Manage Yourself to Achieve True and Lasting Excellence

Tom Paterson, brilliant consultant for decades and creator of the StratOp strategic system for operating and growing your organization, passed away on September 3, 2019.

As a non-profit group, Auxano has the largest team of theologically trained, pastor-experienced facilitators in the country in the process developed by Paterson. Each of our Navigators feels the impact of the tools developed by Tom Paterson in their daily work with churches across the country.

To honor the legacy of Tom Paterson on the anniversary of his passing, this excerpt from SUMS Remix 128 is based on one of Paterson’s friend and collaborator Peter Drucker’s books.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker is widely regarded as the father of modern management, offering penetrating insights into business that still resonate today. But Drucker also offers deep wisdom on how to manage our personal lives and how to become more effective leaders.

In these two classic articles from Harvard Business Review, Drucker reveals the keys to becoming your own chief executive officer as well as a better leader of others. “Managing Oneself” identifies the probing questions you need to ask to gain the insights essential for taking charge of your career, while “What Makes an Effective Executive” outlines the key behaviors you must adopt in order to lead. Together, they chart a powerful course to help you carve out your place in the world.


Tom Paterson was a long-time friend of Peter Drucker. Drucker often referred to Paterson as the “Process Practitioner.” In turn, Drucker was known as the “father of modern management.” Because of their friendship, the third excerpt of this SUMS Remix comes from Drucker’s thoughts on “Managing Oneself.”

According to Drucker, the concept of managing oneself is increasingly important as each one of us becomes solely responsible for the trajectory of our ever-longer careers.

He believed that only when you operate with a combination of your strengths and a disciplined self-knowledge could you achieve true and lasting excellence.

Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong. More often, people know what they are not good at – and even then more people are wrong than right. And yet, a person can perform only from strength. One cannot build performance on weaknesses, let alone on something one cannot do at all.

The only way to discover your strength is through feedback analysis. Whenever you make a key decision or take a key action, write down what you expect will happen. Nine or twelve months later, compare the actual results with your expectations. I have been practicing this method for 15 to 20 years now, and every time I do it, am surprised.

Practiced consistently, this simple method will show you within a fairly short period of time, maybe two or three years, where your strengths lie – and this is the most important thing to know. The method will show you what you are doing or failing to do that deprives you of the full benefits of your strengths. It will show you where you have no strengths and cannot perform.

Several implications for action follow from feedback analysis. First and foremost, concentrate on your strengths. Put yourself where your strengths can produce results.

Second, work on improving your strengths. Analysis will rapidly show where you need to improve skills or acquire new ones. It will also sow the gaps in your knowledge – and those can usually be filled.

Third, discover where your intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it. Far too many people – especially people with great expertise in one area – are contemptuous of knowledge in other areas or believe that being bright is a substitute for knowledge.

Peter Drucker, Managing Oneself


Work through the following blind spot exercise to discover potential blind spots in your understanding of your strengths.

  1. On a chart tablet, write a list of your strengths (up to ten), and arrange them in order of your certainty of that strength. In other words, the strength you feel best reflects you should be number one, and so on.
  2. For each strength, write down and number elements that are assumptions or uncertainties.
  3. Think about what would happen (consequences or risks) if the assumptions for each strength were wrong or untrue. Write down and number the consequences and mark their impact as high, medium, or low.
  4. Count the number of assumptions/impact per strength. Select both the strength with the lowest score (least assumptions/impact) and the one with the highest score (most assumptions/impact).
  5. Select the three strengths with the highest score, and develop ideas on how you might reduce the assumptions and impact, and therefore make them stronger.

The above exercise adapted from “75 tools for Creative Thinking.”

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 128, released September, 2019.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<


Don’t Let a Steep Learning Curve Become a Cliff

A learning curve is a graphical representation of the increase of learning (vertical axis) with experience (horizontal axis).


When we encounter a “steep learning curve” we face an uphill struggle to learn new ideas, practices, systems, etc. The goal is survival and ultimately, to be at a better place at some point in the future.

You know – the best in the world.

Anyone who is going to hire you, buy from you, recommend you, vote for you, or do what you want them to do is going to wonder if you’re the best choice. –Seth Godin

If you’re not going to put in the best effort, why bother?

Your learning curve should always be up and to the right – if it’s not, you’ve come to the edge of a cliff…


…now what?

Developing Your “Brand You”

All leaders are in sales.

You may not be selling a widget or a gizmo, but you are “selling” vision and ideas and momentum, and dozens of other powerful intangibles that are very real.

One of the keys to being successful in sales is being memorable. One important way to be memorable is to have a personal brand. Valerie Sokolosky, an executive coach, recommends that professionals build personal brand equity in the following 5 ways:

Brand yourself through your professional presence. First impressions count! What messages are your clothes, grooming, and posture presenting? Your outside appearance speaks volumes before you even open your mouth.

Brand yourself as a valued partner. What do you know about the group you are leading or the project you are trying to tackle? Take time to do research on the people, places, and process involved, and when you lead, you will be doing it from a solid knowledge base.

Brand yourself with strong communication skills. Learn how to quickly gauge the people and environment you are in. Is it appropriate for small talk first or is it time to get right to business?

Brand yourself by staying one step ahead. Anticipate what the group wants or needs. Anticipate what may be going on in the team. Be fully prepared for questions, and always be truthful when you’re asked something you don’t know. “I don’t know but I’ll find out” is always an acceptable answer.

Brand yourself as being socially savvy. In today’s world that means both interpersonal and digital skills. Be a good conversationalist, mixing and mingling as appropriate. Ask open-ended questions, and really listen.


How are you going to develop Brand You today?