How will you measure your life?

The article I’d like to shortly review here is a must read at Harvard Business Review. It was very impressive to find out some very strong life philosophy from a known professor. Not that I could agree with the article in whole, at least not at this moment.

There are three points to be remembered if you would like to ask yourself about the meaning in your life (not necessarily a managerial life I must add):

  1. How can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career?
  2. How can I be sure that my relationship with my spouse and my family becomes and enduring source of my happiness?, and
  3. How can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail?

The last third question may seem absurd but the author Clayton M. Christensen says that he knows personally Jeff Skilling of Enron and that he was a good guy. We all know how he has ended. And it is not funny, not funny at all.

Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practised well. +Clayton M. Christensen

So let see why is the first question: How can I be sure I’ll be happy in my career? Is that question important to you? If you are or want to be a manager the greatest reward for you should come from building up people. And this is in my experience one of the toughest challenges you can face as a manager. The author says that in that manner: “Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practised well.”. Take notes. I’ll remember that really well.

The second question seems like very personal one. Does it has to do anything with management at all? But author explains that it has to do almost everything with management. So, are you sure that your relationship with your spouse and your family is and will be an enduring source of your happiness? Author claims that mostly managers who have failed have forgotten to keep the purpose of their lives front and centre as they decided how to spend their time, talents, and energy. One should apply its knowledge of the purpose of hers/his life every day. Professor Christensen claims you should devote to that one hour every day. We all know how hard it is to devote to that knowledge one minute per day what even one hour. But if you are allocating fewer and fewer resources to the things that have mattered to us most this is the route to the business disaster. Yes, to the business disaster.

Three things to remember to avoid your business disaster

How to avoid your business disaster? There is a way. Remember to:

  • create a culture,
  • avoid the “marginal costs” mistake, and
  • remember the importance of humility.

Culture is supposed to be a compelling but unspoken way that dictates the proven, acceptable methods by which members of the group address recurrent problems. We should start by building a culture at home. Families namely have cultures, just like companies do. If you think self-esteem and confidence are important for your children, you should start early on to design them into your family culture. That means, for children (and for us too I would add) doing things that are hard and learning what works.

Marginal costs

The “marginal costs” mistake means that we should live a life of integrity (stay out of jail). For the author that means that holding to your principles 100% of the time is easier than to hold to them 98% of the time. Yeah, could be true. Could be true. We all know that. We just don’t put enough energy to face it.

The importance of humility

Once you have finished your schooling, especially in the case you are a manager from some top academic institution it is likely that the vast majority of people you interact with on a daily basis will not be smarter than you. But if you keep that attitude that only smarter people can teach you, then your learning opportunities will be very limited. With a humble eagerness to learn something from everybody, your learning opportunities will be unlimited on the other hand.

How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen

Marko Savić Linkedin profile

Marko Savić
I’m raising awareness on design thinking and business model innovation. Meet me in person at my next workshop. Don’t forget to follow this blog RSS feed or interact with me on Twitter.

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