How will you measure your life (by Clayton Christensen)

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 7.17.04 AMYou are feeling low. You have done well in your career.

You have done well in your current job. Yet you believe that you do not get your share of credit.  You start wondering about your real worth to your company. Soon you arrive at a point where you start thinking “May be I am not good enough” or “Anyone could have done what I have done. It is no big deal”

You are at a loss to know what to do, where to go or whom to go to in this situation. You spouse is understanding but that does not seem to help. Your boss is supportive but you suspect he is just being nice.

If your current mood is anywhere close to what I have described, I strongly recommend you immediately buy yourself a copy of ‘How will you measure life’ by Clayton Christensen.

Let me tell you why.

Clayton Christenson is one of the world’s leading management thinkers and a respected HBS professor. His approach is well researched and scientific.  He puts forward well researched and thought- through theories – he is not one to pass off his feelings and opinions as insights.

This book is the outcome of years of work he has done with his students. He describes  in his prologue  the three big questions he and his students discuss:

How can I be sure that

* I will be successful and happy in my career?

My relationships with my spouse, my children, and my extended family and my close friends become an enduring source of happiness?

* I live a life of integrity – and stay out of jail?

(The ‘stay out of jail’ part is because some of his classmates landed in jail due to frauds they committed.)

The book is written in first person, and is anecdotal in style.  I liked the authenticity of the book that stems from the author’s complete honesty with which he explains issues.

Some may not find this book (though short)  an easy read  – you can’t finish reading this in a one hour flight. Christensen makes us think.

Here are a few examples of what he says:

“People often think that the best way to predict the future is by collecting as much data as possible before making a decision. But this like driving a car by looking at the rear view mirror – because data is available only about the past.”

“You don’t want to go through multiple marriages to learn how to be a good spouse.”

The theories in the book are based on a deep understanding of human endeavour – what causes what to happen and why. They have been rigorously examined and used in several organisations all over the globe. They can help all of us with decisions we make in our day to day lives too.

As I read the book it made me think about the several life changing decisions I have made in my career and my life. If I had had the benefit of Christen’s deeply researched wisdom then, I could perhaps have avoided some really expensive mistakes.

This book is a great prescription for this time starved generation. It invites them to hit the pause button and reflect a bit, before rushing in to make another decision without much thought.

It is not only a must read book  but also great to gift book. To the spouse. To your boss. To your direct report. To anyone who seems confused about making decisions in life.









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2 Responses to “How will you measure your life (by Clayton Christensen)”

  1. Pavan Soni says:

    I am a great fan of Clay. He is not just a gifted researcher and teacher, but also a fantastic human being. His contribution to the field of innovation, especially disruptive innovation, is so iconic that his work on the subject makes it a seminal piece. More remarkable is the influence he has had on the way we lead our lives. He is the Jobs who stays live and kicking.

  2. Dear Sridhar,

    Thank you for highlighting a thought provoking book and for sharing your own insights, on your blog, on how we could leverage these insights in our own lives.



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