The reality of our lives as knowledge workers is that we're looking at a 40-50 year career. There's recipes for avoiding this. Find multiple streams of income. Keep spending at a minimum. Retire early. You're probably familiar with the "FIRE" calling card. But for most of us, we've got decades and decades of career left. This gets much less intimidating and more exciting when you have a sense of how and when to change the work we do. Peter Drecker's Managing Oneself provides provoking questions and tools for doing precisely this. It's a short, and worthwhile read. These were the quotes that stuck with me:
- We have to stay mentally alert and engaged during a 50-year working life, which means knowing how and when to change the work we do.
- The only way to discover your strengths is through feedback analysis. 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.
- First and foremost, concentrate on your strengths. Put yourself where your strengths can produce results.
- And yet most people—especially most teachers and most organizations—concentrate on making incompetent performers into mediocre ones. Energy, resources, and time should go instead to making a competent person into a star performer.
- The explanation is that writers do not, as a rule, learn by listening and reading. They learn by writing. Because schools do not allow them to learn this way, they get poor grades.
- When I ask people, “How do you learn?” most of them know the answer. But when I ask, “Do you act on this knowledge?” few answer yes. And yet, acting on this knowledge is the key to performance; or rather, not acting on this knowledge condemns one to nonperformance.
- That is the mirror test. Ethics requires that you ask yourself, What kind of person do I want to see in the mirror in the morning?
- But most people, especially highly gifted people, do not really know where they belong until they are well past their mid-twenties. By that time, however, they should know the answers to the three questions: What are my strengths? How do I perform? and, What are my values? And then they can and should decide where they belong.
- 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. Knowing where one belongs can transform an ordinary person—hardworking and competent but otherwise mediocre—into an outstanding performer.
- The first is to accept the fact that other people are as much individuals as you yourself are. They perversely insist on behaving like human beings. This means that they too have their strengths; they too have their ways of getting things done; they too have their values. To be effective, therefore, you have to know the strengths, the performance modes, and the values of your coworkers.
- Today, however, most work is knowledge work, and knowledge workers are not “finished” after 40 years on the job, they are merely bored.
- People who manage the second half of their lives may always be a minority. The majority may “retire on the job” and count the years until their actual retirement. But it is this minority, the men and women who see a long working-life expectancy as an opportunity both for themselves and for society, who will become leaders and models.