, on The Arc in Lisbon you were the woman who inspired everyone through your strength and willpower. I remember in the final round how we all said: “Wow, if any woman will change the world, it’ll be her!” People also say this about me all the time, but I am still not really coming to grip with that. It just sounds weird as I don’t feel particularly strong – especially when I am by myself. What is your take on that?
Verena: Haha, Astrid, I thought exactly the same about you and at the same time I don’t feel strong by myself, especially when I am on my own. Sure, it’s pleasant to hear all of that, but the next second you ask yourself, who are they talking about? I always I thought I must do something to change the world to the better, it’s wasn’t a question rather a duty. So, my major feeling was being so small and too little to do anything that will have an impact.
I always I thought I must do something to change the world to the better, it’s wasn’t a question rather a duty. So, my major feeling was being so small and too little to do anything that will have an impact.
I love describing my vision of a global women empowerment program and I have held many trainings, but now I am pretty scared presenting my very first, own workshop. Strong? No way, far out of the comfort zone and very vulnerable: Who cares, and will anybody show up at all? [note from the editor: Of course it all turned out to be perfectly fine ;)]
Astrid: Oh wow. Yeah, I can relate to that – when I organised my first workshop. This fear of showing yourself is a beast. What would you say is a powerful attitude you can give to cool humans like you to overcome that fear?
Verena: The well-known enemy and my biggest challenge is perfectionism. Sure, I say I just want to try something out, but hey, if one thing is not perfect, I am so angry with myself. So patience with myself is a big thing. As I am a rather rational and organised person, I have been practising the mindset “Trust and let go”. And I am improving. But sure there is room for more (hi to the perfectionist!).
So patience with myself is a big thing. As I am a rather rational and organised person, I have been practising the mindset “Trust and let go”.
Astrid: If you had one thing that you wanna change in other potential women leaders. What would that be?
Verena: Being proud of every small step we take. I am lucky enough to know now a lot of wonderful women, all (potential) women leaders and they do amazing things. But stopping, patting themselves on the shoulder and celebrating what they’ve already achieved. No! They are already on the way to the next bigger challenge, because this was just “something I wanted to try/nothing big/not so interesting/everybody could have done it”. And yes, I am exactly one of them. If we forget to celebrate ourselves for bringing us at the edge or out of comfort zone, there is nothing better to have a friend by our side, to remind us and force us to do it!
If we forget to celebrate ourselves for bringing us at the edge or out of comfort zone, there is nothing better to have a friend by our side, to remind us and forces us to do it!
Astrid: Ok, we always ask this! 1min! Who do you dare to be and which IMPACT do you wanna stand for?
Verena: I dare to be the women who myself lives up to my vision of global women empowerment (which is chasing me since 2010!). Being wonderful imperfect, full of dreams, in accordance with my values and despite all odds full of optimism.
I want to be the interface to help women all over the planet to find and live up to their dreams, despite all the expectation that are reflected onto you by family, friends and society.
Astrid: Whohooo! Thank you so much for the interview.