How Will You Measure Your Life PDF?

How Will You Measure Your Life?

Download How Will You Measure Your Life? pdf book free online – From the world’s leading thinker on innovation and New York Times bestselling author of The Innovator’s Dilemma , Clayton M. Christensen, comes an unconventional book of inspiration and wisdom for achieving a fulfilling life. GET FREE AUDIOBOOK

Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma , notably the only business book that Apple’s Steve Jobs said “deeply influenced” him, is widely recognized as one of the most significant business books ever published. Now, in the tradition of Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture and Anna Quindlen’s A Short Guide to a Happy Life , Christensen’s How Will You Measure Your Life is with a book of lucid observations and penetrating insights designed to help any reader — student or teacher, mid-career professional or retiree, parent or child — forge their own paths to fulfillment.

Summary of How Will You Measure Your Life PDF?

The economy was robust when the students of the class of 2010 started business school, and their post-graduation objectives seemed endless. The economy plunged into a spiral just a few weeks afterwards. They’ve spent the last two years redefining success and recalibrating their viewpoint.

The students appear to be acutely aware of how the world has evolved (as the sampling of views in this article shows). The graduating class of Harvard Business School invited Clay Christensen to speak to them in the spring, but not on how to apply his principles and thinking to their post-HBS professions. Students wanted to know how they could use them in their daily lives. He shared a set of principles with them that have helped him find meaning in his own life. Though Christensen’s thinking is influenced by his strong religious beliefs, we feel that these are tactics that anybody can employ. As a result, we invited him to share them with HBR readers.

Andrew Grove, the head of Intel at the time, called me before I released The Innovator’s Dilemma. He’d read one of my early articles on disruptive technology and asked if I might speak to his direct reports about my findings and what they meant for Intel. I flew to Silicon Valley, excited, and arrived on schedule, only to hear Grove exclaim, “Look, things has occurred.” We only have ten minutes for you. Tell us what your disruption model entails for Intel.” I stated I couldn’t because I needed a full 30 minutes to explain the model because any comments regarding Intel would be meaningless without it. “Look, I’ve got your model,” Grove said ten minutes into my discussion. Simply explain what this means for Intel.”

I insisted on taking 10 additional minutes to explain how the disruption process had played out in a completely different industry, steel, so that he and his team could grasp how disruption operated. I described how Nucor and other steel minimills began by going after the lowest end of the market—steel reinforcing bars, or rebar—and then worked their way up to the high end, undercutting traditional steel mills.

Grove remarked, “OK, I get it,” as I concluded the minimill narrative. What it means for Intel is…,” he said, before going on to explain the company’s plan for launching the Celeron chip at the bottom of the market.

That’s something I’ve thought about a million times since then. I would have been assassinated if I had been duped into advising Andy Grove what he should think about the microprocessor company. Instead of instructing him what to think, I taught him how to think, and then he came to his own conclusion, which I thought was correct.

That encounter left a lasting impression on me. When people ask me what they should do, I rarely give them a direct response. Instead, I ask one of my models to answer the question. I’ll explain how the model’s method worked its way through an industry that was very different from their own. Then they’ll say, “OK, I got it,” more often than not. And they’ll respond to their own question more intelligently than I could.

My HBS class is designed to assist my students comprehend what effective management theory is and how it is constructed. I attach numerous models or ideas to that backbone in order to help students think about the various aspects of a general manager’s work in fostering innovation and growth. We study one firm in each session through the lenses of those theories, utilizing them to explain how the company got into its current condition and to determine what managerial actions will produce the desired results.

On the last day of class, I challenge my students to apply those theoretical lenses to themselves and come up with solid responses to three questions: First, how can I be certain that I’ll be content in my job? Second, how can I be certain that my connections with my spouse and family will continue to bring me joy in the future? Third, how can I be certain I won’t end myself in jail? Despite the fact that the last question appears to be amusing, it is not. My Rhodes scholar class consisted of 32 members, and two of them spent time in prison. Enron’s Jeff Skilling was a classmate of mine at HBS. These were wonderful people, but something in their life had thrown them off track.

