Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker was considered an expert on management education and is this book he focused on how individuals should manage themselves, so that they can contribute the most.

Main takeaways

Place yourself in a position where you can make the greatest contribution, learn to develop yourself, learn to stay young and mentally alive during a long working life. Learn how and when to change what you do.

Consider these five areas.

  1. Who am I? What are my strengths? How do I work?
  2. Where do I belong?
  3. What is my contribution?
  4. Am I taking responsibility for my relationships?
  5. What’s the plan for the second half of my life?

1 – What are my strengths?

Most people don’t actually know there own strengths. There is only one way to truly work out your strengths, and that is through feedback analysis. When you make a key decision, and when you do a key action, write down your expectations and then 9 to 12 months later compare the expectations to the results. After 2 or 3 years of repeating this process, you should be able to determine your strengths. From those conclusions:

  • Concentrate on your strengths – put yourself in positions where you can use strengths to produce results.
  • Identify gaps in your skills and knowledge.
  • Work on improving your strengths.
  • Identify your bad habits.
  • Identify what actions produce no results and thus what to avoid doing.

How do you learn?

Do you learn better through reading or by listening? – it will usually be one or the other.

Do you learn better by writing notes, by doing, by hearing yourself, by teaching others, on your own or with others? Do you work well with stress or do you need a structured, organised environment? Do you produce results as a decision maker or adviser?

Once you determine how you learn best, don’t try to change the way you learn, but focus hard on how you can improve your results.

What are your values?

To determine your values use the mirror test. – Ask yourself, what kind of person do you want to see when you shave yourself, or put lipstick on in the morning?

If you are in a job or situation which doesn’t align with your values, you must quit. Values are and should be the ultimate test.

2 – Where do I belong?

Answering the three questions above should tell you where you should belong. Prepare yourself for opportunities by placing yourself in positions which align with your strengths, how you learn, and your values. For knowing where you belong can turn ordinary, hard working people into outstanding performers.

3 – What is your contribution?

You should ask yourself – What should my contribution be? To help answer that question, consider where and how you can have results that make a difference. Results should be hard to achieve, but realistic. Also, the results should be meaningful, they should be visible, and, if possible, measurable.

Only when you have determined what your contribution should be, ask yourself: Does this fit my strengths? Is this what I want to do? Do I find this rewarding and stimulating?

Your contribution balances three elements –

  1. What does the situation require?
  2. How do I make the greatest contribution, with my strengths, my way of performing, my values, to what needs to be done?
  3. What results have to be achieved to make a difference?

This then leads to creating action conclusions: what to do, where to start, how to start, what goals and deadlines to set. Once you have decided what your contribution should be, you have freedom because you now have responsibility.

4 – Relationship responsibility

In life, it is very likely you are going to have to work with others, therefore you have to accept everyone is an individual just like yourself. This means other people have different strengths, ways of doing things, values, and contributions. To be effective, you should learn and cater yourself to other people’s differences.

The second thing you should do, is take responsibility for communications.Determine who needs to know this? How should I tell them? Whom do I depend on? Whom depends on me?

5 – The second part of your life

Over time people get bored, deteriorate, “retire on the job” and become a burden to themselves and to everyone around them. When/if this point is reached, it may be important to consider what you should do.

There are three answers to this dilemma.

  1. Start a second or different career.
  2. Develop a parallel career – help out at a charity or sports club etc.
  3. Become a social entrepreneur – start a non-profit, write books, coach others etc.

There is one requirement for managing the second part of your life – begin creating it before you enter it.


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