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How Will You Measure Your Life? Prologue

Marfa, Texas

January 2, 2020


Christensen begins his book with a prologue in which he explains how he came about his interest in leading a successful life. He continues to explain how he proposes using the theories he teaches at HBS to analyze an individual’s life so that each of us can turn the lenses from the theories on ourselves.

At Christensen’s fifth HBS reunion, his classmates seemed prosperous and happy with their jobs and their personal lives. At tenth year reunion, things were different. There were many professional accomplishments, but a number of people were unhappy with their jobs and having personal life issues. Different trajectories of personal and professional lives. Others classmates were doing well on both fronts. Things were even worse by the 20th reunion - divorces, unhappiness, family problems, illegal activities (such as Jeffrey Skilling from Enron being in jail).

None of these people graduated from HBS expecting to have these problems. What went wrong?

“We are all susceptible to the forces that have derailed too many.”

Christensen teaches a course at HBS entitled “Building And Sustaining A Successful Enterprise.” He states his approach to the class. “I have used the theories of the dimensions of job being a general manager. These theories are statements of what causes things to happen and why. Once we understand the theory, we put it/them on as lenses to understand the why and how of problems and opportunities in a case study. Then we use the theory to predict the problems and opportunities that will arise in the future and actions the manager must take to address them.”

“We use our theories to predict what will happen to us given a set of decisions and actions.

A robust theory explains what has happened and accurately predicts what will happen given a set of decisions and actions.”

“On the last day of class, we turn the lenses on ourselves and ask what the theories predict will be the answers to three questions:

How can I be sure that:

I will be successful and happy in my career?

My family and friends will be a source of enduring happiness?

I will live a life of integrity and stay out of jail?”

“These are simple questions but (1) his classmates that had trouble never asked or (2) asked and answered, but forgot the answers.”

Sounds like useful stuff to me. 😔😕

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