Peter Drucker, the first and probably the greatest management guru, made a major contribution to defining the modern corporation.
He also commented on what it is to be a human being. “The only worthy goal,” he said, “is to make a meaningful life out of an ordinary one.”
Recently in his home country of Austria, the Drucker Society pulled together ten of his principles for finding meaning in the second half of life.
Here are those ten principles, reordered and grouped into three steps:
A) Know Yourself:
1. Find out who you are
“No one can reposition for significance,” Drucker claimed, “without first knowing who they are and where they belong.”
3. Find your existential core
“There’s a strong correlation between high achievement and the ability to come to terms with life’s basic questions,”
6. Know your values
Knowing what you value and what you don’t can keep you from making bad choices. “If you don’t respect a job, not only will you do a poor job of it, but it will corrupt you, and eventually it may even kill you.”
Chapters 1 and 2 of The Churning’s inner leadership contain tools and exercises for getting more deeply in touch with who you are and what you care about, and for making your own clear sense of the situation you face. Chapter 5 specifically enables you to identify your purpose and values.
On top of that, Chapter 3 shows you how to identify the opportunities that currently exist for you in whatever situation you face.
B) Define What Success Means to You:
2. Reposition yourself for full effectiveness and fulfilment.
Taking the long view (twenty, thirty or more years ahead) often brings clarity where none existed before.
4. Make your life your endgame
He recommends setting one’s sights on achievements that really matter, that will make a difference in the world.
7. Define what finishing well means to you
“I love doing consulting work and writing — I regularly lose track of time when I’m doing those things. But finishing well, and how I want to be remembered, those are the things that matter now.”
9. Good intentions aren’t enough; define the results you want
“To achieve the best results … people must ask the right questions and then partner with others who have the expertise, knowledge, and discipline to get the right results.”
Chapter 4 of inner leadership asks you to define what it will take for you to have lived a worthwhile life, and what advice your 84 year old self would give to you now. It uses that not only to define what success means to you but also to plot a way forward.
Chapter 6 shows you how to construct a definition of the short term results that will take you towards the long term results you seek, and also defines how to begin. This chapter shows you how to create a vision that will inspire others to partner with you.
C) Act on that:
10. Recognise the downside to “no longer learning, no longer growing.”
“The people who finish well are the ones who keep doing what they’ve been doing, but looking for ways to make a contribution. They feel they’ve been given a lot and they’re looking for a chance to give back. They’re not satisfied with just writing checks; they want to be involved, to help other people in a more positive way.”
5. Planning doesn’t work.
“Too much planning can make you deaf to opportunity,” Drucker said. “Opportunity knocks, but it knocks only once. You have to be ready for the accident.”
8. Know the difference between harvesting and planting.
Drucker wrote many books and as he grew older he learned to harvest what he had planted.
Chapter 7 of inner leadership explains how good leaders create more leaders. This deepens and broadens the impact they themselves have as leaders. It also increases the ability of the organisation to change and grow.
Outer leadership shows you how to put “Planning doesn’t work” into practice. It shows you not so much how to predict what is going to happen, but to build an organisation that can adapt no matter what happens. Managing the risks and seizing the opportunities. Not exactly the same as Drucker’s “planting and harvesting” perhaps, but hopefully equally as useful.