"Managing Yourself - PDF"
C O L L E C T I O N www.hbr.org Dissatisfied with your Managing Yourself life’s direction? Here’s how to change course. Included with this collection: 2 Managing Oneself by Peter F. Drucker 15 Do Your Commitments Match Your Convictions? by Donald N. Sull and Dominic Houlder 28 Success That Lasts by Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson Product 8762 Collection Overview The Articles You’ve got all the trappings of success: an 3 Article Summary impressive career, a home you’re proud to show off, a handsome family, a prominent 4 Managing Oneself by Peter F. Drucker position in your community. So why do How to manage yourself in the realm of work—to remain engaged and productive during a you feel that something’s missing? Why is professional life that may span 50 years? You need deep understanding of: 1) Your strengths. it that every time you score another Compare your decisions’ actual results against expected results, determining what results achievement, the bar seems to ratchet you’re most skilled at generating. 2) Your work-style preferences. How do you process infor- higher? And why is it that the harder you mation? Do you work best alone or with others? Do you function best under pressure or in struggle to uphold obligations to bosses, predictable environments? 3) Your values. What do you see as your most important respon- family, and community, the less fulfilling sibilities for living an ethical life? 4) Your ideal work environment. Where would you fit best, your life seems? given your strengths, work style, and values? 5) Your most important contribution. How can If you’re like many managers today, you you best enhance your organization’s performance? may need to focus more on managing yourself. A deceptively simple phrase, 14 Further Reading managing yourself means carving out a 16 Article Summary place in the work world that suits your values, strengths, and work style. It also 17 Do Your Commitments Match Your Convictions? means committing your time, money, by Donald N. Sull and Dominic Houlder and energy to what really matters to If your life feels unfulfilling despite increasing dedication to work, family, and community, you—in your professional and personal your commitments (your investments of time, money, and energy) may not match your con- life. victions (your deepest values). To align them, use this process: 1) List the things that matter most to you, in specific language—for example, “Earning enough to retire early.” 2) Assess Managing yourself isn’t easy. You have to your investments. How much money, time, and energy do you devote to each of your con- cultivate a deep understanding of what victions? 3) Identify gaps between your convictions and commitments. Do some values re- you value most, how you use your re- ceive scant resources—or a disproportionate share? 4) Identify causes of gaps. Have you COPYRIGHT © 2004 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. sources, and how you define success. And taken on obligations without considering the long-term ramifications? 5) Change course. you need to make hard choices about Use a time-out (sabbatical, course, or other device) to reflect, break old commitments, and which goals you’ll strive for. This Harvard forge new ones. Business Review OnPoint collection offers strategies to consider. 27 Further Reading Real success is emotionally renewing— 29 Article Summary not anxiety provoking. By managing your- self, you reach your goals and tally up 30 Success That Lasts by Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson more “wins.” Equally crucial, you truly To manage yourself, envision success in terms of four “boxes”: happiness, achievement, sig- enjoy your successes. nificance (effect of your achievements on those you care about), and legacy (your ability to help others find success). Unless you regularly attend to all four, a “win” in any one will feel unsatisfying. But to rack up victories in all boxes, you need to manage the time you spend on any one. Start by allocating each of your successes to a box. Are some boxes empty? Others too full? Where are you devoting most of your time? And is that investment in line with your aims? Decide which boxes need more attention and what constitutes “just enough” success in a box—so you can shift resources to a different one. 38 Further Reading page 1 BEST OF HBR 1999 1st article from the collection: Managing Yourself Managing Oneself . by Peter F Drucker • Included with this full-text Harvard Business Review article: 3 Article Summary The Idea in Brief—the core idea The Idea in Practice—putting the idea to work 4 Managing Oneself 14 Further Reading A list of related materials, with annotations to guide further exploration of the article’s ideas and applications Product 4444 page 2 BEST OF HBR 1999 Managing Oneself The Idea in Brief The Idea in Practice We live in an age of unprecedented oppor- To build a life of excellence, begin by asking “Where do I belong?” tunity: If you’ve got ambition, drive, and yourself these questions: Consider your strengths, preferred work style, smarts, you can rise to the top of your cho- and values. Based on these qualities, in what sen profession—regardless of where you “What are my strengths?” kind of work environment would you fit in started out. But with opportunity comes re- To accurately identify your strengths, use best? Find the perfect fit, and you’ll transform sponsibility. Companies today aren’t man- feedback analysis. Every time you make a key yourself from a merely acceptable employee aging their knowledge workers’ careers. decision, write down the outcome you ex- into a star performer. Rather, we must each be our own chief ex- pect. Several months later, compare the actual ecutive officer. results with your expected results. Look for “What can I contribute?” patterns in what you’re seeing: What results In earlier eras, companies told businesspeople Simply put, it’s up to you to carve out your are you skilled at generating? What abilities do what their contribution should be. Today, you place in the work world and know when to you need to enhance in order to get the re- have choices. To decide how you can best en- change course. And it’s up to you to keep sults you want? What unproductive habits are hance your organization’s performance, first yourself engaged and productive during a preventing you from creating the outcomes ask what the situation requires. Based on your work life that may span some 50 years. you desire? In identifying opportunities for im- strengths, work style, and values, how might To do all of these things well, you’ll need to provement, don’t waste time cultivating skill you make the greatest contribution to your cultivate a deep understanding of yourself. areas where you have little competence. In- organization’s efforts? What are your most valuable strengths and stead, concentrate on—and build on—your most dangerous weaknesses? Equally im- strengths. portant, how do you learn and work with others? What are your most deeply held val- “How do I work?” ues? And in what type of work environment In what ways do you work best? Do you pro- can you make the greatest contribution? cess information most effectively by reading it, or by hearing others discuss it? Do you The implication is clear: Only when you op- accomplish the most by working with other erate from a combination of your strengths COPYRIGHT © 2004 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. people, or by working alone? Do you per- and self-knowledge can you achieve true— form best while making decisions, or while and lasting—excellence. advising others on key matters? Are you in top form when things get stressful, or do you function optimally in a highly predict- able environment? “What are my values?” What are your ethics? What do you see as your most important responsibilities for living a worthy, ethical life? Do your organization’s ethics resonate with your own values? If not, your career will likely be marked by frustration and poor performance. page 3 Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves—their strengths, their values, and how they best perform. BEST OF HBR 1999 Managing Oneself by Peter F. Drucker We live in an age of unprecedented opportunity: tions, so unusual both in their talents and If you’ve got ambition and smarts, you can rise to their accomplishments as to be considered the top of your chosen profession, regardless of outside the boundaries of ordinary human ex- COPYRIGHT © 2004 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. where you started out. istence. Now, most of us, even those of us with But with opportunity comes responsibility. modest endowments, will have to learn to Companies today aren’t managing their employ- manage ourselves. We will have to learn to de- ees’ careers; knowledge workers must, effec- velop ourselves. We will have to place our- tively, be their own chief executive ofﬁcers. It’s up selves where we can make the greatest contri- to you to carve out your place, to know when to bution. And we will have to stay mentally alert change course, and to keep yourself engaged and and engaged during a 50-year working life, productive during a work life that may span which means knowing how and when to some 50 years. To do those things well, you’ll change the work we do. need to cultivate a deep understanding of your- self—not only what your strengths and weak- What Are My Strengths? nesses are but also how you learn, how you work Most people think they know what they are with others, what your values are, and where you good at. They are usually wrong. More often, can make the greatest contribution. Because only people know what they are not good at—and when you operate from strengths can you even then more people are wrong than right. achieve true excellence. And yet, a person can perform only from strength. One cannot build performance on History’s great achievers—a Napoléon, a da weaknesses, let alone on something one can- Vinci, a Mozart—have always managed them- not do at all. selves. That, in large measure, is what makes Throughout history, people had little them great achievers. But they are rare excep- need to know their strengths. A person was harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 4 Managing Oneself •• •B EST OF HBR 1999 born into a position and a line of work: The gance is causing disabling ignorance and over- peasant’s son would also be a peasant; the ar- come it. Far too many people—especially peo- tisan’s daughter, an artisan’s wife; and so on. ple with great expertise in one area—are But now people have choices. We need to contemptuous of knowledge in other areas or know our strengths in order to know where believe that being bright is a substitute for we belong. knowledge. First-rate engineers, for instance, The only way to discover your strengths is tend to take pride in not knowing anything through feedback analysis. Whenever you about people. Human beings, they believe, are make a key decision or take a key action, write much too disorderly for the good engineering down what you expect will happen. Nine or 12 mind. Human resources professionals, by con- months later, compare the actual results with trast, often pride themselves on their igno- your expectations. I have been practicing this rance of elementary accounting or of quantita- method for 15 to 20 years now, and every time tive methods altogether. But taking pride in I do it, I am surprised. The feedback analysis such ignorance is self-defeating. Go to work on showed me, for instance—and to my great sur- acquiring the skills and knowledge you need to prise—that I have an intuitive understanding fully realize your strengths. of technical people, whether they are engi- It is equally essential to remedy your bad neers or accountants or market researchers. It habits—the things you do or fail to do that in- also showed me that I don’t really resonate hibit your effectiveness and performance. Such with generalists. habits will quickly show up in the feedback. Feedback analysis is by no means new. It For example, a planner may ﬁnd that his beau- was invented sometime in the fourteenth cen- tiful plans fail because he does not follow tury by an otherwise totally obscure German through on them. Like so many brilliant peo- theologian and picked up quite independently, ple, he believes that ideas move mountains. some 150 years later, by John Calvin and Igna- But bulldozers move mountains; ideas show tius of Loyola, each of whom incorporated it where the bulldozers should go to work. This into the practice of his followers. In fact, the planner will have to learn that the work does steadfast focus on performance and results not stop when the plan is completed. He must that this habit produces explains why the insti- ﬁnd people to carry out the plan and explain it tutions these two men founded, the Calvinist to them. He must adapt and change it as he church and the Jesuit order, came to dominate puts it into action. And ﬁnally, he must decide Europe within 30 years. when to stop pushing the plan. Practiced consistently, this simple method At the same time, feedback will also reveal will show you within a fairly short period of when the problem is a lack of manners. Man- time, maybe two or three years, where your ners are the lubricating oil of an organization. strengths lie—and this is the most important It is a law of nature that two moving bodies in thing to know. The method will show you contact with each other create friction. This is what you are doing or failing to do that de- as true for human beings as it is for inanimate prives you of the full beneﬁts of your objects. Manners—simple things like saying strengths. It will show you where you are not “please” and “thank you” and knowing a per- particularly competent. And ﬁnally, it will son’s name or asking after her family—enable show you where you have no strengths and two people to work together whether they cannot perform. like each other or not. Bright people, espe- Several implications for action follow from cially bright young people, often do not un- feedback analysis. First and foremost, concen- derstand this. If analysis shows that some- trate on your strengths. Put yourself where one’s brilliant work fails again and again as your strengths can produce results. soon as cooperation from others is required, it Peter F. Drucker is the Marie Rankin Second, work on improving your strengths. probably indicates a lack of courtesy—that is, Clarke Professor of Social Science and Analysis will rapidly show where you need to a lack of manners. Management (Emeritus) at Claremont improve skills or acquire new ones. It will also Comparing your expectations with your re- Graduate University in Claremont, Cali- show the gaps in your knowledge—and those sults also indicates what not to do. We all fornia. This article is an excerpt from his can usually be ﬁlled. Mathematicians are born, have a vast number of areas in which we have book Management Challenges for the but everyone can learn trigonometry. no talent or skill and little chance of becom- 21st Century (HarperCollins, 1999). Third, discover where your intellectual arro- ing even mediocre. In those areas a person— harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 5 Managing Oneself •• •B EST OF HBR 1999 and especially a knowledge worker—should who had been his admirers held President not take on work, jobs, and assignments. One Eisenhower in open contempt. He never ad- should waste as little effort as possible on im- dressed the questions, they complained, but proving areas of low competence. It takes far rambled on endlessly about something else. more energy and work to improve from in- And they constantly ridiculed him for butcher- competence to mediocrity than it takes to im- ing the King’s English in incoherent and un- prove from ﬁrst-rate performance to excel- grammatical answers. lence. And yet most people—especially most Eisenhower apparently did not know that teachers and most organizations—concen- he was a reader, not a listener. When he was trate on making incompetent performers into Supreme Commander in Europe, his aides mediocre ones. Energy, resources, and time made sure that every question from the press should go instead to making a competent per- was presented in writing at least half an hour son into a star performer. before a conference was to begin. And then Eisenhower was in total command. When he How Do I Perform? became president, he succeeded two listeners, Amazingly few people know how they get Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Both things done. Indeed, most of us do not even men knew themselves to be listeners and both know that different people work and perform enjoyed free-for-all press conferences. Eisen- differently. Too many people work in ways that hower may have felt that he had to do what his are not their ways, and that almost guarantees two predecessors had done. As a result, he