Dealings don’t provide the same long-term benefits as developing individuals.

As the students debate the answers to these issues, I present my own life to them as a case study, demonstrating how they might apply the theories from our course to make better decisions in their lives.

Frederick Herzberg 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. This is one of the theories that gives great insight on the first question—how to ensure we find happiness in our careers. I told the kids about a vision I had before becoming an academic while running the company I started. In my mind’s eye, I imagined one of my managers leaving for work one morning with a high sense of self-worth. Then I imagined her driving 10 hours home to her family, unappreciated, frustrated, unused, and degraded. I believed her low self-esteem had a significant impact on how she behaved with her children. My thoughts then flashed to another day, when she drove home with a higher sense of self-worth, believing she had learnt a lot, been recognized for her accomplishments, and played a key role in the success of some major efforts. I then envisioned how that might affect her as a wife and mother. My judgment is that, when done well, management is the noblest of vocations. No other profession provides as many opportunities to assist others in learning and growing, taking responsibility and being acknowledged for accomplishments, and contributing to a team’s success. A growing number of MBA students believe that a career in business entails buying, selling, and investing in businesses. That is regrettable. Dealings don’t provide the same long-term benefits as developing individuals.

That is something I want my students to understand when they leave my classroom.

Make a plan for your future.
A theory about how strategy is established and implemented is useful in answering the second question—How can I ensure that my relationship with my family proves to be an enduring source of happiness? Its main finding is that the types of initiatives that management invests in shape a company’s strategy. If a company’s resource allocation process isn’t well-managed, the results can be drastically different from what management had envisioned. Companies underinvest in efforts that are critical to their long-term plans because their decision-making procedures are geared to steer investments to activities that offer the most tangible and immediate results.

I’ve watched the lives of my HBS classmates from 1979 unfold over the years, and I’ve seen an increasing number of them show up at reunions miserable, divorced, and estranged from their children. I can assure you that none of them graduated with the intention of divorcing and raising children who would grow up to be separated from them. Despite this, a surprising percentage of them went ahead and adopted the strategy. What is the explanation for this? When deciding how to spend their time, abilities, and energy, they didn’t keep the purpose of their life in mind.

It’s surprising that so many of the 900 students HBS attracts each year from the best in the world haven’t given any thought to what they want to do with their life. I remind the students that HBS may be their final opportunity to think critically about that subject. They’re crazy if they think they’ll have more time and energy to contemplate later in life, because life only gets busier: You take out a mortgage, work 70 hours a week, and have a spouse and kids.

Having a defined purpose in life has been crucial for me. But I had to think about it for a long time before I realized what it meant. When I was a Rhodes scholar, I was enrolled in a rigorous academic program in which I attempted to squeeze an extra year’s worth of study into my time at Oxford. Every night, I resolved to spend an hour reading, reflecting, and praying about why God placed me on this planet. That was a difficult commitment to follow because I wasn’t learning applied econometrics for every hour I spent doing it. I debated whether I could really afford to take that time away from my education, but I persisted—and eventually discovered my life’s mission.

I would have wasted my life if I had spent that hour each day learning the latest approaches for mastering the challenges of autocorrelation in regression analysis. I use econometric tools a few times a year, but I use my understanding of my life’s mission every day. It’s the most useful skill I’ve ever acquired. I assure my students that figuring out their life purpose will be the most essential thing they learned at HBS if they take the time to do it. If they don’t figure it out, they’ll just set sail without a rudder and be buffeted by life’s storms. Knowledge of activity-based costing, balanced scorecards, core competence, disruptive innovation, the four Ps, and the five forces will be trumped by clarity on their purpose.

