How Will You Measure Your Life - Chapter 1 “Just Because You Have Feathers....”

Guadalupe National Park

January 3, 2020

Like any good MBA professor, Christensen teaches a framework to use to help us analyze our situation and to develop and implement a sound strategy. In this chapter, Christensen discusses his approach to the subject of this book.

“There are no easy answers to life’s challenges. The quest to find happiness and meaning in life is not new.”

What distinguishes this book from others that offer quick fixes and easy answers is that it based on proven theories and focuses on HOW to think, not what to think.

Christensen’s goal is to help us learn how to think, our own lives, how to look at our situation through helpful lenses (theories).

“A good theory does not change its mind: it doesn’t apply only to some companies or people, and not to others. It is a general statement of what causes what, and why.”

“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. Indeed, while experiences and information can be good teachers, there are many times in life where we simply cannot afford to learn on the job. You don’t want to have to go through multiple marriages to learn how to be a good spouse. Or wait until your last child has grown to master parenthood. This is why theory can be so valuable: it can explain what will happen, even before you experience it.”

Causation vs correlation - the title of the chapter emphasizes there is a correlation of feathers and flying but not causation.  His theories address causation, not correlation.

“Solving the challenges in your life requires a deep understanding of what causes what to happen. The theories that I will discuss with you will help you do exactly that.”

A good theory answers if-then statements

Just as these theories have explained behavior in a wide range of circumstances, so, too, do they apply across a wide range of questions. With most complex problems it’s rarely as simple as identifying the one and only theory that helps solve the problem. 

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