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What You're Really Meant to Do: A Road Map for Reaching Your Unique Potential [Kindle Edition]

Robert Steven Kaplan
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Book Description

How do you create your own definition of success—and reach your unique potential?

Building a fulfilling life and career can be a daunting challenge. It takes courage and hard work. Too often, we charge down a path leading to “success” as defined by those around us—and ultimately, are left feeling dissatisfied.

Each of us is unique and brings distinctive skills and qualities to any situation. So why is it that most of us fail to spend sufficient time learning to understand ourselves and creating our own definition of success? The truth is, it can seem so natural and so much easier to just do what everyone else is doing—for now—leaving it for later to develop our best selves and figure out our own unique path. Is there a road map that will enable you to defy conventional wisdom, resist peer pressure, and carve out a path that fits your unique skills and passions?

Harvard Business School’s Robert Steven Kaplan, leadership expert and author of the highly successful book What to Ask the Person in the Mirror, regularly advises executives and students on how to tackle these questions. In this indispensable new book, Kaplan shares a specific and actionable approach to defining your own success and reaching your potential. Drawing on his years of experience, Kaplan proposes an integrated plan for identifying and achieving your goals. He outlines specific steps and exercises to help you understand yourself more deeply, take control of your career, and build your capabilities in a way that fits your passions and aspirations.

Are you doing what you’re really meant to do? If you’re ready to face this question, this book can help you change your life.

Editorial Reviews


As seen on Fox Business, CNBC, Lou Dobbs, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

“This book opens the mind of the reader to a lot of self-exploratory questions rather than offering blind advice. It helps you understand yourself deeply and build a foundation based on this before starting a journey towards your dreams.” — Business World magazine

“compelling and personal and contains individual exercises that provide interesting insights readers likely haven’t considered before—whether how to manage your career or a complete career change. If you have ever asked yourself, in any work situation, at any stage of your career, “Why doesn’t someone just tell me what to do?” this book is a worthwhile trip for you.” — CIO Digest

ADVANCE PRAISE for What You’re Really Meant to Do:

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, professor, Harvard Business School; author, Confidence and SuperCorp
What You’re Really Meant to Do is a wise, deeply personal, and always practical book by a leader of leaders. It is essential reading for all those who want to define success their own way.”

Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, professor, Harvard Medical School; co-founder, Partners In Health—
“As I have seen him do in classrooms in Haiti and at Harvard, Rob Kaplan provides a powerful and pragmatic prescription in What You’re Really Meant to Do. Building on his widely praised work on leadership and efficacy, Kaplan offers compelling narratives of those he has coached and counseled—from executives to entrepreneurs to recent graduates—as a guide for anyone pursuing a purposeful professional life.”

Henry M. Paulson, Jr., seventy-fourth secretary of the US Department of the Treasury; Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs (1999–2006)—
“Rob Kaplan has spent years mentoring and coaching executives and young professionals, and there is no one any better. This book is a superb guide for helping people understand themselves and reach their unique potential.”

Bill George, professor, Harvard Business School; author, Authentic Leadership and True North
“Rob Kaplan’s brilliant new book inspires you to reach your full potential by taking responsibility for your development as a leader and as a human being. If you follow his thoughtful, pragmatic approach, you will live an even more satisfying life. Filled with real-world examples, Kaplan helps you build your road map to fulfillment.”

Vanessa Kirsch, founder and Managing Director, New Profit Inc.—
“Forging a fulfilling career can be one of the most difficult challenges we face. What You’re Really Meant to Do provides a compelling road map for discovering your passions and unlocking your full potential. A must-read for anyone looking for professional growth and fulfillment.”

About the Author

Robert Steven Kaplan is Senior Associate Dean and the Martin Marshall Professor of Management Practice in Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He is also cochairman of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, a global venture philanthropy firm, as well as chairman and a founding partner of Indaba Capital Management, LLC. Before joining Harvard in 2005, Kaplan was vice chairman of the Goldman Sachs Group.

Product Details

  • File Size: 489 KB
  • Print Length: 234 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1422189902
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (April 16, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B6U63ZO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,019 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
I saw Robert Kaplan on television, was greatly interested, and just finished the book. Unfortunately, this book is written only for those working within large corporations with lots of job security and many choices about career paths and ranges of compensation. I don't know if those people exist anymore. His talk about teams, coaches, bosses, and management reads like something out of Tom Peter's era, when America was rich, jobs weren't being slashed, and employees weren't required to do the work of 2-3 people. He even offers advice on how to choose the right job when you first graduate from Harvard Business School! "Finding your passion" to Kaplan simply means being mentored into a more rewarding job in your corporation or –– super radical idea –– moving to a different large corporation. The section on assessing your weaknesses and strengths is most valuable, however, it is structured largely within the context how of your boss and direct reports view you, and therefore has limited usefulness for those who are engaged in more entrepreneurial endeavors. Too bad.
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48 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Self-improvement initiatives or, if you prefer, self-fulfillment or self-actualization initiatives, are best viewed as an on-going journey, not as an ultimate destination. Many authors of books about that process invoke the map or road map metaphor, and rightly so, because it implies and (yes) enables all manner of appropriate dimensions of internal as well as external exploration and discovery. This seems to be what Robert Steven Kaplan has in mind when observing, "I have come to believe that the key to achieving your aspirations lies not in `being a success' but rather in [begin italics] working to reach your unique potential [end italics]. This requires you to create your own definition of success rather than accept a definition created by others...This approach takes courage and hard work. It does not yield easy answers or get you to a final destination. It is, instead, a multistage, lifelong effort. It involves developing a different mind-set and a new set of work habits."

