This is a great book to read on sabbatical, as you can probably imagine. It had the overall impact on me of adding to my focus, rather than distracting from it, in a nice journey through several essays on subjects ranging from the potential of a second career to managing your boss.
I was reminded again that as fascinating as human beings are, they (we/I) can also be predictable. This is what I was thinking during the review of adult stages of development, which go from age 21 to 35 (“intimacy”) to ages 35-55 (“generativity”):
The transition between intimacy and generativity is, according to Daniel Levinson, the time during which the adult makes his last assertion for independence….His studies of executives indicate that at about age 37, the adult throws off the guidance or protection of older mentors or managers and takes full charge of himself.
So what to do with all that energy (which I tend to have a lot of at baseline anyway…)? There’s a nice essay from Peter Drucker on “Managing Oneself,” where he talks about the shift in the workplace from an organization guiding a person’s career to a person doing the guiding by asking “what should my contribution be?” In working with bosses, he suggests that people should observe them, find out how they work, and adapt themselves to make their bosses most effective. I agree – I have always operationalized this as “make your boss look good.” There’s also a nice discussion of values and ethics – it’s possible to have value conflicts within an organization, while respecting that everyone is acting ethically.
The concluding essay, “A Survival Guide for Leaders” is a good one for people in the field of Informatics, where the potential for upheaval of an entire profession manifests every day. There are practical strategies for handing both external and internal forces at play when leading a transition. These definitely happen in health care to be sure. At the same time I continue to experience the reality that the most incredible people go into health care, because an industry this challenging demands it. There’s a nice nod to a concept I was taught a few years ago – “watch yourself.” This is advice well taken – with as much as we all have to do to help others achieve their life goals through optimal health, awareness of our contributions and those of others makes a huge difference.