nonperformance. For knowledge workers, How never even heard the questions journalists do I perform? may be an even more important asked. And Eisenhower is not even an extreme question than What are my strengths? case of a nonlistener. It takes far more energy Like one’s strengths, how one performs is A few years later, Lyndon Johnson destroyed unique. It is a matter of personality. Whether his presidency, in large measure, by not know- to improve from personality be a matter of nature or nurture, it ing that he was a listener. His predecessor, surely is formed long before a person goes to John Kennedy, was a reader who had assem- incompetence to work. And how a person performs is a given, bled a brilliant group of writers as his assis- mediocrity than to just as what a person is good at or not good at tants, making sure that they wrote to him be- is a given. A person’s way of performing can be fore discussing their memos in person. Johnson improve from first-rate slightly modiﬁed, but it is unlikely to be com- kept these people on his staff—and they kept performance to pletely changed—and certainly not easily. Just on writing. He never, apparently, understood as people achieve results by doing what they one word of what they wrote. Yet as a senator, excellence. are good at, they also achieve results by work- Johnson had been superb; for parliamentari- ing in ways that they best perform. A few com- ans have to be, above all, listeners. mon personality traits usually determine how Few listeners can be made, or can make a person performs. themselves, into competent readers—and vice Am I a reader or a listener? The ﬁrst thing versa. The listener who tries to be a reader will, to know is whether you are a reader or a lis- therefore, suffer the fate of Lyndon Johnson, tener. Far too few people even know that whereas the reader who tries to be a listener there are readers and listeners and that peo- will suffer the fate of Dwight Eisenhower. They ple are rarely both. Even fewer know which will not perform or achieve. of the two they themselves are. But some ex- How do I learn? The second thing to know amples will show how damaging such igno- about how one performs is to know how one rance can be. learns. Many ﬁrst-class writers—Winston When Dwight Eisenhower was Supreme Churchill is but one example—do poorly in Commander of the Allied forces in Europe, he school. They tend to remember their school- was the darling of the press. His press confer- ing as pure torture. Yet few of their classmates ences were famous for their style—General remember it the same way. They may not have Eisenhower showed total command of what- enjoyed the school very much, but the worst ever question he was asked, and he was able to they suffered was boredom. The explanation is describe a situation and explain a policy in two that writers do not, as a rule, learn by listening or three beautifully polished and elegant sen- and reading. They learn by writing. Because tences. Ten years later, the same journalists schools do not allow them to learn this way, harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 6 Managing Oneself •• •B EST OF HBR 1999 they get poor grades. was America’s top troop commander. Yet when Schools everywhere are organized on the as- he was proposed for an independent command, sumption that there is only one right way to General George Marshall, the U.S. chief of learn and that it is the same way for everybody. staff—and probably the most successful picker But to be forced to learn the way a school of men in U.S. history—said, “Patton is the best teaches is sheer hell for students who learn dif- subordinate the American army has ever pro- ferently. Indeed, there are probably half a duced, but he would be the worst commander.” dozen different ways to learn. Some people work best as team members. There are people, like Churchill, who learn Others work best alone. Some are exception- by writing. Some people learn by taking copi- ally talented as coaches and mentors; others ous notes. Beethoven, for example, left behind are simply incompetent as mentors. an enormous number of sketchbooks, yet he Another crucial question is, Do I produce re- said he never actually looked at them when he sults as a decision maker or as an adviser? A composed. Asked why he kept them, he is re- great many people perform best as advisers ported to have replied, “If I don’t write it down but cannot take the burden and pressure of immediately, I forget it right away. If I put it making the decision. A good many other peo- into a sketchbook, I never forget it and I never ple, by contrast, need an adviser to force them- have to look it up again.” Some people learn by selves to think; then they can make decisions doing. Others learn by hearing themselves talk. and act on them with speed, self-conﬁdence, A chief executive I know who converted a and courage. small and mediocre family business into the This is a reason, by the way, that the num- leading company in its industry was one of ber two person in an organization often fails those people who learn by talking. He was in when promoted to the number one position. Do not try to change the habit of calling his entire senior staff into The top spot requires a decision maker. Strong his ofﬁce once a week and then talking at them decision makers often put somebody they trust yourself—you are for two or three hours. He would raise policy into the number two spot as their adviser— issues and argue three different positions on and in that position the person is outstanding. unlikely to succeed. Work each one. He rarely asked his associates for But in the number one spot, the same person to improve the way you comments or questions; he simply needed an fails. He or she knows what the decision should audience to hear himself talk. That’s how he be but cannot accept the responsibility of actu- perform. learned. And although he is a fairly extreme ally making it. case, learning through talking is by no means Other important questions to ask include, an unusual method. Successful trial lawyers Do I perform well under stress, or do I need a learn the same way, as do many medical diag- highly structured and predictable environ- nosticians (and so do I). ment? Do I work best in a big organization or Of all the important pieces of self-knowledge, a small one? Few people work well in all understanding how you learn is the easiest to kinds of environments. Again and again, I acquire. When I ask people, “How do you have seen people who were very successful in learn?” most of them know the answer. But large organizations ﬂounder miserably when when I ask, “Do you act on this knowledge?” they moved into smaller ones. And the re- few answer yes. And yet, acting on this knowl- verse is equally true. edge is the key to performance; or rather, not The conclusion bears repeating: Do not try acting on this knowledge condemns one to to change yourself—you are unlikely to suc- nonperformance. ceed. But work hard to improve the way you Am I a reader or a listener? and How do I perform. And try not to take on work you can- learn? are the ﬁrst questions to ask. But they not perform or will only perform poorly. are by no means the only ones. To manage yourself effectively, you also have to ask, Do I What Are My Values? work well with people, or am I a loner? And if To be able to manage yourself, you ﬁnally you do work well with people, you then must have to ask, What are my values? This is not a ask, In what relationship? question of ethics. With respect to ethics, the Some people work best as subordinates. Gen- rules are the same for everybody, and the test eral George Patton, the great American military is a simple one. I call it the “mirror test.” hero of World War II, is a prime example. Patton In the early years of this century, the most harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 7 Managing Oneself •• •B EST OF HBR 1999 highly respected diplomat of all the great pow- tion. The results of either strategy may be ers was the German ambassador in London. pretty much the same. At bottom, there is a He was clearly destined for great things—to conﬂict between a value system that sees the become his country’s foreign minister, at least, company’s contribution in terms of helping if not its federal chancellor. Yet in 1906 he physicians do better what they already do and a abruptly resigned rather than preside over a value system that is oriented toward making dinner given by the diplomatic corps for Ed- scientiﬁc discoveries. ward VII. The king was a notorious womanizer Whether a business should be run for short- and made it clear what kind of dinner he term results or with a focus on the long term is wanted. The ambassador is reported to have likewise a question of values. Financial ana- said, “I refuse to see a pimp in the mirror in the lysts believe that businesses can be run for morning when I shave.” both simultaneously. Successful businesspeo- That is the mirror test. Ethics requires that ple know better. To be sure, every company you ask yourself, What kind of person do I has to produce short-term results. But in any want to see in the mirror in the morning? conﬂict between short-term results and long- What is ethical behavior in one kind of orga- term growth, each company will determine its nization or situation is ethical behavior in an- own priority. This is not primarily a disagree- other. But ethics is only part of a value sys- ment about economics. It is fundamentally a tem—especially of an organization’s value value conﬂict regarding the function of a busi- system. ness and the responsibility of management. To work in an organization whose value sys- Value conﬂicts are not limited to business tem is unacceptable or incompatible with one’s organizations. One of the fastest-growing pas- own condemns a person both to frustration toral churches in the United States measures and to nonperformance. success by the number of new parishioners. Consider the experience of a highly success- Its leadership believes that what matters is ful human resources executive whose com- how many newcomers join the congregation. pany was acquired by a bigger organization. The Good Lord will then minister to their After the acquisition, she was promoted to do spiritual needs or at least to the needs of a the kind of work she did best, which included sufﬁcient percentage. Another pastoral, evan- selecting people for important positions. The gelical church believes that what matters is executive deeply believed that a company people’s spiritual growth. The church eases should hire people for such positions from the out newcomers who join but do not enter into outside only after exhausting all the inside pos- its spiritual life. sibilities. But her new company believed in Again, this is not a matter of numbers. At ﬁrst looking outside “to bring in fresh blood.” ﬁrst glance, it appears that the second church There is something to be said for both ap- grows more slowly. But it retains a far larger proaches—in my experience, the proper one is proportion of newcomers than the ﬁrst one to do some of both. They are, however, funda- does. Its growth, in other words, is more solid. mentally incompatible—not as policies but as This is also not a theological problem, or only values. They bespeak different views of the re- secondarily so. It is a problem about values. In lationship between organizations and people; a public debate, one pastor argued, “Unless different views of the responsibility of an orga- you ﬁrst come to church, you will never ﬁnd nization to its people and their development; the gate to the Kingdom of Heaven.” and different views of a person’s most impor- “No,” answered the other. “Until you ﬁrst tant contribution to an enterprise. After sev- look for the gate to the Kingdom of Heaven, eral years of frustration, the executive quit—at you don’t belong in church.” considerable ﬁnancial loss. Her values and the Organizations, like people, have values. To values of the organization simply were not be effective in an organization, a person’s val- compatible. ues must be compatible with the organiza- Similarly, whether a pharmaceutical com- tion’s values. They do not need to be the same, pany tries to obtain results by making constant, but they must be close enough to coexist. Oth- small improvements or by achieving occa- erwise, the person will not only be frustrated sional, highly expensive, and risky “break- but also will not produce results. throughs” is not primarily an economic ques- A person’s strengths and the way that per- harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 8 Managing Oneself •• •B EST OF HBR 1999 son performs rarely conﬂict; the two are com- doing it. This is the way it should be struc- plementary. But there is sometimes a conﬂict tured. This is the way the relationships should between a person’s values and his or her be. These are the kind of results you should ex- strengths. What one does well—even very well pect from me, and in this time frame, because and successfully—may not ﬁt with one’s value this is who I am.” system. In that case, the work may not appear Successful careers are not planned. They to be worth devoting one’s life to (or even a develop when people are prepared for oppor- substantial portion thereof). tunities because they know their strengths, If I may, allow me to interject a personal their method of work, and their values. note. Many years ago, I too had to decide be- Knowing where one belongs can transform an tween my values and what I was doing success- ordinary person—hardworking and compe- fully. I was doing very well as a young invest- tent but otherwise mediocre—into an out- ment banker in London in the mid-1930s, and standing performer. the work clearly ﬁt my strengths. Yet I did not see myself making a contribution as an asset What Should I Contribute? manager. People, I realized, were what I val- Throughout history, the great majority of peo- ued, and I saw no point in being the richest ple never had to ask the question, What man in the cemetery. I had no money and no should I contribute? They were told what to other job prospects. Despite the continuing contribute, and their tasks were dictated ei- Depression, I quit—and it was the right thing ther by the work itself—as it was for the peas- to do. Values, in other words, are and should ant or artisan—or by a master or a mistress— be the ultimate test. as it was for domestic servants. And until very recently, it was taken for granted that most What one does well— Where Do I Belong? people were subordinates who did as they A small number of people know very early were told. Even in the 1950s and 1960s, the even very well and where they belong. Mathematicians, musi- new knowledge workers (the so-called organi- cians, and cooks, for instance, are usually zation men) looked to their company’s person- successfully—may not fit mathematicians, musicians, and cooks by the nel department to plan their careers. with one’s value system. time they are four or ﬁve years old. Physi- Then in the late 1960s, no one wanted to be cians usually decide on their careers in their told what to do any longer. Young men and teens, if not earlier. But most people, espe- women began to ask, What do I want to do? cially highly gifted people, do not really And what they heard was that the way to con- know where they belong until they are well tribute was to “do your own thing.” But this so- past their mid-twenties. By that time, how- lution was as wrong as the organization men’s ever, they should know the answers to the had been. Very few of the people who believed three questions: What are my strengths? How that doing one’s own thing would lead to con- do I perform? and, What are my values? And tribution, self-fulﬁllment, and success achieved then they can and should decide where they any of the three. belong. But still, there is no return to the old an- Or rather, they should be able to decide swer of doing what you are told or assigned to where they do not belong. The person who do. Knowledge workers in particular have to has learned that he or she does not perform learn to ask a question that has not been well in a big organization should have learned asked before: What should my contribution to say no to a position in one. The person who be? To answer it, they must address three dis- has learned that he or she is not a decision tinct elements: What does the situation re- maker should have learned to say no to a deci- quire? Given my strengths, my way of per- sion-making assignment. A General Patton forming, and my values, how can I make the (who probably never learned this himself) greatest contribution to what needs to be should have learned to say no to an indepen- done? And ﬁnally, What results have to be dent command. achieved to make a difference? Equally important, knowing the answer to Consider the experience of a newly ap- these questions enables a person to say to an pointed hospital administrator. The hospital