Work-Life Lessons from The Legendary Peter Drucker

by Bruce Rosenstein

Peter Drucker's influence on business management is legendary, yet his ideas about personal growth have largely been overlooked. In his new book Living in More than One World, Bruce Rosenstein compiles Drucker's wisdom on self-management.

Peter Drucker “the father of modern management” turned management theory into a serious discipline.

In a legendary 70-year career, Drucker revolutionized modern business practices, influencing such far-reaching developments as decentralization, privatization, and empowerment. He was among the first to address the emergence of the information society and, in 1959, coined the now defining term “knowledge worker.”

Yet, today, most people don’t know that Drucker’s teachings on personal growthor self-management are as profound as his views on organizational management. This wisdom, while a recurring theme in Drucker’s work, had remained scattered throughout his myriad writings until now.

Creating a total life

Drucker personified the value of creating and living a “total life” with diverse interests, relationships, and pursuits or what he called “living in more than one world.” That way, when you have a setback in one area suffering or surviving a layoff, for instance you can soften the blow by developing other areas of strength and support. You can also add new meaning and dimensions to your life and, with activities such as volunteer work, make a difference in the lives of others. So, how do you create a total life? Consider five key elements as exemplified by Drucker himself.

1. Practicing self-development

Self-development is a major theme throughout Drucker’s writings and teachings. “What matters,” he said, “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.” Think about your life, both as it is now and where you’d like it to go. Consider not just your work, but also your life outside of work family, friends, interests, activities, and pursuits. Assess what’s working, what’s not, and what you might want to add or subtract to create more satisfaction and fulfillment.

2. Identifying and developing your unique strengths

The concept of core competencies may have been created for organizations, but today it applies to individuals as well. Drucker said, in his experience, few people could articulate their areas of strength. 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.