When I asked myself, "What does managing oneself even look like?" I came up with this characterization: It looks like creating a prosperous career, accomplishing continuous goals, being content with your life journey, and ultimately, knowing your essence to the core. Without asking yourself who you are at your core, you might spend your life going in the wrong direction, believing you are incompetent or becoming someone you don't like.
This book is small but filled with questions to spark introspection. I highly recommend this little book, but most importantly, really taking the time to answer these questions.
What Are My Strengths?
When you feel you appertain in a company, organization, or position that aligns with your strengths, your contributions will transcend.
One way to discover your strengths is through feedback analysis. Go to work on acquiring the skills and knowledge you need to realize your strengths fully. You can do this by writing down the outcome you expect, then 9-12 months later, compare the results.
Once you are fully aware of where your strengths lie, work on improving them. Comparing your expectations with your results also indicates what not to do. We have to be cognizant of things we have no chance of being remotely mediocre, and not pursue opportunities that will guarantee failure. One should waste as little effort as possible, improving areas of low competence because it takes far more energy to work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.
It is equally essential to remedy the bad habits-the things you do or fail to do that inhibit your effectiveness and performance. By analyzing your strengths, you will begin to notice where your skills are lacking—Discover where your intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it. Peter gives the example of engineers giving up on attaining people skills, and human resources experts ignoring building their technology skills.
How Do I Perform?
How one performs is a matter of personality. Here are some questions to determine what kind of performer you are: Are you a reader? A listener? A writer? If you are a reader more than a listener, but you rely on audible teachings from your professor, you may fail to read the textbook for a clearer, simpler explanation. Don't systematically displace your learning style. To manage yourself effectively, you also have to ask, Do I work well with people, or am I a loner? That question leads to additional questions. For example, If you do work well with others, in what capacity? Do you produce results as a decision-maker or as an advisor? If you thrive as the second in command, it will be a huge mistake to take on managerial positions.
Other questions to consider: 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?
The overarching message here is to not try to change who you are, but rather work hard to improve the way you perform.
What Are My Values?
Ethics requires that you ask yourself, what kind of person do I want to see in the mirror in the morning? Questioning your beliefs and what type of ethics you align with the most is important.
Working in a place where the values are misaligned will also lead to nonperformance. If a company doesn’t value work-life balance and you do, there will be resentment from both parties.
Sometimes you may realize that your strengths and how you perform align, but your values don’t. In that case, you will have to think about if devoting your life work is worth it if it sacrifices your values. Peter determined that he was not willing to make more money at the detriment of his relationships when he asked himself this question.
Where Do I Belong?
We need to know our strengths in order to know where we belong. A small number of people know very early where they belong.
Successful careers are not planned. They develop when people are prepared for opportunities because they know their strengths, their methods of work, and their values.
What Should I Contribute To?
Peter says that to answer this, you must address these three distinct elements:
1. What does the situation require?
2. Given my strengths, my way of performing, and my values, how can I make the greatest contribution to what needs to be done?
3. What results have to be achieved to make a difference?
It is rarely possible or even particularly fruitful to look too far ahead. A plan can usually cover no more than 18 months and still be reasonably clear and specific. The results should be hard to achieve, but they also should be within reach, should be meaningful and make a difference, should be visible and if at all possible, measurable.
From these 3 steps will come a course of action: what to do, where and how to start, and what goals and deadlines to set.
Responsibility for Relationships
The golden nugget in this book is to accept the fact that other people are as much individuals as you yourself are. They too have their strengths, ways of getting things done, and their values.
To be effective, therefore, you have to know the strengths, the performance modes, and the values of your co-workers