How Will You Measure Your Life?
In 2010, Professor Clayton Christensen delivered a commencement speech to Harvard Business School’s graduating student body. The class that Clay teaches, Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise, is structured around good management theory and how students can use it to be successful in their careers in business. The last day of class, however, Clay asks his students to use those theories on themselves, and on their lives.
The speech he gave in 2010 described what he had learned from his many years of teaching and discussing the topic with his students.
Karen Dillon, editor of the Harvard Business Review, heard about the speech and asked whether his thoughts could be captured for an article in the HBR. That article, entitled “How Will You Measure Your Life?”, later went on to win the McKinsey Award for best article in HBR. It also formed the starting point for this book.
The article is posted online over at Harvard Business Review:
This past year I was diagnosed with cancer and faced the possibility that my life would end sooner than I’d planned. Thankfully, it now looks as if I’ll be spared. But the experience has given me important insight into my life.
I have a pretty clear idea of how my ideas have generated enormous revenue for companies that have used my research; I know I’ve had a substantial impact. But as I’ve confronted this disease, it’s been interesting to see how unimportant that impact is to me now. I’ve concluded that the metric by which God will assess my life isn’t dollars but the individual people whose lives I’ve touched.
I think that’s the way it will work for us all. Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people. This is my final recommendation: Think about the metric by which your life will be judged, and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success.