opportunity, an offer, or an assignment, “Yes, I was big and prestigious, but it had been will do that. But this is the way I should be coasting on its reputation for 30 years. The harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 9 Managing Oneself •• •B EST OF HBR 1999 new administrator decided that his contribu- tention to it. Typical is the person who was tion should be to establish a standard of ex- trained to write reports in his or her ﬁrst as- cellence in one important area within two signment because that boss was a reader. Even years. He chose to focus on the emergency if the next boss is a listener, the person goes on room, which was big, visible, and sloppy. He writing reports that, invariably, produce no re- decided that every patient who came into the sults. Invariably the boss will think the em- ER had to be seen by a qualiﬁed nurse within ployee is stupid, incompetent, and lazy, and he 60 seconds. Within 12 months, the hospital’s or she will fail. But that could have been emergency room had become a model for all avoided if the employee had only looked at the hospitals in the United States, and within an- new boss and analyzed how this boss performs. other two years, the whole hospital had been Bosses are neither a title on the organiza- transformed. tion chart nor a “function.” They are individu- As this example suggests, it is rarely possi- als and are entitled to do their work in the way ble—or even particularly fruitful—to look they do it best. It is incumbent on the people too far ahead. A plan can usually cover no who work with them to observe them, to ﬁnd more than 18 months and still be reasonably out how they work, and to adapt themselves to clear and speciﬁc. So the question in most what makes their bosses most effective. This, cases should be, Where and how can I achieve in fact, is the secret of “managing” the boss. results that will make a difference within the The same holds true for all your coworkers. next year and a half? The answer must bal- Each works his or her way, not your way. And ance several things. First, the results should each is entitled to work in his or her way. What be hard to achieve—they should require matters is whether they perform and what “stretching,” to use the current buzzword. But their values are. As for how they perform— The first secret of also, they should be within reach. To aim at each is likely to do it differently. The ﬁrst secret results that cannot be achieved—or that can of effectiveness is to understand the people effectiveness is to be only under the most unlikely circum- you work with and depend on so that you can stances—is not being ambitious; it is being make use of their strengths, their ways of understand the people foolish. Second, the results should be mean- working, and their values. Working relation- you work with so that ingful. They should make a difference. Fi- ships are as much based on the people as they nally, results should be visible and, if at all are on the work. you can make use of their possible, measurable. From this will come a The second part of relationship responsibil- strengths. course of action: what to do, where and how ity is taking responsibility for communication. to start, and what goals and deadlines to set. Whenever I, or any other consultant, start to work with an organization, the ﬁrst thing I Responsibility for Relationships hear about are all the personality conﬂicts. Very few people work by themselves and Most of these arise from the fact that people achieve results by themselves—a few great art- do not know what other people are doing and ists, a few great scientists, a few great athletes. how they do their work, or what contribution Most people work with others and are effec- the other people are concentrating on and tive with other people. That is true whether what results they expect. And the reason they they are members of an organization or inde- do not know is that they have not asked and pendently employed. Managing yourself re- therefore have not been told. quires taking responsibility for relationships. This failure to ask reﬂects human stupidity This has two parts. less than it reﬂects human history. Until re- The ﬁrst is to accept the fact that other peo- cently, it was unnecessary to tell any of these ple are as much individuals as you yourself are. things to anybody. In the medieval city, every- They perversely insist on behaving like human one in a district plied the same trade. In the beings. This means that they too have their countryside, everyone in a valley planted the strengths; they too have their ways of getting same crop as soon as the frost was out of the things done; they too have their values. To be ground. Even those few people who did effective, therefore, you have to know the things that were not “common” worked alone, strengths, the performance modes, and the val- so they did not have to tell anyone what they ues of your coworkers. were doing. That sounds obvious, but few people pay at- Today the great majority of people work harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 10 Managing Oneself •• •B EST OF HBR 1999 with others who have different tasks and re- one’s coworkers: those whose work one de- sponsibilities. The marketing vice president pends on as well as those who depend on one’s may have come out of sales and know every- own work. thing about sales, but she knows nothing about the things she has never done—pricing, The Second Half of Your Life advertising, packaging, and the like. So the When work for most people meant manual la- people who do these things must make sure bor, there was no need to worry about the sec- that the marketing vice president understands ond half of your life. You simply kept on doing what they are trying to do, why they are trying what you had always done. And if you were to do it, how they are going to do it, and what lucky enough to survive 40 years of hard work results to expect. in the mill or on the railroad, you were quite If the marketing vice president does not un- happy to spend the rest of your life doing derstand what these high-grade knowledge nothing. Today, however, most work is knowl- specialists are doing, it is primarily their fault, edge work, and knowledge workers are not not hers. They have not educated her. Con- “ﬁnished” after 40 years on the job, they are versely, it is the marketing vice president’s re- merely bored. sponsibility to make sure that all of her co- We hear a great deal of talk about the workers understand how she looks at midlife crisis of the executive. It is mostly marketing: what her goals are, how she works, boredom. At 45, most executives have reached and what she expects of herself and of each the peak of their business careers, and they one of them. know it. After 20 years of doing very much the Even people who understand the impor- same kind of work, they are very good at their tance of taking responsibility for relationships jobs. But they are not learning or contributing often do not communicate sufﬁciently with or deriving challenge and satisfaction from their associates. They are afraid of being the job. And yet they are still likely to face an- thought presumptuous or inquisitive or stu- other 20 if not 25 years of work. That is why pid. They are wrong. Whenever someone goes managing oneself increasingly leads one to to his or her associates and says, “This is what begin a second career. I am good at. This is how I work. These are There are three ways to develop a second ca- my values. This is the contribution I plan to reer. The ﬁrst is actually to start one. Often this concentrate on and the results I should be ex- takes nothing more than moving from one pected to deliver,” the response is always, kind of organization to another: the divisional “This is most helpful. But why didn’t you tell controller in a large corporation, for instance, me earlier?” becomes the controller of a medium-sized hos- And one gets the same reaction—without pital. But there are also growing numbers of exception, in my experience—if one continues people who move into different lines of work by asking, “And what do I need to know about altogether: the business executive or govern- your strengths, how you perform, your values, ment ofﬁcial who enters the ministry at 45, for and your proposed contribution?” In fact, instance; or the midlevel manager who leaves knowledge workers should request this of ev- corporate life after 20 years to attend law eryone with whom they work, whether as sub- school and become a small-town attorney. ordinate, superior, colleague, or team member. We will see many more second careers un- And again, whenever this is done, the reaction dertaken by people who have achieved mod- is always, “Thanks for asking me. But why est success in their ﬁrst jobs. Such people didn’t you ask me earlier?” have substantial skills, and they know how to Organizations are no longer built on force work. They need a community—the house is but on trust. The existence of trust between empty with the children gone—and they people does not necessarily mean that they need income as well. But above all, they like one another. It means that they under- need challenge. stand one another. Taking responsibility for re- The second way to prepare for the second lationships is therefore an absolute necessity. It half of your life is to develop a parallel career. is a duty. Whether one is a member of the orga- Many people who are very successful in their nization, a consultant to it, a supplier, or a dis- ﬁrst careers stay in the work they have been tributor, one owes that responsibility to all doing, either on a full-time or part-time or con- harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 11 Managing Oneself •• •B EST OF HBR 1999 sulting basis. But in addition, they create a par- prise to build and to run model schools. He is, allel job, usually in a nonproﬁt organization, however, still working nearly full-time as the that takes another ten hours of work a week. lead counsel in the company he helped found They might take over the administration of as a young lawyer. their church, for instance, or the presidency of There is another reason to develop a second the local Girl Scouts council. They might run major interest, and to develop it early. No one the battered women’s shelter, work as a chil- can expect to live very long without experienc- dren’s librarian for the local public library, sit ing a serious setback in his or her life or work. on the school board, and so on. There is the competent engineer who is passed Finally, there are the social entrepreneurs. over for promotion at age 45. There is the com- These are usually people who have been very petent college professor who realizes at age 42 successful in their ﬁrst careers. They love their that she will never get a professorship at a big work, but it no longer challenges them. In university, even though she may be fully quali- many cases they keep on doing what they have ﬁed for it. There are tragedies in one’s family been doing all along but spend less and less of life: the breakup of one’s marriage or the loss their time on it. They also start another activ- of a child. At such times, a second major inter- ity, usually a nonproﬁt. My friend Bob Buford, est—not just a hobby—may make all the dif- for example, built a very successful television ference. The engineer, for example, now knows company that he still runs. But he has also that he has not been very successful in his job. founded and built a successful nonproﬁt orga- But in his outside activity—as church trea- nization that works with Protestant churches, surer, for example—he is a success. One’s fam- and he is building another to teach social en- ily may break up, but in that outside activity trepreneurs how to manage their own non- there is still a community. There is one prerequisite proﬁt ventures while still running their origi- In a society in which success has become so nal businesses. terribly important, having options will become for managing the second People who manage the second half of their increasingly vital. Historically, there was no lives may always be a minority. The majority such thing as “success.” The overwhelming ma- half of your life: You may “retire on the job” and count the years jority of people did not expect anything but to must begin doing so long until their actual retirement. But it is this mi- stay in their “proper station,” as an old English nority, the men and women who see a long prayer has it. The only mobility was downward before you enter it. working-life expectancy as an opportunity mobility. both for themselves and for society, who will In a knowledge society, however, we expect become leaders and models. everyone to be a success. This is clearly an im- There is one prerequisite for managing the possibility. For a great many people, there is second half of your life: You must begin long at best an absence of failure. Wherever there before you enter it. When it ﬁrst became clear is success, there has to be failure. And then it 30 years ago that working-life expectancies is vitally important for the individual, and were lengthening very fast, many observers equally for the individual’s family, to have an (including myself) believed that retired peo- area in which he or she can contribute, make ple would increasingly become volunteers for a difference, and be somebody. That means nonproﬁt institutions. That has not happened. ﬁnding a second area—whether in a second If one does not begin to volunteer before one career, a parallel career, or a social venture— is 40 or so, one will not volunteer once past 60. that offers an opportunity for being a leader, Similarly, all the social entrepreneurs I for being respected, for being a success. know began to work in their chosen second en- The challenges of managing oneself may terprise long before they reached their peak in seem obvious, if not elementary. And the an- their original business. Consider the example swers may seem self-evident to the point of ap- of a successful lawyer, the legal counsel to a pearing naïve. But managing oneself requires large corporation, who has started a venture to new and unprecedented things from the indi- establish model schools in his state. He began vidual, and especially from the knowledge to do volunteer legal work for the schools worker. In effect, managing oneself demands when he was around 35. He was elected to the that each knowledge worker think and behave school board at age 40. At age 50, when he had like a chief executive ofﬁcer. Further, the shift amassed a fortune, he started his own enter- from manual workers who do as they are told harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 12 Managing Oneself •• •B EST OF HBR 1999 to knowledge workers who have to manage mobile. The need to manage oneself is there- themselves profoundly challenges social struc- fore creating a revolution in human affairs. ture. Every existing society, even the most indi- vidualistic one, takes two things for granted, if Reprint R0501K only subconsciously: that organizations out- Harvard Business Review OnPoint 4444 live workers, and that most people stay put. To order, see the next page But today the opposite is true. Knowledge or call 800-988-0886 or 617-783-7500 workers outlive organizations, and they are or go to www.hbr.org harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 13 BEST OF HBR 1999 Managing Oneself Further Reading ARTICLES The Post-Capitalist Executive: An How to Play to Your Strengths Interview with Peter F. Drucker by Laura Morgan Roberts, by T. George Harris Gretchen Spreitzer, Jane Dutton, Harvard Business Review Robert Quinn, Emily Heaphy, and May–June 1993 Brianna Barker Product no. 93302 Harvard Business Review January 2005 Drucker explores the importance of self- Product no. R0501G management in the world of work. Corpora- tions once built to last like the pyramids are Like Drucker, the authors of this article em- now more like tents, he says. Thus individuals phasize the importance of understanding need to take responsibility for their own ca- and leveraging your strengths. They present reers. Instead of assuming a traditional career a feedback tool called the Reflective Best Self trajectory up the corporate ladder, think in (RBS) exercise, which offers a feedback expe- terms of a succession of professional assign- rience distinct from performance reviews ments or projects. (that typically focus on problem areas). RBS enables you to tap into talents you may not In today’s organizations, competence is mea- be aware of and use them to enhance your sured less in terms of subject matter and career potential. more in terms of abilities—for example, em- pathy and stamina under pressure. So it’s up To begin the exercise, solicit comments from to you to help others understand what you’re family, friends, colleagues, and teachers— able to contribute to the overall project. asking for specific examples of times when your unique strengths generated especially Drucker also notes that your role as an exec- important benefits. Next, search for common utive or manager has changed. You no themes among the feedback, organizing longer manage a workforce; you manage in- them in a table to develop a clear picture of dividuals with a variety of skills. Your job, your strong suits. Then write a self-portrait: a then, is to combine these skills in a variety of description of yourself that distills what configurations to create the best results for you’ve learned from your feedback. Finally, your company. redesign your personal job description so you can better shape the positions you To Order choose to play—both now and in the next phase of your career. For reprints, Harvard Business Review OnPoint orders, and subscriptions to Harvard Business Review: Call 800-988-0886 or 617-783-7500. Go to www.hbr.org For customized and quantity orders of reprints and Harvard Business Review OnPoint products: Call Frank Tamoshunas at 617-783-7626, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org page 14 2nd article from the collection: Managing Yourself Do Your Commitments Match Your Convictions? by Donald N. Sull and Dominic Houlder Included with this full-text Harvard Business Review article: 16 Article Summary The Idea in Brief—the core idea The Idea in Practice—putting the idea to work 17 Do Your Commitments Match Your Convictions? 