I’m quoting from an interview by Meredith Levinson with Bruce Rosenstein the author of a new book on Peter Drucker as a life coach. It was published today (click on link above) at CIO Magazine. I really like the way he prefaces the comment because it rings very true from my own interactions with Doug Engelbart – you never knew what he was going to disagree with, he had such a unique way of seeing the world, you were always surprised, just when you thought you understood, the rug would be pulled out and you would realize AGAIN, how much more there was to learn and understand.
I have framed the response to be as though to the question, what would Peter Drucker do if he were laid off?
I want to preface this by saying that I don’t want to put words in his mouth. I can’t say exactly what Drucker would have said because he could be kind of a contrarian and say things you wouldn’t necessarily expect. I want to be clear that these are my thoughts based on my study of Drucker’s thought.
A lot of times he took a tough love approach. These may not be ideal circumstances, but you have to face the reality of what happened and what you’re going to do about it. There’s a direct quote from The Effective Executive from over 40 years ago that’s still applicable: “Focus on the future and not the past.” In other words, don’t get too hung up on what you’ve done in the past.
I think Drucker would also say focus on the opportunity. As bad as it can be to be downsized, it gives you the opportunity to ask yourself if you want to continue in your line of work or do something different in the future. One of his other points was aiming high at something that will make a difference.
Drucker was big on this idea of balancing action and self-reflection. Take some time for self-reflection. Don’t spend too much time feeling sorry for yourself. Use that time productively to do some self-assessment on where things stand now. Do you need more schooling? If you haven’t been networking, build up your network. Find out what you can learn from other people. Use the time for some sort of volunteer activity. If you’re not involved in a professional association, get involved. If you are involved, deepen your involvement.
He would focus on the whole opportunity [that the layoff presents]: It’s not great, especially if it was a job you liked, but what can you do in the future that’s meaningful to you. You’ve got this opportunity. Where are you going to go with it?