Managing oneself


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Managing oneself

  1. 1. » MANAGING YOURSELF BEST OF HBR1999 We live in an age of unprecedented opportunity: If youve got ambition and smarts, you can rise to the top of your chosen profession, regardless of where you started out. But with opportunity comes responsibility. Companies today arent manag- ing their employeescareers; knowledge workers must, effectively, be their own chief executive officers. Its up to you to carve out your place, to know when to change course, and to keep yourself engaged and productive during a work life that may span some 50 years.To do those things well, youll need to cultivate adeepunderstandingof yourself-not only what your strengths and weaknesses are but also how you learn, how you work with others, what your values are, and where you can make the greatest contribution. Because only when you operate from strengths can you achieve true excellence.Managing Oneselfby Peter R Drucker W: istorys great achievers - a What Are My Strengths? Napoleon, a da Vinci, a Mozart - have Most people think they know what they always managed themselves. That, in are good at. They are usually wrong.Success in the large measure, is what makes them More often, people know what they are great achievers. But they are rare excep- not good at - and even then more peo-knowledge economy tions, so unusual both in their talents ple are wrong than right. And yet, a per-comes to those who and their accomplishments as to be son can perform only from strength. considered outside the boundaries of One cannot build performance on weak-know themselves- ordinary human existence. Now, most nesses, let alone on something one can-their strengths, their of us, even those of us with modest en- not do at all. dowments, will have to leam to man- Throughout history, people had littlevalues, and how they age ourselves. We will have to leam to need to know their strengths. A person develop ourselves. We will have to place was born into a position and a line ofbest perform. ourselves where we can make the great- work: The peasants son would also be est contribution. And we will have to a peasant; the artisans daughter, an stay mentally alert and engaged during artisans wife; and so on. But now people a 50-year working life, which means have choices. We need to know our knowing how and when to change the strengths in order to know where we work we do. belong.100 HARVARD BUSTNESS REVIEUi
  2. 2. » MANAGING YOURSELF The only way to discover your Second, work on improving your manners. Manners are the lubricatingstrengths is through feedback analysis. strengths. Analysis will rapidly show oil of an organization. It is a law of na-Whenever you make a key decision or where you need to improve skills or ac- ture that two moving bodies in contacttake a key action, write down what you quire new ones. It will also show the gaps with each other create friction. This is asexpect will happen. Nine or 12 months in your knowledge -and those can usu- true for human beings as it is for inani-later, compare the actual results with ally befilled.Mathematicians are bom, mate objects. Manners- simple thingsyour expectations. I have been practic- but everyone can learn trigonometry. like saying "please" and "thank you"ing this method for 15 to 20 years now, Third, discover where your intellec- and knowing a persons name or askingand every time I do it, 1 am surprised. tual arrogance is causing disabling ig- after her family-enable two people toThe feedback analysis showed me, for norance and overcome it. Far too many work together whether they like eachinstance-and to my great surprise-that people - especially people with great other or not. Bright people, especiallyI have an intuitive understanding oftechnical people, whether they are en-gineers or accountants or market re- It takes far more energy to improve fromsearchers. It also showed me that I dont incompetence to mediocrity than to improvereally resonate with generalists. Feedback analysis is by no means from first-rate performance to It was invented sometime in thefourteenth century by an otherwise to- expertise in one area-are contemptu- bright young people, often do not un-tally obscure German theologian and ous of knowledge in other areas or be- derstand this. If analysis shows thatpicked up quite independently, some lieve that heing bright is a substitute someones brilliant work fails again and150 years later, by John Calvin and Ig- for knowledge. First-rate engineers, for again as soon as cooperation fromnatius of Loyola, each of whom incor- instance, tend to take pride in not know- others is required, it probably indicatesporated it into the practice of his fol- ing anything about people. Human be- a lack of courtesy - that is, a lack oflowers. In fact, the steadfast focus on ings, they believe, are much too disor- manners.performance and results that this habit derly for the good engineering mind. Comparing your expectations withproduces explains why the institutions Human resources professionals, by con- your results also indicates what not tothese two men founded, the Calvinist trast, often pride themselves on their ig- do. We all