How Will You Measure Your Life?
by Clayton M. Christensen
Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christensen passed away early this year at the age of 67. Christensen wrote this piece in 2010 after being diagnosed with cancer. He went on to live 10 more years.
As a professor, Christensen would ask his students to ask themselves three questions on the last day of classes, “How can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career? Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness? Third, how can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail?”
How to be sure we find happiness in our careers: “…from Frederick Herzberg, who asserts that the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements.” — Clayton M. Christensen
On living life without purpose, “[You’ll] just sail off without a rudder and get buffeted in the very rough seas of life…without a purpose, life can become hollow.” — Clayton M. Christensen
“If you study the root causes of business disasters, over and over you’ll find this predisposition toward endeavors that offer immediate gratification. If you look at personal lives through that lens, you’ll see the same stunning and sobering pattern: people allocating fewer and fewer resources to the things they would have once said mattered most.” — Clayton M. Christensen
Don’t fall victim to “just-this-once” thinking if you’ve set principles for yourself. “It’s easier to hold to your principles 100% of the time than it is to hold to them 98% of the time. If you give in to “just this once,” based on a marginal cost analysis, as some of my former classmates have done, you’ll regret,” says Christensen.
On learning something from everyone you come in contact with: “if your attitude is that only smarter people have something to teach you, your learning opportunities will be very limited. But if you have a humble eagerness to learn something from everybody, your learning opportunities will be unlimited.” — Clayton M. Christensen
Christensen finishes with a powerful quote, “Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people. This is my final recommendation: Think about the metric by which your life will be judged, and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success.”
My two cents: These are some of my favorite types of pieces of content to consume. Each one I read makes me come away feeling like I’d wish I’d read it sooner. Better late than never, I guess. Rest in peace, Mr. Christensen. Thank you.
Share (if you're an OG) Twitter Facebook