Reading notes - Managing oneself

For a couple years now, I’ve been starting to read a lot more.
A year ago, I wrote about what my reading habit is, and it hasn’t changed much since.

So far this year, I have read 15 books.
I wish to slow down though, as I feel I can read that much but cannot process it all that quickly.

For this reason, I’ve decided to reading more actively by taking notes and sharing them afterwards.
This article is the first of those notes with the book Managing Oneself.

The notes

Feedback analysis

Whenever taking a key decision, write down the expected result somewhere. 9 or 12 months later, compare with the actual results Shows which areas someone is strong in, and which she isn’t.

Requires a few implications for action.

  • Concentrate on strengths.
  • Improve those strengths.
  • See the areas we choose to ignore, by intellectual arrogance, and stop doing so.
    • Eg: engineers often pride themselves in not understanding human relations.

Do not try to improve on areas where we are bad. It takes a lot less energy to become excellent in something we’re averagely good at than try to become average in something we’re bad at.

How do I perform?

We all perform differently. That can be slightly changed, but is unlikely to be completely modified.

Two types of performers

  • Readers
  • Listeners

Trying to perform with the other method is mostly impossible.

The same applies to how we learn. There are many ways people learn (reading, writing, talking, …). Most people know how they learn. But very few act on it.

These are the first questions to ask. But there are other

  • Do I work well with people, or am I a loner?
    • In what relationship? As a subordinate or as a leader?
  • Do I produce results making decisions, or as an advisor?
  • How do I perform under stress?

Do not work to change yourself. Work to improve.

What are my values?

Ethics: Ask yourself “what kind of person do I want to see in the mirror in the morning”?

An organisation has value conflicts other than ethics, such as focusing on short or long term results.

To be effective in an organisation, we should adhere to it’s values.

There can be a conflict between one’s values and their strengths. When that happens, it might be better to look for other strengths, or other ways to use them.

Where do I belong?

Each of us needs to learn where we belong, and what we can do. Whether we work better in a big organisation, or in a small one for example.

When presented with an opportunity, we should be able to say “I will do this. But this is how it should be done. This is the kind of results you should expect from me.”

Successful careers aren’t planned. They develop when we know our strengths.

What should my contribution be? People used to be told what to do. Nowadays, everyone wants to decide what they do, which is fine.

We should ask ourselves “what should my contribution be?”, and consider three elements:

  • What does the situation require?
  • How can I make the greatest contribution to what needs to be done?
  • What results do we need to make a difference?

The plan should be relatively short term. No more than 18 months, the results should also be hard to achieve, but be within reach, meaningful, visible and measurable.

Responsibility for relationships

Accept that other people are as much individuals as you are. They have their strengths and weaknesses too. By adapting our work to other people’s strengths, we can make them and ourselves succeed more.

Take responsibility for communication. It is our responsibility to make sure people understand what we do and how we work.

We should ask everyone we work with what we need to know about their strengths, how they perform, their values.

Organisations are built on trust. Not necessarily by liking one another, but by understanding one another.

The second half of your life

After doing the same thing for 20 years, most people are bored of it. Managing oneself can then lead to a career change.

Three ways:

  • Actually start one.
    • Move to another kind of organisation.
    • Go back to school
  • Develop a parallel career
    • Keep doing your former job on a part-time basis.
    • Get another job, usually in a non-profit.
      • Administration of their local church for example.
  • Social entrepreneurs
    • Usually people who have been successful in their first career.
    • Keep doing what they did, but spend less time doing so.
    • Create another organisation on the side, usually a nonprofit.

There is a prerequisite: start it long before one enters it. Someone who doesn’t volunteer at 40 will not volunteer at 60.

It also gives us a way to bounce back, and allow us to know even though our primary career might fail, we are still a success in our hobby.

We expect everyone to succeed. But that can’t happen. There will always be failure.

Managing ourselves requires us to see ourselves as the CEO of our lives.