Can a pussy cat become a lion ?

Most motivational and new age crap literature will tell you that you can be whatever you want to be. Can you, really ?

Look around you. Those who have succeeded in what ever field have succeeded because they've had significant advantages over others. Thats how the world has always worked. The faster you accept this, the better off you are.

If you're a pussy cat, be the best pussy cat you can be and catch as many mice you can. Don't waste your time trying to be a lion and kill antelopes. You might get killed instead.

Can David Beckham become Donald Trump ? Or Can Denzel Washington be Thierry Henry ? You get me now. Of course there are exceptions - Arnold Schwarzenegger; from actor to governor. But exceptions are exceptions - not the norm, minority of cases. How many actors have been the President of the United States since their independence in the 1776 - near 300 years ? One - Satu Sahaja ! - Ronald Reagan. Thats is an exception, friends.

This is Peter Drucker (Nov 19 1909 - November 11 2005). He is one of the leading thinkers and writers of modern management.

Please note that Peter Drucker is a world renowned thinker. He is not some motivational or new age bullshit artist disguised as some management or business thinker.

Peter Drucker made famous the term knowledge worker and is thought to have unknowingly ushered in the knowledge economy.

Those who want to better compete in the knowledge economy today better heed Peter's advice.

I like Peter Drucker because his ideas are practical and so insightful - they are difficult to ignore.

One of Peter's advice that I find find extremely useful is his advice on Managing Oneself. These are his ideas:

Change is natural and inevitable

He says that in the knowledge society, change is the ordinary state - you cannot escape from change because change is the natural state of being in the knowledge society. You cannot know what the future brings because things are changing so fast - you cannot predict the future from the past. That's why you need to make your own future. You have to keep upgrading yourself not to put yourself in a cutting-edge position, but just for survival.

Only your best

Peter says that for anyone to reach an average standard at anything that he is not good at takes a lot of time, efforts and cost. It is very difficult. However, attaining first-class at something that he is good at is easy. In the future, nobody will go to a school or college where one cannot bring out his own talent in a field of his strength. School must become an institution that extends one's strength, not making up for weakness.

Malaysians typically think that a university or college education can help them achieve things that they do not have the talent and personality for.

For instance, if someone does not have the talent and personality for being a TV broadcaster she might obtain her degree in mass communications but she can never become a TV broadcaster - if she does, she would at the most only be an average TV broadcaster. In the knowledge economy, to survive, you must be good at what you do.

It is important to note that it is very difficult to change personality and almost impossible to obtain a talent you don't have. In short, Talent + Personality + Education = Success. Most people only have the element of education. In the case of being a TV broadcaster, to have a chance, you must have good looks too. Being attractive is not an asset, its a prerequisite. University cannot teach you to be good looking.

Today, a university qualification does not give you an advantage over others, because everyone has or can obtain a university degree as well - its so common. If thats all you have, then thats all you will be rewarded for; which isn't much - so don't complain.

Have a 2nd career

As things change so fast in the knowledge society, the future is very unpredictable - your career may not be relevant in the future. People get laid off because business change and work that are relevant today may be useless next year. Two years down the road you might be laid off because your whole industry has become obsolete or your skill set becomes obsolete. Because of this, to make yourself more secure, Peter advises that you should get yourself a 2nd career, just in case something undesirable happens to your main career - work at 2 careers at the same time.

We know that in the recent past loads of people in the financial industry in Malaysia have been laid off. The reason is that the whole financial industry has changed - less priority on workers doing the processing (back room work) - computers can do that !. There is more emphasis on sales - selling financial products. Thus, those who can only process the paperwork found them self obsolete. Most of them only tried a second career only after being laid off. And the career they chose do not fit their talents and skills. For instance, those who were processing paperwork were suddenly trying to sell vitamins through some MLM. The personality and talents required for selling things are very different from the talents and skills required to process paperwork.

Well, please feel free to make comments on the above, your feedback is appreciated.


Peter Gibson said...

Most people have some personal disadvantages in some areas of their lives. And I do know that most of them deny to themselves that they have these disadvantages and proceed to pursue careers where they do not have natural advantages in.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I agree. If you admit your disadvantage you can make a more accurate assessment of yourself. You can either decide to eliminate the disadvantage or if it cannot be effectively eliminated or reduced, then make sure you pursue a career where your disadvantage would not be a major problem.

paul said...

having a 2nd career (a side line) is not a bad idea. it really insulates you from the unpredictability of the job market. it should be something easy for you to do or something that you like doing anyway - a hobby you can turn into a business.

Anonymous said...

This is very true. Peter Drucker is spot on. A true assessment of your advantages and disadvantages is necessary for your planning and positioning.

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