Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker: [Summary & Key Notes]

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Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker: [Summary & Key Notes]

High Level Thoughts

Not really a “book” and more of a guide on how to develop your strengths to manage yourself and find the right place to make the greatest contribution in an organization. Read more on Amazon.


  1. What are my strengths?
  2. How do I perform?
    1. Am I a reader or a listener?
    2. How do I learn?
  3. What are my values?
  4. Where do I belong?
  5. What should I contribute?
  6. Responsibility for relationships
  7. The second half of your life

What are my strengths?

  • We need to know our strengths in order to know where we belong.
  • How to find your strengths:
    • The only way to discover your strengths is through feedback analysis.
  • Feedback analysis to find your strengths:
    • Whenever you make a key decision or take a key action, write down what you expect will happen.
    • Nine or 12 months later, compare the actual results with your expectations.
  • What to do after you find your strengths:
    • Concentrate on your strengths and put yourself where your strengths can produce results.
    • Work on improving your strengths.
    • Discover where your intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it.
  • It is equally essential to remedy your bad habits – the things you do or fail to do that inhibit your effectiveness and performance.
  • One should waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence. It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.

How do I perform?

  • For knowledge workers, “How do I perform?” may be an even more important question than “What are my strengths?”

Am I a reader or a listener?

  • Few listeners can be made, or can make themselves, into competent readers – and vice versa.

How do I learn?

  • Writers learn by writing. Some people learn by taking copious notes. Some people learn by doing. Others learn by hearing themselves talk.
  • Find how you learn best to improve your performance.
  • Do I work well with people or am I a loner? If you work well with people, then you must ask, in what relationship?
  • Some people work best as team members. Others work best alone.
  • Do I produce results as a decision maker or as an advisor?
  • Do I perform well under stress, or do I need a highly structured and predictable environment?
  • Don’t try to change yourself – you’re unlikely to succeed.
  • Do work hard to improve the way you perform.

What are my values?

  • The “mirror test” is this: What kind of person do I want to see in the mirror in the morning?
  • Your values and the values of the organization need to be compatible.
  • Your values and your strengths can sometimes conflict.
  • Values should be the ultimate test.

Where do I belong?

  • Answer these questions to figure out where you belong:
    • What are my strengths?
    • How do I perform?
    • What are my values?
  • Knowing these questions allows you to say yes or no to opportunities. If yes, in what kind of structure it needs to be.
  • Successful careers are not planned. They are developed when people are prepared for opportunities because they know their strengths, their method of work, and their values.

What should I contribute?

  • Answer these questions to figure out what your contribution should be:
    • What does the situation require?
    • Given my strengths, my way of performing, and my values, how can I make the greatest contribution to what needs to be done?
    • What results need to be achieved to make a difference?
  • Pick a timeframe and ask, “where and how can I achieve results that will make a difference within the next _____?
  • The results should be meaningful, within reach, but hard to achieve.
  • Results should be visible and if possible, measurable.
  • From this will come a course of action:
    • What to do.
    • Where and how to start.
    • What goals and deadlines to set.

Responsibility for relationships

  • Most people work with others and are effective with other people.
  • It’s your job to communicate in your working relationships what you’re good at, how you work, what your values are, what results you expect to contribute, etc.
  • Then you should ask them what you need to know about their strenghts, how they perform, their values, and proposed contribution.
  • The goal is to take responsibility for relationships to clearly understand each other.

The second half of your life

  • At 45 most executives reach the peak of their careers.
  • There are three ways to develop a second career:
    • Actually start one.
    • Develop a parallel career.
    • Be a social entrepreneur.
  • Having a second major interest can help with”being somebody.” For example, connecting with community outside of family or experience success if you’re not finding it at work.


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