How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen [Book Summary ]


An expert in business innovation is author Clayton M. Christensen. He used years working together with top achievers and in successful enterprises, part of which he created himself, he realized that a measure of someone’s life requires to be beyond time used at the office.

With insightful, insider illustration from his several years in the business world, Christensen is a competent guide for readers seeking to attain the profession of their dreams.  Still, as a man with a family and cancer survivor, Christensen can also talk from the heart when we speak about work/life balance. 

In this book chapter, you’ll learn that motivation, and not money, is the cause of job satisfaction and that in spite of how you work hard at your work or the number of times you’re promoted, your real source of happiness is your family and friends.

From understanding acquired from his total experiences, Christensen displays to the present professionals how to lead a life with purpose, integrity, and  balance


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Chapter 1 – When we talk about job satisfaction, motivation prevails money.


At your place of work, what do you consider would make you happier? Maybe a little bit of an increase in your salary might be good; or perhaps some more respect from your coworkers.

Those kinds of assumptions are quite common. As a matter of fact, the tangible parts of your job, like money and respect, are not truly the things that will make you happy. If you think differently, attend a business school reunion where you’ll witness just how frequently professional success is usually spoiled with family issues, personal dissatisfaction, professional difficulties, and even criminal act.

Regardless of this, an unhealthy approach to the use of incentives in the place of work still triumphs. Popularised by Michael Jensen an economist and William Meckling a management theorist, the incentive theory gives the direct statement that the more you are being paid, the better you do your work.



Consider our business school reunion illustration, this theory looks really simplistic. Also, various studies have revealed that the hardest-working people are as a matter if fat those working in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – people that do a world-changing job; however, get really little from it.

As a matter of fact, it turns out that professional satisfaction and motivation are gotten from a job that corresponds to your needs and interests. Frederick Herzberg a Psychologist stated that our needs and interests can be separated into two different groups – hygiene factors and motivation factors. This forms the basis of his hygiene-motivation theory.

Hygiene factors include issues like company policies, general work conditions, job security, and supervisory practices. If these issues are lacking or if they are not satisfactory, it’s a situation of bad hygiene that leads to job dissatisfaction. But, would a job with great working conditions however, no opportunity for promotion or bonus be satisfying? Most likely not.

Rather, job satisfaction is accomplished by merging motivation factors with hygiene factors. Motivation factors include recognition, responsibility, challenges, and personal development.

Think of a job that was stimulating intellectually; however, troubled with awful management – would this job be satisfactory to you? Probably not. It’s obvious that the combination of hygiene and motivation is vital, and the following chapter gives two strategies to get this balance.


Chapter 2 – A good career strategy incorporates making use of opportunities we expect and those we don’t.


What’s your career strategy? The majority of the people have at least a knowledge of how they’d wish to grow professionally, few understand how to explain how precisely they plan to accomplish their professional aims.

A good way to begin is knowing that career strategies have two different approaches: deliberate and emergent. To you to know these two approaches, we have to think of the manners in which opportunities in general emerge

Henry Mintzberg an academic and a famous author describes that opportunities also belong to two groups. The first talked about anticipated opportunities, these are the opportunities we can identify and choose to follow.

Deliberate strategies are usually founded on anticipated opportunities. Let’s take a look at a case in point from Honda, a Japanese car manufacturer Honda from the 1960s.

During that time, big motorbikes such as the ones created by Harley Davidson were common in the United States; therefore, Honda decided to create its own range of motorbikes there, as well. The aim was to get a grip in the U.S. market; however, the low quality of Honda’s bikes nearly destroyed the company.

This displays that deliberate strategies aren’t usually successful. Everybody can ponder on a time when, in spite of their best efforts, nothing at all happened as planned! This is where an emergent strategy comes to play, by making use of unanticipated opportunities. These usually occur in the implementation process of a deliberate strategy.



Honda discovered its emergent strategy by chance in the United States. Together with its large motorbikes; also, the company had shipped its smaller, Super Cub motorbikes for worker use. Honda workers would ride these motorbikes around Los Angeles, and this rare view, therefore, fascinated the public that it aroused the demand for the Super Cubs. Therefore, Honda accepted the emergent strategy of selling its smaller bikes on a huge scale and thus saved its American venture.

