‘Life of Purpose’

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17th August, 2022

One of the best books I have read on living a life of purpose, is the one from the world-renowned innovation expert, Clayton M. Christensen, who developed the theory of ‘disruptive innovation’, which has been called the most influential business idea of the early 21st century.

In fact, Christensen introduced ‘disruption’ in his 1997 book, ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma,’ which was supposedly the only business book that Steve Jobs had on his bookshelf.

Anyways, the book I am talking about today is Christensen’s ‘How Will You Measure Your Life?’, the idea for which came up first in a 2010 speech he gave to Harvard Business School’s graduating class.

Drawing upon his business research, he offered a series of guidelines for finding meaning and happiness in life.

He used examples from his own experiences to explain how high achievers can all too often fall into traps that lead to unhappiness.

The speech was memorable not only because it was deeply revealing but also because it came at a time of intense personal reflection.

Christensen had just overcome the same type of cancer that had taken his father’s life.

As he struggled with the disease, he revealed that the question

“How do you measure your life?” became more urgent and poignant, and he began to share his insights more widely with family, friends, and students.

The book tries to answer three key questions you must ask yourself –

-How can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career?

-How can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness?

-How can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail?

As Christensen writes, “though the last question sounds light-hearted, it’s not. Two of the 32 people in my Rhodes scholar class spent time in jail.”

I recommend you read the book, but here is an excerpt from the same that hits me hard every time I read it –

“One of the most common versions of this mistake that high-potential young professionals make is believing that investments in life can be sequenced.

The logic is, for example,

‘I can invest in my career during the early years when our children are small and parenting isn’t as critical. When our children are a bit older and begin to be interested in things that adults are interested in, then I can lift my foot off my career accelerator. That’s when I’ll focus on my family.’

Guess what, By that time the game is already over. An investment in a child needs to have been made long before then, to provide him with the tools he needs to survive life’s challenges—even earlier than you might realize.

If you defer investing your time and energy until you see that you need to, chances are it will already be too late.

But as you are getting your career off the ground, you will be tempted to do exactly that: assume you can defer investing in your personal relationships. You cannot. The only way to have those relationships bear fruit in your life is to invest long before you need them.

I genuinely believe that relationships with family and close friends are one of the greatest sources of happiness in life. It sounds simple, but like any important investment, these relationships need consistent attention and care. But there are two forces that will be constantly working against this happening.

First, you’ll be routinely tempted to invest your resources elsewhere – in things that will provide you with a more immediate payoff.

And second, your family and friends rarely shout the loudest to demand your attention. They love you and they want to support your career, too. That can add up to neglecting the people you care about most in the world.

Invest in relationships for a meaningful life & stay blessed forever.