My Review: How will you measure your life? by Clayton M. Christensen

I probably loved this book because I’m in almost complete agreement with its main arguments.

Christensen is a distinguished theorist of business, and here he applies business theory to personal life. I took almost as much away about business strategy as I did about life strategy. 

Christensen on theory

Main idea: A solid theory has no exceptions.

“Solving the challenges in your life requires a deep understanding of what causes what to happen.”

Christensen on building a career

Main idea: Be open and exploratory in your career until you find something that really fits with your skills and priorities–and then be focused and deliberate.

“Once you understand the concept of emergent and deliberate strategy, you’ll know that if you’ve yet to find something that really works in your career, expecting to have a clear vision of where your life will take you is just wasting time. Even worse, it may actually close your mind to unexpected opportunities. While you are still figuring out your career, you should keep the aperture of your life wide open. Depending on your particular circumstances, you should be prepared to experiment with different opportunities, ready to pivot, and continue to adjust your strategy until you find what is it that both satisfies the hygiene factors and gives you all the motivators. Only then does a deliberate strategy make sense. When you get it right, you’ll know.”

“I wouldn’t ever make the decision based upon how much it paid or the prestige…. Instead, it was always: is it going to give me the experiences I need to wrestle with?”

“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 is like driving a car looking only at the rearview mirror–because data is only available about the past.”

Christensen on priorities

Main idea: How you actually spend your time, money and energy creates who you are–not your aspiration or goal-setting.

“If the decisions you make about where you invest your blood, sweat, and tears are not consistent with the person you aspire to be,  you’ll never become that person.”

Christensen on purpose

Main idea: Companies that exist solely to serve each individual’s goals are forgotten quickly. Companies with a purpose are the ones that leave a mark.

“Likeness, commitment and metrics comprise a company’s purpose. Companies that aspire to positive impact must never leave their purpose to chance.” Likeness is defining what the company wants to be, commitment is committing to it, and metrics is measuring it effectively.

Christensen on relationships

Main idea: Be with someone who you want to make happy and figure out how to make them happy (rather than the inverse). Sacrifice deepens commitment.

“We go into them thinking about what we want, rather than what is important to the other person. Changing your perspective is a powerful way to deepen your relationships.”

“The path to happiness in a relationship is not just about finding someone who you think is going to make you happy. Rather, the reverse is equally true: the path to happiness is about finding someone who you want to make happy, someone whose happiness is worth devoting yourself to.”

“Given that sacrifice deepens our commitment, it’s important to ensure that what we sacrifice for is worthy of that commitment.”

Christensen on capabilities

Main idea: Your capabilities are your resources, processes and priorities. Never outsource the ones that are important for your future.

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

Christensen on culture

Main idea: A culture is the sum of processes that are repeated time and time again, consciously or unconsciously.

Christensen on consequences

Main idea: “If you need a machine and don’t buy it, then you will ultimately find that you have paid for it and don’t have it.”

“Decide what you stand for. And then stand for it all the time.”