Forming a balance between emergent and deliberate strategies will enable you to utilize any opportunity. If you’re both flexible and calculating, you’ll discover the right way all the time.


Chapter 3 – Your life is your “business.” So for you to run it effectively, you have to manage your resources well.


When we speak of resources, we usually reflect first of those that are business-related like finances, talents, assets, and so on. But, this knowledge is, somewhat narrow.

To have a better knowledge of how we should make use of our resources, we need to first widen our definition.

Think of the things that are significant to you, like family relationships, physical health and, rewarding friendships. Somehow, these parts of our personal lives are “businesses” too, and the resources we invest in them are our energy, abilities, riches and personal time.

But, similar to business, our entire resources are scarce.  Although there are several goals we would love to accomplish, we need to control our priorities.

It can be enticing to invest our whole resources into a single goal, and for a lot of people, this goal is their career. However, it is important to make sure that we invest our energy and time into the other things we value as well.



By taking charge of your personal resource allocation process, you can prevent the error of investing all into your career.

One method to do this is to reassess the default standards according to which we usually assign our time. Instead of automatically using your entire time on a work project; firstly, assess if the project is truly the most significant thing in your life right at the moment, or if there are other things more worthy of your time, like your family or your health.

Particularly for high-achieving professionals, prioritizing instant rewards over long-term achievements is a usual error. It is very easy to become excessively obsessed with a promotion or future reward.

The satisfaction these offer is immediate; however, short-term. Long-term goals, like the duty of raising your children well, while slow and challenging, will offer a reward that is lifelong and very valuable. We’ll look at this more in the following chapter.


Chapter 4 – The most significant sources of happiness are the relationships you have with your family and friends.


Say you’re a high achiever, you may think that the hard work you put into your job is the most rewarding in your life.

But, the work you commit to family life brings valuable rewards as well. The only thing is that these might not show themselves for several years. Unluckily, underinvestment in these longer-term matters will eventually hinder them from thriving.

What a relationship requires the most is constant care and attention. This can be hard to give, and there are two reasons for that.

Firstly, we are usually tempted to invest our resources into a task with an instant reward, that is, our job. An extra 30 minutes after work could be easily used as family time. However, usually the people and projects at work that need your attention, and the promise of earning money, can immediately remove the considerations of your family from your mind.

Secondly, the people you share a deep relationship with like your family members and friends –barely shout the loudest when asking for your attention. Rather, they’re probably going to support your career without complaining; However, bear in that: just because they don’t demand for your time, doesn’t signify that they don’t want it.



Actually, relationships reflect a paradox. They need constant dedication even when it seems pointless. A lot of people appear to reason that they can make up for disregarding their loved ones by showing more care afterward.

But, damage done to a family in its early phases will show as difficulties afterward. For instance, research reveals that the most powerful stage in the growth of a child’s intelligence is within the first year; therefore, the manner parents talk to their child at this phase will form their life as a thinker.

Lastly, it’s not only your family that needs you; sometime, you will rely on them. If you disregard these relationships now, you are at risk of losing support when you require it the most.


Chapter 5 – Empathy and intuition assist us to do the work of making the people we love happy.


Most companies appear to concentrate really fixed on selling a product that they lose focus on the actual needs of the customer. Unluckily, a lot of people approach relationships in the same manner.

Maybe it is your business or family, your actual duty should usually be to know and satisfy the needs of people.

This work is by no way easy. There are two kinds of tools that can assist you and they are intuition and empathy. A marriage is successful when each partner knows what is expected of him or her. But, making use of empathy and intuition to understand these expectations needs practice.

For instance, one day a man gets home only to see a mess in the kitchen. Automatically thinking that his wife has had a rough day, he chose to clean up. Expecting to be be shown appreciation; rather he is shocked to see his wife distressed.

She says to her husband that catering to two demanding children is totally hard, as she is unable to talk to another adult the entire day. What she required the most was basically for her spouse to listen to her.

In this scenario, the husband’s first intuition was incorrect. However, through this experience, in the future, he’ll understand better how to be more sensitive to the needs of his wife in the future.



Another method to develop your relationship is if you see it as a job. A significant question to think of is, “What job does my spouse, family or friend need me to do the most?”