have a vast number of areaschurch and the Jesuit order, came to norance of elementary accounting or of in which we have no talent or skill anddominate Europe within 30 years. quantitative methods altogether. But little chance of becoming even medio- Practiced consistently, this simple taking pride in such ignorance is self- cre. In those areas a person - and espe-method will show you within a fairly defeating. Go to work on acquiring the cially a knowledge worker-should notshort period of time, maybe two or skills and knowledge you need to fully take on work, jobs, and assignments.three years, where your strengths lie - realize your strengths. One should waste as little effort as pos-and this is the most important thing to It is equally essential to remedy your sible on improving areas of low compe-know. The method will show you what bad habits-the things you do or fail to tence. It takes far more energy andyou are doing or failing to do that de- do that inhibit your effectiveness and work to improve from incompetence toprives you of the full benefits of your performance. Such habits will quickly mediocrity than it takes to improvestrengths. It will show you where you show up in the feedback. For example, from first-rate performance to excel-are not particularly competent. And fi- a planner may find that his beautiful lence. And yet most people-especiallynally, it will show you where you have plans fail because he does not follow most teachers and most organizations-no strengths and cannot perform. through on them. Like so many brilliant concentrate on making incompetent performers into mediocre ones. Energy, Several implications for action follow people, he believes that ideas move resources, and time should go instead from feedback analysis. First and fore- mountains. But bulldozers move moun- to making a competent person into a most, concentrate on your strengths. Put tains; ideas show where the bulldozers star performer. yourself where your strengths can pro- should go to work. This planner will duce results. have to learn that the work does not stop when the plan is completed. He must How Do I Perform? Peter E Drucker is the Marie Rankin find people to carry out the plan and ex- Amazingly few people know how they Clarke Professor of Social Science and plain it to them. He must adapt and get things done. Indeed, most of us do Management (Emeritus) at Claremont change it as he puts it into action. And fi- not even know that different people Graduate University in Ctaremont, Cali- nally, he must decide when to stop push- work and perform differently. Too many ing the plan. people work in ways that are not theirfornia. This article is an excerptfromhis book Management Challenges for the At the same time, feedback will also ways, and that almost guarantees non- 21st Century (HarperCollins, 1999)- reveal when the problem is a lack of performance. For knowledge workers.102 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW
  3. 3. Managing Oneself • BEST OF HBRHow do I perform? may be an even became president, he succeeded two lis-more important question than What are teners. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harrymy strengths? When Dwight Eisenhower was Su- Truman. Botb men knew themselves to Like ones strengths, how one per- preme Commander of tbe Allied forces be listeners and both enjoyed free-for-allforms is unique. It is a matter of person-in Europe, he was the darling of the press conferences. Eisenhower may haveality. Whether personality be a matter of press. His press conferences were fa- felt tbat he bad to do what bis two pre-nature or nurture, it surely is formed mous for their style - General Eisen- decessors had done. As a result, be neverlong before a person goes to work. And hower showed total command of what- even heard tbe questions journalistshow a person performs is a given, just as ever question he was asked, and he was asked. And Eisenhower is not even anwhat a person is good at or not good at able to describe a situation and explain extreme case ofa a given. A persons way of performing a policy in two or three beautifully pol- A few years later, Lyndon Johnson de-can be slightly modified, but it is un- ished and elegant sentences. Ten years stroyed his presidency, in large measure,likely to be completely cbanged-and cer- later, tbe same journalists who bad been by not knowing that he was a listener.tainly not easily. Just as people achieve his admirers held President Eisenhower His predecessor, John Kennedy, was aresults by doing what they are good at, in open contempt. He never addressed reader who had assembled a brilliantthey also achieve results by working in the questions, they complained, but ram- group of writers as his assistants, makingways that they best perform. A few com- bled on endlessly about something else. sure that they wrote to him before dis-mon personality traits usually deter- And they constantly ridiculed him for cussing their memos in person. John-mine how a person performs. butchering the Kings English in inco- son kept these people on his staff-and Am I a reader or a listener? The first herent and ungrammatica! answers. they kept on writing. He never, appar-thing