My mission was born out of my religious beliefs, but faith isn’t the only thing that guides individuals. One of my former students, for example, determined that his mission was to bring honesty and economic prosperity to his country, as well as to raise children who were as capable of committing themselves to this cause and to each other as he was. His mission, like mine, is to serve his family and others.
Choosing and succeeding in a profession is just one instrument towards accomplishing your goal. However, without a reason to live, life might become meaningless.

Allocate Your Assets
Your choices on how to use your personal time, energy, and talent will eventually determine your life strategy.

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I have several “companies” competing for these resources: I’m trying to have a fulfilling relationship with my wife, raise wonderful children, give back to my community, thrive in my work, give back to my church, and so on. And I’m dealing with the same issue that a corporation is. I’m limited in terms of time, energy, and talent. What percentage of my time do I dedicate to each of these activities?

Your life may turn out to be considerably different from what you intended as a result of your allocation choices. That’s not always a bad thing: it can lead to opportunities you hadn’t anticipated. However, if you invest your resources incorrectly, the results might be disastrous. When I consider my old classmates who unintentionally engaged in lives of hollow unhappiness, I can’t help but believe that their problems stem from a short-term mindset.

When people with a strong demand for achievement—which includes all Harvard Business School graduates—have an extra half hour or ounce of energy, they’ll automatically devote it to activities that produce the most tangible results. And our careers are the most tangible proof that we’re progressing. You deliver a product, complete a design, deliver a presentation, close a sale, teach a class, publish a paper, get paid, and advance in your career. Investing time and energy in your relationship with your spouse and children, on the other hand, rarely provides the same immediate sense of accomplishment. Every day, children misbehave. You won’t be able to put your hands on your hips and declare, “I raised a nice boy or a good daughter” for another 20 years. You can ignore your relationship with your spouse and things don’t appear to be deteriorating on a daily basis. Even though close and loving ties with their families are the most potent and enduring source of happiness, people who are driven to excel have an unconscious proclivity to underinvest in their families and overinvest in their careers.

If you look into the core causes of business failures, you’ll notice a consistent preference for ventures that provide rapid gratification. When you look at people’s personal lives through that lens, you’ll notice a similar striking and dismal pattern: individuals committing fewer and fewer resources to the things they once said were most important.

Establish a Culture
The Tools of Cooperation is an important paradigm in our class that simply states that being a visionary manager isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s one thing to glimpse into the hazy future with clarity and plot the necessary course corrections for the company. It’s another thing entirely to persuade employees who don’t see the changes coming to join hands and work together to move the company in that new path. A important managerial talent is knowing what instruments to use to elicit the necessary collaboration.


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The idea arranges these tools along two dimensions: the degree to which members of the organization agree on what they want from their participation in the company, and the degree to which they agree on what activities will achieve the intended goals. When there is limited agreement on both axes, you must utilize “power tools” to secure cooperation, such as pressure, threats, and punishment. Many businesses begin in this quadrant, which is why the founding management team must be so assertive in identifying what has to be done and how it should be done. When employees’ methods of collaborating to do those tasks consistently succeed, consensus begins to build. This is the mechanism by which a culture is developed, according to MIT’s Edgar Schein. At the end of the day, individuals don’t even consider whether their manner of doing things is successful. They adopt priorities and adhere to procedures based on instinct and assumption rather than express decision, indicating that they have established a culture. Culture determines the proven, acceptable techniques by which members of the organization address recurring challenges in convincing but silent ways. And culture determines the order in which different types of problems are prioritized. It has the potential to be an effective management tool.

My students rapidly see that the simplest instruments that parents may use to encourage cooperation from children are power tools when they use this model to answer the question, How can I be sure that my family becomes an enduring source of happiness? However, there comes a time in a teen’s life when power tools are no longer useful. At that moment, parents begin to wish that they had started working with their children at a young age to create a home culture in which children naturally treat one another with respect, obey their parents, and pick the correct thing to do. Families, like businesses, have cultures. Those cultures might be created knowingly or unintentionally.

If you want your children to have great self-esteem and the belief that they can tackle difficult challenges, such attributes will not appear magically in high school. You must incorporate them into your family’s culture—and you must do it from the start. Children, like employees, gain self-esteem by completing difficult tasks and understanding what works.

