Book Review: How Will You Measure Your Life?

And stay out of jail...

Clayton Christensen (New York Times best selling author of The Innovator's Dilemma) is probably one of the brightest minds alive today when it comes to business savvy. In his book How Will You Measure Your Life?, Christensen, along with James Allworth and Karen Dillon, discuss various business strategies and how they apply to one's personal life. At first this may sound removed and cold, to apply business strategy to your marriage but the results are anything but. The authors operate with full knowledge that it is relationships that are the driving factor in one's happiness. Here are some excerpts.

The problem is that what we think matters most in our jobs often does not align with what will really make us happy.

At this point, Christensen lays out the difference between hygiene factors and motivators. Hygiene factors are such things as decent benefits, a safe workplace, quality supervisory practices and, interestingly, salary. Motivators are such things as engaging work, increased responsibility, and recognition from others. So while you may think you're dissatisfied with your current job because you want to make more money, the truth is that you'll never be satisfied until you start doing something that is hitting those motivator targets.

Once you find something that does hit on those motivator targets, Christensen explains the side effects:

People who truly love what they do and who think their work is meaningful have a distinct advantage when they arrive at work every day. They throw their best effort into their jobs, and it makes them very good at what they do.

When considering a career change, Christensen offers this sage advice:

Every time you consider a career move, keep thinking about the most important assumptions that have to prove true, and how you can swiftly and inexpensively test if they are valid. Make sure you are being realistic about the path ahead of you.

When the winning strategy is not yet clear in the initial stages of a new business, good money from investors needs to be patient for growth but inpatient for profit...Once a viable strategy has been found, investors need to change what they seek—they should become impatient for growth and patient for profit.

I thought this was a great insight. How many startups fail because the original founders couldn't let go of their brain child in favor of a product that could actually turn a profit?

Here are a few more good ones:

Every successful product or service, either explicitly or implicitly, was structured around a job to be done.

I deeply believe that the path to happiness in a relationship is not just about finding someone who you think is going to make you happy. Rather, the reverse is equally true: the path to happiness is about finding someone who you want to make happy, someone whose happiness is worth devoting yourself to.

In the absence of work, we've created a generation of parents who selflessly devote themselves to providing their children with enriching experiences—so-called soccer moms, a term that wasn't even part of the American lexicon until fifteen years ago...But the nature of these activities—experiences in which they're not deeply engaged and that don't really challenge them to do hard things—denies our children the opportunity to develop the processes they'll need to succeed in the future.

Because failure is often at the end of a path of marginal thinking, we end up paying for the full cost of our decisions, not the marginal costs, whether we like it or not...The costs of taking the high road are always clear like that. But the costs of taking the low road...don't seem that bad at the start.

Overall, it was a great book. I found it be beneficial both to my career and my personal life, a feat not many books tackle so easily. It's an easy read and at just shy of 200 pages, well worth the time.

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About Scott

I am a software engineer from Bozeman, MT enjoying the slightly warmer climate of Colorado. I think code can change lives. I think lives are worth changing. I write code.

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