Managing Oneself

I can scarcely recommend this book strongly enough. First written as an article in the Harvard Business Review, and then re-published as a longer booklet, Peter F. Drucker’s masterful Managing Oneself succeeds on every level.

Drucker focuses on the following key points and questions.

What are my strengths?

  • To discover one’s strengths use “feedback” analysis (e.g. write down your key decisions/actions and check results in 9-12 months).
  • Focus primarily on your strengths (as change is difficult/impossible)
  • Improve your strengths
  • Uncover where your intellectual arrogance is creating problems and work to eliminate.

“Manners are the lubricating oil of an organization.”

How do I perform?    

  • Am I a reader or listener?
  • How do I learn? Some folks learn by writing, others by talking and others by reading or listening. Learn how you learn.
  • Am I a loner or do I work well with others?
  • Do I produce better results as the decision maker, or as an advisor?
  • Do I perform well under stress, or do I need lots of structure?
  • Do I function best in large organizations, or small organizations?

“Do not try to change yourself – you are unlikely to succeed. But work hard to improve the way you perform.”

What are my values?

  • What kind of person do I want to see in the mirror each morning?

“Organizations, like people, have values. To be effective in an organization, a person’s values must be compatible . . . They do not need to be the same, but . . . close enough to coexist.”

  • Where do I belong?

“Successful careers are not planned. They develop when people are prepared for opportunities because they know their strengths, their method of work, and their values. Knowing where one belongs can transfer an ordinary person – hardworking and competent but otherwise mediocre – into an outstanding performer.”

What should I contribute?

  • What does the situation require?
  • Given my strengths, my way of performing, and values, how can I make the greatest contribution to what needs to be done?
  • What results should be achieved to make a difference?

“A plan can usually cover no more than 18 months and still be reasonably clear and specific”

Responsibility for Relationships

“Managing yourself requires taking responsibility for relationships”

  • Others are as much individuals as yourself.
    • To be effective, one must know the strengths, performance modes, and values of your co-workers.
  • Take responsibility for communication.
    • You must communicate your strength’s, values, and performance style, and proposed contribution and find out the same about others.

The second half of your life.

“Knowledge workers are not “finished” after 40 years on the job, they are merely bored.”

  • There are three ways to develop a second career
    • Start one (e.g. moving to a new organization, change lines of work, etc.).
    • Develop a parallel career (e.g. volunteer for a non-profit, begin consulting, become more involved in the community, etc.).
    • Become a social entrepreneur (e.g. start a charity, etc.).

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