Saturday, September 2, 2017

Book Review: 'How Will You Measure Your Life?' by Clayton M. Christensen

"But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." -- Exodus 9:16 (NKJV)

For those without faith in God, choosing and adhering to a life's purpose can be challenging. Highly talented people in business will find "How Will You Measure Your Life?" to be a helpful secular guide to selecting a life's purpose, finding happiness in a career, and enjoying happy relationships with family and friends. Professor Christensen and coauthors James Allworth and Karen Dillon draw heavily on business theories and examples to show the principles that can lead toward or away from accomplishment, satisfaction, and fulfillment. Professor Christensen generously sprinkles in examples from his personal experiences to make it easier to understand the theories and principles.

The material grew out of Professor Christensen's habit of using his last class of each course to explore these fundamental questions. In 2010, after he contracted a challenging cancer, he was invited to speak on the same subject to the whole graduating class at Harvard Business School.

Even if you don't apply all of the lessons to your personal life, your business results should be helped by appreciating the business theories and stories in the book as they relate to:

1. Why theory can be more helpful than looking for best practices in areas where all performance is poor.
2. Find meaningful work.
3. Optimal strategy should combine planning and being open to serendipity.
4. To understand your strategy, focus on your behavior, rather than what you say you do.
5. Your family and friends need your involvement all the time, not just when you want to give it.
6. Choose and work on the values and attributes you want your children to have.
7. Equip your youngsters with the ability to apply skill and knowledge.
8. Be sure your children have character-building and life-management experiences.
9. Deliberately establish a family culture that enhances what your want your children to honor.
10. Look at the long-term consequences of any actions you take, lest you start down a slippery slope from which you cannot recover.

The ultimate advice is certainly sound. You'll notice is says a lot more about families than about careers, but most MBAs are already overly career focused. It's their families that puzzle many of them.

One of the great blessings of this book is that many youngsters will benefit, children of high-performing businesspeople.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Donald Mitchell. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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