Things to Think About

How do you work well?

  • Do I perform well under stress?
  • Do I work best in a big organization or in a small one?

I don’t like stress, but I do work well with deadlines.  I would prefer to work in a medium sized organization or a small organization within a big one.

Do not try to change yourself.  Work hard to take on work you can do well and avoid that which you cannot perform or will only perform poorly.

What are your values?

This does not mean ethics.  Ethics are the same for all of us.  Ethics require that you ask yourself, “What kind of person do I want to see in the mirror?”  Ethics is only part of a value system.

Work in companies which match your values.

A person’s strengths and the way they perform is the same.  But what you are good at may not match your value system.

Your value should be the ultimate test.

Where do you belong?

Mathematicians, musicians, and cooks usually know pretty early on where they belong.  Physicians usually decide in their teens.  But most people don’t.

The rest of the people have to be able to decide where they do not belong as they go along.

Knowing what your strengths are, knowing how you work, and knowing your values helps you 

  • decide what you should do
  • decide how you should do it

What do you want to contribute?

Knowledge workers have to ask, “What should my contribution be?”

What does sit require?

Given my strengths, what can I do?

What will I do?  Where and how can I achieve results within the next 18 mths?

A plan can usually cover no more than 18 months because otherwise it breaks down.

Choose a plan that stretches you, but isn’t impossible.

Results should be meaningful.

Results should be measurable.

Analyze how your relationships work.

If your boss is a reader, write.

If your boss is a listener, talk to them.

The same holds true for all your coworkers.  

The first secret of effectiveness is to understand the people you work with.

Take responsibility for communication.

People don’t know what different people are doing because they haven’t asked and therefore have not been told.  Failure to ask.  Historically there was no need to ask, because people all did the same things.  Today the great majority of people work with people who are different doing things.

Make sure your boss knows what you are doing.  Educate her.  (My bosses are both listeners.)

Knowledge workers should ask

  • how do you work?
  • what are you going to do?

Second Life

Knowledge workers are often bored.  They know all they know and need to know… That is why knowing yourself often moves you to a second career.

More people will move to second careers because they need challenge.

Many people who are successful in their first careers, they stay in that, but add a second career/job/work that they add for ten hours a week.

Social entrepeneurs continue doing what they have done, but they do less of it.  Then they build second non-profit businesses.

But if you look at a long life, you need to work on the second thing or else you will retire on the job.

If you don’t do volunteer work before 40, you won’t volunteer after 60.

At times of crisis, a second thing to do will allow you to be a success.  In a society in which success has become important, having options will be helpful.  In a knowledge society we expect everyone to be a success.

Wherever there is a success, there has to be a failure.  (Really?)

Second career, parallel career, social opportunity offer different places to be successful when the first job doesn’t work out at the pinnacle.

Knowledge workers outlive corporations.

Knowledge workers keep moving along.

from Peter Drucker’s Managing Yourself 

Are you a listener or a reader? How do you learn?

Are you a listener or a reader?

What an interesting question.  Peter Drucker’s Managing Yourself offers some interesting questions.

He said you need to know whether you listen or read.  He said Dwight D. Eisenhower was a reader and as a general he was well-loved by the media, but when he became president they despised him and scoffed at his inability to answer their questions.  Turns out that as a general all his questions were given to him half an hour before the conference started and so he was able to read the question and respond to them thoughtfully.  But as president, he was only asked the questions.  He came off as uneducated and poorly informed because his brain didn’t process oral information as well as it did written information.

This is me.  I do that.  If you talk to me, I can follow you.  But if you ask me something complicated, I have to write it down and read it to get it.  And I am slow to answer orally, but I can answer quickly and well in written communication.  I think there is something about oral communication that makes me feel put on the spot and I feel pressure and don’t do as well.

Lyndon Johnson had been, Drucker said, a superb congressman, but was a poor president.  As a parlimentarian he had to listen well and speak well.  When he became president, though, he inherited the habits of JFK’s staff and they wrote for him.  He didn’t read well and half the time he didn’t get what they were telling him in writing.  

This is an interesting idea with repercussions not just for us but for our students.  I have an older student who acts like she has no clue that I said to do things.  I’ve started trying to write down her assignments, since she doesn’t go read the syllabus.  We’ll see if that really makes a difference.

How do you learn?

He goes on to talk about people who learned by writing (Winston Churchill) and who learn by speaking (himself).

I learn better when I have to teach someone.  If I teach someone, I know things.  This is the best way for me to learn.  It is part of why I enjoy teaching.  I learn so much when I teach.