Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker focuses mostly on one’s professional life and how to do fulfilling work. It’s a short, easy read that you can finish in one sitting. The author focuses on advice that’s practical and urges readers to test them out over a period of time. This can prove to be a good book to refer to whenever you feel unsure about your professional life and need direction.
Managing one’s professional life is more important in the knowledge and information age, than it was when people were mostly committed to a single, labor-intensive job for their entire work life.
The first step to manage oneself is to know your strengths. You need to know what comes to you naturally because that’s the area of work you can excel at.
The only way to accurately estimate your strengths is through feedback analysis. Check the results of your key decisions and actions after a period of 12 months to see if they’re in line with your expectations. If they are then you know what you’re good at.
Once you know where your strengths lie, begin work on improving them and acquiring skills that’ll help you realize your strengths fully. No matter how good an architect is, he’d still need to work with builders and carpenters to realize his vision and he should know how to get them to work for him.
Knowing how you learn is crucial. Do you learn by listening, reading, writing or talking? Schools force us to learn in established ways but that might not work for all of us. Once you understand how you learn, you can deploy that knowledge into building processes that help you succeed. For instance, readers would want to get detailed reports on a matter while a listener or a talker would prefer meetings.
Do you like working alone or with people? An important question to consider as a knowledge worker in this age.
Do you like taking decisions or giving advice? Some people work best as advisers but can’t bear the responsibility of taking a decision (even though they know what needs to be done), while some are decision makers.
The most important one: What are your values? Sometimes your strengths and interests might align with a job but your values won’t. You might excel in such a position but it’s unlikely that you’ll derive a sense of satisfaction. Knowing your values and how you want to contribute to this world is important if you want to have a fulfilling life.
Managing oneself also means taking responsibility of your relationships and how you communicate with people. Barring a few great artists, nobody has ever succeeded without the help of people.
It’s about knowing yourself, knowing what your strengths are, how you learn, how you work with people and how you want to contribute to this world. “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.”