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In today’s fast-paced world, where traditional career paths are becoming obsolete, the onus is on individuals to carve out their own paths to success. Peter Drucker, often hailed as the father of modern management, tackles this challenge head-on in this classic piece, empowering readers to understand and shape their professional trajectory. In this book review, we’ll give short summary of Managing Oneself followed by some observations, suggested actions and  recommended books/resources.

Managing Oneself: Summary

All of us change and evolve as we learn and grow. To manage yourself and stay productive throughout your career, there are basically 5 strategic questions that you must answer:

Managing Oneself summary - 5 questions for managing oneself

Discovering One’s Strengths

At the core of Managing Oneself is Drucker’s argument that understanding one’s strengths is crucial. He emphasizes that it’s only by building on these strengths that one can achieve true excellence. One useful technique is feedback analysis, where you write down expectations and then revisit them after the fact. Imagine you’ve set a goal to complete a project in 2 weeks. With feedback analysis, you’d write this prediction down, then review your prediction after the project is completed–did you finish it early, late, or right on time?

Knowing How You Work

Do you process information best by reading or listening? Drucker highlights the importance of understanding your learning style. By recognizing how you work and learn, you can adapt your environment and tasks to align with your natural inclinations.

Values and Principles

Drucker also emphasizes the importance of understanding your core values, in order to ensure they align with your work. This is crucial not just for personal satisfaction, but also for effectiveness in one’s profession.

Where Do You Belong?

Have you ever felt like a square peg in a round hole at a job? Not everyone is cut out for every role or organization. Drucker encourages readers to understand where they can make the most significant impact and seek those opportunities out.

Contribution to the Larger Whole

The final piece of the puzzle, according to Drucker, is determining your contributions. He urges readers to ask themselves: What can I contribute to the organization’s mission, and how can I effectively deliver that contribution?

Managing Oneself: Review

Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker started out as a concise yet insightful article about personal development and self-management. Originally published by Harvard Business Review, the article garnered so much acclaim and significance that it was made available as a standalone book.

This book is super-short in length, but packed with wisdom. Its key insights are also integrated as a chapter in another of Drucker’s books, Management Challenges for the 21st Century (more details below).

Practical Implementation

If you’re ready to start applying the insights from Managing Oneself, here are some suggestions from the ReadinGraphics team, after we attempted to use the ideas in our own work and lives:

• Feedback analysis: Over the next year, jot down key decisions and predictions. Afterward, revisit them to compare outcomes and refine your decision-making.

• Identify your learning stule: Reflect on whether you learn better by reading, listening, or doing. Adjust your tasks and study habits to align with this style.

• Reflect on and write down your core values. Compare them with your current professional environment to ensure alignment.

• Periodically ask yourself about your desired contributions in your role and check if you’re on the right path.

Other Recommended Books / Resources

Amidst the wide range of personal and professional development resources, Managing Oneself stands out with its timeless and actionable insights to help individuals understand and leverage their unique strengths, values, and contributions. It’s a must-read for anyone seeking to navigate the challenges of the modern professional world. Feel free to purchase the book here. If you enjoyed this summary, you might also appreciate:

Management Challenges for the 21st Century by Peter Drucker: This book comprehensively addresses 6 key organizational and management challenges of the modern era, including that  of managing oneself.

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker: this dives deeper into various dimensions of efficiency and effectiveness for executives.

Drive by Daniel H. Pink: this explores theh differences between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation, and how to harness both for better results.

Atomic Habits by James Clear: this is a practical guide to habit formation and mastery.

About the Author of Managing Oneself

Managing Oneself: Mastering the Art of Self-Management was written by Peter F. Drucker (1909-2005)—a writer, teacher, philosopher, reporter, and management consultant. He described himself as a “social ecologist”  who explored the way human beings organize themselves and interact. Drucker has predicted many management trends of the late 20th century/ 21st century and influenced many leaders. In the 1950s, he coined the term “knowledge worker,” and he spent the rest of his life examining what we today identify as the knowledge industry. Drucker authored 39 books and numerous scholarly and popular articles before he passed away in 2005.

Managing Oneself Quotes

“Effective executives differ widely in their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, values, and beliefs. All they have in common is that they get the right things done.”

“Effectiveness is a discipline. And, like every discipline, effectiveness can be learned and must be earned.”

“Effective executives treat change as an opportunity rather than a threat.”

“Effective executives try to focus on jobs they’ll do especially well. They know that enterprises perform if top management performs—and don’t if it doesn’t.”

“The first practice is to ask what needs to be done. Note that the question is not ‘What do I want to do?’”

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