DS Leadership Life Blog: How to Measure Success

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How will you measure your life?

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How will you measure your life?

This is the title of an article and a book by Clayton Christensen. http://hbr.org/2010/07/how-will-you-measure-your-life/ Maybe it is the time of the year that has me pondering this question a bit more than usual.After I read his article and his book, I was struck by the sheer genius of the theories and content however, it was this simple (and somewhat haunting) question itself that has stuck with me. It’s a great question and to be honest, one that I can forget to ask myself. Of course, the time that I forget to ask it is when I am stuck in a problem or attempting to make a tough decision. The irony is that this is probably when I need to ask it most.

For instance, the morning that the clinic had to close because of the weather and we had to cancel all of our appointments. Or, that time when my assistant was managing two ailing parents and couldn’t get the information together for a meeting I was leading and I felt mildly inconvenienced. Really, what mattered?

The truth for me is, it all matters and none of it matters. Now, this seems like a ridiculous statement. Let me provide some more insight to that though before you think I’m a total nut-job and quit reading. Work doesn’t matter that much if my significant other is ill or when faced with an experience like death. And yet, when I’m not faced with death (at least directly), the work that I do in the world and how I do it matters very much. Also, if all I do is work and become so obsessed with crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s, I lose sight of everything else. When I’ve been torn with a decision and struggling to make it, what I’ve ultimately discovered, is that it probably doesn’t matter that much. The big decisions seem to take care of themselves.

But if time is any teacher, I’ve also discovered that the little decisions do accumulate and have impact in ways that we can typically never predict. So, let me come back to the initial question. How will you measure your life? In the last paragraph of the article, Clayton Christensen makes this point; choose the right yardstick as the metric to measure your life. At that point, the question took on a new form for me. All of the details of life that I had considered as my metrics fell away and I discovered what I was up to in life. My yardstick became how I would measure my current self when compared to my future self. My choice of measurement is based on who am I becoming. Am I becoming more open, understanding, compassionate, and appreciative of the time I have here or am I closing, resisting, defending and living a life of fear? In all of my roles in life, who am I becoming? My future self became my yardstick to measure the success of my life. I’m proud to say that the investors will be pleased with the quarterly report.

So, how will you measure your life?

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