Historically, there wasn't much of a concept of managing ones self. For much of human history, you kept up the family trade, whether you were a blaskmith, tailor, farmer, etc. In the early 1900s, the careers department of companies would manage you, since you would stay at the same company often for decades. Now we’re in a society where professionals change jobs more frequently, and have an ever expanding pool of options.
Now, the more you can manage yourself, the more successful you will be.
Play to your strengths and refine your self-awareness via Feedback Analysis
Now that professionals have autonomy over their careers, they can pick professions that are best suited for their unique personality and skills.
In principle, you should double down on your strengths versus compensate for your weaknesses. There are always other people who's strengths complement your weaknesses, so you should learn to work with them.
Self-awareness of one's strengths is something that should be continuously refined. You can do this via Feedback Analysis, which Peter Drucker says is one of his most valuable practices. Here's a template I created to get started.
Know how you need to consume information
Everyone is either a "reader" or a "listener". It's important to know which one you are so you can optimize for information intake accordingly. The risk of not knowing this can mean frustration from those around you when they don't feel like the message they're communicating is being heard.
Know how you learn
While schools teach everyone in one specific way, everyone learns differently. Knowing how are you learn is a critical variable in optimizing for success in the workplace, and in life overall.
Some people learn through reading, others may learn by writing, listening, or speaking. Some leaders are known to assemble a small audience that will listen to them, simply because they learn by speaking.
Relationships are critical to cultivate at work
Firstly, it’s important to join a company where your values align. If they don’t line then there’s going to constantly be friction there and you want perform as well as you otherwise would.
Most people can’t achieve massive goals without working with others. It’s your duty to take responsibility for relationships whether you like the person or no.
Once you join team, remember that any two humans working together will have have friction. This is just as true as in a physics context where two inanimate objects having friction.
The way to ease the friction is to use manners and common courtesy. This is often contrary to how engineering types prefer to act. They think it's inefficient. They are wrong.
Know whether or not you work well with other people. If you do work well with people, in what form of relationship? Where you're the leader? The follower? Or as an equal coworker? Once you know the answer to this, it's important to not try to change yourself, because you're unlikely to succeed. Instead, play towards your strengths.
In any instance, it's important to know how to manage one's boss. The secret to managing the boss is to adapt yourself to how the boss works. Is the boss of reader or a listener?
When you get a new boss, be sure to adjust to how they perform so you can be most effective. Similarly with coworkers. Working relationships are as much based on the people as the work. It’s important for everyone to know what you’re doing. It's especially important for the head of your department to know this from you:
Make sure the head of your department knows this:
- What you're going to do
- Why you're trying to do it
- How you're going to do it
- Results to expect
As a leader, you need to make sure subordinates understand:
- How you look at your team
- Your goals for the team
- How you work
- What you expect of yourself
- What you expect of them
When it comes to coworkers alongside you, communicate this:
- "This is what I’m good at"
- "Here's how I work"
- "Here are my values"
- "This is the contribution I’m focused on"
- "Here are the results you can expect me to deliver"
- "What can I know about you and your domain?
Set achievable goals
To aim for results they can only be achieved in unlikely circumstances occur is not being ambitious, it’s being foolish.
On life fulfillment
Many professionals that hit 40 hit a mid-career crisis. They are bored with work and unsatisfied.
At this age, you're likely will have 20-25 more years of work. This is time to develop a second career or a parallel career. This could be another job all together, or consulting on the side, a social venture, or general passion. (If you need advice on how to get started consulting, David may be able to help.)
The minority of people who do this are more likely to become leaders and models.
It's also important to improve your fulfillment here because everyone is likely to experience at least one massive setback in life — either personally or professionally. This could be losing a job, not getting promoted, or an unexpected death in the family.