27 Further Reading A list of related materials, with annotations to guide further exploration of the article’s ideas and applications Product 8770 page 15 Do Your Commitments Match Your Convictions? The Idea in Brief The Idea in Practice How many of us struggle harder every day To manage the gap between your convictions competitor through a five-year earn-out deal, to uphold obligations to our bosses, fami- and commitments, apply the following steps. she had to move to San Francisco to run the lies, and communities—even as the quality business. She now spends even more time air- of our lives erodes? And how many of us Inventory your values. borne—torn between two conflicting com- feel too overwhelmed to examine the List the things that matter most to you, in spe- mitments she made simultaneously. causes of this dilemma? cific language. For example, instead of Or maybe you’ve let others define “success” for “Money,” write, “Providing financial security to For most people, it takes a crisis—illness, you. One young banker earned colleagues’ my family,” or “Earning enough to retire early.” divorce, death of a loved one, business praise for his extreme work ethic. When he be- Aim for five to ten values And write what you failure—before we’ll refocus our commit- came a father, he wanted to spend more time honestly value—not what you think you ments of money, time, and energy on with his family, which baffled his colleagues. should value. what really matters to us. But why wait for Because he badly desired continued praise a crisis? Instead, use a systematic process from colleagues, he continued his workaholic Assess how you’re investing your to periodically clarify your convictions and ways—and effectively gave his colleagues the resources. assess whether you’re putting your power to set his priorities. Track how much money, time, and energy money (and time and energy) where your you’re devoting to your values. For each value mouth is. Identify high-priority values that Change course. you’ve listed, record the following: are receiving insufficient resources—or It’s harder to recalibrate commitments when outdated commitments that are siphon- • Percentage of your household income you you’re not facing a crisis. A time-out—a sab- ing precious resources away from your devote to that value batical, course, or other device—can help you deepest convictions. reflect and give you an excuse to break old • Number of hours per week you spend on commitments and forge new ones. To avoid Once you’ve spotted gaps between what the value “commitment creep,” abandon or renegotiate matters most to you and how you’re invest- • Quality of energy (high, low) you devote to one old commitment for every new one you ing your resources, use a time-out (a sab- activities related to that value. (An hour make. batical, course, or retreat) to rethink old spent on an activity when you’re fresh and COPYRIGHT © 2004 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. commitments and define new ones more focused represents a greater commitment consistent with your values. than an hour spent when you’re exhausted By routinely applying this process, you— and distracted.) not your past obligations—will determine the direction your life takes. Identify gaps between your values and commitments. Do some values on your list receive little or none of your money, time, and energy? Is there a single value that sucks a dispropor- tionate share of your resources away from other priorities? Understand what has caused the gaps. Disconnects between what you value and how you actually spend your time can have several causes. Perhaps you’ve taken on obli- gations without considering the long-term ramifications. One successful entrepreneur in New York had promised to spend more time with her London-based partner. But when she decided to sell her start-up to a West Coast page 16 People usually reassess their priorities only after some personal upheaval—an illness, a divorce, the loss of a job. But with the right framework, you can think through your preferences long before crisis strikes. Do Your Commitments Match Your Convictions? by Donald N. Sull and Dominic Houlder We all hold certain things dear—professional life, he told us, was when he and his wife took achievement, for example, or family life, or ﬁ- sabbaticals and volunteered for a year with an nancial security. But when we step back and organization that helps immigrants—a cause COPYRIGHT © 2004 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. take stock of our day-to-day actions, we may that matters greatly to Nick, as the son of im- notice a gap between the things we value most migrants. He misses the time he and his wife and the way we actually spend our time, spent together that year. “These days, given money, and attention. It may be a crevice or a our schedules, we’re lucky to spend more chasm, but, in either case, the gap raises ques- than one weekend a month together,” he says. tions about how we manage the differences Nick also questions his professional impact. between our professed values and our actual “At 50, I know I have ﬁve—maybe ten—good behavior. work years left,” he says. “But I’m dribbling Consider the case of Nick, the CEO of a my life away working in a business that I’m health care products company. (The identities not passionate about and that may or may of all the individuals discussed in this article not make me rich.” have been disguised to protect their conﬁden- Nick is considering several career options. He tiality.) He turned the organization around could take a different CEO job; headhunters do after it was taken private by a leveraged buy- call with offers. If his company were sold at the out ﬁrm and has a successful managerial track right price, he could retire early. He could teach record in a range of blue-chip and entrepre- at a business school. Or maybe he could work neurial companies. He is highly regarded by full-time at the nonproﬁt where he and his wife the private-equity investors who own his par- volunteered. Although Nick feels dissatisﬁed ent company. But there is a huge gap be- most days, he believes that any change must tween what Nick cares about and what he is wait until he completes a major product launch actually doing. One of the best times in his at work and perhaps until he sees what happens harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 17 Do Your Commitments Match Your Convictions? with his equity. He says he is way too busy to do in the business domain. Managerial commit- anything right now about the gap between his ments are actions taken in the present that values and his working life. He’s been “too busy” bind an organization to a future course. When for several years running. most people think of managerial commit- Perhaps your ﬁrst instinct is to give Nick a ments, they immediately call to mind dra- thorough shaking. But the truth is, many suc- matic actions—Boeing betting the company cessful people feel a similar disconnect be- on the 777, for example, or Oracle acquiring tween their daily activities and their deepest PeopleSoft to build its position in applications desires—and a similar inability to do anything software. In the corporate world, executives about it. We became interested in that discon- manage such commitments systematically. No nect almost by accident. Since 1997, we have responsible CEO would launch a new product been teaching a course at London Business or a make a major acquisition without ﬁrst School on leading strategic transformations in conducting methodical research and tracking organizations. The conceptual cornerstone of progress against quantiﬁable goals. This is the course is commitments—the investments, Business 101. Yet the most binding commit- public promises, contracts, and so on that bind ments in business are often so mundane as to an organization to a particular way of doing be almost invisible. A company’s ongoing in- things. The course, and the research that un- vestments in reﬁning and extending an exist- derlies it, analyzes how historical commit- ing technology, for example, can cumulatively ments can create inertia that prevents organi- lock it onto a technological trajectory from zations from responding effectively to changes which it is hard to escape. An organization in the competitive environment. It also ex- that concentrates its sales efforts on its key plores how managers can commit to new busi- customers can become dependent on those cli- ness opportunities and thereby transform their ents, limiting the ﬁrm’s freedom to pursue companies. other clients and other business options. Over the years, many of our midcareer and Taken together, these kinds of mundane com- executive students borrowed the course’s mitments can prove as binding as the big bets, framework of commitments, inertia, and trans- yet they rarely receive the same level of scru- formation and used it to think systematically tiny from managers. about their personal and professional commit- A similar logic applies in our personal lives, ments. This happened enough times, and with where our most binding commitments are fre- enough interesting results, that we incorpo- quently the result of day-to-day decisions too rated into the course a session on managing small to attract our attention. There are excep- personal commitments. It even includes a com- tions, of course. Individuals periodically make puter-based exercise that lets students simulate dramatic commitments, such as changing jobs personal commitments and track what kind of or getting married. And people who choose outcomes they may create—think the Sims dis- certain public-service careers, such as the mili- cover the meaning of life. In the following tary and law enforcement, may make the ulti- pages, we’ll take a closer look at this frame- mate commitment by giving their life to a work and describe how it can help midlife and cause they believe in. For the rest of us, how- other managers in their quest to narrow the ever, our most important commitments are the gap between their deeply held values and their result of mundane decisions we make about everyday activities. Let us be clear, though: We how to allocate our money, time, and energy. can’t—and won’t—try to tell you what the con- Because these decisions are individually small, tent of your personal commitments should be. it is easy to lose sight of them, and when we We won’t suggest that dedicating yourself to do, a gap can grow between what we value and Donald N. Sull (email@example.com) is social service is better than making partner. what we do. an associate professor of management Both are laudable goals. We do hope to help practice at London Business School. you improve the process by which you manage Mind the Gap This is his fifth article for HBR. Dominic your personal commitments, whatever they The ﬁrst step in managing your commitments Houlder (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the may be. is to take a quick inventory of what matters to associate dean of the Sloan Fellowship you. (For a helpful work sheet, see the exhibit program at London Business School Deﬁning Commitments “Taking Stock.”) You probably have at least a and an executive coach. First, let’s deﬁne our terms and illustrate them vague sense of what you value most, but it’s harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 18 Do Your Commitments Match Your Convictions? important to clarify those themes from time down a value, scratch it out if it doesn’t sound to time. This exercise lets you check whether quite right, and try again until it does. There is you are putting your money (and your time no “right” number of values, but most people and energy) where your mouth is. A system- ﬁnd that it takes at least ﬁve to cover the multi- atic inventory of where your money, time, and ple dimensions of their lives (for instance, pro- energy are going often reveals surprising gaps. fessional, family, social, religious, and individ- Using our work sheet, list the things that ual). If the number creeps beyond ten, you’re matter most to you in the ﬁrst column. A few probably not focusing on the highest priority tips: It’s crucial that you avoid overly vague values or the most critical ones. You might nouns, such as “money” or “family,” and in- want to ask your spouse or partner to do this stead use more speciﬁc gerunds and phrases. stage of the exercise, too. You can then com- “Money,” for example, might be articulated as pare notes and explore the signiﬁcance of any “providing ﬁnancial security for my family,” differences you have in what you value most. “earning enough to retire early,” or “making Finally, it’s important to write what you hon- more than my business school section-mates.” estly value rather than censoring yourself or It’s worth spending the time to get the lan- imposing judgments about whether you guage right. “Children,” for example, might be should want something or not. This is not an broken out into a few more speciﬁc values, exercise in what you (or others) think you such as “raising well-educated, morally respon- should value but in what really matters to you. sible children” or “enjoying time hanging out The second step is to look closely at how with my kids.” These are two different values committed you are, practically speaking, to the that have distinct implications for how much items listed in the ﬁrst column. The evidence time you spend with your children and what here will not be in any dramatic actions you activities you do with them. If you wrote the may have taken. Such momentous events, you former, you might value spending time to- will recall, are comparatively rare in personal gether on community service; if you wrote the life, as they are in business. Rather, the evi- latter, you might want to spend more time to- dence will be in the smaller, more mundane gether at the beach. Don’t be afraid to jot commitments we all routinely make that can Taking Stock Copyright © 2004 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. WHAT MATTERS TO ME MONEY TIME ENERGY Other harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 19 Do Your Commitments Match Your Convictions? What Matters Most: A Work Sheet Ann Montgomery is a management energy she spends on each. The per- entries in column four denote the consultant who has been feeling some centages listed in column two repre- quality of the physical and mental en- incongruity between what she values sent the portions of Ann’s household ergy Ann devotes to her values. Values and what she actually does day to day. income that support each of her val- receiving her peak attention get a “+.” She used this work sheet to take in- ues. The hours noted in column three Values receiving her attention when ventory of her situation. She listed represent the time Ann allocates, out she’s less energetic get a “-.” her values in column one and as- of total waking hours in a week, to sessed how much money, time, and support her stated values. And the WHAT MATTERS TO ME MONEY TIME ENERGY Raising healthy, balanced kids; spending mostly 35% mortgage, utilities, 15 hours “routine”—being harmonious time with family and home maintenance a taxi service, cleaning up - /+ 8% trombone lessons, after kids, monitoring soccer camp, orthodontia chores 12% variable expenses—bottles of 5 hours nagging and pestering kids - merlot, food at Trader 5 hours “quality”—having + Joe’s meaningful parent–child conversations, helping with homework Doing interesting, useful work; 60 hours + gaining recognition Saving for retirement and kids’ college funds; hedging