The Book in One Sentence
- Managing Oneself is about discovering who you are, then focusing on what you can contribute, and taking responsibility for how you communicate.
- Use feedback analysis to uncover your strengths and weaknesses.
- Acquiring the skills and knowledge, you need to realize your strengths fully.
- To manage yourself effectively, you must determine how you work with others.
- To be effective in an organization, you must be compatible with the organization’s values.
- Begin a second career at 40.
Managing Oneself Summary
“The only way to discover your strengths is through feedback analysis. Whenever you make a key decision or take a key action, write down what you expect will happen. Nine or 12 months later, compare the actual results with your expectations.”
Feedback analysis reveals where your strengths lie. Moreover, it highlights what you are doing or failing to do to take full advantage of your strengths.
Following any feedback analysis, put yourself where your strengths can produce results, work on improving your strengths, and discover where your intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it.
“Work on acquiring the skills and knowledge you need to fully realize your strengths.”
“The first thing to know about how you perform is is whether you are a reader or a listener. The second thing to know is how you learn.”
“Of all the important pieces of self-knowledge, understanding how you learn is the easiest to acquire.”
Drucker says the first questions to ask when understanding how you learn is, “Am I a reader or a listener?” and “How do I learn?” To manage yourself effectively, you also have to ask, “Do I work well with people, or am I a loner?” And if you do work well with people, you must ask, “In what relationship?”
Another crucial question is, “Do I produce results as a decision-maker or as an adviser? Other important questions to ask include, Do I perform well under stress, or do I need a highly structured and predictable environment? Do I work best in a big organization or a small one?”
“Do not try to change yourself—you are unlikely to succeed. But work hard to improve the way you perform. And try not to take on work you cannot perform or will only perform poorly.”
“To be able to manage yourself, you finally have to ask, What are my values?” This is not a question of ethics, which requires that you ask yourself, “What kind of person do I want to see in the mirror in the morning?”
Working in an organization whose value system is unacceptable or incompatible with your own condemns the person both to frustration and nonperformance. To be effective in an organization, you must be compatible with the organization’s values. They do not need to be the same, but they must be close enough to coexist. Otherwise, you will not only be frustrated but also will not produce results.
By your mid-twenties, you should know the answers to three questions: “What are my strengths?” “How do I perform?” and “What are my values?” And then you can and should decide where you 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 transform an ordinary person—hardworking and competent but otherwise mediocre—into an outstanding performer.”
You must know what your contribution will be. To answer that question, you must address three distinct elements: “What does the situation require? “Given my strengths, my way of performing, and my values, how can I make the greatest contribution to what needs to be done?” And finally, “What results have to be achieved to make a difference?”
Managing yourself requires taking responsibility for relationships, which has two parts.
“The first is to accept the fact that other people are as much individuals as you yourself are. They perversely insist on behaving like human beings. This means that they too have their strengths; they too have their ways of getting things done; they too have their values. To be effective, therefore, you have to know the strengths, the performance modes, and the values of your coworkers.
“The second part of relationship responsibility is taking responsibility for communication. Don’t be afraid to say, “This is what I am good at. This is how I work. These are my values. This is the contribution I plan to concentrate on and the results I should be expected to deliver.” You will meet favourable responses from colleagues.
Druckers explains that today’s knowledge workers are bored after working for 40 years, and therefore, start a second career to learn something new or contribute to their community.
There are three ways to develop a second career. The first is actually to start one. The second way to prepare for the second half of your life is to develop a parallel career.
Finally, some people have been very successful in their first careers. But due to their work no longer challenging them, start another activity like a nonprofit.
The prerequisite for managing the second half of your life is beginning long before you enter it. If you don’t start volunteering before you’re 40, you likely won’t once past 60.