Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

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Oct 13, 2011

TALKING POINT : How Will You Measure Your Life?

My younger brother send me this wonderful talk “How Will You Measure Your Life” given by Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen to the graduating class of 2010 on their request to address them, “not on how to apply his principles and thinking in their post HBS careers but how to apply them to their personal life.” I liked this article very much, specially the way he explained about the active search for meaning of your life, is the most crucial to lead a satisfying and happy life. I am giving below are some of the main points from that talk...

if you would like to read the full article, click here...  

But first a little bit about the professor and by the way, he is also a board member of Indian software giant Tata Consultancy Services...
A Brief Biography
Clayton M. Christensen is the architect of and the world’s foremost authority on disruptive innovation, a framework which describes the process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves ‘up market’, eventually displacing established competitors.  Consistently acknowledged in rankings and surveys as one of the world’s leading thinkers on innovation, Christensen is widely sought after as a speaker, advisor and board member.  His research has been applied to national economies, start-up and Fortune 50 companies, as well as to early and late stage investing.

His seminal book The Innovator’s Dilemma (1997), which first outlined his disruptive innovation frameworks, received the Global Business Book Award for the Best Business Book of the Year in 1997, was a New York Times bestseller, has been translated into over 10 languages, and is sold in over 25 countries.  He is also a four-time recipient of the McKinsey Award for the Harvard Business Reviews’s best article and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tribeca Film Festival in 2010.

Text and Image curtsy: Clay Christensen website

How Will You Measure Your Life?
by Clayton M. Christensen

My class at Harvard Business School is structured to help my students understand what good management theory is and how it is built. On the last day of class, I ask my students to turn those theoretical lenses on themselves, to find cogent answers to three questions:

First: how can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career?

Second: how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness?

Third: how can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail? Though the last question sounds light hearted, it’s not. (Two of the 32 people in my Rhodes Scholar class spent time in jail. Jeff Skilling of Enron fame was a classmate of mine at HBS. These were good guys—but something in their lives sent them off in the wrong direction)

How to be sure, we find happiness in our careers
One of the theories that gives great insight on the first question—how to be sure we find happiness in our careers—is from Frederick Herzberg, who 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.

Create a Strategy for Your Life
A theory that is helpful in answering the second question—How can I ensure that my relationship with my family proves to be an enduring source of happiness?— concerns how strategy is defined and implemented.

For me, having a clear purpose in my life has been essential. But it was something I had to think long and hard about before I understood it. When I was a Rhodes Scholar, I was in a very demanding academic program, trying to cram an extra year’s worth of work into my time at Oxford. I decided to spend an hour every night reading, thinking, and praying about why God put me on this earth. That was a very challenging commitment to keep but I stuck with it—and ultimately figured out the purpose of my life. My purpose grew out of my religious faith, but faith isn’t the only thing that gives people direction. For example, one of my former students decided that his purpose was to bring honesty and economic prosperity to his country and to raise children who were as capably committed to this cause, and to each other, as he was. His purpose is focused on family and others—as mine is.

The choice and successful pursuit of a profession is but one tool for achieving your purpose. But without a purpose, life can become hollow.

Allocate Your Resources
Your decisions about allocating your personal time, energy, and talent ultimately shape your life’s strategy.

People who are driven to excel have this unconscious propensity to under invest in their families and overinvest in their careers—even though intimate and loving relationships with their families are the most powerful and enduring source of happiness.

If you study the root causes of business disasters, over and over you’ll find this predisposition toward endeavours that offer immediate gratification. If you look at personal lives through that lens, you’ll see the same stunning and sobering pattern: people allocating fewer and fewer resources to the things they would have once said mattered most.

Avoid the “Marginal Costs” Mistake
This theory addresses the third question I discuss with my students—how to live a life of integrity stay out of jail). Unconsciously, we often employ the marginal cost doctrine in our personal lives when we choose between right and wrong. A voice in our head says, “Look, I know that as a general rule, most people shouldn't do this. But in this particular extenuating circumstance, just this once,” it’s OK.” The marginal cost of doing something wrong “just this once” always seems alluringly low. It suckers you in, and you don’t ever look at where that path ultimately is headed and at the full costs that the choice entails. Justification for infidelity and dishonesty in all their manifestations lies in the marginal cost economics of “just this once.”

Remember the Importance of Humility
One characteristic of these humble people stood out: They had a high level of self-esteem. They knew who they were, and they felt good about who they were. We also decided that humility was defined not by self-deprecating behavior or attitudes but by the esteem with which you regard others. Good behavior flows naturally from that kind of humility. For example, you would never steal from someone, because you respect that person too much. You’d never lie to someone, either

I think that’s the way it will work for us all. Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people. This is my final recommendation: Think about the metric by which your life will be judged, and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success.

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

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