At this point in my brief commentary, I want to express appreciation of Kaplan's previous book, What to Ask the Person in the Mirror. Its title refers to anyone who seeks both knowledge and wisdom that will improve quality of life as well as standard of living. What Kaplan offers in abundance is assistance with framing questions that can help to achieve those worthy objectives. Those who read the book will be much better prepared to ask them; better yet, they will be much better prepared to obtain the right answers to them. In this book, as its subtitle suggests, he offers "a road map for reaching your potential," one that is accompanied by a wealth of information, insights, and counsel as well as self-diagnostic exercises to help his readers determine what they are really meant to be and to do.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great book December 21, 2013
By Brenden
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very thoughtful in terms of being self-aware in pursuit of a career choice. Very simple models for determining how your presuppositions based off of others ideas and wishes for life in general cloud your honest and clear assessment of your specific strengths and desires.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Succinct August 17, 2013
By Prasann
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The author is very honest in presenting the core matter.

He leads reader step by step in analysis and adminsters the precise solutions that bring about change. I have highlighted many sentences and these are very true reflection of what is going on in our lives currently. Very well researched work. Prasanna
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding oneself is of paramount importance March 31, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There is a plethora of books about how to reach one’s potential in personal and business life. The name of this book looks very mundane so that I have mistakenly categorised it as leisure reading. I must confess this book has offered me many profound, practical, and valuable insights into having a better understanding of myself and finding passion for my career path.

Through an array of exercises filled with self-introspection and reflection, Professor Kaplan guides readers to create a sustainable path to personal growth and fulfillment. The key premise of the book is that self-understanding is of paramount importance when we aspire to match opportunities with our passions for fulfillment. We can go astray if we do not understand our strengths and weaknesses. Worse still, we always lament that fulfillment of our passion is subordinate to our constrained economic power and other practical considerations. In this book, Professor Kaplan maintains that the powerful impact of passion on career success is more effective than plotting out a career path on the basis of making money. In Chapter 4, there is a self-narrative exercise that helps readers to demystify themselves (emotions, perceptions, idiosyncrasies, assumptions, vulnerabilities, and mindset) through their personal histories.

Given that matching attracting opportunities with our passion is a marathon instead of a sprint that requires us to become focus and dedicated to our jobs in time of adversity and prosperity, Professor Kaplan also remind us the importance of upward communication, constant update of work skills, right leadership with value and ethical boundaries, and trustful relationships with people to bring work performance from good to great.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
this book was very helpful in helping me begin to understand myself and how I am
perceived by others
Published 20 days ago by Newton Musical
3.0 out of 5 stars An average book
This book was not quite what I was expecting. Although it has potential to be helpful, I've read other books that I found to be more helpful. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Marc Grenier
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!
I highlighted so much of this book in my kindle reader! This book will give you the courage to see your true potential and go for your dreams. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Latasha Ball
5.0 out of 5 stars Open the door to your future
Great inspirational book, it allows you to take a look at your inner self to evaluate the past for successful future.
Published 4 months ago by Michelle Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars a unique perspective on what brings us joy
This is a must for those developing a road map for a successful career or just deciding to follow their dream.
Published 5 months ago by Michelle Plum
5.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful
If you are REALLY ready to make changes regarding your career this book is a very helpful guideline. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Having trouble getting into this one...
Don't get me wrong, I read. I read a lot. And don't just judge me by my kindle purchases--I read other things, too. Books. Words. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Barbara Jean
1.0 out of 5 stars Money and Time WASTED!
The book is slow going. Some books you can pick up and they are a great read and before you know it your almost halfway through and still don't want to put it down; this book on... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Joshua Lebovitz
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for guidance in your career choices and professional...
After having enjoyed and benefited from reading Robert Kaplan’s leadership book, “What to Ask the Person in the Mirror”, I was delighted to hear that he was publishing a book with... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Steven W. Cook, PhD
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
I was unhappy with my career path and came across this book. the point in it are relevant and while simple or common sense they provoke thought none the less. Read more
Published 5 months ago by lynsert walcolm
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