I readHow Will You Measure Your LifebyClayton M. ChristensenonDec 25th, 2023


This book has disrupted my conception of life; what I’ve been pursuing — personal growth, wealth, and the like — seems irrelevant within this value system. The author introduces alternative metrics to achieve in our lives:

  • Be successful and happy in the career.
  • The relationship of spouse, children, and extended family and close friends are an enduring source of happiness.
  • Live a life of integrity.

The core of these metrics is happiness, which is contributed by the day-to-day work and relationships.

The Power of Theory

Human beings had tried to emulate the birds to fly since the prehistorical times. In the Greek mythology, Icarus famously flew too close to the sun, ultimately paid the price. In reality, human muscles lack the power to propel us into the sky. It wasn’t until Daniel Bernoulli published his groundbreaking work, Hydrodynamica, revealing the causal mechanism, that we gained a solid theoretical foundation to pursue the dream of flight.

The author believed in using a robust theory to predict what will happen has a much greater chance of success. It started from a strategy, aka what you want to achieve and how you will get there:

  • What are your priorities?
  • How to respond to opportunities and threats?
  • How to allocate the precious resources?

Finding Happiness in Your Career

The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.

— Steve Jobs

Frederick Herzberg focused on the two-factor theory, or motivation theory, he noted the job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are separate, independent measures, aka hygiene factors and motivation factors. The hygiene factors include compensation, working condition, job security, etc. The absence of job dissatisfaction is not job satisfaction. The motivation factors include challenging work, recognition, responsibility, and personal growth.

The motivation theory suggests us we should concentrate on the meaning of the job, growth opportunities, recognition and achievement, and chances to take more responsibilities.

Balance of Calculation and Serendipity

Strategy almost emerges from a combination of deliberate and unanticipated opportunities. Ian MacMillan and Rita McGrath advocated discovery-driven planning, urging us to scrutinize the critical assumptions underlying our projections.

The strategy only matters if the resource is allocated correctly, this principle applies to both corporation world and personal life.

Finding Happiness in Your Relationships

Intimate, loving, and enduring relationship with our family and close friends will be among the sources of the deepest joy in our lives.

However, the investment in relationships often appears to be deprioritized and postponed. Ironically, the misunderstanding is often built upon selflessness. Asking ”What job does my spouse most need me to do?” may give us the right unit of analysis. Beyond of thinking, we also need to do that job. The sacrificing would deeply strengthen the commitment.

Parenting with Resource, Processes and Priorities

The capacities of the company can be categorized into three buckets: resources, processes, and priorities. A company, like Dell in the book, might resort to financial engineering to optimize the balance sheet through outsourcing, ultimately resulting inn a gradual erosion of core competencies.

This analogy can be applied to parenting: parents invest financial resources, time, and energy, while children utilize these resources to accomplish or create things. The order of competing tasks, such as school, sports, family, and faith, is determined by priorities.

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

The helicopter parent shields the children from the problems, and denied the ability to develop processes and priorities. The parents need to be there when the children are ready to learn, and we need to demonstrate through out actions for the processes and priorities we want to our children to learn.

School of Experience

In the book High Flyer, Morgan McCall argues that great leaders are not born to go, instead their abilities are cultivated and shaped through life experience. The parents should work backward:

  • What kind of person we want our children to grow into?
  • What are the capabilities they need to equip to be successful?
  • What courses our children should take through the school of experience to build the capabilities?

A culture is the unique combination of processes and priorities within the organization.

It is formed through repetition, — the best practices are cherished, transformed into habits, and subsequently ingrained into the culture. The parents have to consciously build and reenforce the family culture from the earlier stages of life.

Live a Life of Integrity

it’s easier to hold to your principles 100 percent of the time than it is hold them to 98 percent of the time.

The boundary acts as a potent guardrail to prevent sliding down a gentle slope.

Closing thoughts

As a corporation ladder climber, I resonated with the concept of managing the personal career as an enterprise. The author extended the idea to relationships and parenting. Although life is considerably more complex, the goal-driven approach still holds relevance, offering a structured framework to navigate the intricacies of life.

The hygiene factor vs. motivation factor offers valuable insights in the job satisfaction. I wonder whether it may apply to the relationship? If it does apply, what might be considered hygiene factors, and what would constitute motivation factors in the context of a relationship?