Peter Drucker on the Importance of Focus

Peter Drucker was a legendary Management Consultant who passed away at the age of 95 in 2005.
He was the author of classics such as “The Practice of Management”, “The Effective Executive” & “Drucker on Management”.
Forbes magazine deemed him “the founder of modern management”.

Image Courtesy of Creative Commons by © Isaac Mao
Image Courtesy of Creative Commons by © Isaac Mao

One of my favorite quotes of his appears in his autobiography, Adventures of a Bystander.

Drucker wrote:

“Bucky Fuller and Marshall McLuhan exemplify to me the importance of being single-minded.  The single-minded ones, the monomaniacs, are the only true achievers.  The rest, the ones like me, may have more fun; but they fritter themselves away.  The Fullers and the McLuhans carry out a ‘mission’, the rest of us have ‘interests’.  Whenever anything is being accomplished, it is being done, I have learned, by a monomaniac with a mission.”

We are all too often guilty of loading too much on our plates.  We waste time on Facebook or Twitter.  We binge-watch episodes of House of Cards.  Or we spread ourselves too thin when we decide that we are going  to start a garden, and train for a marathon and learn Spanish – all within the next 6 months.

Bottom line – Drucker’s advice is prudent.

If we really want to accomplish something that is important to us, whether it is building our careers or raising a family, we would be better served if – instead of ‘frittering’ ourselves away – we focused our time & energies on that one “mission”.

When we are focused & diligent – only then we can succeed…..



5 Reasons to Consider a Lateral Move

In my last post, Career Advice – Step Back To Step Ahead, I wrote about the advice I had received from a very successful Sr. Executive I know about the value of making a lateral career move.

Well, it appears that Megan Ragsdale, writing over at at the Career Revolution website concurs.

She recently wrote a post entitled, 5 Reasons a Lateral Move is Better than a Promotion.

In her post, Megan wrote:

“It’s human nature. We want to move up in the world, make more money, improve our social standing and even increase our power. In a world that’s so focused on being upwardly mobile, why would anyone waste her time making career moves from side to side?…..One common element among those most successful people is that they understand the difference between pay and promotion and career progression, and that you don’t need the first two things in order to achieve the third.”

Megan goes on to list the following reasons:

1) Lateral career moves can better position you for the future.

2) Parallel career moves demonstrate strong learning agility. 

3) Moving laterally improves your visibility with a broader group of leaders. 

4) It shows your boss and your leaders that you’re willing to do the work. 

5) Lateral moves can keep you better engaged. 

Megan’s complete post can be found here.

It is a good read and definitely provides some interesting perspective.

Career Advice – Step Back To Step Ahead

One of the best bits of advice I received regarding managing your career came from a gentleman I know who is currently a Sr. VP of R&D for a major company.

I first met him when I was looking to fill a senior level Retained Search I was working on.

He happened to be in NYC for a conference and we agreed to meet in the lobby of the New York Hilton.

During our first meeting, I realized this guy had it all – he was intelligent, articulate, passionate, charismatic etc. – plus he was genuinely a nice person.

Image Courtesy of Creative Commons Businessman Crossing the Finish Line - Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Image Courtesy of Creative Commons Businessman Crossing the Finish Line – Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

But I also noticed something else interesting on his resume.

Early in his career, at a relatively young age, he was a Lab Manager for a small company that was focused on a relatively narrow product line.  He reported directly to the owner.  Yet his next job was only at a chemist level for a major company – working in an entirely different product area.

I asked him to explain what happened….

He replied that while he enjoyed being the Lab Manager and was happy to have such a high level of responsibility at a young age, he realized he had plateaued at that company.  There simply was no where else for him to go.  Additionally, the company he was working for was narrowly focused in terms of product type. He said his long term goal was to be a senior executive at a major company and he realized that in order to achieve that goal, he needed to broaden his experience and become well versed in a variety of different product areas.

So he swallowed his pride – took a step back – and took a different position at a major company at the chemist level.

He said it was the best move he ever made.

And he went on to say that he encouraged the people that he mentored to consider not only lateral moves – but – in certain situations -moves that could be perceived of as a “step back”.  Obviously he stressed, the moves had to make long term strategic sense. He was not advocating just randomly taking a step back. But he said – in the right situation – the philosophy of taking a step back to get ahead can provide a powerful boost to your long term career success.

His advice is spot on…..