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We Have to Manage Ourselves

We Have to Manage Ourselves

In his classic Harvard Business Review article Managing Oneself, Peter Drucker talked about the importance of managing yourself well if you hope to achieve meaningful success. Among other great examples, he described how Dwight Eisenhower was renowned for conducting effective press conferences as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during World War II. His aides insisted that all questions be submitted to him in writing at least 30 minutes beforehand. He read the questions, considered his answers, and then answered the questions eloquently.

Fast forward five or six years. Eisenhower is now the 34th President of the United States. Both his predecessors Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman loved responding to live questions from the press without preparation. Instead of changing the format of these press conferences to play to his strengths (he was a reader, not a listener), Eisenhower tried to provide answers without requiring pre-submitted questions. As a result, the same reporters who lauded him just years before now considered him incompetent.

Performance Principle: We have to manage ourselves; no one else is going to do it for us. For example, I have learned over time that I learn by talking. Literally, unless the words come out of my mouth, I don’t really know what I think. Furthermore, I make better decisions if I talk things through with others before I act. The combination of “learning by talking” and getting the feedback of someone I trust yields consistently better results for me.

Learn how you learn. Pay attention to the setting, situations, and environments in which you thrive and spend more time there. Identify the circumstances that play to your weaknesses – and re-engineer them. You have to set yourself up to succeed.

If you have not read this classic article by Drucker, you should. You have to pay for the download but it’s worth it.


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