against job loss 33% 15 minutes worrying about Fidelity statement - 15 minutes fantasizing ++ Copyright © 2004 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. about Nasdaq at 10,000 Spending time on activities that recharge my Not much—gym fees, 5 hours exercising + batteries (reading, writing, exercising, one-on- books, merlot, occasional 5 hours reading - one time with friends, and vices I’m not going to admit to) dinners out, treats 0 hours writing - Maintaining close relationships—Alex (spouse), Mom, siblings, friends 2 to 5 hours - /+ Contributing to the church— community service 2% 0 hours on community as well as money service Other 10% (darned if I know) 5 to 10 hours watching TV + (worse during playoffs!), drinking merlot, reading blogs and other stuff online harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 20 Do Your Commitments Match Your Convictions? collectively lock us on a course of action. You inevitably gets depleted. By contrast, cash can can make the exercise concrete by taking stock increase over time if returns on investment ex- of whether your daily investments of money, ceed the cost of capital. In the past week, what time, and energy are aligned with your values. have you done with your approximately 112 Let us look at each category in turn. waking hours? Again, consider the values you Money. Over the past year, how much money listed, and try to map last week’s hours against have you spent on each of the values you them. (If last week was atypical, pick the most listed? To answer this question, you can draw recent week that you ﬁnd representative.) As on the data you collect for tax purposes. “Din- with your money, allocate only those hours ing out,” for instance, may be a line item in that clearly support your stated values, and your Intuit spreadsheet that jibes nicely with use the “other” category to account for the dif- the value “spending time with friends.” A ference between total waking hours and those word of warning, though: You will have to explicitly accounted for in your analysis. Ev- make some judgment calls. Your personal eryone needs some downtime, of course, so budget categories are unlikely to map di- you may want to include a value like “recharg- rectly to the values you listed. Sometimes ing my mental batteries.” But also ask yourself, they will not correlate at all, and the expendi- at what point does spending the afternoon tures should be listed in a miscellaneous watching college football on TV move beyond “other” category. Other times, your personal healthy rejuvenation and into the realm of spending will map to your values in ways that wasting precious time? (Even reasonable cou- aren’t obvious. By taking a big mortgage on ples may disagree on this one.) Are you dedi- an expensive house in a tony neighborhood, cating the most hours to the activities that are for example, you also buy access to good pub- of highest value to you? Was there a lot of time Our most binding lic schools for your children. Your expendi- you could not account for—time that was not tures may correspond to more than one being used to ends that you care about? commitments are value, so you may want to split them across Energy. Physical, emotional, and mental several values. You may also ﬁnd that much energy is another scarce resource and, like frequently the result of of your money is allocated to long-term, ﬁxed time, one that decreases with age. An hour day-to-day decisions too investments—a mortgage or a retirement spent on an activity when we are fresh and savings account, for instance. You may prefer fully present in the moment represents a small to attract our to assess only your discretionary spending— greater commitment than an hour spent when attention. such as the amount you spend on member- we are exhausted and distracted. Do the hours ships to health clubs or golf clubs—and leave you spend with your partner, for example, a review of long-term investments for an- generally come at the tail end of a 12-hour day other time. Or you may discover that your and a six-day week? Was your mind plotting ﬁxed expenses—for instance, the amount Monday’s PowerPoint presentation during you’re spending on your summer home in church or synagogue? On the work sheet, de- Nantucket—are what most need to be re- note those values that, on average, receive viewed. (By reducing your ﬁxed costs, you your peak attention with a “+” and those that also reduce the effort required to cover them, tend to get your least energetic focus with a “-.” freeing up time and energy to pursue other alternatives.) Why the Gap? However you resolve these accounting is- Once you’ve ﬁlled in the work sheet as we’ve sues, the next step is to convert the expendi- described, you should end up with a fair anal- tures into a percentage of your household in- ysis of the alignment between what you value come and plot the percentages against your and how you commit your money, time, and ranked values. (For a sample, see the exhibit energy. The basic idea is to identify big gaps— “What Matters Most: A Work Sheet”) Do the stated values that receive little or none of your most important values get the most money? If scarce resources or a single value that sucks a not, there is evidence of a gap between values disproportionate share of money, time, and and commitments. energy from other values. If your values and Time. Many people ﬁnd themselves running your day-to-day commitments are closely short of time more often than they run out of aligned, we congratulate you: Many people money. Time is a scarce resource and one that ﬁnd it difﬁcult to strike and consistently main- harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 21 Do Your Commitments Match Your Convictions? tain this balance. Gaps between your commit- had derided people who joined the for-proﬁt ments and your convictions can develop and world as sellouts. She and her husband, a polit- widen with time. Understanding how these ical activist and community organizer, had con- gaps can emerge is helpful in preventing them sciously avoided what they considered the trap- from growing too large. pings of material life, including ﬂashy cars, Sometimes the gap results from a reluc- elaborate home renovations, and expensive va- tance to commit time, energy, or money to cations. Katherine’s husband was livid when what we value. A professional or personal fail- she broached the subject of taking the job, re- ure, for instance, may shake your conﬁdence minding her of what their friends would say. and leave you gun-shy about making new com- (Her husband’s idealism was what had at- mitments. Or perhaps you just have an innate, tracted Katherine to him in the ﬁrst place.) Peter Pan–like desire to remain in the world of Katherine’s children, who had unsuccessfully potentiality for as long as possible. Of course, pestered her for years to buy them iPods and there are times when keeping your options PlayStations, accused her of hypocrisy. Al- open makes perfect sense. Young adults, for ex- though Katherine craved the ﬁnancial security ample, experiment with alternative careers, lif- and new challenge, she felt trapped in a web of estyles, values, and relationships—which is commitments she herself had woven. often painful for parents to watch, generally Some of us experience “commitment embarrassing in retrospect, but actually a pru- creep.” We often commit ourselves without dent discovery process. really thinking about what we are taking on. A much more common reason for the gap is It is very easy to say yes to new commitments that people are entangled in commitments without reﬂecting on the long-term costs of they made in the past. We have observed an honoring the implied promises or the poten- analogous phenomenon in corporate strategy. tial conﬂicts that may develop with existing We use the phrase “active inertia” to describe commitments. Overcommitment is the bane managers’ tendency to respond to even the of people who face many good options. Con- most dramatic changes in their competitive en- sider Hannah, a successful New York entre- vironment by relying on and accelerating activ- preneur, who promised to spend more time ities that worked in the past. Like the driver of with her London-based partner. Around the a car with its wheels stuck in the mud, execu- same time, she also received an offer from a tives notice a change in the environment and large West Coast competitor to buy her start- step on the gas. Ultimately, they end up dig- up company at a juicy valuation. The deal was ging their organizations deeper into the quag- structured as a ﬁve-year earn-out, however, mire. The ruts that lock people into active iner- and required Hannah to move to San Fran- tia are the very commitments that led to their cisco to run the combined business. The net past successes but that have now hardened: result is that she is spending even more time Strategic frames become blinders, selected pro- airborne, torn between two major, conﬂicting cesses lapse into routines, relationships turn commitments she made simultaneously. into shackles, resources become millstones, The implicit nature of many professional and once vibrant values ossify into dogmas. and personal commitments also causes them Many of us are bound by personal commit- to sneak up on us unnoticed. Relatively few ments we willingly made in the past that no personal commitments—marriage or religious longer ﬁt. They deplete our time, money, and vows among them—are explicit and public. Re- energy and limit our freedom even if the com- call Nick, the health care CEO described ear- mitments are no longer aligned with what we lier. His major commitment is not contractual; currently value. Katherine, the chief executive he has never signed an employment agree- of a midsize nonproﬁt company, received an ment. Rather, his sense of obligation arises offer to run a private ﬁrm. After 20 years in so- from the implicit promises he made to Jerry, cial service, Katherine was attracted by the his company’s chairman and principal inves- new challenge as well as the generous health tor. Nick has worked in senior roles in two of care and pension package, the company car, the companies Jerry bought. For more than a and the higher salary, which would come in decade, Nick has been reinforcing an unspo- handy as she and her husband put three chil- ken commitment to act as Jerry’s right-hand dren through college. In the past, Katherine man, which has now left him feeling trapped. harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 22 Do Your Commitments Match Your Convictions? His reputation, identity, and stock options are Although Ian highly valued the hours he spent as much at stake as if his commitment had with his family, he found that most of his time been formalized. and energy were devoted to serving clients, de- Creeping commitments often seem espe- veloping junior consultants, and building the cially binding because they lack the explicit ﬁrm. When Ian examined the source of this dis- boundaries and exit clauses common to legal crepancy (ever the consultant, he used a ﬁsh- documents. Anything you do to honor a creep- bone diagram), he discovered that he had be- ing commitment will be understood as a rein- come addicted to the positive reinforcement forcement of an earlier promise or historical he was getting at work—which his home life commitment—whether that is your intention couldn’t match. At the ofﬁce, he explained, or not. “my colleagues and clients respect me, and my Other people’s expectations can also prevent reviews are glowing. At home, I’m lucky to get us from committing our time, money, and en- a sullen grumble from my teenage daughter ergy to what matters most to us. Many of us and an exhausted kiss from my wife when she measure our success against external bench- gets home from work.” Following the principle marks. Some of us remain prisoners of expecta- that “what gets measured gets done,” Ian tions set by our parents, long after we have left began tracking the hours he spent each week home. From childhood on, “success” means with his wife and daughter and comparing his pleasing those who confer grades, jobs, pres- performance week after week. Ian was pleas- tige, and promotions. Well into adulthood, antly surprised to ﬁnd that this simple exercise through college and graduate school, success focused his attention on the hours he spent at remains a function of the esteem we receive home, and the weekly comparison provided a from our peers, professors, and recruiters. In gentle hint that he need to do more of it. the corporate world, practices such as formal Our historical success in meeting commit- project reviews, 360-degree feedback, and an- ments breeds the expectation—in our bosses, nual appraisals increase our dependence on colleagues, friends, and family—that we will others’ assessments of us. deliver more of the same. Look at Lee, a corpo- This is ﬁne, unless our values begin to di- rate tax attorney specializing in the energy in- verge from those of our colleagues. When Ravi dustry, who is at the top of her profession. She joined a Wall Street investment bank just out chairs prestigious committees, publishes in of college, for example, he cultivated a reputa- leading journals, and attracts high-proﬁle cli- tion for being the ﬁrst in, the last out, and the ents who want her advice on thorny issues. Lee hardest worker in the hours between. He rel- has always loved a professional challenge—in ished the nickname his colleagues gave him— fact, her desire to seek out and solve the hard “the Marine.” But after the birth of his ﬁrst problems has driven her success. But after 25 child, he wanted to spend more time with his years in the ﬁeld, Lee told us, she had become family, which bafﬂed his colleagues. To Ravi, it increasingly bored with her work and longed was simple: He wanted to continue to be for the intellectual excitement that character- praised for his work ethic, but he also wanted ized the early part of her career. She was reluc- to spend more time at home. By relying on tant, however, to scale back her lifestyle. Per- others for validation and praise, Ravi relin- haps more important, the prospect of tackling quished to them the power to set his priorities. a completely new endeavor—at age 50, no As he discovered, handing the keys to others less—seemed daunting to her. “I almost wish I can be a problem if they’re driving someplace hadn’t been so successful in law,” she told us, you no longer want to go. “because then I wouldn’t feel like I had so Moreover, some values generate less posi- much to lose if I fell ﬂat on my face trying tive reinforcement than others and, as a result, something new.” tend to attract fewer resources. Consider the The penny dropped at her 25th law school case of Ian, a successful director at a global reunion. One-hundred or so of her contempo- management-consulting ﬁrm. During his 12 raries were all benchmarking themselves years at the company, he moved quickly against one another. The inevitable success sto- through the ranks of consultant, manager, ries—Lee was telling them, too—were like partner, and director, garnering a string of ex- spells that she now wanted to break. She real- ceptional performance reviews along the way. ized she was feeling unfulﬁlled in part because harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 23 Do Your Commitments Match Your Convictions? of the company she was keeping: She worked Then her mother was diagnosed with termi- all day with the lawyers and staffers in her nal cancer, and Annette’s priorities changed. At ﬁrm. And because much of her time outside the top of her list was ensuring that her work was spent on professional service, she as- mother got the best possible care. Next was sociated with many of the same attorneys on spending quality time with her mother in her evenings and weekends. During her reunion, ﬁnal months. Further down the list were her Lee recognized that her concerns about main- commitments to clients and associates; in taining her current lifestyle had a lot to do many cases, those commitments had to be with her wanting to keep up with her peers. To abandoned. Annette’s mother’s illness lasted make a change, Lee cultivated friendships with for six months and, like any crisis, consumed acquaintances outside her immediate circle considerable time, energy, and money. But it who sympathized with her aspiration to do also created advantages both obvious and un- something new and had themselves made foreseen. Speciﬁcally: major career shifts. She also cut in half the Crises force people to ﬁgure out what re- amount of time she spent attending profes- ally matters. In the end, all crises are remind- sional conferences. ers that we are not omnipotent or immortal and that we cannot afford to ignore the Changing Course things that really matter to us. Her mother’s Most people who undertake the self-explora- illness and death sent a message to Annette: tion process we’re describing here ﬁnd that