Mind of the Manager

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13 Questions to Ask Yourself at the End of Your Career

Perhaps the questions can be of value to those not so far along the career path.

Having just retired (or semi-retired… retired at least from the corporate world), you tend to think about things. This is always a dangerous undertaking. Nonetheless, following are 13 career-related questions that have been flitting through my mind lately. Perhaps they can be of some value, or at least interest, to those not as far along the career path as I am.

1) Did I learn from the mistakes I made, or did I continue to repeat them? (Being only human, you’ll make a few. I made so many, can no longer remember the first 100 or so.)

2) Was I scrupulously fair to all who reported to me, or did I play favorites? (A natural temptation, especially since all longtime managers and executives will tell you some valuable employees are a delight to manage and other equally valuable ones are wicked annoying.)

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3) Did I have the courage to speak out against something clearly wrong even when it was not in my best interests to do so? (Not always easy when income may be placed at risk.)

4) Was I able to balance the considerable time spent at work with the time needed by others in my life who cared about me?

5) Did I use my experience to develop and mentor individuals who could benefit from my mistakes and successes?

6) Was I resilient and able to give my best effort when things did not go my way? (Or did I brood and dog it? Being a frontrunner is easy.)

7) Did I grasp the difference between management and leadership as soon as I should have? (Don’t believe I did.)

8) Did I spend as much time as I should have preparing for the future rather than dwelling on the past?

9) Did I ever lie, cheat or steal? (Old saying: There are no guilty people in prison.)

10) Did I undermine others to advance myself? (Can be a jungle at the highest levels, especially with cash and careers on the line.)

11) Did I use my abilities, such as they are, for a fundamentally constructive purpose? (Example: It may be a much maligned industry and not nearly as cool, say, as creating the next iPad, but one thing I never for a moment regretted was working in the life insurance business, which provides protection of real human value in an uncertain world.)

12) What did I learn in this career that I can use to help myself in whatever else I do, and more importantly to help others?

13) Can I sleep well at night, knowing what I do today?

There’s no scoring system, no passing or failing. All just meant to stimulate a bit of thought. Best of luck.

This article first apeared at Forbes.com.

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Victor Lipman recently retired from the corporate world after 25 years with one of America's largest life insurance companies. He writes about management from a psychological perspective.

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