“Successful careers are not planned. They develop when people are prepared for opportunities because they know their strengths, their method of work, and their values.”
This is what top management guru, Peter Drucker once wrote on the topic of managing oneself and managing one’s career, in an article published, in the Harvard Business Review. But what does it really mean to manage yourself?
Well, let’s take a closer look at that quote of Drucker.
Firstly, he says that “Successful careers are not planned”: It is rarely possible—or even particularly fruitful—to look too far ahead. A plan should usually cover no more than a year and a half.
So the question in most cases should be: “Where and how can I achieve results that will make a difference within the next year and a half ?”
The answer must have these three components:
First, the results should be hard to achieve—they should require you to “stretch” yourself. But also, they should be within reach. To aim at results that cannot be achieved—or that can be only under the most unlikely circumstances—is not being ambitious; it is being foolish. Second, the results should be meaningful. They should make a difference. Third, the results should be visible and, if at all possible, measurable.
After you have clarified these three things, it should be relatively easy to plan a course of action. Drucker also encourages us to ask yourself some critical questions:
Don't try to change yourself. Instead, concentrate on:
If you do that, you can transform yourself from an ordinary worker into an outstanding performer....when you "Know Thyself", as the Greek philosopher Socrates taught over 2,500 years ago.