How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen, James Allworth and Karen Dillon

Measure Your Life

 

Summary
  1. Christensen is clear that he will not provide any important answers but he does promise to help the reader ask the important questions in order to get them on the path to be happy in their relationships and their careers.
Key Takeaways
  1. Asks the reader to ask – how will be happy in my career and relationships, how do live a life of integrity
  2. Does not promise to offer any answers, simply prompt you to figure out what is important to you and how you will measure your life
  3. Love what you do every single day – Determine your priorities and have a plan and be deliberate but also open to new opportunities
  4. The journey (learning/accomplishment) a bigger motivator than the destination
  5. Must balance deliberate strategy with unanticipated opportunities
  6. If not in a perfect situation, experiment and iterate
  7. For any big decision, ask what has to prove true to be happy and successful
  8. Strategy is irrelevant if not allocating resources properly
  9. Create proper incentives to achieve what you want
  10. Sacrifice strengthens commitment
  11. Self-esteem comes from achieving something important when it is hard to do
  12. Sometimes what parents don’t do more important than what they do do
  13. In parenting and career, think of what skills you want to build and reverse engineer to get those experiences
  14. Culture will form regardless. Make sure it is one you like and support. Be extremely explicit – write culture down, have a motto
  15. Small, everyday decisions shape our lives, our careers, families, etc.
  16. Following any principle 100% of the time is easier than doing it 98% of the time
  17. Absolutely critical to articulate your purpose. Purpose can’t be left to chance, it must be deliberate and it is often emergent. Take opportunities as they arise, it is a process, not an event
  18. Figuring out your purpose is one of the toughest but most rewarding journeys a person can take
What I got out of it
  1. Two main things, whenever a big decision arises, ask yourself what has to happen in order for you to be happy and successful. If realistic and you think it is likely, proceed but if not, reevaluate. The second is the concept of having a concrete and deliberate goal and finding ways to reverse engineer your experience (jobs) in order to gain the skills necessary to attain that goal. Highly recommend this book – brief, easy to read with a powerful/actionable message

Prologue
  • Many of Christensen’s classmates at Harvard Business School have very unhappy lives
  • Asks the reader to ask – how will I be happy in my career and relationships, how do I live a life of integrity
  • Does not promise to offer any answers, simply prompt you to figure out what is important to you and how you will measure your life
Chapter 1 – Just Because You Have Feathers
  • No quick fixes but will teach how, not what, to think about
  • A good theory is a general statement for what causes what and why – it is far reaching and encompassing
    • Categorize – explain – predict (an “if-then” statement)
  • Pair history with theory to make the best possible decision
Section 1 – Finding Happiness in Your Career
  • Love what you do every single day
    • Determine your priorities
    • Have a plan and be deliberate but also open to new opportunities
Chapter 2 – What Makes Us Tick
  • Must figure out what makes you and those around you tick
  • Incentive theory – must pay to align incentives
    • Disagrees with this and urges you to look for anomalies to debunk theory – many of the world’s hardest working people are paid very little (non-profits, charities, etc.)
  • Motivation theory – get people to want what you want
    • Hygiene factors – status, compensation, title, etc.
    • Motivating factors – what will make us actually love our work (it is challenging, have a lot of responsibility, can achieve, etc.)
      • Don’t make money (hygiene factors) the priority – only the motivating factors
  • The journey (learning/accomplishment) a bigger motivator than the destination
Chapter 3- The Balance of Calculation and Serendipity
  • Must balance deliberate strategy with unanticipated opportunities
    • Strategy a continuous, diverse and unruly process
  • If not in a perfect situation, experiment and iterate
  • Discovery driven planning – what has to prove true for this to work? Make assumptions transparent and test its validity
    • For any big decision, ask what has to prove true to be happy and successful
 
Chapter 4 – Your Strategy is Not What You Say It Is
  • Strategy is irrelevant if not allocating resources properly
  • Create proper incentives to achieve what you want
  • Look at people’s actions over words to see their true strategy
  • Do not fall for short-termism
  • Truly allocate resources, especially time and money, to what is important to you. Often won’t repeat benefits for many years
  • Allocate resources consistent with your goals and priorities
  • Work can give short-term high but extremely important to invest in family and deep social bonds
Section 2 – Finding Happiness in Your Relationships
  • How to foster relationships in your life that are loving and supporting
 
Chapter 5 – The Ticking Clock
  • 93% of successful companies don’t follow their original strategy
    • Good money is patient for growth but impatient fro profit but once have a viable strategy, the opposite is true
  • Be deliberate to foster deep relationships with family and friends
  • When rifts with family/friends appear, it is often too late to start investing time
Chapter 6 – What Job Did You Hire That Milkshake For?
  • Customers “hire” your products or services to do a specific job – must understand what that job is
    • Don’t assume you know, get data-driven facts
  • Find someone you want to devote your life to in order to make happy
  • Sacrifice strengthens commitment
 
Chapter 7 – Sailing Your Kids on Theseus’s Ship
  • Need to understand your capabilities – resources, processes, priorities (what, how and why)
  • Determine what to outsource – look at what suppliers want to do in the future and determine which capabilities you need to succeed and never outsource that
    • Example – Dell outsourced a lot to Asus who eventually became competent enough to start shipping their own laptops
  • Goal is to help your child find what they’re interested in, not showing how “good” of a parent you are by forcing activities upon them
  • Self-esteem comes from achieving something important when it is hard to do
  • Sometimes what parents don’t do more important than what they do do
  • Children learn when ready, never before
  • Must display values you want to impart
Chapter 8 – The Schools of Experience
  • Most successful not born that way, they learn better than the rest and iterate
  • Hire those with correct experiences (processes) – don’t fall for the most impressive resume if don’t have the right experiences
  • Choose a job for the experiences they provide that’ll help you reach your goal. Never accept anything solely for money or prestige
    • Nolan Archibald knew he wanted to be a Fortune 500 CEO one day and chose his jobs before that in order to provide him the most relevant experiences
  • More established companies can promote less experienced people since they have more structured processes in place
  • In parenting and career, think of what skills you want to build and reverse engineer to get those experiences
 
Chapter 9 – The Invisible Hand Inside Your Family
  • Culture – unique processes and priorities in a company, family, team, or any group and it takes a long time to build and no time to ruin
    • Formed through repetition and once in place, it is self-imagining
  • Must be proactive – decide what elements are important to you and engineer the culture in order to foster those elements
  • Culture will form regardless. Make sure it is one you like and support. Be extremely explicit – write culture down, have a motto
  • Consistency is of utmost importance. Once a culture is set, it is very difficult to change
 
Section 3 – Staying Out of Jail
  • How to live a life full of integrity
Chapter 10 – Just This Once…
  • Small, everyday decisions shape our lives, our careers, families, etc.
  • Ask yourself – if we didn’t have this existing business, what would be the best way to build a new one?
  • Don’t make the marginal cost mistake – if the full cost of a project overwhelms the marginal, consider start-ups that can (and will) enter the field because only have full cost option (no other choice as they have no established business)
  • Doing something wrong “just once” eventually comes back to bite you. Short-term gain with potential huge future loss
  • Following any principle 100% of the time is easier than doing it 98% of the time
 
Epilogue
  • Absolutely critical to articulate your purpose
    • Likeness – what eventually want to have built, what do I truly want to become
    • Deep commitment
    • One/few metrics to measure your progress
      • Purpose can’t be left to chance, it must be deliberate and it is often emergent. Take opportunities as they arise, it is a process, not an event
    • Figuring out your purpose is one of the toughest but most rewarding journeys a person can take

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