Avoid Making the “Marginal Costs” Error
In finance and economics, we’re taught that while evaluating different investments, we should overlook sunk and fixed costs and instead make judgments based on the marginal costs and profits that each option entails. This doctrine, we learn in our course, biases firms to exploit the capabilities they’ve put in place to succeed in the past, rather than helping them to develop the capabilities they’ll need in the future. That approach would be OK if we knew the future will be precisely the same as the past. However, if the future turns out to be different—which it almost always does—the that’s wrong thing to do.

This philosophy answers the third question I ask my students: “How do I live a life of integrity?” (stay out of jail). When deciding between right and wrong in our personal lives, we often use the marginal cost doctrine unconsciously. “Look, I realize that most people shouldn’t do this as a general rule,” a voice in our thoughts adds. But, just this once, in this particular mitigating scenario, it’s OK.” The marginal cost of making a mistake “just this once” appears to be enticingly low. It draws you in, and you never consider where that path would ultimately lead or the full costs of your decision. The marginal cost economics of “just this once” provides justification for infidelity and dishonesty in all forms.

I’d want to tell you a tale of how I learned about the dangers of “just this once” in my own life. I was a member of the varsity basketball team at Oxford University. We put forth a lot of effort and went undefeated throughout the season. The guys on the team were some of the closest friends I’ve ever had. We made it to the last four of the British equivalent of the NCAA tournament. The final game was set to take place on a Sunday, as it turned out. At the age of 16, I made a personal vow to God that I would never play baseball on Sunday. So I approached the coach and explained my situation. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Because I was the starting center, my teammates were as well. “You have to play,” every single person on the team told me. “Can’t you just break the rule this once?”

I’m a devout Christian, so I walked away to pray about what I should do. I had a strong feeling that I shouldn’t breach my promise, so I skipped the championship game.

In many ways, it was a little decision—one of tens of thousands of Sundays in my life. In theory, I could have crossed the line that one time only and then not done so again. But, looking back, avoiding the temptation whose logic was “Just this once, in this extenuating scenario, it’s OK” has proven to be one of the most crucial decisions of my life. Why? My life has been a never-ending series of unfortunate events. If I had crossed the boundary that once, I would have done it again and again in the years to come.

The lesson I took up from this is that sticking to your ideals 100% of the time is simpler than sticking to them 98% of the time. You’ll regret where you end up if you give in to “just this once” based on a marginal cost analysis, as some of my former classmates did. You must identify what you stand for and draw the line in a secure location.

Keep in mind the significance of humility.
When I was requested to give a seminar on humility at Harvard College, I had this epiphany. All of the pupils were asked to name the most humble person they had ever met. One of these humble people’s characteristics stuck out: they possessed a high level of self-esteem. They knew who they were and were pleased with themselves. We also agreed that humility is characterized by the respect you have for others, not by self-deprecating actions or attitudes. That kind of humility naturally leads to good behavior. You would never steal from someone, for example, because you hold them in such high regard. You’d never deceive someone, would you?


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Bringing a feeling of humility into the world is critical. Almost all of your learning has come from people who are wiser and more experienced than you: parents, professors, and bosses by the time you get to a top graduate institution. However, once you’ve graduated from Harvard Business School or another prestigious university, the great majority of people you’ll see on a daily basis may not be wiser than you. If you believe that only smarter individuals can teach you something, your learning prospects will be severely constrained. Your learning chances would be limitless if you have a humble enthusiasm to learn something from everyone. In general, you can only be modest if you feel great about yourself and want to help others feel great about themselves as well. When we see somebody behave abusively, arrogantly, or demeaningly toward others, we can almost always assume that their behavior is a reflection of a lack of self-esteem. To feel good about themselves, they need to put someone else down.