She had to make the most of her own life. it’s relatively easy to identify their own val- That meant committing herself only to those ues, somewhat more difﬁcult to analyze the professional projects she found interesting gap between their values and the way they and challenging—not entering into the same actually live, and harder still to analyze the kinds of engagements with the same kinds of reasons for this gap. But the hardest task of clients using the same kinds of PowerPoint all is doing something about closing the gap. presentations where only the names change. As we know from organizational life, change It also meant spending more time with the is very easy to talk about and extremely difﬁ- people who mattered to her most, including cult to pull off. The force of inertia is every her equally harried partner and her es- bit as powerful in our personal lives as it is in tranged father. most organizations. Crises force people to make choices. While The most common catalyst for serious some people fail to commit because they feel change is a personal or professional crisis, such trapped by promises they’ve already made, as the death of a loved one, a personal illness, a others simply avoid making commitments al- business failure, the loss of a job, or a divorce. together. A crisis will often demolish our No one wishes for crises; they drain not just commitment-avoidance strategies. The loss of money, time, and energy but often health, con- a job, or an unexpected denial of promotion, ﬁdence and reputation. But crises do push can be the catalyst for exploring what we re- some people to deliberately reexamine their ally want to make of our working lives. commitments. Crises can nullify outdated commitments. Annette was an independent consultant A crisis in one’s personal life is analogous to a who worked within a network. Although she force majeure contract clause in a legal docu- was putting in more and more hours, she ment—all previous promises are nulliﬁed be- found that she was spending less and less time cause of unanticipated or uncontrollable on projects that really engaged her imagina- events. The people to whom Annette had pre- tion and advanced her skills. She was trapped viously committed her time and energy, for in- by layers of old commitments, some of which stance, understood that caring for her mother had crept up on her unnoticed. Never wanting took precedence over earlier claims on An- to disappoint a client, she invariably delivered nette’s resources. The slate was clean. excellent work, on time. Her clients and col- Crises prompt people to clear their dia- leagues expected more and more of the same. ries. During the six months that Annette was Years of professional success had left Annette home caring for her mother, she had handed with little freedom to devote herself to the over most of her clients to colleagues, leaving things she really cared about. her with a largely empty calendar. That al- harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 24 Do Your Commitments Match Your Convictions? lowed her to rebuild her professional life step to ﬁnd a position of comparable responsibility by step, taking on new commitments. with a world-class company. And she missed Crises help to break the cycle of success. the United States and her friends more than We noted earlier that many successful people she had imagined. Two companies and 18 feel trapped by their very success. A failure in months later, Maria decided to return to the the workplace, while undoubtedly painful, United States and concluded that she would can also be liberating. Once you and the peo- have been better served by taking a one-year ple around you see that you failed, but that posting in Brazil with a multinational to test the failure neither killed you nor destroyed the waters professionally and personally. your many strengths, it becomes easier to The Go-It-Alone Fallacy. Remaking historical change direction and take on new challenges. commitments is not a solo sport; after all, When Annette returned to the workplace and these are promises others rely on. Social orga- began to remake her commitments, she fo- nizations—families, churches, companies, and cused on creative and stretch assignments communities, for instance—are held together rather than leaning on old ways of doing by the promises embedded in individual mem- things. bers’ commitments. Undoing these commit- It’s harder (and braver) to make new com- ments can disrupt organizations and under- mitments and rethink old ones when we are mine individuals’ credibility. As the world not facing a crisis. Which is why time-outs— changes around us or as our values evolve, we sabbaticals, executive education courses, or need to renegotiate existing commitments any other catalyst for breaking the thread of a with those who would be affected by these narrative—are so important. Such breaks con- changes, not try to make unilateral moves. For fer some of the beneﬁts of a crisis—particu- example, Susan, a high-powered London- larly some time to reﬂect, an excuse to break based executive, wants to scale back her pro- old commitments, and a chance to clear the fessional obligations to spend more time with diary—without exacting the high costs. That her preschool-aged children. To do so, she being said, it would be wrong to suggest that would need to talk with her boss and her col- changing direction is easy, even if you’re rea- leagues about how to reduce and restructure sonably certain about where you want to go. her workload. Even more daunting, in Susan’s People tend to encounter the following pit- eyes, is the prospect of discussing with her hus- falls when attempting to remake their com- band, Donald, how this change in commit- mitments. ments would affect their family and ﬁnancial The Great Leap Forward. Some people end responsibilities as well as the couple’s overall up making unrealistic commitments that are lifestyle. Most important, she wonders, who bound to fail—great leaps that cannot be would get to make the ﬁnal decision? made. These commitments can be very entic- The Clutter Trap. We fall into this trap when ing; they’re novel and exciting for a while. But we are not systematically undoing old commit- they are also very risky. Such commitments ments as we take on new ones. As a result, so can provide an excuse for failing to make or many promises—new and old—call out for keep more mundane commitments. Members our time and other resources that we may of Alcoholics Anonymous, for instance, are dis- meet none of them or simply fall back on what couraged from pledging that they will never we were doing before. Many of us have experi- drink again; they are encouraged to take it one enced this in our professional lives when we day at a time. Or consider Maria, a Brazilian attend management meetings that add new who received her undergraduate and MBA de- items to our to-do list without removing exist- grees in the United States and stayed to work ing ones. Taken as a whole, the agenda that as a marketing executive in a large consumer emerges can be impossible. Let us look at Mar- goods company in the Midwest. After more garet, a senior executive in a large European than 15 years in the States, she was anxious to ﬁrm, who realized she couldn’t make new spend more time with her aging parents in São commitments to what she knew had to be Paulo. She quit her job and moved to Brazil done because of existing clutter. She had ob- without lining up a new position. Although jectives for more than 50 different key perfor- she enjoyed spending more time with her par- mance indicators at work. Scrambling to ents, she was deeply frustrated by her inability achieve those objectives prevented her from harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 25 Do Your Commitments Match Your Convictions? taking on new ones. A good rule of thumb for formula is possible for a process that is, by its avoiding clutter is to abandon or renegotiate very nature, highly idiosyncratic and depen- an old commitment for every new one you dent on individual circumstances. But you can make. Margaret, for example, scheduled an manage the gap between what you value and hour a month to cull her diary, canceling what you do by periodically and systematically meetings as higher priorities arose. reexamining your values and the way you allo- ••• cate precious resources. Such an exercise can The ﬁnal assignment in the course we teach help you take control of your future commit- on leading strategic change in organizations ments so that past commitments won’t take invites students to state the commitments control of you. they will make (or remake) after the program ends. We are always struck by the diversity of Reprint R0501H approaches that different students take to this Harvard Business Review OnPoint 8770 assignment, even after sitting in the same To order, see the next page classroom for a semester. This is why we are or call 800-988-0886 or 617-783-7500 not offering you hard-and-fast rules for mak- or go to www.hbr.org ing or remaking your commitments. No such harvard business review • managing yourself • january 2005 page 26 Do Your Commitments Match Your Convictions? Further Reading ARTICLE Managing by Commitments by Donald N. Sull Harvard Business Review June 2003 Product no. 3957 Sull urges us to apply the same thoughtful- ness to professional commitments as we do to personal commitments. Your professional commitments—R&D investments, public promises to hit growth targets, hiring deci- sions—set your business’s direction. They each involve actions you take today that bind your company to a course of action tomorrow. Commitments also shape your business’s identity—establishing opportunities and limi- tations, and focusing and energizing employ- ees. But like double-edged swords, they can be dangerous if made carelessly. While each decision defines your company’s capabilities now, it also reduces its flexibility in the future. When competitive conditions change, you may be unable to respond effectively. You can’t anticipate every commitment’s long-term consequences, but you shouldn’t shy away from making commitments. How to wield these double-edged swords? Before each key decision, ask, “Am I locking us into a course of action we’ll regret later?” When dis- ruptive change strikes, let go of “business as To Order usual” in favor of transforming commit- ments—investing in revamped processes and For reprints, Harvard Business Review new resources, establishing new partner- OnPoint orders, and subscriptions ships, and defining new values. to Harvard Business Review: Call 800-988-0886 or 617-783-7500. Go to www.hbr.org For customized and quantity orders of reprints and Harvard Business Review OnPoint products: Call Frank Tamoshunas at 617-783-7626, or e-mail him at email@example.com page 27 MANAGING YOURSELF 3rd article from the collection: Managing Yourself Success That Lasts by Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson • Included with this full-text Harvard Business Review article: 29 Article Summary The Idea in Brief—the core idea The Idea in Practice—putting the idea to work 30 Success That Lasts 38 Further Reading A list of related materials, with annotations to guide further exploration of the article’s ideas and applications Product 659X page 28 MANAGING YOURSELF Success That Lasts The Idea in Brief The Idea in Practice Chasing after success is like entering a land- THE KALEIDOSCOPE STRATEGY you’re seeking from a certain activity. You can scape of moving targets: Every time you hit Accomplish great things for yourself and your stop measuring a job only by how happy it one, five more pop up from another direc- organization by adopting a kaleidoscope makes you or calculating a business success tion. There’s always more work to be done, strategy: only in terms of your ability to achieve mas- more money to make, a bigger house to tery. Instead, you’ll see how one task fits into a buy. Is it any wonder we’re stressed? Imagine the four components of success— larger context. And you’ll be able to gauge happiness, achievement, significance, and what kind of emotional rewards you can real- To get a fresh perspective, think about suc- legacy—to be four chambers of a kaleido- istically expect from an activity. If you expect cess in terms of its four distinct compo- scope. Each goal you reach adds another bril- your achievement goals to bring you happi- nents: happiness, achievement, significance liantly colored chip to a chamber, enriching ness, you’ll stunt your performance from the (positively affecting those you care about), your unique pattern over a lifetime. But if most start. If you don’t put achievement in its place, and legacy (helping others find future suc- of your chips fall in only one or two chambers, however, you’ll trap yourself in workaholic cess). Unless you regularly hit on all four your whole picture will look lopsided. Only by restlessness. categories, any one win will be unsatisfying. setting and achieving goals in each area will So instead of relentlessly pursuing one goal you create a well-balanced mix. “JUST ENOUGH” SUCCESS (be it making partner by 30 or being the world’s best soccer mom), focus on racking By regularly assessing the picture you’re creat- CREATE YOUR OWN KALEIDOSCOPE up victories in all areas. To maintain a steady ing, you can quickly spot which places need Draw four intersecting circles and label them more attention and when you’ve achieved flow of wins, however, you’ll need to set happiness, achievement, significance, and “just enough” success in a category so that limits on the time you spend on any one legacy. In each circle, jot down examples of you can focus your efforts on a different activity. In other words, you’ve got to figure your successes. Take your college degree, for chamber of your kaleidoscope. out how much is “just enough”—the instance. If your degree represents to you a amount you need to accomplish before mastery of skills, then write “college” in your you feel comfortable putting down one achievement chamber. But if it holds special task and moving to another. significance because you were the first person COPYRIGHT © 2004 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Real success is emotionally renewing, not in your family to go to college, you might put anxiety provoking. By actively making it in your significance chamber. The point is choices and setting limits, you’ll be able to not to compulsively divide your life into little reach your goals, tally up more “wins,” and circles and lists. Rather, it is to help you assess truly enjoy all the successes you achieve. the various types of satisfactions you have al- ready experienced and see what they add up to. ANALYZE YOUR SUCCESS PATTERNS Metaphorically speaking, hold your kaleido- scope up to the light by asking such ques- tions as: • Are some of the chambers empty? • Are others too full? • Where am I devoting most of my time? • Is that in line with the goals I want to achieve? Organizing your achievements and goals in this framework will help you understand what page 29 Single-minded ambition is a great way to achieve some goals—but is that really success? New research reveals surprisingly practical ways to find professional and personal fulfillment. MANAGING YOURSELF Success That Lasts by Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson A 55-year-old, highly successful venture capitalist is thinking about his next investment. He’s not certain he has the energy to start another seven-year round of intense ﬁnancing and consulting activity. “I just can’t imagine enjoying that pace again, and frankly, it’s time I paid attention to my family. But COPYRIGHT © 2004 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. I’d really feel a loser if I didn’t play the game as hard as everyone else. I guess I should retire.” The president of a $1 billion division of a consumer products company discovers that manufactur- ing and distribution bugs will delay the scheduled rollout of a new product line. Retailers are eager for the product, pressures on share price are intense, and the president’s bonus is tied to the rollout’s success. If he goes ahead, the product is sure to be on top – but only temporarily. The costs down the road from disappointed consumers and time invested in having to ﬁx mistakes will clearly hurt the bottom line. What is success under these circumstances? A fast-track 32-year-old software engineer with a second degree in sacred music feels that some- thing is missing in her career strategy. She wants the lifestyle of a well-paid manager, but software doesn’t feel as socially signiﬁcant as playing the organ for a congregation. And she someday wants a house and a family. “Why can’t I ﬁnd the career path that will get me all of these things?” she wonders. “Are they really so unreasonable?” Different as these examples may be, these in- eral working population, even among those dividuals have a similar problem: They all with plenty