The Secret to Peter Drucker’s Career Success

When you look five, 10 or even 20 years down the line, are you optimistic about what you see or do you dread what may be facing you and your family? If you’re like one-third of Americans recently polled by Gallup, then you’re dissatisfied about what the future holds.

If that’s the case, don’t lose hope. Bruce Rosenstein, an expert in the life of management guru Peter Drucker, says there are steps you can take starting today that will put you on the path to a future that will make you happy and fulfilled. The key to Rosenstein’s advice is adopting the “forward-thinking” mindset championed by Drucker. That means embracing change instead of fighting it, welcoming new technology and taking smart risks.

In his book, “Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way: Developing and Applying a Forward Focused Mindset,” Rosenstein provides a roadmap for how to embrace today’s realities so you can create a better life for yourself in the future. He advises you to:

  1. Not just live in the moment. Drucker was never one to just focus on his current or past achievements, and that served him well as he was considered relevant up until he died at age 95 in 2005. As you go about your daily life, are you focused on the future? Always ask yourself what the future implications will be of what you’re doing today.
  2. Embrace the fact that tomorrow is unknown. People often don’t like – or even want to accept – change. But you cannot predict that tomorrow will be like today, so be ready to embrace change. If it makes you feel better, know that everyone is facing the same challenge. 

“Managers can help employees learn to accept the reality that risk and change are normal facts of business life,” Rosenstein says. “Discuss the importance of being organized for constant change by remaining aware, observant and open to opportunities. Drucker believed that working as best as one can with risk was one of the main areas that defined what it means to be a manager. There may seem to be comfort in the status quo, but sometimes doing nothing can be the greatest risk of all. Remind employees of Drucker’s words that ‘today’s certainties always become tomorrow’s absurdities.’”

  1. Don’t ignore trends. As Drucker says, some amount of the future has “already happened.” That means that there are inevitable effects that are rippling out from actions and events that have already taken place. Think about what trends may be going to affect your life or career is some way.
  2. Be willing to take a risk. Considering your future may feel risky, which is why you don’t do it. But it’s much more risky to let the future just happen to you. “The future requires decisions now,” Drucker once said. “It imposes risk now. It requires action now.” Think about how you can become more at ease with risk.
  3. Pay attention to innovators. If you work for someone else, you may think that entrepreneurs have nothing to do with your job. But it’s innovators and entrepreneurs who shape the world and they are major creative forces. Make it a practice to listen and learn from innovators and how the lessons you learn can be applied to your own career.
  4. Be ready to let go. Drucker recommended “systemic abandonment,” which means you intentionally eliminate activities and relationships that are no longer beneficial or productive.

“It helps to set aside time periodically away from the office, perhaps in a coffee shop or park, to list and consider the activities that comprise your life, and how much time you are spending on them,” Rosenstein explains. “You might also think about how you are approaching your tasks, and if they can be done differently. Once you look at your list, you’ll have a better idea of what doesn’t fit your priorities and therefore can be scaled back or stopped. You can involve other people in the process at some point, but there has to be time for solo contemplation.”

Rosenstein, who knew Drucker very well, says the one thing that he learned from him that made the biggest difference in his life is “trying to live a multidimensional life, what he called during one of our interviews ‘living in more than one world.’

“It means having a variety of different people in your life, and not being overly reliant on any one person or institution for your happiness, satisfaction or sense of self-worth,” Rosenstein says. “You can find opportunities in one area that might not be available in another. It provides a safety net against disappointments in any one area, and helps in developing a wider sense of life’s possibilities,” Rosenstein says.

What steps do you think we should take to better prepare for our future success?













Anita Bruzzese

Anita Bruzzese is a syndicated columnist for Gannett/USA Today on workplace issues and the author of “45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy.” She has been on the Today show, and quoted in publications such as O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, Self.com and BusinessWeek.com. Her website, 45things.com, is listed on the Forbes top 100 websites for women.

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