First of all, RIP Clay Christensen. He did great work and set a fine example in many aspects of the way he lived. I may even forgive him for cultivating the Mormon Mafia at HBS, which spawned Bain Capital and other banes of business.
I am grateful to a client who recently shared this wonderful Harvard Business Review article with me, Managing Yourself | How Will You Measure Your Life? Here are some of my favorite excerpts with commentary.
I can relate to his insight from a meeting with Andrew Grove of Intel. It is what distinguishes coaching from what most consultants and advisors do, “instead of telling him what to think, I taught him how to think—and then he reached what I felt was the correct decision on his own.”
I also agree strongly with this, “Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team.”
I can’t agree, however, that people become, “unhappy, divorced, and alienated from their children. [because they] implemented that strategy.” Individuals do not have total control over outcomes. He should remember the admonition, “If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans.” Stuff happens.
I agree that, “People who are driven to excel have this unconscious propensity to underinvest in their families and overinvest in their careers—even though intimate and loving relationships with their families are the most powerful and enduring source of happiness.”
I heartily endorse his version of, Culture eats strategy for breakfast. “Culture, in compelling but unspoken ways, dictates the proven, acceptable methods by which members of the group address recurrent problems. And culture defines the priority given to different types of problems. … Families have cultures, just as companies do. Those cultures can be built consciously or evolve inadvertently. … Like employees, children build self-esteem by doing things that are hard and learning what works.”
I could quibble with his interpretations of marginal cost analysis or humility but I endorse where he goes with even those loose premises. Rationalization and opportunism are corrosive. Healthy self-esteem improves learning, respect, & cooperation.
This quote sums it all up, “Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people.”