One of the best examples of someone I knew who consistently “elevated himself through conscious endeavor” was Peter Drucker, whom I was privileged to study with in graduate school. Drucker was in his 80s when I was his student. But when he was in his 20s he went to an opera house in Vienna to see the opera known as Falstaff. It was composed by Giuseppe Verdi. Drucker was overwhelmed by the depth of the musicianship of the opera and was quite surprised to learn that Verdi composed this daunting, complex piece of music when he was in his 80s. Since Verdi was already a well-known musical figure when he was in his 30s, and was very established and successful, Drucker wondered why a man in his 80s would attempt to compose something so demanding when he could have simply rested on his laurels and enjoyed an easy retirement.
What Drucker learned had a great impact on him. He learned that Verdi had decided early on that if he should ever live to an advanced age, that he would strive for excellence – even strive for perfection – although he knew well that actual perfection would forever elude him.
Drucker made that same oath. He would not rest on his laurels but would strive to master the next big challenge of his professional life, and continually raise the bar of what he thought was possible, all of his remaining days.
As a result, Drucker became one of the finest educators of the last century, and one of the most prescient minds of management theory and practice the world has ever known. His published books number over 30, and he is one of the most quoted and most respected thought-leaders of any discipline of the last century.
That, my friends, is the result of conscious endeavor – the deliberate elevating of oneself simply by committing to do so and then doing the things one would do to so evolve. Drucker’s was a life-long commitment. Yours can be as well.