Navigating Your Career – Questions & Thoughts To Occasionally Ask Yourself

I believe as we move forward in our careers, we continuously ask ourselves, are we still striving to hit our full potential? Do we need to make some changes? Do we need to focus on our strengths or our weaknesses or both? Do we recognize the environment we’re currently working in and is it providing the opportunity for us to do our best work? Can we identify how to work with others effectively?

Along this journey, inevitably we’re probably going to make some wrong turns and might even have wished to do things differently, but it’s the realization and evaluation of these that can help realign ourselves to move forward in a better way.

Within Peter F. Drucker’s article on Managing Oneself published by the Harvard Business Review, these topics are discussed to help us get a better understanding on how to achieve greater career success while realizing approximately 40-50 years of our lives are spent working.

In developing ourselves, we’re able to make the greatest impact and by knowing when and how to change the work we do, is critical.

Do you know your strengths?

Many of us have taken the Gallup Strength Finder to assess where our greatest assets lie within ourselves, but according to Drucker, most do not evaluate how we perform within those identified strengths. More importantly, we do not place ourselves in the best environment that allows us to continuously improve on those strengths, but rather in situations where many obstacles exist that we struggle with that we inevitably push through. In doing so, time might not be best utilized as much as it could be as we’re trying to improve those skills from weak to mediocre, versus strictly focusing on going from good to excellent in our identifiable strengths.

Our ability to perform with our own strengths is unique, as it’s a matter of personality.

Drucker believes that people achieve the best results when working in an environment that allows them to draw out their personality and by continuously doing things they are good at. Within his assessment, there are types of questions that should be asked on how to improve:

Am I a reader, writer, or listener? People are rarely all 3, but rather there is 1 in which you retain and learn information the most effectively.  Of course, “doing” will trump all 3, but before doing, understanding how it needs to be done first is needed.

Additional self-evaluation questions include:

  • Do I work well with people, or am I considered a loner?
  • Do I produce results as a decision maker or best perform when being told what to do? 
  • Do I do my best work in a structured, well-organized environment, of do I enjoy being in a chaotic (and often high stress) culture that allows me to bring out the best in me? 
  • Do I work well in large organizations or enjoy a smaller company?

There are no right or wrong answers and we should have a “gut feel” on what works best for us as individuals.

Do not try to change yourself, rather change the environment you’re in to perform your best work.

What are your values? Not your ethical values, but rather your organizational values. 

For example, do you agree with organizations that try to promote and develop within or those that always look to hire externally to bring in new ideas and challenge the norm?

Do you believe in an environment whose mission is to make small, incremental changes or one where major change occurs to help drive company success?

To be the most effective in an organization, your values should be closely aligned to that of the company as this allows you to focus on continuously improving rather than wasting time on organizational operations that are out of your control.

Successful careers are not planned, rather they develop when you’re prepared for opportunities because you know your strengths, your best methods to perform, and have identified your values.

Lastly, managing yourself, requires taking responsibility for the relationships that surround you.  Just as you, others have strengths, ways of working, values, etc. and your ability of knowing, understanding and working within those parameters will allow you and your career to succeed.

A working relationship is based on the people more than it is on the work itself.

In conclusion, your ability to understand, refine and continuously ask yourself: “This is what I’m good at, this is how I perform my best, these are my organizational values, and this is how I make a difference” will allow the proper assessment to take place along with achieving higher career success.

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