Monday, June 05, 2017

How Will You Measure Your Life?

In How Will You Measure Your Life, Clayton Christiensen applies his theories to personal endeavors. He and his coauthors stress that this is not a self-help or business book with prepackaged conclusions, but instead a set of theories that can be applied as appropriate to the situation. Even a great theory may not be perfectly suited for each situation. But even the imperfections can be useful in illuminating the situation.
In work, people are motivated by intrinsic factors. Compensation, titles and benefits do not necessarily motive, but the lack thereof can result in a negative experience. People often get confused, chasing after the material rewards and find themselves miserable. If a family is important, time needs to be spent with family. Sometimes career choices need to be made with the long term perspective in mind - even if they seem short term in nature. Spending time with children at the youngest age is the most important. Trying to tack it on later cannot compensate for what is missed at the end.
When deciding on a course of action, one question that should be answered is "What is needed for this to succeed?" If the success criteria are not present, it will be difficult to have a successful outcome. In relationships, people often get into the trap of doing what they think somebody else would like to have done. They may work hard for something, think that is what they would want if they were in the other person's shoes. However, that may make the other person unhappy because that is not what they really wanted. This leaves two unhappy people. It is important to really know somebody else and spend the effort in service.
The value of work is important in family life. There is danger in outsourcing too much. Dell computer is a cautionary tale of a company that gradually outsourced its consumer business to Asus. Each move up the value chain seemed like a good move. Pretty soon, however, Asus was ready to do it on its own and didn't need Dell. (Luckily, Dell had other businesses to fall back on.) In family life, we outsource the raising of children by signing them up for many activities. However, having them spend time with us doing work may be even more valuable. People need to learn how to work hard and solve challenging problems. Being in prefabricated, easy to solve situations does not help that. Bring some of the tedious chores back "in house" and requiring children to be involved may be more beneficial. Children learn things when they want to learn, not when we are ready to teach them. The best way to instill are values is to always live them.
It is also important for us to uncompromisingly live our values. Once we start to compromise on what we believe, it becomes more difficult to continue to live them at later times. It good to spend time understanding what our values our and what is needed to live them. Failures to achieve goals are good and can help us to live a better life.
This book grew out of discussions in business school classes on how to define success. As such, many of the examples have a business twist. The methodology, however, is fairly universally appropriate, even if there is no "business" in the life.

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