Businessweek calls him “the man who invented management.” He advised the heads of GM, Sears, General Electric, IBM, Intel and the American Red Cross. In 2002, President Bush, who was a follower of his teachings, gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The man is Peter Drucker.
To see why Bush and so many executives look to Drucker’s work for guidance, here are five of the best lessons from the man himself that may very well change the way you think about business forever.
1. “Results are obtained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems. ”
Problem-based thinking: How can we divide this cake fairly? Opportunity-based thinking: How can we bake more cakes? If you focus on problems, at best, you maintain the status quo. If you focus on opportunities, you achieve results above and beyond what already exists.
Ask yourself, are you spending most of your time putting out fires and focusing on problems, or are you focusing on exploring new opportunities?
2. “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency that which should not be done at all.”
Managing your time is less about doing things right, and more about doing the right things. Before you try to optimize your schedule, look at it first to see what you can cut out altogether.
What are you doing on a daily basis that you can eliminate? Delegate? If you stopped doing it right now, would your life change much?
3. “Entrepreneurship is ‘risky’ mainly because so few of the so-called entrepreneurs know what they are doing.”
So many people just want to “start a business." They take out a loan, open up a bakery, and it’s out of business a year later. Then, they chalk it up to bad luck or a bad economy.
But how about this? What if you spent more time sharpening your axe before trying to cut down the tree? What if you spent a month devouring "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries and "Pour Your Heart Into It" by Howard Schultz? You can take some of the risk out of the equation (not all) with one word: reading.
Are you spending as much time reading as you should? Mark Cuban says he reads three hours a day; how do you compare?
4. “The three most charismatic leaders in this century inflicted more suffering on the human race than almost any trio in history: Hitler, Stalin and Mao. What matters is not the leader's charisma. What matters is the leader's mission."
There is no “best kind" of leader. There are social ones like Richard Branson and quiet ones like Tony Hsieh. Both have taken their organizations to unimaginable success.
What makes someone a leader is not how enthusiastic he or she is at the podium. What makes someone a leader is what his or her vision is, and how well he or she leads others toward it.
How clear is your mission? Are you giving it as much attention as it deserves?
5. “It takes far more energy to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.”
It’s easier to go from good to great than from bad to good. Focus on growing your talents into strengths, instead of trying to be a well-rounded person. A person who is good at a lot of things is replaceable. A person who excels in something is indispensable.
In what areas do you already excel? What can you do to turn those things into your super powers?
What did you think?
Which Drucker quote spoke to you most? Which one was spot on? More interestingly, which one do you disagree with? Share your insights in the comments below.
Alex Banayan is the author of a highly-anticipated business book being released by Crown Publishers (Random House, Inc.). The book chronicles his five-year quest to track down Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, Warren Buffett, Steven Spielberg and a dozen more of the world's most successful people to uncover the secrets of how they launched their careers.
To get exclusive content from the book and the latest from Alex's adventures, click here to join his Inner Circle email community.
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