Six Ways to Measure Your Life


Winter is my time to catch up on reading. I’m a runner and used to run all year long when I was younger. Once the ice and cold appear, age and wisdom put me on the elliptical throughout the winter. That gives me 30 minutes every morning to catch up on my reading.

I’m finally up to the July/August issue of the Harvard Business Review. In it Clay Christensen gives us a great exposé on how to measure our lives and success in a new way. He outlines six critical actions in “How Will You Measure Your Life”:

  • Create a strategy for your life;
  • Allocate your resources;
  • Create a culture
  • Avoid the “Marginal Costs” mistake;
  • Remember the importance of humility; and
  • Choose the right yardstick.

With these six points, Christensen creates a solid framework for plotting future plans. 

Create a strategy for your life. Clarify the most important elements in your life. How will you define success? Wealth? Family? Contributions to society? Be clear on what success means to you. 

Anne PryorAllocate your resources. My friend Anne Pryor talks about living your life intentionally. This framework takes that intentionality in a different direction. Just as corporations allocate scarce resources between different investment alternatives, Christensen suggests that we set the same sort of plan for our personal lives. That means allocating our scarce resources – time and money – consciously toward the things that are most important in our lives.  

Create a culture. We all know about creating as healthy culture within our organizations and the effort that it takes. The same effort is needed to create a healthy culture in our personal lives. Are you investing the same attention and time at home to make sure that your family is a source of stability and happiness. 

“Marginal Costs” mistakes. We live in a time of incredible fraud schemes. Madoff, Petters, and Hecker all perpetrated billion dollar crimes. Most of the people involved in these cases started with a single, small step over the legal line. Few (if any) thought they would be part of some of the largest corporate crimes in history.  

Christensen proposes a simple plan for avoiding a similar fate: Never cross the line. He shares a personal story where his basketball team makes it to the national championship game. The game takes place on a Sunday – the Sabbath and a day on which Christensen committed to never play. His entire team was relying on him as their starting center. Still, it was a lifelong commitment. He did not play; keeping his principles in place. Christensen didn’t cross the line – even for a decent reason. He suggests we keep the same standard. 

Remember the importance of humility. The ability to say humble opens a world of possibilities. If we assume there are only a few people smarter and better equipped than we are to face life, then only those people can teach us a better way. The reverse view makes it possible to learn and grow from everyone in our lives. In addition, that view creates an environment of trust and mutual respect. 

Choose the right yardstick.  

Choose Your Yardstick

Chose the metric(s) by which you want your life to be measured. How do you want your life to be remembered? What will be the most important images you want associated with you? Be clear about those metrics and let them guide your actions.

It was a great article and well worth your time. See if you adjust the way you think about success and measure your progress.











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