Managing Oneself / by Charlie Christenson

I've given approximately 50 copies of this book as gifts (to my faculty, to coworkers, to students, to friends and family) over the past four years. Managing Oneself first came my way via my sister - she had been given the book by a professor at the University of Maryland as she was finishing up her graduate degree in chemistry. It's been a part of my evaluation process ever since, and I think everyone should check it out (here's the article on HBR).

Below are some of my big questions, cliffsnotes, deep thoughts, and synaptic connections:

Questions Presented by Managing Oneself by Peter F. Drucker:

  1. What are my strengths? (page 2)
    1. “concentrate on your strengths” (page 5)
    2. “work on improving your strengths”
    3. “discover where your intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it” (page 6)
    4. “It is equally essential to remedy your bad habits-the things you do or fail to do that inhibit your effectiveness and performance.” (page 7)
    5. “Energy, resources and time should go instead to making a cape tent person in a star performer.” (page 10)
  2. How do I perform? (page 10) - “too many people work in ways that are not their ways”
    1. Am I a reader or a listener? (page 11)
    2. How do I learn? (page 15)
      1. reading, talking, writing, listening…
    3. Do I work well with people, or am I a loner?  In what relationship? (page 19)
      1. “Some work best as team members.  Others work best alone.  Some are exceptionally talented as coaches and mentors; others are simply incompetent as mentors.”  (page 20)
      2. Do I produce results as a decision maker or as an adviser?
    4. Do I perform well under stress, or do I need a highly structured and predictable environment? (page 21)
    5. Do I work best in a big organization or a small one?
  3. What are my values? (page 22)
    1. Organizations, like people, have values.  To be effective in an organization, a person’s values must be comparable with the organization’s values.  They do not need to be the same, but they must be close enough to coexist. (page 29)
  4. Where do I belong? (page 30)
    1. Or rather, they should be able to decide where they do not belong. (page 31)
  5. What should I contribute? (page 33)
    1. 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? (page 35)
    2. Where and how can I achieve results that will make a difference within the next year and a half?  The answer must balance several things.  
      1. First, the results should be hard to achieve - they should require “stretching,” to use the current buzzword.  But also, they should be within reach.
      2. Second, the results should be meaningful.  They should make a difference. (page 37)
      3. Finally, results should be visible and, if at all possible, measurable.
    3. From this will come a course of action: what to do, where and how to start, and what goals and deadlines to set.

Whenever someone goes to his or her associates and says, “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,” the response is always, “This is most helpful. But why didn’t you tell me either?” (page 43)

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. (page 22)

The passion that a person has for their own personal growth is the most important thing. Then we help, because no person in the world can succeed alone.
— Ernesto Sirolli (TED Talk “Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!”)

Job, Career, Calling: Key to Happiness and Meaning at Work?

Job Orientation: Individuals who fall into this category tend to view their work as a means to an end. They work to receive the pay and/or benefits to support their hobbies, family, or life outside work. They prefer jobs which do not interfere with their personal lives. They are not as likely to have a strong connection to the workplace or their job duties. The job serves as a basic necessity in life.

Career Orientation: An individual with a “career” orientation is more likely to focus on elements related to success or prestige. This individual will be interested in the ability to move upward in his or her career, to receive raises and new titles, and to achieve the social standing which comes from the career. Careers which have a clear upward “ladder’ are appealing to those with a career orientation.

Calling Orientation: Individuals with a calling orientation often describe their work as integral to their lives and their identity. They view their career as a form of self-expression and personal fulfillment. Research conducted by Wrzesniewski and colleagues find that individuals with a calling orientation are more likely to find their work meaningful and will modify their duties and develop relationships to make it more so. They are found to be more satisfied in general with their work and their lives. 

Jonathan Haidt in The Happiness Hypothesis:

Most people approach their work in one of three ways: as a job, a career, or a calling.

  1. If you see your work as a job, you do it only for the money, you look at the clock frequently while dreaming about the weekend ahead, and you probably pursue hobbies, which satisfy your effectance needs more thoroughly than does your work.
  2. If you see your work as a career, you have larger goals of advancement, promotion, and prestige.
  3. If you see your work as a calling, however, you find your work intrinsically fulfilling you are not doing it to achieve something else. You see your work as contributing to the greater good or as playing a role in some larger enterprise the worth of which seems obvious to you. You have frequent experiences of flow during the work day, and you neither look forward to “quitting time” nor feel the desire to shout, “Thank God it’s Friday!” You would continue to work, perhaps even without pay, if you suddenly became very wealthy.

Motivation (Dan Pink: The Puzzle of Motivation)

  • Autonomy - “the urge to direct our own lives”
    • Having control of your own destiny
    • Being trusted
    • Open working environment
    • Fearless Feedback
    • Getting to YES!
  • Purpose - “the yearning to do what we do in service of something larger than ourselves"
    • Making a difference
    • Being heard
    • Having clear goals
  • Mastery - “the desire to get better and better and something that maters"
    • Personal development
    • Not only depth but breadth of knowledge
    • Working at the forefront of your field