to know is whether you are a Eisenhower apparently did not know ently, understood one word of whatreader or a listener. Far too few people that be was a reader, not a listener. they wrote. Yet as a senator, Johnson hadeven know that there are readers and When be was Supreme Commander in been superb; for parliamentarians havelisteners and that people are rarely Europe, his aides made sure tbat every to be, above all, listeners.botb. Even fewer know which ofthe two question from the press was presented Few listeners can be made, or canthey themselves are. But some examples in writing at least half an hour before a make themselves, into competent read-will show how damaging such igno- conference was to begin. And then Eisen- ers - and vice versa. The listener whorance can be. hower was in total command. When he tries to be a reader will, therefore, sufferJANUARY 2005 103
  4. 4. » MANAGING YOURSELFthe fate of Lyndon Johnson, whereas the ferent positions on each one. He rarely form best as advisers but cannot takereader who tries to be a listener will suf- asked his associates for comments or the burden and pressure of making thefer tbe fate of Dwight Eisenhower. They questions; he simply needed an audi- decision. A good many other people,bywill not perform or achieve. ence to bear himself talk. Thats how he contrast, need an adviser to force them- How do I learn? The second thing leamed. And although he is a fairly ex- selves to think; then they can make de-to know about bow one performs is to treme case, learning through talking is cisions and act on them with speed, self-know how one learns. Many first-class by no means an unusual method. Suc- confidence, and courage.writers - Winston Churchill is but one cessful trial lawyers learn the same This is a reason, by the way, tbat theexample -do poorly in school. They tend way, as do many medical diagnosticians number two person in an organizationto remember their schooling as pure (and so do I). often fails when promoted to the num-torture. Yet few of their classmates re- Of all the important pieces of self- ber one position. The top spot requiresmember it the same way. They may not knowledge, understanding bow you a decision maker. Strong decision mak-have enjoyed the school very much, but leam is the easiest to acquire. When I ask ers often put somebody they trust intothe worst they suffered was boredom. people, "How do you leam?" most of the number two spot as their adviser-The explanation is that writers do not, them know tbe answer. But when I ask, and in tbat position the person is out-as a rule, leam by listening and reading. "Do you act on this knowledge?" few standing. But in tbe number one spot,They leam by writing. Because schools answer yes. And yet, acting on this the same person fails. He or she knowsdo not allow them to team this way, they knowledge is the key to performance; or wbat tbe decision should be but cannotget poor grades. rather, not acting on this knowledge accept the responsibility of actually condemns one to n on performance. making it. Schools everywhere are organized onthe assumption tbat there is only one Am I a reader or a listener? and How Other important questions to ask in-right way to leam and that it is the same do I learn? are the first questions to ask. clude. Do I perform well under stress, orway for everybody. But to be forced to But they are by no means the only ones. do 1 need a highly stmctured and pre-leam tbe way a school teaches is sheer To manage yourself effectively, you also dictable environment? E>o I work best inbelt for students who leam differently. have to ask. Do 1 work well with people. a big organization or a small one? Few people work well in all kinds of envi- ronments. Again and again, I have seenDo not try to change yourself-you are unlikely people who were very successful in large organizations flounder miserably whento succeed. Work to improve the way you perform. they moved into smaller ones. And the reverse is equally tme.Indeed, there are probably half a dozen or am I a loner? And if you do work wel! Tbe conclusion bears repeating: Dodifferent ways to learn. with people, you then must ask. In what not try to change yourself-you are un- There are people, like Churchill, who relationship? likely to succeed. But work hard to im-leam by writing. Some people leam by Some people work best as subordi- prove the way you perform. And try nottaking copious notes. Beethoven,for ex- nates. General George Patton, tbe great to take on work you cannot perform orample, left behind an enormous num- American military hero of World War II, will only perform poorly.ber of sketchbooks, yet he said he never is a prime example. Patton was Amer-actually looked at them when he com- icas top troop commander. Yet when What Are My Values?posed. Asked why he kept them, he is he was proposed for an independent To be able to manage yourself, you fi-reported to have replied,"If I dont write command. General George Marshall, nally have to ask. What are my values?it down immediately, I forget it right the U.S. chief of staff-and probably the This is not a question of ethics. With re-away. If I put it into a sketchbook, I never most successful picker of men