Many years ago as I was transitioning out of the military into civilian life, I worked with a recruiting firm that placed JMO’s (junior military officers) into corporate America. At one of their career fairs Roger Cameron asked everyone to share their favorite motivational saying and we all went around the room. You can guess that in a room full of young, ambitious military guys (it was probably a 90% male group) the contributions ranged from inspirational to blustery, some as short as one emphatic syllable . I hadn’t given the question any real thought and when it came my turn, I reflexively blurted out the ancient Greek aphorism “Know thyself“. It sort of fell flat in that room, like I was answering the wrong question or something. Twenty plus years later I see the truth revealed in how I answered that question, as self-knowledge has been one of my strengths and great stumbling blocks. I’m old enough to see the experiences in my life where it’s been one or the other.
With that in mind, my recommended reading for this month is Peter Drucker’s timeless HBR article, Managing Oneself. At the foundation of managing oneself is knowing oneself, and this article addresses the topic in some specific areas that are important at any stage of life or career. It’s worth your time to read the article but more importantly, turn it into a homework assignment and write down answers to the questions posed. I did it about a year ago and I still refer to the notes occasionally to make sure I got it right and that I am working on the right things.