Recently people have been asking me for career advice. I guess that’s what happens when you get old.
The one piece of advice I give everyone who asks is something I learned from reading Peter Drucker. Drucker suggested people will enjoy long, productive careers if they focus more on their contributions than their achievements.
It’s a simple but radical notion. It’s also true.
As I reflect over the past decade in our company, I can think of scores of people who have made terrific career progress — multiple promotions, increased responsibility, excellent compensation. They all share one trait: never once did I think they were overtly concerned with their personal achievement. Rather, they truly seemed to be consumed by the desire to contribute to the growth and well-being of their clients, of the company, and of the people around them. They wanted to contribute. And because they were contributors, they became high achievers.
Now I’m not naive enough to believe people don’t aspire to personal achievement. They do. But if you let that desire drive you, your odds of actually succeeding will be impaired by your narrow, internal focus.
So this year spend every hour of every day figuring out how you can contribute. And stop chasing achievement. Let it come to you.