in U.S. spect to ethics, the rules are the same forforget it and I never have to look it up history - said, "Patton is tbe best sub- everybody, and the test is a simple one.again." Some people leam by doing. Oth- ordinate the American army has ever I call it the "mirror test."ers learn by hearing themselves talk. produced, but he would be the worst In tbe early years of this century, the A chief executive I know who con- commander." most highly respected diplomat of allverted a small and mediocre family busi- Some people work best as team mem- the great powers was the German am-ness into the leading company in its in- bers. Others work best alone. Some are bassador in London. He was clearly des-dustry was one of those people who exceptionally talented as coaches and tined for great things - to become hisleam by talking. He was in the habit of mentors; others are simply incompetent countrys foreign minister, at least, if notcalling his entire senior staff into his as mentors. its federal chancellor. Yet in 1906 heoffice once a week and then talking at Another crucial question is. Do I pro- abmptly resigned rather than presidethem for two or three hours. He would duce results as a decision maker or as over a dinner given by the diplomaticraise policy issues and argue three dif- an adviser? A great many people per- corps for Edward VII. The king was a104 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW
  5. 5. Managing Oneself • BEST OF HBRnotorious womanizeT and made it clear much the same. At bottom, there is a pastor argued, "Unless you first comewhat kind of dinner he wanted. The conflict between a value system that to church, you will neverfindthe gate toambassador is reported to have said, sees the companys contribution in the Kingdom of Heaven.""1 refuse to see a pimp in the mirror in terms of helping physicians do better "No," answered the other. "Until youthe morning when 1 shave." what they already do and a value system first look for the gate to the Kingdom of That is the mirror test. Ethics re- that is oriented toward making scien- Heaven, you dont belong in church."quires that you ask yourself, What kind tific discoveries. Organizations, like people, have val-of person do I want to see in the mirror Whether a business should be run ues. To be effective in an organization,in the morning? What is ethical behav- for short-term results or with a focus on a persons values must be compatibleior in one kind of organization or situ- with the organizations values. They doation is ethical behavior in another. not need to be the same, but they mustBut ethics is only part of a value sys- What one does well - be close enough to coexist. Otherwise,tem - especially of an organizations even very well and the person will not only be frustratedvalue system. but also will not produce results. successfully - may not fit To work in an organization whose A persons strengths and the way value system is unacceptable or in- with ones value system. that person performs rarely conflict; the compatible with ones own condemns two are complementary. But there is a person both to frustration and to the long term is likewise a question of sometimes a conflict between a per- nonperformance. values. Financial analysts believe that sons values and his or her strengths. Consider the experience of a highly businesses can be run for both simul- What one does well-even very well and successful human resources executive taneously. Successful businesspeople successfully - may not fit with ones whose company was acquired by a big- know better. To be sure, every com- value system. In that case, the workger organization. After the acquisition, pany has to produce short-term results. may not appear to be worth devoting she was promoted to do the kind of But in any conflict between short-term ones life to (or even a substantial por- work she did best, which included se- results and long-term growth, each com- tion thereof). lecting people for important positions. pany will determine its own priority. If I may, allow me to interject a per-The executive deeply believed that a This is not primarily a disagreement sonal note. Many years ago, 1 too hadcompany should hire people for such about economics, lt is fundamentally to decide between my values and what positions from the outside only after ex- a value conflict regarding the function I was doing successfully. I was doing very hausting all the inside possibilities. But of a business and the responsibility of well as a young investment banker in her new company believed in first look- management. London in the mid-i93os, and the working outside "to bring in fresh blood." Value conflicts are not limited to busi- clearly fit my strengths. Yet I did not seeThere is something to be said for both ness organizations. One of the fastest- myself making a contribution as anapproaches - in my experience, the growing pastoral churches in the United asset manager. People, I realized, wereproper one is to do some of both. They States measures success by the number what I valued, and I saw no point inare, however, fundamentally incompat- of new parishioners. Its leadership be- being the richest man in the cemetery.ible-not as