Build a life of excellence
To unlock your full potential you first have to discover yourself
The first secret of effectiveness is to understand the people you work with so that you can make use of their strengths.
Throughout history people did little to manage their careers – you were either born into your station in life, or in the recent past, your company plotted your career path. But times have changed. Today we live in an age of unprecedented opportunity: with ambition, drive and talent, you can rise to the top of your chosen profession, regardless of where you started out.
But with opportunity comes responsibility. Typically, companies today aren't managing their worker's careers. Instead you must be your own chief executive officer. That means it's up to you to carve out your place in the world and know when to change course. And it's up to you to keep yourself engaged and productive during a career that may span some 50 years.
In Managing Oneself, author Peter Drucker – regarded as one of the greatest management thinkers of our time – identifies the probing questions you need to ask to gain the insights essential for taking charge of your career. What are your most valuable strengths and most dangerous weaknesses? How do you learn and work with others? What are your most deeply held values? And in what type of work environment can you make the greatest contribution?
What are my strengths?
To accurately identify your strengths, use feedback analysis. Every time you make a key decision write down the outcome you expect. Several months later compare the actual results with your expected result. Look for patterns in what you’re seeing:
- What results are you skilled at generating?
- What abilities do you need to enhance in order to get the results you want?
- What unproductive habits are preventing you from creating the outcomes you desire?
In identifying opportunities for improvement don’t waste time cultivating skill areas where you have little competence. Instead concentrate on, and build on, your strengths.
How do I perform?
In what ways do you work best? Do you process information most effectively by reading or by hearing others discuss it? Do you accomplish the most by working with other people or by working alone? Do you perform best while making decisions, or while advising others on key matters? Are you in top form when things get stressful, or do you function optimally in a highly predictable environment?
What are my values?
What are your ethics? What do you see as your most important responsibilities for living a worthy, ethical life? Does your organisation’s ethics resonate with your own values? If not, your career will likely be marked by frustration and poor performance.
Where do I belong?
Consider your strengths, preferred work style and values. Based on these qualities, in what kind of work environment would you fit best? Find the perfect fit and you’ll transform yourself from a merely acceptable employee into a star performer.
What can I contribute?
In earlier eras, companies told business people what their contribution should be. Today you have choices. To decide how you can best enhance your organisation’s performance first ask what the situation requires. Based on your strengths, work style and values, how might you make the greatest contribution to your organisation’s efforts?
The implication is clear: only when you operate from a combination of your strengths and self-knowledge can you achieve true, and lasting, excellence.
Seven Keys to Success
- Concentrate on your strengths. Place yourself where your strengths can produce performance and results.
- Work on improving your strengths. The feedback analysis shows where to improve skills and get new knowledge.
- Identify areas where your intellectual arrogance causes disabling ignorance to you and the team.
- Take action to remedy bad habits that can inhibit your effectiveness and performance in the workplace.
- Be on the lookout for failures due to bad manners and a lack of common courtesy.
- Do not take on jobs and work assignments where there is little talent and little chance to be even mediocre in performance.
- Use your energy to turn a competent team member into the star performer of the team.