Harvard Business School Professor Asks “How Will You Measure Your Life?”

The Book

How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth, and Karen Dillon; Harper Business.

The Author

Clayton Christensen is the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, where he teaches one of the most popular elective classes for second year students, Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise. He is regarded as one of the world’s top experts on innovation and growth and his ideas have been widely used in industries and organizations throughout the world. A 2011 cover story in Forbes magazine noted that ‘’Everyday business leaders call him or make the pilgrimage to his office in Boston, Mass. to get advice or thank him for his ideas.’’ In 2011 in a poll of thousands of executives, consultants and business school professors, Christensen was named as the most influential business thinker in the world. — from Clay Christensen’s Official Website

The Big Idea

As an individual approaches critical life decisions, one can benefit much from the thoughtful management theories smart leaders apply in their companies.

The book is organized into parts with a particular focus on core questions:

How can I be sure that?

  • I will be successful and happy in my career?
  • My relationships with my spouse, my children, and extended family, and close friends become an enduring source of happiness?
  • I live a life of integrity – and stay out of jail?

The Backstory

In the spring of 2010, Clayton Christensen, professor at Harvard Business School, who is widely recognized as the leading expert in ‘disruptive innovation,’ shared a very different message to the entire graduating class of Harvard Business School (HBS). Standing with little hair due to heavy chemotherapy he says that he has been diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer. The message is he shared wasn’t the latest innovation theory or concept he’d developed, but the most important things he learned in his life. The essence of the message being – how to live a holistic life where one can find fulfillment and meaning in both career and relationships. Sounds easy, but seems to be an insurmountable feat that has derailed many driven people.

Christensen, a HBS alumnus himself, shares his observation at the infamous reunions. On the first 5th reunion, things looked nothing but fabulous. Senior positions at top-notch positions, exotic work locations, gorgeous spouses and marriages. All of them seemed very promising. Yet, on his 10th reunion, he noticed a stark decline of participation from his classmates. What was going on? With several calls, he soon discovers the unfortunate plight of many of his classmates. Personal dissatisfaction, failed marriages, criminal charges….Christensen asks, “What was going on? How have these ambitious, decent people who graduated from the cream of the crop institution end up in such misery?”

Key Concepts

Christensen share key management theories that can be equally applied on how we approach our life decisions.

Watch More:

At the TEDx Boston conference, Christensen spoke about his book How Will You Measure Your Life?. “Our careers provide the most very tangible, immediate achievement,” he said. “In contrast, investments in our families don’t pay off for a very long time.” The full 19:31 minute video is here. Enjoy!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvos4nORf_Y]


  • Charles

    You are a man who read many books, For the books which are leadership and self-development related, how do you retain all the great things your are learning as you read them? do you take notes while you read? are you a genius who straight up memorize the content? Do you just simply read them for a general idea and keep the books for reference in case needed in the future?

    Great blog btw, I enjoy reading the articles you post. For your record I have bought 4 books strictly based on your recommendation here. You are an influence-r, keep up the good work!

    • Charles, wow, I am flattered and encouraged by your feedback.First, I am no genius. If I may borrow Albert Einstein’s remark, “I have no special talents. I am passionately curious.” In terms of reading and capturing ideas, I try to engage all my five senses to institutionalize key lessons. I always read with a highlighter. I write quotes that relate to certain points. I blog about most of the books I read. I journal my thoughts, and I carry a “book idea” notebook that records a summary of key concepts of the books.All of these collectively help me reinforce my learnings. Hope this helps. May I ask which books you have purchased based on my recommendation?