policies but as values. They lieves that what matters is how many I had no money and no other job pros-bespeak different views ofthe relation- newcomers join the congregation. The pects. Despite the continuing Depres-ship between organizations and people; Good Lord will then minister to their sion, I quit-and it was the right thing todifferent views of the responsibility of spiritual needs or at least to the needs do. Values, in other words, are andan organization to its people and their of a sufficient percentage. Another should be the ultimate test.development; and different views of a pastoral, evangelical church believespersons most important contribution that what matters is peoples spiritual Where Do I Belong?to an enterprise. After several years of growth. The church eases out new- A small number of people know veryfrustration, the executive quit - at con- comers who join but do not enter into early where they belong. Mathemati-siderable financial loss. Her values and its spiritual life. cians, musicians, and cooks, for instance,the values of the organization simply Again, this is not a matter of num- are usually mathematicians, musicians,were not compatible. bers. At first glance, it appears that the and cooks by the time they are four or Similarly, whether a pharmaceutical second church grows more slowly. But it five years old. Physicians usually decidecompany tries to obtain results by mak- retains a far larger proportion of new- on their careers in their teens, if not ear-ing constant, small improvements or by comers than the first one does. Its lier. But most people, especially highlyachieving occasional, highly expensive, growth, in other words, is more solid. gifted people, do not really know whereand risky "breakthroughs" is not pri- This is also not a theological problem, they belong until they are well past theirmarily an economic question. The re- or only secondarily so. It is a problem mid-twenties. By that time, however,sults of either strategy may be pretty about values. In a public debate, one they should know the answers to theJANUARY 2005 105
  6. 6. » MANAGING YOURSELFthree questions: What are my strengths?How do I perform? and, What are myvalues? And then they can and shoulddecide where they belong. Or rather, they should be able to de-cide where they do not belong. The per-son who has learned that he or shedoes not perform well in a big organi-zation should have learned to say no toa position in one. The person who haslearned that he or she is not a decisionmaker should have learned to say no toa decision-making assignment. A Gen-eral Patton (who probably never learnedthis himself) should have learned to sayno to an independent command. Equally important, knowing the an-swer to these questions enables a per-son to say to an opportunity, an offer, oran assignment, "Yes, I will do that. Butthis is the way I should be doing it. Thisis the way it should be structured. Thisis the way the relationships should be.These are the kind of results you shouldexpect from me, and in this time frame,because this is who I am." Successful careers are not planned.They develop when people are prepared / want to do? And what they heard was tablish a standard of excellence in onefor opportunities because they know that the way to contribute was to "do important area within two years. Hetheir strengths, their method of work, your own thing." But this solution was chose to focus on the emergency room,and their values. Knowing where one as wrong as the organization mens had which was big, visible, and sloppy. Hebelongs can transform an ordinary per- been. Very few of the people who be- decided that every patient who cameson - hardworking and competent but lieved that doing ones own thing would into the ER had to be seen by a quali-otherwise mediocre-into an outstand- lead to contribution, self-fulfillment, and fied nurse within 60 seconds. Within 12ing performer. success achieved any of the three. months, the hospitals emergency room But still, there is no return to the old had become a model for all hospitals inWhat Should I Contribute? answer of doing what you are told or the United States, and within anotherThroughout history, the great majority assigned to do. Knowledge workers in two years, the whole hospital had beenof people never had to ask the question. particular have to learn to ask a ques- transformed.What should 1 contribute? They were tion that has not been asked before: As this example suggests, it is rarelytold what to contribute, and their tasks What should my contribution be? To possible -or even particularly fruitful -were dictated either by the work itself- answer it, they must address three dis- to look too far ahead. A plan can usuallyas it was for the peasant or artisan - or tinct elements: What does the situa- cover no more than 18 months and stillby a master or a mistress - as it was for tion require? Given my strengths, my be reasonably clear and specific. So thedomestic servants. And until very re- way of performing, and my values, how question in most cases should be. Wherecently, it was taken for granted that can I make the greatest contribution and how can I achieve results that willmost people were