Predicting Your Future
By Pepper de Callier

What would a column on career development be without a discussion about your future?  For millennia people have been fascinated with methods of predicting the future—tea leaves, tarot cards, astrology, psychics, palmistry—the list goes on and on.  In fact, when I Googled “ways of predicting the future”, I got more than 52 million hits, which was two million more hits than “ways to develop your career”!

Why are we so fascinated with predicting the future?  A skeptic might say that having someone tell us what our future will be just relieves us of the responsibility of having to prepare, plan and work for the future.  So, in a world ruled by predestination all we need is access to someone who can “see” what our predestined plan is and career counseling would go something like this:  “Pavel, I see that you will become the managing director of an important business based in Prague.  That will be 2,000 crowns please, and have a nice life.” 

I don’t believe in fortune-telling or predestination.  I do, however, believe that you can “predict” the future, especially when it comes to your career.  “How,” you ask?

To find the answer to your question, we need go no further than a man who was widely considered to be the father of modern management philosophy and a prolific writer on career development, Viennese-born, Peter Drucker.  For more than fifty years, Peter Drucker’s common sense and wisdom has withstood the test of time and the rigors of sweeping changes in economic conditions.  Here is a quote from Professor Drucker that manages to marry the world of logic and science together with that of fortune-telling: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Now, let me explain what this means to you and your career today.  There are many things in life that we have no control over when it comes to our careers—market conditions; global, regional and local economies; the political environment; changes in senior management, swings in investor behavior and on and on.  There are, however, three things that you do have control over that will have much more impact on your career than these other external events. 

Character, action and association are the three things you control that become driving forces in the creation of your future.  Let’s take a look at them individually to understand their importance.

Character:  The word character, as it relates to our discussion, is the combination of qualities that distinguish one person from another.  To reduce it to its simplest form it is the outward expression of what one occupies one’s mind with.  In addition to the daily things we all think about: what to eat, wear, which tram to take, how to deal with the needs of our job and family, what to do on Saturday night, etc., what do you spend your time thinking about?  How you can be a better professional?  How you can solve the problems of others?  How you can improve your service or product?  Your mind is like a computer and you have direct control over the things that you occupy your mind with, or, “program” your computer with.  By exercising that control, that ability to program, you are bringing focus to the things that will, like-it-or-not, manifest themselves as your character and lead you, like iron filings to a magnet, to the future. Why not make it a future that you really want? 

Action: What are you actively doing to pursue what you’re thinking about?  The great American philosopher and humorist, Will Rogers, summed it up best, “Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.” 

Association: Who you associate with at work and in your leisure time has a profound effect on you and is a reliable predictor of the things that are important to you and your values—all of which send powerful messages to everyone around you, including those who make decisions that will impact your path in life. 

I have seen many cycles in the economy, but one thing that remains constant is the need for good people who have a clear vision of where they want to go and invest themselves in that achievement.

And, for those of you who still think everything is predestined and that there is little you can do to change things, here’s a quote to ponder from the brilliant British physicist, Stephen Hawking: “I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” 

If you pay attention to these three elements: character, action and association, I can “predict” a very bright future for you and also save you 2,000 crowns.

Good luck on your way up!

About the Author: Pepper de Callier is one of the most respected senior executive coaches and authorities on leadership in Europe. Learn more about him at

*These are reprints from Pepper de Callier‘s newspaper column in Hospodarske noviny.

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