of options. In the collective soul- need a comprehensive framework for thinking searching prompted by September 11, 2001, about success. And they’re far from alone. many high achievers revisited their notion of Survey after survey shows a high degree of success. The wave of corporate scandals that job dissatisfaction and burnout among the gen- followed soon after only made the questions harvard business review • february 2004 page 30 Success That Lasts •• •M ANAGING Y OURSELF more acute. Even the most dedicated employ- What Is Enduring Success? ees wondered aloud whether they would ever Our research took a fresh look at the assump- recommend their own careers and companies tions behind success. We were interested in to their children. real, enduring success—where getting what Pursuing success is like shooting at a series you want has rewards that are sustainable for of moving targets. Every time you hit one, ﬁve you and those you care about. This type of at- more pop up from another direction. Just tainment delivers a sense of legitimacy and when we’ve achieved one goal, we feel pres- importance; its satisfactions endure far be- sure to work harder to earn more money, exert yond the momentary rewards of a bonus or a more effort, possess more toys. Standards and new position. Lasting success is emotionally examples of “making it” constantly shift, while renewing, not anxiety provoking. a fast-paced world of technological and social Unlike an equation for a successful market change constantly poses new obstacles to over- strategy, no one person or company can fully come. embody lasting success for others. Everyone During the past decade, traditional career (and every business) has a unique vision of real paths suddenly became pointless. Professionals success, and that notion changes over time. A found themselves overworked and undersatis- family-oriented person would hardly call the ﬁed in the boom, then overworked and com- absentee life of a top executive a success but petitively vulnerable in the bust. And far too might ﬁnd travel and adventure just the ticket many businesses discovered they were using after the kids grow up. A born investment the wrong measures to gauge success, winning banker would hardly regard mixing cement as big in the 1990s only to lose big for their share- a successful career, whereas a construction holders and employees at the turn of the mil- worker who just completed an extraordinary lennium. The climb to success can feel like an bridge might point to the structure with pride Escher drawing of a staircase that goes no- for the rest of his or her life. No one, however, where. has unreserved success, not even the most ob- In the face of such instability, many people vious winner. Recognizing how important it is assume success requires a winner-takes-all ap- for each person to understand and develop his proach. They believe that success depends on or her unique deﬁnition of success over time, putting all your energy into achieving one we chose not to report on one or two well- goal, be it a single-minded focus on your job or known examples of success as the perfect a commitment to being the best soccer mom model to follow. in your community. But no matter how noble, Nonetheless, for the purposes of research, one goal can’t satisfy all of a person’s complex we posited ﬁve common characteristics of indi- needs and desires, as the examples at the be- viduals who by most standards had achieved ginning of the article demonstrate. The same enduring success: high achievement, multiple holds true for the goals of a business. goals, the ability to experience pleasure, the Fortunately, success doesn’t have to be ability to create positive relationships, and a seen as a one-dimensional tug-of-war between value on accomplishments that endure. achievement and happiness. If developed in the We held more than 60 interviews with suc- right way, your ideals of the good life for your- cessful professionals, surveyed 90 top execu- self and society can become powerful—and tives attending Harvard Business School man- manageable—factors of success. We studied agement programs, and informally observed Laura Nash (lnash@justenoughsuccess. hundreds of high achievers who realize lasting high achievers with whom we live and work. com) is a senior research fellow and success, make a positive difference, and enjoy We conducted more than a dozen model-test- Howard Stevenson (hstevenson@ the process. And we learned that some of the ing sessions with between 50 and 110 execu- justenoughsuccess.com) is the Sarofim- most successful people have gotten where they tives in each. Most of these groups were drawn Rock Professor of Business Administra- are precisely because they have a greater under- from HBS graduates or current members of tion at Harvard Business School in standing of what success is really about and the the Young Presidents’ Organization. We also Boston. They are the authors of Just versatility to make good on their ideals. In this reviewed the problems that the general popu- Enough: Tools for Creating Success in article, we’ll introduce a practical framework lation has reported about success, using Your Work and Life (John Wiley & Sons, that will help you see success in these same sources that ranged from media reports to con- 2004), from which this article is terms. But ﬁrst, a closer examination of how we versations with friends, students, and col- adapted. arrived at this model. leagues. We talked to people from all different harvard business review • february 2004 page 31 Success That Lasts •• •M ANAGING Y OURSELF walks of life, at every level of the economy, to the community while in the midst of pursu- both in and out of business careers. Some of ing your most self-advancing goals are good ex- them were stay-at-home parents who had once amples of this. worked full time; others were at the pinnacle If you think about what constitutes a mo- of their careers. ment of lasting satisfaction in your own life— maybe it’s your daily practice of a musical in- The Complexity of Success strument—it may be surprisingly trivial in Success involves more than a heart-pounding comparison with your major commitments at race to the ﬁnish line. Our research uncovered work or at home. The activity draws force from four irreducible components of enduring suc- accomplishing something distinctive in each of cess: happiness (feelings of pleasure or con- the four categories over time. The musical in- tentment about your life); achievement (ac- strument provides release and pleasure (happi- complishments that compare favorably ness), it is a challenge to master and build on against similar goals others have strived for); (achievement), and it becomes even more ful- signiﬁcance (the sense that you’ve made a pos- ﬁlling when you join a band that competes itive impact on people you care about); and with other bands or play concerts at hospitals legacy (a way to establish your values or ac- (signiﬁcance). Those who also turn these complishments so as to help others ﬁnd future “lesser” vocations into legacies that build the success). same opportunity for the next generation— These four categories form the basic struc- say, through getting involved in recruiting and ture of what people try to gain through the training younger musicians—will ﬁnd an even pursuit and enjoyment of success. Take away deeper sense of success from so-called hobbies. any one component, and it no longer feels Anyone who takes the four elements of suc- People who tell you that like “real” success. If you were wildly wealthy cess seriously soon realizes how complicated it because you had mastered a certain business can be to touch on all four with regularity. As happiness, achievement, problem but couldn’t experience pleasure, for you scale up your goals, the four-part mix be- instance, would you consider yourself success- comes more difﬁcult to achieve. Each factor and significance will ful? If building your power base kept you has a different set of characteristics. Satisfying come automatically if from being there for others, would your suc- different needs, they draw on distinctive emo- cess feel morally right? If you left your career tional drives and prioritize self and others in you simply do the work to be a full-time parent, would you have different ways. That’s why people who tell you you love are misguided. enough of an outlet for your talents? Just as a that happiness, achievement, and signiﬁcance steady diet of the same four foods would will come automatically if you simply do the hardly be satisfying over the long term, the work you love are misguided. Regardless of four components of success cannot be satis- how much you care about your job, you will ﬁed by the presence of a single ﬂavor in each still feel conﬂicting desires—between work category. That is why you cannot neatly cate- and home, between working forever on a prob- gorize the realms of your life, assigning happi- lem and taking a break from it, between going ness to self, achievement to work, signiﬁcance for more market share today and investing in to family, legacy to community. the company’s needs for tomorrow. The skills Unless you hit on all four categories with you use to compete are totally different from regularity, any one win will fail to satisfy. You’ll those you employ in moments of enjoyment. experience what we call the “wince factor”: You You can be there for a friend, and you can care know you’re doing what is right, but it still about a customer, but these acts (in the signiﬁ- feels like a loss. You’re preoccupied with cance category) can’t be substituted for the thoughts of the other things you could be kind of thinking and prioritization that is nec- doing or getting. Your achievements and plea- essary to structure favorable ﬁnancial terms for sures fade almost as soon as they occur. By con- your own ﬁrm (in the achievement category). trast, success that encompasses all four kinds of Understanding the distinctive features of accomplishment is enriching; it endures. You the four areas of success can help you articu- can create this synergy within a single event, late what you are seeking in a certain activity. but you can also create it through a juxtaposi- You can then create a diagnostic for determin- tion of activities. Taking time out in the middle ing how to achieve the most appropriate goal. of a high-stress period or stopping to give back You may be expecting too many categories to harvard business review • february 2004 page 32 Success That Lasts •• •M ANAGING Y OURSELF be fulﬁlled without incorporating the right re- on one task until it gave them a particular sources and perspectives, or you may be falling sense of satisfaction, then put it down and prey to a mismatch. jump to the next category with a feeling of ac- Matching your expectations to the right cat- complishment and renewed energy. This versa- egory is a critical skill for achieving sustainable tile refocusing could occur within the same ac- success. If you expect happiness to come pri- tivity (say, when you base your product marily from competition (an achievement strategy on accomplishing your proﬁt goal and skill), you’ll probably turn into someone nei- on caring for the customer), or it can involve ther you nor those around you can tolerate— switching attention between two realms (tak- and wonder why success has made you so ing a break from work to joke with a friend). lonely. People who report having trouble de- The people in our research who were par- ﬁning the right goals for themselves or for ticularly skilled at sifting through the moving their companies are often caught in such mis- targets and going after only those that would matches. For instance, a self-described family- produce lasting rewards shared two character- friendly company might hold critical staff istics. First, they viewed success as a broad meetings over late dinners or during extended and dynamic experience of accomplishment, weekend retreats. one that factored in all four categories. They The act of categorizing in and of itself can didn’t attribute their success to one single help you take more decisive action and chan- event or even one single realm of life. Second, nel the right emotions and perspectives to the their concrete examples of what counted as task at hand. You can stop measuring a job “real” success included accomplishments of only by how happy it makes you or calculating wildly varying magnitude. They weren’t set- a business success only in terms of your ability ting maximum goals for themselves in each to achieve mastery over something. Instead, category; rather, they set some at a small scale you’ll see how one task ﬁts into a larger con- and some at a scale that demanded sustained text. By the same token, you’ll be able to antic- effort. The baseline for these individuals ipate what kind of emotional capital you’ll wasn’t the amount of activity or number of need to bring to a task. If you try to bring feel- rewards in any one category, but the securing ings of happiness or contentment to your of a proportionate mix of all four. Anyone can achievement goals, you’ll stunt your perfor- learn to do this; you just need to have a larger mance from the start. If you don’t put achieve- framework in which to understand the dy- ment in its place, however, you’ll trap yourself namics of the four categories. in a workaholic restlessness. Those in our research who achieved satisfy- The Kaleidoscope Strategy ing, enduring, multidimensional success con- We compare an effective success strategy to a sciously went after victories in all four catego- kaleidoscope—that simple mechanical device ries without losing touch with their values and with a lens, mirror, and a long tube housing special talents. They seemed to understand in- separate chambers. Each chamber holds tuitively the paradox we uncovered at the pieces of glass that constantly shift as the tube heart of enduring success: To get to more wins is moved. Although the chambers are sepa- on the various important measures that make rate, the eye sees one unique picture made up up your notion of the good life, success has to of the various chambers. Mirrors reﬂect the rest on a paradigm of limitation in any one ac- entire set of glass chips and enhance the com- tivity for the sake of the whole. Or, as we call it, plexity of the pattern. The beauty of that pat- “on the reasoned pursuit of just enough.” tern comes from the variety and symmetry of This principle ﬂies in the face of the popular the design. Although the patterns in a kaleido- opinion that success is all about breaking scope are inherently unstable, changed by through limitations, that it’s about having your own movements or by outside forces, the more, being more, doing more. Our research pieces provide ongoing satisfaction as they shows that the high-powered people who expe- take their places within new patterns. rienced real satisfaction achieved it through Now imagine a slightly different kind of ka- the deliberate imposition of limits. They all leidoscope, one that is your own vision of a shared a versatile talent that we call “switching successful life. This kaleidoscope also has four and linking”: They were able to focus intensely chambers—happiness, achievement, signiﬁ- harvard business review • february 2004 page 33 Success That Lasts •• •M ANAGING Y OURSELF cance, and legacy—and you can add brilliant into that category. Doing so will require more glass pieces (goals sought and fulﬁlled) over a creative thought and versatility than he’s ex- lifetime, making your unique pattern richer hibiting now. and richer. In this metaphor, success is about The executive overseeing the problematic choice, movement, pattern, and a structure product rollout was framing his dilemma in that holds all the separate activities together. terms of short-term versus long-term achieve- And, just like a kaleidoscope, you have to hold ment. He would do better to reframe his chal- this pattern up to the light. By regularly assess- lenge in terms of legacy: What kind of platform ing the picture you are creating in all four would he be creating for the success of this chambers, you can quickly spot “holes”— product and that of future managers in the places you feel require more attention—in company if he decided to release incomplete your activities and be assured that you are jus- products? Thinking about the problem from tiﬁed in interrupting other work to attend to this perspective helped him clarify his priori- them. The rest of the chips will be enough for ties. Instead of feeling that he had to make a the moment, but not enough for the rest of trade-off in a negative sense, he could take a your life. positive view of what needed the most atten- Through our research, we discovered that tion and what was worth sacriﬁcing for. In the the people who achieve enduring success rely end, he delayed rolling out the new product on a kaleidoscope strategy to structure their as- line—and not only were