IKEA a Swedish home furnishings company IKEA can give us an illustration. What its customers want is to rapidly and inexpensively furnish their houses. So, the duty of the company is to satisfy this need well. This is the reason the company doesn’t sell a particular type of furniture: its job is more universal.

Since their needs are being fulfilled, the customers of IKEA stay loyal. The same applies to relationships: if you know and met up the expectation of the job required of you by your loved ones, they will stay loyal to you.


Chapter 6 – Raise your children well: allow them to learn from their errors and celebrate their good actions.


Out of all the jobs you have in life, one of the most significant is educating your children. This does not basically entail teaching them everything that is there to know; however, giving them the means to teach themselves.

The best method for kids to grow their own values is by letting them face challenges and look for answers on their own. That kind of challenge could entail learning to work with a difficult teacher, dealing with a new sport or negotiating circles or bullies at school.

By familiarizing children with daily issues earlier, their self-esteem will grow in a healthy manner. You may be hesitant for your children to follow goals on their own, or try to hinder them from making errors. But, don’t be scared to allow them to fail. It is very significant than a parent is there to give them support when children make an error, from which they can then develop and learn.

Another important part of parenthood is the implementation of a healthy family culture. The basis of this is family values, an informal but very influential system of rules that will prepare your children for any difficulty they face, even as adults.



In establishing a family culture, it is significant to see it as an autopilot. As soon as it is programmed, it is effortlessly able to run itself.

Assuming you wish for your family to be well-known for kindness. You can assist program this value by taking each opportunity to highlight its significance. That kind of opportunity could be as easy as a discussion with your child on schoolyard bullying, or commending your child when he shows compassion. By doing this, kindness will be at the heart of your family culture.

It’s very easy to develop the mentality that raising kids is focused on controlling bad actions. As a matter of fact, this negative outlook is far less effective than an outlook that celebrates the good of your family in daily relations. The kind of values that occur due to that will be strongly established, and able to endure any difficulty.


Chapter 7 – Compromising your integrity can form a slippery slope; therefore, don’t do it!


What is the meaning of living life with integrity? It’s not just about our decisions when confronted with an intense moral challenge.

Instead, integrity occurs from the choices we make daily. In this manner, integrity needs continuous self-awareness.

We need to stay conscious of the trap of marginal thinking. This risk can be shown through the case of Blockbuster a DVD rental company. Blockbuster knew of its competitor Netflix, which is an innovative online movie rental company; however, it overlooked the company as non-threatening and definitely no cause to increase its business approach to DVD rentals by post in response.

However, while Blockbuster didn’t do anything about it, Netflix ruined its rivals; a lot that in 2010, Blockbuster confirmed bankruptcy. Although the Blockbuster evaded paying the marginal costs of corresponding Netflix’s innovative business model, Blockbuster paid a huge price for mismanagement, which was a business crash.

Now you are aware that concentrating on marginal costs when confronted with commercial choices can be terrible. This marginal thinking eventually becomes riskier when the moral act of a person comes into action. In those kinds of situations, it is completely significant that we don’t make reckless choices as individuals, regardless of the circumstances.



Have you decided on something that was in contradiction in what you believe; however, justified it as a decision you’d just take “just this once?” This is an illustration of how detrimental these exceptions can be.

A stock trader named Nick Leeson in which his marginal thinking caused the destruction of Barings, a British merchant bank. After suffering from a loss on some trades he had managed, he chose that “just this once” he would conceal the loss in an unmonitored trading account.

This caused more marginal thinking as Leeson tried to hide his increasingly reckless behaviors, and before long escalated into falsifying documents and swindling auditors, ultimately leading to a loss of $1.3 billion. Leeson was arrested and imprisoned; and Barings, after announcing bankruptcy, was sold to a rival for only one pound sterling.


How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth, Karen Dillon Book Review


The greatest successful professionals are the people who invest their resources not only into work; however, into their family and way of life. By taking charge of the work that is needed of us beyond our workplace, like raising our children, supporting a partner or living our own lives with integrity, we can attain the work/life balance that we seek to. That is only when can we attain real happiness.


Don’t be scared to allow your kids to fix their issues on their own!

You most likely just have your children’s best interests in mind when you provide what they want. As a matter of fact, they have to be challenged, maybe by learning a musical instrument, tackling a new sport or developing social abilities. This will give them problems to fix, teaching them values, and giving them experiences to be engaged in.


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