Select the Appropriate Metric
I was diagnosed with cancer last year and faced the risk of dying sooner than I had intended. Thankfully, it appears that I will be spared. However, the experience has provided me with valuable insight into my life.

I have a good concept of how my ideas have created a lot of money for the companies who have employed my research; I know I’ve made a difference. But as I’ve dealt with this illness, I’ve realized how insignificant that impact is to me now. I’ve come to the conclusion that the criteria by which God will judge my life is the number of people whose lives I’ve impacted, not the amount of money I’ve made.

That, I believe, will be the case for all of us. Don’t be concerned with your own personal prominence; be concerned with the people you’ve helped become better people. My final suggestion is as follows: Consider the criteria by which your life will be judged, and make a commitment to live each day in such a way that your life will be regarded a success in the end.

Editorial opinions

Review of How Will You Measure Your Life

“[A] highly engaging and intensely revealing work…. Spiritual without being preachy, this work is especially relevant for young people embarking on their career, but also useful for anyone who wants to live a more meaningful life in accordance with their values.” ( Publishers Weekly )

“The book encapsulates Christensen’s best advice to keep high achievers from being disrupted in their own lives …. [P] rovocative but reassuring: Peter Drucker meets Mitch Albom.” (Bloomberg Businessweek)

“[M] ore genuinely a self-help book than the genre it disparages. Instead of force-feeding readers with orders on how to improve, it aims to give them the tools to set their own course ”( Financial Times )

“ [W] ell researched and thought through material. (Forbes)

“… A gripping personal story with lessons from business mixed in.” (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

Related: Ethics 101 by John C Maxwell

“… Clayton Christensen’s new book has the business world buzzing.” (Deseret News)

“Recommend the book to friends and family who have no connection to the business world. They will thank you for it. ” (Harvard Business Review)

” A Business Student’s New Required Reading ” (Huffington Post)

“[R] evealing and profound.” (Inc. Magazine)

“I wish this book was around when I started my carreer. I bought copies for my kids and other young adults I know. $ 16 is not a lot to spend to get them thinking about their future and how to live responsible, ethical and successful lives. ” (Small Business Labs)

From the Back Cover

In 2010 world-renowned innovation expert Clayton M. Christensen gave a powerful speech to the Harvard Business School’s graduating class. Drawing upon his business research, I have offered a series of guidelines for finding meaning and happiness in life. He used examples from his own experiences to explain how high achievers can all too often fall into traps that lead to unhappiness.

The speech was memorable not only because it was deeply revealing but also because it came at a time of intense personal reflection: Christensen had just overcome the same type of cancer that had taken his father’s life. As Christensen struggled with the disease, the question “How do you measure your life?” became more urgent and poignant, and he began to share his insights more widely with family, friends, and students.

In this groundbreaking book, Christensen puts forth a series of questions: How can I be sure that I’ll find satisfaction in my career? How can I be sure that my personal relationships become enduring sources of happiness? How can I avoid compromising my integrity — and stay out of jail? Using lessons from some of the world’s greatest businesses, he provides incredible insights into these challenging questions.

How Will You Measure Your Life? is full of inspiration and wisdom, and will help students, midcareer professionals, and parents alike forge their own paths to fulfillment.

About the Author

CLAYTON M. CHRISTENSEN (1952–2020) was the Kim B. Clark Professor at Harvard Business School, the author of nine books, a five-time recipient of the McKinsey Award for  Harvard Business Review ‘s best article, and the cofounder of four companies, including the innovation consulting firm Innosight. In 2011 and 2013 he was named the world’s most influential business thinker in a biennial ranking conducted by Thinkers50.

A native of Australia, JAMES ALLWORTH is a graduate of the Harvard Business School, where he was named a Baker Scholar, and the Australian National University. He previously worked at Booz & Company and Apple.

KAREN DILLON is the former editor of the Harvard Business Review and coauthor of the New York Times bestseller How Will You Measure Your Life? She is a graduate of Cornell University and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. In 2011 she was named by Ashoka as one of the world’s most influential and inspiring women.

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