Self Management

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The individual who wants to reach the top in business must appreciate the might and force of habit. He must be quick to break those habits that can break him—and hasten to adopt those practices that will become the habits that help him achieve the success he desires.” — J Paul Getty


Direction of movement. 3D image.What is self management?

Some few hundreds of years ago, the son of a peasant is likely to become a peasant whilst the son of an artisan will be an artisan and so on. Up to the nineteen fifties also, employees in organisations were typically told what to contribute. From the nineteen sixties however, choices of what to do and what to contribute have become so wide and varied that one needs to be very clear and exact about what he wants his role to be. Furthermore, the typical entrepreneur is one that entirely believes that the reward he gets should be more as a result of his effort. He does not want factors outside his control to determine what he gets and doesn’t get. This necessitates that he is fully responsible for his actions and the results of those actions. To succeed therefore, the entrepreneur must be able to control and direct his behaviour in varying situations and circumstances. This is what self management is all about. It’s objective is to make it possible for you to achieve the most you can for yourself as well as make the maximum  possible contribution in the lives of your loved ones, staff, and all your other stakeholders.

Whilst self management strategies are desirable for all persons and applicable to all callings in life, our discussions here is specifically as it relates to the entrepreneur.

How do you achieve and maintain self management?

1. Find and define your purpose:

As an entrepreneur, your sight should not be limited to just creating wealth in a financial sense. Your objectives should include creating opportunities for others as well as building up people by providing the right leadership your organisation requires. Just imagine one of your staff leaving her home for work in the morning with a strong level of self-esteem. She closes some nine hours later feeling unappreciated and even demeaned.  No one needs to tell you that her interaction with her spouse and children that evening, will definitely be negatively affected. This will in turn diminish her confidence and performance for days to come. The converse also holds true. You therefore need to see your purpose as wide as possible to make it possible to create the most profound achievements possible for yourself and others.

The first step you need in achieving self management is to identify your purpose in life. There are several approaches to finding your purpose. Start by understanding Frederick Herzberg’s motivational theory. This theory asserts that contrary to what we tend to think, money isn’t the powerful motivator in our lives. Instead, the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others and be recognised for achievements are the strongest motivators in human life. If you can identify your strongest motivators and you can find your life’s purpose.

Once you are clear of your purpose, successful pursuit of entrepreneurship will become a means of achieving the purpose rather than an end itself. Think about the yardstick by which your life will be judged. Use the right metrics that truly reflects what you value. Based on that you should make a commitment to live every day of your life such that in the end you will be judged a success.

Jack Canfield says “To be ‘on purpose’ means you’re doing what you love to do, doing what you’re good at, and accomplishing what’s important to you.”

Identifying your life’s purpose is only the beginning of the journey. Next, you will need to create a strategy towards achieving the defined purpose. How do you do that?

2. Create a Strategy:

To achieve any desired objective, you should formulate a strategy. This is a deliberate establishment of the policies you should live by, and the the actions you will take in differing situations and circumstances, all geared towards achieving your objectives.  As with everything in life, creating a well thought out strategy is not a guarantee that you will achieve your objective. But it does at least two things. One is that it greatly enhances your chances of success. Secondly, even if you do not entirely achieve the purpose, you will be happy with the journey, knowing that you have put in your best in thoughts and actions.

There are three key areas of strategy formulation in self management. They cover where and how you allocate resources; develop a culture that facilitates success; and provide leadership to yourself and others.


a) Allocate Resources:  How you allocate your time, energy and talent ultimately sets your life’s strategy. Your family, business, and the public all make claim to these resources. The choices you make and how you allocate those resources indicates your values and what you ultimately want to achieve. Without a definite purpose of your life, you risk mis-allocating these resources. The longer term your perspective in life, the better chance you have to correctly allocate. Think of this scenario: If you earn a $200,000.00 dividend, will you re-invest it in your business, or will you sell your house and move to a bigger one, or still yet will you invest in in your child’s education fund? Each of the options yields a different outcome now and in the future. It is by being clear about your purpose and values that you will make  decisions that push you further towards achieving your current and long term objectives.

Realise also that most business disasters arise as a result of predisposition towards endeavours that offer immediate gratification. Your strategy should therefore be balanced, allocating your time, energy and talent to the various spheres of your actions and relationships, clearly furthering your objectives. Otherwise, you will allocate less resources on those things that intrinsically matter the most to you.  This may upturn your preference order and will not yield the desired long term results you set out to achieve.

teamwork-benefitsb) Develop a Culture: Your ability to develop a culture that facilitates your allocation decisions is key to success. You need to start  with yourself by ensuring that you imbibe the discipline necessary for you to execute your life’s strategy. Start with having a regular schedule such as when to start the day, what to do when etc is key. Alongside that, you should consciously be allocating your resources in line with your strategy. Ensure that you achieve the discipline that you would demand of others. Next is to look at your ‘tribe’, such as your family members directly involved in what you are doing, your staff, and all those that you may interact with in course of the years to come and secure their buy in. Once your tribe understands what you want to achieve, and you get their ‘buy-in’, they will support you. This will make your allocation decisions very efficient and effective. Sometimes you don’t always gain the support you desire or need. You have to therefore develop the ability to persuade others working with you to ‘see’ what you see, or at least trust your judgement, as well as cooperative and work with you in the direction you set. Two important variables here are the extent to which your tribe agrees on what they want from their participating in the enterprise and the second is the extent to which they agree on what actions will produce the desired results. A clearly defined purpose with the right set of values and a well thought out strategy will smoothen rough edges as they arise.

It should be understood  also that developing a culture for yourself and your team will not be an overnight event. It will take some reasonable time. What is key is to start with the purpose in mind and the the right underlaying values. Your team and you will then need to collectively and individually continue to improve. A component of your culture should therefore be the readiness and willingness to continuously learn and improve.

imitatingc) Be a Leader: To be able to successfully allocate resources in line with your strategy, as well as be able to develop a culture that guides you and your team towards eventual success, you must provide leadership to yourself and your team. Start with yourself by identifying what are your areas of strengths. This is a lot more tricky that most people imagine. Rather than any wishful thoughts about abilities, the proper way to eatablish your areas of strengths are through feedback analysis. You can do this by taking note of each decision you make and writing down what you expect. Subsequently, compare the actual results with your expectations. Practiced consistently, you will be able to understand where your strengths lie over a fairly short period of time. Once this is established, put yourself where your streghths will produce results. Thereafter, you should work to improve your stregths by acquiring more knowledge and improving skills and acquiring new ones.  Thirdly, you should identify where any ‘intellectual arrogance’ is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it. Understanding how you learn and how you perform is also critical to self management and success.  These abilities and limitations determine to a large extent how we interact with others. Leadership is where the rubber meets the road.

To improve your effectiveness as a leader, I encourage to read extensively on, the relatively new field of, Emotional Intelligence. A write up on it will soon be posted on this blog.


Self management is is critical to our success in life. It is evident that the most successful people in any field of human endeavour tend to be the most disciplined ones who do what they do deliberately. Besides improving our chances of success, self management makes it possible to eliminate or at least handle, very well, unwanted events in our lives. As an entrepreneur, you must be very clear about what you what to achieve and how you want to go about that.


Our next write up will be ‘Start Right’.


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