subordinates who did to what needs to be done? And finally. make a difference within the next yearas they were told. Even in the 1950s and What results have to be achieved to and a half? The answer must balance1960s, the new knowledge workers (the make a difference? several things. First, the results shouldso-called organization men) looked to Consider the experience of a newly be hard to achieve-they should requiretheir companys personnel department appointed hospital administrator. The "stretching," to use the current buzz-to plan their careers. hospital was big and prestigious, but it word. But also, they should be within Then in the late 1960s, no one wanted had been coasting on its reputation for reach. To aim at results that cannot beto be told what to do any longer. Young 30 years. The new administrator decided achieved-or that can be only under themen and women began to ask, What do that his contribution should be to es- most unlikely circumstances - is not106 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW
  7. 7. Managing Oneself • BEST OF HBRbeing ambitious; it is being foolish. Sec- The same holds true for all your who do these things must make sureond, the results should be meaningful. coworkers. Each works his or her way, that the marketing vice president un-They should make a difference. Finally, not your way. And each is entitled to derstands what they are trying to do,results should be visible and, if at all work in his or her way. What matters is why they are trying to do it, how theypossible, measurable. From this will whether they perform and what their are going to do it, and what results tocome a course of action; what to do, values are. As for how they perform - expect.where and how to start, and what goals each is likely to do it differently. The Ifthe marketing vice president doesand deadlines to set. first secret of effectiveness is to under- not understand what these high-grade stand the people you work with and knowledge specialists are doing, it is pri-Responsibility depend on so that you can make use of marily their fault, not hers. They havefor Relationships their strengths, their ways of working, not educated her. Conversely, it is the Very few people work by themselves and their values. Working relationships marketing vice presidents responsibility and achieve results by themselves - a are as much based on the people as to make sure that all of her coworkers few great artists, a few great scientists, they are on the work. understand how she looks at market- a few great athletes. Most people work The second part of relationship re- ing: what her goals are, how she works, with others and are effective with other sponsibility is taking responsibility for and what she expects of herself and of people. That is true whether they are communication. Whenever I, or any each one of them. members of an organization or inde- other consultant, start to work with an Even people who understand the im- pendently employed. Managing your- organization, thefirstthing I hear about portance of taking responsibility for re- self requires taking responsibility for are all the personality conflicts. Most of lationships often do not communicate relationships. This has two parts. these arise from the fact that people do sufficiently with their associates. They The first is to accept the fact that not know what other people are doing are afraid of being thought presumptu- other people are as much individuals and how they do their work, or what ous or inquisitive or stupid. They are as you yourself are. They perversely in- sist on behaving like human beings.This means that they too have their The first secret of effectiveness is to understand strengths; they too have their ways of the people you work with so that you can makegetting things done; they too have theirvalues. To be effective, therefore, you use of their strengths. have to know the strengths, the perfor-mance modes, and the values of your contribution the other people are con- wrong. Whenever someone goes to hisC workers. O centrating on and what results they ex- or her associates and says,"This is what That sounds obvious, but few people pect. And the reason they do not know I am good at. This is how I work. Thesepay attention to it. Typical is the person is that they have not asked and there- are my values. This is the contribution Iwho was trained to write reports in his fore have not been told. plan to concentrate on and the resultsor her first assignment because that This failure to ask reflects human stu- I should be expected to deliver," the re-boss was a reader. Even ifthe next boss pidity less than it refiects human his- sponse is always, "This is most a listener, the person goes on writing tory. Until recently, it was unnecessary But why didnt you tell me earlier?"reports that, invariably, produce no re- to tell any of these things to anybody. In And one gets the same reaction -sults. Invariably the boss will think the the medieval city, everyone in a district without exception, in my experience-ifemployee is stupid, incompetent, and plied the same trade. In the countryside, one continues by asking, "And what dolazy, and be or she will fail. But that