Monday, April 12, 2010

Work-life lessons from Peter Drucker

Peter F. Drucker (19 Nov 1909 – 11 Nov 2005) is well-known as "the father of modern management".

In fact, Drucker's teachings on personal growth or self-management, are as profound as his views on organizational management.

Drucker personified the value of creating and living a "total life" with diverse interests, relationships, and pursuits. He called this as "living in more than one world."

He exemplified the following 5 key elements to crate a "total life":

1. Practice self-development

Drucker opined that: "What matters is that the knowledge worker, by the time he or she reaches middle age, has developed and nourished a human being rather than a tax accountant or a hydraulic engineer."

We should start thinking about our life, both as it is now and where we'd like it to go. It should cover not only our work, but also our life outside of work, i.e. family, friends, interests, activities, and pursuits.

2. Identify and develop your unique strengths

Consider what's unique about what you do, and in what areas you excel and contribute the most, both at work and outside of work. Focus on those strengths, which are your own core competencies, and find new ways to cultivate and cherish them.

3. Create a parallel or second career

Drucker said, "The purpose of the work on making the future is not to decide what should be done tomorrow, but what should be done today to have a tomorrow."

Drucker encouraged us to think about possibilities for a parallel or second career, while we're still in our main job. Leveraging on our existing knowledge and experience, and exploring into the area of teaching, writing, or working in non-profit organizations could be some good idea.

4. Exercise your generosity

Drucker believed an essential part of living in more than one world is to display a sense of generosity.

Sharing your time and talents in areas such as volunteerism, social entrepreneurship and mentoring, not only provide opportunities to contribute, but also offer personal benefits from broadening and deepening your life experience to expanding your circle of friends and colleagues.

5. Teaching and learning

Drucker would like to see us to incorporate continuous learning as a natural part of our daily life. We should also consider teaching, as he said, "No one learns as much as the person who must teach his subject."

Drucker’s secrets to success can help our life and career be more satisfying, meaningful and multi-dimensional. The following are 7 tips to get started:

  • Focus on achievement, not money
  • Make time for thinking - where you are and where you're going.
  • Practice "systematic abandonment" - stepping back, at regular intervals, to determine which of your present activities can be scaled back or eliminated. Only then can you make way for something more fruitful.
  • Volunteer your time and talent
  • Become a mentor - if you’ve been guided by mentors of your own, pay it forward by mentoring others. If not, look for opportunities to both mentor and be mentored.
  • Learn the art of leisure
  • Be the CEO of your own life - self-management is an ongoing discipline, requiring self-knowledge, introspection, and personal responsibility. Start now to think of yourself as the CEO of your own life and career, and take accountability for your decisions and actions. Know who you are, what is important to you, and how you will contribute at work and in the world.

The above are my notes taken from an article written by Bruce Rosenstein, the author of the book Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker's Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life.


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