Peter Drucker was an Austrian born management consultant who died in 2005 at the age of 95. He authored over 25 business and management books, with the first one, “The End of Economic Man, published in 1939.
Near the end of his life, when he was in his late 80s, someone asked him, which book he had written that he was most proud of. He answered, “The next book that I am going to write.”
That answer speaks volumes. Peter Drucker was not a man who rested on his laurels, or who defined himself by what he achieved in the past. Peter Drucker, even at an advanced age, had the mindset that his best days were ahead of him.
We have probably all known people who have defined themselves by something they had achieved years ago. The proverbial high school football star, in their forties, who continues to bring up the touchdown pass they threw to win a game that put an exclamation mark on a winning season is but one example.
It is perfectly natural to be proud of past accomplishments. I would go even further and say this is a healthy thing to do. Reflecting on past success could certainly strengthen one’s confidence and increase positivity.
However, successful people do not define themselves by something they achieved 15 years ago. They look out the windshield rather than in the rearview mirror. Successful people are aware that there is still much to achieve.
Goal setting is an important technique to use in achieving an objective. However, once a goal is met, it is important to set another. When you become stagnant and stop moving forward, you ultimately begin to regress. This is because many of your peers and competitors will continue to move ahead, and realistically this causes stagnant individuals to fall behind.
Military leaders, business owners, corporate executives, leaders of academic institutions, leaders of non-profit organizations, and leaders from any field, all will have to step away and retire at some point in their careers. But one does not have to serve in a formal leadership position to positively influence others.
Anyone could continue to serve and help others even after stepping away from a career. One could leverage their experience and the myriad of lessons learned to coach and mentor others. It is much more fulfilling to seek ways to help train and develop others rather than reminiscing on past experiences.
Take a cue from the likes of Peter Drucker. Do not allow your past accomplishments to define your life. Let your life be defined by future achievements that are yet to come.