everyone in a valley planted the same I need to know about your strengths,could have been avoided if the em- crop as soon as the frost was out of the how you perform, your values, and yourployee had only looked at the new boss ground. Even those few people who did proposed contribution?" In fact, knowl-and analyzed how (/1/5 boss performs. things that were not "common" worked edge workers should request this of Bosses are neither a title on the orga- alone, so they did not have to tell any- everyone with whom they work, whethernization chart nor a"function."They are one what they were doing. as subordinate, superior, colleague, orindividuals and are entitled to do their Today the great majority of people team member. And again, whenever thiswork in the way they do it best, it is in- work with others who have different is done, the reaction is always, "Thankscumbent on the people who work with tasks and responsibilities. The market- for asking me. But why didnt you askthem to observe them, to find out how ing vice president may have come out of me earlier?"they work, and to adapt themselves to sales and know everything about sales, Organizations are no longer built onwhat makes their bosses most effective. but she knows nothing about the things force but on trust. The existence of trustThis, in fact, is the secret of "managing" she has never done-pricing, advertising, between people does not necessarilythe boss. packaging, and the like. So tbe people mean that they like one another. ItJANUARY 2005 107
  8. 8. » MANAGING YOURSELF jobs. Such people have substantial skills, and they know how to work. They need a community-the house is empty with the children gone - and they need in- come as well. But above all, they need challenge. The second way to prepare for the second half of your life is to develop a parallel career. Many people who are very successful in their first careers stay in the work they have been doing, either on a full-time or part-time or consulting basis. But in addition, they create a par- allel job, usually in a nonprofit organi- zation, that takes another ten hours of work a week. They might take over the administration of their church, for in- stance, or the presidency of the local Girl Scouts council. They might run the battered womens shelter, work as a chil- drens librarian for the local public li- brary, sit on the school board, and so on. Finally, there are the social entrepre- neurs. These are usually people who have been very successful in their first careers. They love their work, but it no longer challenges them. In many casesmeans that they understand one an- ness careers, and they know it. After 20 they keep on doing what they have beenother. Taking responsibility for rela- years of doing very much the same kind doing all along but spend less and less oftionships is therefore an absolute ne- ofwork,they are very good at their jobs. their time on it. They also start anothercessity. It is a duty. Whether one is a But they are not learning or contribut- activity, usually a nonprofit. My friendmember of the organization, a consul- ing or deriving challenge and satisfac- Bob Buford, for example, built a verytant to it, a supplier, or a distributor, one tion from the job. And yet they are still successful television company that heowes that responsibility to all ones likely to face another 20 if not 25 years still runs. But he has also founded andcoworkers: those whose work one de- of work. That is why managing oneself built a successful nonprofit organizationpends on as well as those who depend increasingly leads one to begin a second that works with Protestant churches,on ones own work. career. and he is building another to teach so- There are three ways to develop a sec- cial entrepreneurs how to manage theirThe Second Half of Your Life ond career. The first is actually to start own nonprofit ventures while still run- one. Often this takes nothing more than ning their original businesses.when work for most people meantmanual labor, there was no need to moving from one kind of organization People who manage the second balfworry about the second half of your life. to another: the divisional controller in a of their lives may always be a minority.You simply kept on doing what you had large corporation, for instance, becomes The majority may "retire on the job"always done. And if you were lucky the controller of a medium-sized hospi- and count the years until their actualenough to survive 40 years of hard work tal. But there are also grov^ng numbers retirement. But it is this minority, thein the mill or on the railroad, you were of people who move into different lines men and women who see a long work-quite happy to spend the rest of your life of work altogether: the business execu- ing-life expectancy as an opportunitydoing nothing. Today, however, most tive or government official who enters both for themselves and for society, whowork is knowledge work, and knowl- the ministry at 45, for instance; or the will become leaders and models.edge workers are not "finished" after 40 midlevel manager who leaves corporate There is one prerequisite for man-years on the job, they are merely bored. life after 20 years to attend law school aging the second half of your life: You We hear a great deal of talk about and become a small-town attorney. must begin long before you enter it.the midlife crisis of the executive. It is We will see many more second ca- When it first became clear 30 years agomostly boredom. At 45, most executives reers undertaken by people who have that working-life expectancies werehave reached the peak of their busi- achieved modest success in their first lengthening very fast, many observers108 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW
  9. 9. (including myself) believed that retired torically, there was no such thing aspeople would increasingly become vol- "success." The overwhelming majorityunteers for nonprofit institutions. That of people did not expect anything but tohas not happened. If one does not begin stay in their "proper station," as an oldto volunteer before one is 40 or so, one English prayer has it. The only mobilitywill not volunteer once past 60. was downward mobility. Similarly, ail the social entrepreneurs In a knowledge society, however, weI know began to work in their chosen expect everyone to be a success. This issecond enterprise long before they clearly an impossibility. For a greatreached their peak in their original busi- many people, there is at best an absenceness. Consider the example of a success- of failure. Wherever there is success,ful lawyer, the legal counsel to a large there has to be failure. And then it is vi-corporation, who has started a venture tally important for the individual, and "^feu will never again see your competition Into establish model schools in his state. equally for the individuals family, to quite the same light The authors present a compeliing case for pursuing s t r a t a wrth a creative, not combative, approach."There is one prerequisite for managing the Carlos Ghosn, President and CEO. Nissan Motor Co,, Ltd,second half of your life: You must begin doing so jEFFitEr F mma i K R N U D J, JAWDRSKIlong before you enter it. He began to do volunteer legal work for have an area in which he or she can con-the schools when he was around 35. He tribute, make a difference, and be some-was elected to the school board at age body. That means finding a second40. At age 50, when he had amassed a area-whether in a second career, a par-fortune, he started his own enterprise to allel career, or a social venture-that of-build and to run model schools. He is, fers an opportunity for being a leader,however, still working nearly full-time for being respected, for being a the lead counsel in the company he The challenges of managing oneselfhelped found as a young lawyer. may seem obvious, if not elementary. lAit lTmluai>le fftUe to understanding the nature of the massive technological There is another reason to develop a And the answers may seem self-evident transformatton underway."second major interest, and to develop it to the point of appearing naive. But Michaei E. Porter, Bistiop Wjlliam Lawrenceearly. No one can expect to live very managing oneself requires new and un- UnlveF5ity Professor, Harvard Uniwrsitylong without experiencing a serious set- precedented things from the individual,back in his or her life or work. There is and especially from the knowledgethe competent engineer who is passed worker. In effect, managing oneself de-over for promotion at age 45- There is mands that each knowledge workerthe competent college professor who re- think and behave like a chief executivealizes at age 42 that she will never get a officer. Further, the shift from manualprofessorship at a big university, even workers who do as they are told tothough she may be fully qualified for it. knowledge workers who have to man-There are tragedies in ones family life: age themselves profoundly challengesthe breakup of ones marriage or the social structure. Every existing society,loss of a child. At such times, a second even the most individualistic one, takesmajor interest-not just a hobby-may two things for granted, if only subcon-make all the difference. The engineer, sciously: that organizations outlive work- "The lessons and compelling examples of thisfor example, now knows that he has not ers, and that most people stay put thoughtfut book will be indispensable for aH business leaders."been very successful in his job. But in his But today the opposite is true. Knowl- John Ward, Clinical Professor and Co-Director, Centeroutside activity-as church treasurer, for edge workers outlive organizations, and for Family Enterprises, Kellogg School of Mar«gementexample - he is a success. Ones family they are mobile. The need to managemay break up, but in that outside activ- oneself is therefore creating a revolu- Available whereuer bnoks are sold, indudjng:ity there is still a community. tion in human affairs. ^ BARNES(:: NOBLE 1 n I) k s M I t K • 1 In a society in which success has be- www, bn.comcome so terribly important, having op- Reprint R0501K; HBR OnPoint 4444 Cttlpoup Center 160 East 54lh St, NYC Roekefelkr Center 5Hi A«. & 48tfi St. KtCtions will become increasingly vital. His- To order, see page 119. HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PRESS www,HBSPress,orgJANUARY 2005