How Will You Measure Your Life?

February 7, 2017

Many of you have read the business classic The Innovator’s Dilemma. Perhaps I will review that book in the future, but today I want to review a more recent book by the same author, Clayton Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor.

How Will You Measure Your Life? is a short book that you can almost read in one sitting or a long flight. As someone who is a little further down the road of life than most of the readers of this blog, Dr. Christensen tries to answer 3 questions: How can I be sure that

  1. I will be successful and happy in my career?
  2. My relationships with my spouse, my children, and my extended family and close friends become an enduring source of happiness?
  3. I live a life of integrity— and stay out of jail?

If you agree that these seem like worthy goals, the question becomes how can we chart a course that leads us to them? Sometimes our problem is that we haven’t developed priorities and sometimes it is that we don’t have strategies to enact our priorities.

The interesting thing about this book is that Dr. Christensen uses business theories he has studied and developed throughout his accomplished career to attempt to understand the issues we face in our personal life. These include balancing having a plan versus taking advantage of serendipitous opportunities and allocating the limited resource of our time amongst competing priorities.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the discussion of the two-factor theory, which explains how people think about their jobs. Motivating factors are intrinsic to the work itself, such as being challenged, enjoying recognition, having responsibility, and personal growth. Hygiene factors include status, compensation, job security, company policies, etc. No matter how good the hygiene factors are, they can’t compensate for a lack of motivating factors and vice versa. This section is also highly relevant to our roles as managers of employees.

It is clear to me that Dr. Christensen wrote this book in a sincere effort to help his readers. The business stories he tells are fascinating and they are carefully woven into lessons that we can apply to our personal and family lives. I highly recommend this book and think you will enjoy reflecting on your life’s priorities and strategies.

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