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How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton M. Christensen

Measure Your Life

RATING: 6/10…READ: June 8, 2012

How Will You Measure Your Life aims to give you ways of thinking about your career and relationships in regards to living a happy life. While the lessons are useful, the language/length of the book could have reduced, as simple concepts are made more complicated than needed. With that said, it is still a good book for questioning your line of thinking as it relates to happiness.

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Notes:

People often think that the best way to predict the future is by collecting as much data as possible before marking a decision. But this is like driving a car looking only at the rearview mirror—because data is only available about the past.

We have intentions for our careers. Against those intentions, opportunities and threats emerge that we haven’t anticipated. And how we allocate our resources—our time, talent, and energies—is how we determine the actual strategy of our lives.

Incentives are not the same as motivation. True motivation is getting people to do something because they want to do it. This type of motivation continues, in good times and in bad.

If you instantly improve the hygiene factors of your job, you’re not going to suddenly love it. At best, you just won’t hate it anymore. The opposite of job dissatisfaction isn’t job satisfaction, but rather an absence of job dissatisfaction.

Motivation factors include challenging work, recognition, responsibility, and personal growth. Feelings that you are making a meaningful contribution to work arise from intrinsic conditions of the work itself. Motivation is much less about external prodding or stimulation, and much more about what’s inside of you and inside your work.

What has to prove true in my career for it to work?

Before you take a job, carefully list what things others are going to need to do or to deliver in order for you to successfully achieve what you hope to do. Ask yourself: “What are the assumptions that have to prove true in order for me to be able to succeed in this assignment? List them. Are they within your control?

Why do you think this is going to be something you enjoy doing? What evidence do you have? Ever time you consider a career move, keep thinking about the most important assumptions that have to prove true, and how you can swiftly and inexpensively test if they are valid.

When Jobs returned as CEO in 1997, he immediately set to work fixing the underlying resource allocation problem. Rather than allowing everyone to focus on their own sense of priorities, Jobs brought Apple back to its roots: to make the best products in the world, change the way people think about using technology in their lives, and provide a fantastic user experience.

To understand a company’s strategy, look at what they actually do rather than what they say they will do.

Here is a way to frame the investments that we make in the strategy that becomes our live: we have resources—which include personal time, energy, talent, and wealth—and we are using them to try to grow several “businesses” in our personal lives. These include having a rewarding relationship with out spouse or significant other; raising great children; succeeding in our careers; contributing to our church or community; and so on.

The danger for high achieving people is that they’ll unconsciously allocate their resources to activities that yield the most immediate, tangible accomplishments. This is often in their careers, as this domain of their life provides the most concrete evidence that they are moving forward. They ship a product, win a case, publish a paper, get paid, get promoted. They leave college and find it easy to direct their precious energy into building a career.

Intending to build a satisfying personal life alongside their professional life, making choices specifically to provide a better life for their family, they unwittingly overlook their spouse and children. Investing time and energy in these relationships doesn’t offer them that same immediate sense of achievement that a fast-track career does. You can neglect your relationship with your spouse, and on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t seem as if things are deteriorating. Your spouse is still there when you get home are deteriorating. Your spouse is still there when you get home every night. And kids find new ways to misbehave all the time. It’s really not until twenty years down the road that you can put your hands on your hips and say, “We raised good kids.”

93 Percent of all companies that ultimately become successful had to abandon their original strategy—because the original plan proved not to be viable. In other words, successful companies don’t succeed because they have the right strategy at the beginning; but rather, because they have money left over after the original strategy fails, so that they can pivot and try another approach. Most of those fail, in contrast, spend all their money on their original strategy—which is usually dead wrong.

Tomorrow arrives. The original core business that has become mature and stops growing. The owner of the capital suddenly realizes that he should have invested several years earlier in the nest growth business, so that when the core business stalled, the next engine of growth and profit would already be taking over as the engine for growth and profit. Instead, the engine just isn’t there.

Todd Rinsley and Betty Hart Studied the effects of how parents talk to children during the first two and half years of life. After meticulously observing and recording all of the interactions between parent and child, they noticed that on average, parents speak 1,500 words per hour to their infant children. “Talkative” (often college-educated) parents spoke 2,100 words to their children, on average.

-By contrast, parents from less verbal (and often less educated) backgrounds spoke only 600 per hour, on average. If you add that up over the first thirty months, the child of “talkative” parents heard an estimated 48 million words spoken, compared to the disadvantage child, who heard only 13 million. The most important time for the children to hear the words, the research suggest, is the first year of life.

Language dancing is being chatty, thinking aloud, and commenting on what the child is doing and what the parent is doing or planning to do. “Do you want to wear the blue shirt or red shirt today?” Wouldn’t it be nice if?”—questions that invite the child to think deeply about what is happening around him. And it has a profound effect long before a parent might actually expect a child to understand what is being asked.

We don’t go through life conforming to particular demographic segments: nobody buys a product because he is an eighteen-to-thirty-five-year-old white male getting a college degree. That may be correlated with a decision to buy this product instead of that one, but it doesn’t cause us to buy anything. Instead, periodically we find that some job has arisen in our lives that we need to do, and we then find some way to get it done.

Given that sacrifice deepens our commitment, it’s important to ensure that what we sacrifice for is worthy of that commitment, as the church was for me and Annie.

Resources are what he uses to do it, processes are how he does it, and priorities are why he does it.

Self esteem comes from achieving something important when it’s hard to do.

His first job after business school was not a glamorous consulting position. Instead, he worked in Northern Quebec, operating an asbestos mine. He thought that particular experience of managing and leading people in difficult conditions would be important to have mastered on his route to the C-Suite.