Of Turkeys and Typewriters

As we’ve noted before, Peter Drucker wasn’t so good at relaxing.[EXPAND More]

Perhaps this explains why, while most Americans like to spend their Thanksgivings visiting with family, watching football and overeating, Drucker would use the holiday to polish his latest manuscript.

How do we know? The preface for a mid-1980s edition of The Practice of Management was typed out on Turkey Day. So, too, was the introduction for Drucker’s 1982 book, The Changing World of the Executive. (Drucker didn’t just toil away on Thanksgiving, either; he had a habit of working on New Year’s Day, as well.)

Nevertheless, all of this seems like a do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do moment as far as Drucker is concerned. After all, he certainly knew what happens to people who work too much, as evidenced by the story he told of Charlie Wilson, who ran General Motors in the 1940s. “For more than two years he had never taken a day off, and rarely spent even a night away from office or plant,” Drucker recalled. “Then, Wilson collapsed—a ‘circulatory episode’ was the official term for what was probably a stroke coupled with total exhaustion.”

Wilson eventually returned to GM after a three-month hiatus—a break during which he not only recharged physically, according to Drucker, but rethought the entire business for the better.

Admittedly, we can’t afford three months off. We are, though, going to take a few days and refresh ourselves. The Drucker Exchange will return on Monday, Nov. 28.

Meanwhile, for all of you celebrating Thanksgiving, have a wonderful and safe holiday. And lay off the keyboard.