How Will You Measure Your Life

Posted February 1, 2014 in Resilience, Self-Insight, What We're Reading

By: Clayton Christensen

Reviewed by: Glain Roberts-McCabe

The Premise: Harvard Professor Clay Christensen may be best known for his book The Innovators Dilemma, but after beating cancer, he takes a more philosophical turn in his latest offering and explores how to achieve a fulfilling life. The book parallels stories of business strategy with those of individual career/life strategy which creates a unique reading experience for what may be considered the “personal development” book genre. The book is split into three primary sections: finding happiness in your career, finding happiness in your relationships and staying out of jail (how to not compromise your integrity). Bookending each chapter is an opening thought or provocative question and a closing summary which allows you to get the highlights from each area and delve into the chapters that resonate the most. The book seamlessly crosses between business insights, personal reflection and even pulls in some parenting advice to create linkages between the concepts and questions posed.

The Bottom-line: I really enjoyed this book. The questions explored – How can I be sure I’ll find satisfaction in my career? How can I be sure my personal relationships are enduring sources of happiness? How can I avoid compromising my integrity? – are all questions that I have, and continue to wrestle with. What I found most interesting was Christensen’s observation on how being achievement oriented at work produces short-term wins that can affect long-term business strategy (we’re actually frequently rewarded to act this way). He goes on then to talk about how that affects our personal life. For example, most of us marry with the intent to have someone we love who we can grow old with. But to achieve the long-term goal of staying in love and actually wanting to be together at the end of this ride requires attention and commitment. It means making conscious choices that keep your bigger life goals in check. If your true goal is this end game, then the short-term activity of staying late to work on a report instead of heading home to work on your relationship would be a no-brainer to say “no” to. Unfortunately, short-term rewards at work often pull us in the opposite direction. This book is a thought provoker that will make you think of both your life, the choices you’re making on a day-to-day basis as well as the practices embedded in our organizations that may be counterintuitive to helping us achieve both personal – and business – goals.

Rating: Recommended for leaders whose ambition is to find the job they love so they never have to work a day in their lives.

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