the retailers delighted pirations. Not only do they continually create with the ﬁnal results, but the product division, new chips in each of the four categories, but in crafting the solution, discovered a new way they also choose their actions so that the to coordinate and leverage its technological ca- whole picture will display a pleasing propor- pabilities across three countries. Success is about choice, tionality. Feeling deep satisfaction in each cate- The software engineer torn between com- gory strengthens these achievers’ ability to puters and church music needed to shrink or movement, pattern, and turn away from one category when another redirect her goals in some activities and de- needs attention. It allows them to say, “I don’t velop them in others. When she tried the kalei- a structure that holds all need to work away at this particular thing doscope strategy, she quickly saw that church the separate activities until I’m satiated and hate the very sight of it. music registered high in her signiﬁcance cate- This is just enough.” They recognize the impor- gory but would always be a limited outlet for together. tance of setting their own standards for achievement. She had neither the skill nor the “enough” and not falling prey to the lure of the opportunity to become a star musician. Soft- inﬁnite “more.” ware had more potential for signiﬁcance than This is exactly the kind of thinking you see she had previously thought. She needed to in good leaders: They anticipate what will be learn how to change her job in ways that em- needed in all four dimensions of success de- phasized the social value she was creating in spite pressures to deliver to the maximum in the products she worked on and the help she one. This is what the subjects in the three ex- provided to others. She began to see beneﬁts amples at the beginning of this article were in framing church music primarily as an exer- lacking. They had no framework in which to cise in signiﬁcance rather than in achievement, identify and sort multiple desires so that they with all its competitive and ﬁnancial associa- could go after their conﬂicting goals sequen- tions. But to ﬁll both chambers, she’d need to tially in a proportionate mix. restructure her job commitments in order to The burned-out venture capitalist needs to minimize travel and commit to choir practice. understand that scaling back his achievement When she looked at the whole picture of goals goals is part of a larger picture of expansion in she could satisfy through the sum of these ac- the other categories, rather than a paralyzing tivities, scaling back suddenly seemed more prospect of loss and “doing nothing.” This ka- positive. The pieces were enough. And, she rec- leidoscope view will allow him space to culti- ognized, taking this path would require contin- vate the emotional relationships he craves ued growth on her part—something she had with his family. That doesn’t mean he should forgotten she valued and which she now had give up all forms of achievement; he simply the conﬁdence to pursue strategically. Endur- needs to readjust the level of energy he puts ing success required enduring commitment. harvard business review • february 2004 page 34 Success That Lasts •• •M ANAGING Y OURSELF Building Your Own Kaleidoscope circle—this is just a quick sketch of your beliefs To create your own kaleidoscope, start by about yourself, not the full picture. Don’t sketching out your framework. Take a piece of spend time worrying about whether you paper and draw four intersecting circles. Label should put a particular target next to a particu- them happiness, achievement, signiﬁcance, lar item. Just work with your ﬁrst impulses. and legacy. In each circle, list self, family, Take your college degree as an example. You work, and community. This will enable you to may feel that graduating from college was a do a full inventory of the mix and determine major achievement, a benchmark in your over- how each piece falls in the context of each all career plans and something you will value major domain of your life. (See the exhibit for your whole life. Your degree represents a “My Personal Kaleidoscope.”) mastery of skills. You had to compete success- Next, quickly jot down examples of your fully to get there and get the grades. You felt successes or great satisfactions. You don’t have satisfaction when you were successful. So you to come up with one for every item in every would write “college” in your achievement chamber, next to the word “work.” But what if college represented other things for you? Signiﬁcance in your family life, for ex- ample, because your parents or spouse really My Personal Kaleidoscope valued what you were doing? In that case, you might also put college in your signiﬁcance chamber, next to “family.” The point is not to compulsively divide Happiness your life into little circles and lists. Rather, it is to help you assess the various types of satis- factions you have already experienced and see • self what they add up to. The answer is often • family more surprising or richer than you may have • work suspected. • community Depending on your age, you might even Legacy Achievement want to ﬁll out framework proﬁles for several periods in your life. Did you want the same things at 40 as you did at 20? Will you want the • self • self Copyright © 2004 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. same things at 60? At 85? Could you ever fully • family • family abandon one of the categories and still feel • work • work that you were a success? (This is the trap that • community • community many retirees and those who downscale their Signiﬁcance careers to become full-time parents fall into.) Now, metaphorically speaking, you can hold • self your kaleidoscope up to the light. Look at it ob- jectively, and ask yourself: • family 1. How integrated is your proﬁle? Are some • work of the domains empty? Are others too full? Is • community each realm of your identity—self, family, work, community—a depository of only one satisfac- tion, or is there a broader basis for success in each of these areas? 2. How varied is your proﬁle? Where are most of your greatest successes and satisfac- tions so far? Where are the holes? The obses- The people who achieved enduring success in our research used a kaleidoscope sions? Are the chambers and realms evolving strategy to structure their aspirations. Not only did they continually add new or repeating the same things over and over? activities to each of the four categories, but they also focused on creating a well- 3. What have you learned about what you balanced big picture. If you take a minute to map an inventory of your successes actually do? Where is your time going? How so far, you’ll quickly discover which areas need more attention. does it speak to what you really want from suc- harvard business review • february 2004 page 35 Success That Lasts •• •M ANAGING Y OURSELF cess? Research into success has shown that one person would probably welcome the chance to of the biggest causes of failure is an overreli- head the new spin-off, and he’d be likely to ex- ance on one’s greatest strengths. Are you favor- tend the kind of business John had spent his ing what you do best and neglecting your need life building. The buyers would need such a for fulﬁllment in all four categories? person, and John would be comfortable doing Here’s how the kaleidoscope strategy business with them. helped John, the owner of a large real estate After seeing the situation from a different company, ﬁnd enduring success. John was perspective, John was more decisive about the having trouble deciding what to do with his sale and had a richer platform of concrete business. After a blowout with his teenage goals around which to structure the transac- child and a series of relentless, debilitating tion: the terms in which legacy would be ful- headaches, he decided he had to cut back on ﬁlled, the new time frame for his own enjoy- his work. He had already bought a plane— ment of life, a revitalizing and more realistic against his family’s wishes—and he had in- set of achievement goals, and a sense of provid- creased his time for himself, but he was still ing the space to be there for his daughter and suffering. “I know I should sell part of this wife without giving up all the challenges of the business for the sake of my happiness,” he real estate business. said, “but I just can’t do it.” Identifying where his activities were located We suggested he try putting this sale in an- in the kaleidoscope gave John immediate in- other category, one that seemed rather empty. sight into what he was seeking and getting Why not think about the sale as an active en- from his efforts—as well as what was lacking. gagement in legacy rather than as a platform In channeling your efforts effectively toward for happiness? The pieces ﬁt. Legacy is about what you really seek from success, it’s critical building on your achievements and values to to test your proﬁle against your idealized view help others succeed after you’re gone. John re- of yourself. What do you want your proﬁle of membered a young manager who had left the accomplishments in each of the four categories ﬁrm, someone who knew John’s values and to look like tomorrow? Next month? Over was quite accomplished in his own right. This your lifetime? The Kaleidoscope Strategy for Businesses What makes for the enduring success of a assignment system for the Internet by Jon ing” skills—their ability to shift focus quickly company? In our view, businesses prosper Postel and others—illustrate wins in all four from one task to another—will create the when they enable individuals and society to categories of the kaleidoscope. conditions for commitment, happiness, satis- achieve all four categories of enduring suc- Many of today’s weak business ethics and faction, and continuity in their organizations. cess: happiness, achievement, signiﬁcance, performance problems can be traced to a fail- To determine how well your business is and legacy. After all, could any company sur- ure to adopt the skills of enduring success. performing in the four categories of success, vive if everyone were miserable in their job? The favored candidate for “running things” is consider the following tests: Happiness in an organization is essential, often the achievement-driven maximizer, but Happiness. Does your corporate culture and it grows in cultures of trust and respect. too often, that approach runs the business allow employees to let down their guard and And what company succeeds without solving (and the leader) into the ground. This neglect enjoy the moment—both individually and problems and executing better than its com- creates costly success pathologies such as collectively? petitors? Innovation and results are classic greed, lack of loyalty or commitment, burn- Achievement. Are your ﬁnancial victories forms of business achievement. What great out, insensitivity, and the demoralization of the reward for genuine mastery of important business doesn’t add value for its customers, knowing that your work isn’t making a posi- new problems or a numbers game with no its shareholders, and its community? Provid- tive contribution to society. real results? ing such useful services is clearly signiﬁcant. To create a platform for enduring success Signiﬁcance. Does your product or service Of course, no business could thrive for long in your organization, it’s important to discuss create real value for others? without active attention to its legacy. In fact, the features of all four segments of success in Legacy. Are you preparing the organiza- classic examples of enduring success— a collective kaleidoscope exercise. Companies tion for the next generation of success by in- Johnson & Johnson’s careful handling of the that take responsibility for teaching their em- vesting in people, innovation, customer Tylenol-tampering episode or the develop- ployees to pursue the four categories of suc- needs, and systems? ment of an open-access standardized domain cess and to develop their “switching and link- harvard business review • february 2004 page 36 Success That Lasts •• •M ANAGING Y OURSELF “Just enough” is the Getting to “Just Enough” ture its full potential. People tend to use the If you pay attention to the four categories and term to express dissatisfaction, as in, “That’s it! antidote to society’s their relation to one another, you can enrich I’ve had enough!” or as a code for mediocrity the potential for any activity to satisfy you on or passivity, as in, “If I’m just happy every day, addiction to the infinite numerous dimensions, whether at work, in that’s enough.” We mean something else by “more.” your leisure time, or in some other aspect of enough, closer to its root deﬁnition: occurring your life. The high achievers in our study were in sufﬁcient quantity or quality to satisfy de- able to accomplish great things for themselves mands or needs. If you have a ﬁrm idea of the and others by recognizing they had multiple big picture in your kaleidoscope of success, it goals that were critical to their idea of real suc- becomes easier to determine and appreciate cess and by being fully committed to whatever “enough” in any one activity. Without losing activity they were engaged in. By switching your energy for high aspirations, you set reach- and linking, they limited their attention to one able goals. “Just enough” is the antidote to soci- task, and when other needs pressed, they were ety’s addiction to the inﬁnite “more.” Seen in able to make lightning fast changes of focus that light, it becomes a vehicle for actively and emotional energy. Instead of feeling making choices that allow you to do and get cheated because they couldn’t get it all, they more, not less, through achieving satisfaction were renewed by following the cycle of atten- in more areas of your life. tion to each category. How do you know when it’s time to stop Reprint R0402H; Harvard Business Review your work in one category and switch your at- OnPoint 659X To order, see the next page tention to another? That’s where the concept or call 800-988-0886 or 617-783-7500 of “just enough” becomes critical. Conven- or go to www.hbr.org tional interpretations of “enough” don’t cap- harvard business review • february 2004 page 37 MANAGING YOURSELF Success That Lasts Further Reading ARTICLES BOOK When Everything Isn’t Half Enough Just Enough: Tools for Creating Success in by Suzy Wetlaufer Your Work and Life Harvard Business Review by Howard Stevenson and Laura Nash March–April 2000 John Wiley and Sons Product no. R00211 February 2004 What happens when you ignore one or more Just Enough, from which “Success That Lasts” was of the components of enduring success? It’s adapted, delivers a more in-depth exploration not a pretty picture. This fictional case study of success. Nash and Stevenson take a closer explores the hollowness of one-dimensional look at what constitutes real, enduring success success: CEO Norman Spencer, wildly success- and why so many people today find success ful by financial measures, is depressed. He’s anxiety-provoking rather than satisfying. The spent his life racking up one achievement after book also offers a more nuanced look at the another, but even though he’s got a thriving kaleidoscope strategy and the talent of “switch- business, a mansion, a yacht—the finest things ing and linking.” Filled with more examples and money can buy—he never feels fulfilled. If we greater detail, this book extends readers’ ability applied the kaleidoscope strategy to his life, to determine how much is just enough, both we’d find that his happiness, legacy, and signifi- for today and for the future. cance chambers are practically empty, and that he’s never cultivated a sense of “just enough.” Commentators don’t use the kaleidoscope metaphor, but their advice has close parallels. In the words of one: “What is so hard about achieving huge success? If you’re not careful, it can knock out your better judgment. The relentless pursuit of more in one area will steer you away from enough in others.” Managing Oneself . by Peter F Drucker Harvard Business Review March–April 1999 To Order Product no. 4444 For reprints, Harvard Business Review Like “Success That Lasts,” “Managing Oneself” OnPoint orders, and subscriptions can be used as a tool to generate greater self- to Harvard Business Review: awareness. This article will help you evaluate Call 800-988-0886 or 617-783-7500. your strengths, your values, your learning Go to www.hbr.org style, and even your best options for a second career. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be For customized and quantity orders able to put yourself in positions where you of reprints and Harvard Business can make the greatest contribution—where Review OnPoint products: there’s the best fit between your passion and Call Frank Tamoshunas at what the situation demands. 617-783-7626, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org page 38