The Harvard Business Review reprinted a wonderful speech by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton M. Christensen titled, “How Will You Measure Your Life?” Along with plenty of great advice for new graduates he shared some keen insights on executive coaching.
If I had been suckered into telling Andy Grove what he should think about the microprocessor business, I’d have been killed. But 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.
That experience had a profound influence on me. When people ask what I think they should do, I rarely answer their question directly. Instead, I run the question aloud through one of my models. I’ll describe how the process in the model worked its way through an industry quite different from their own. And then, more often than not, they’ll say, “OK, I get it.” And they’ll answer their own question more insightfully than I could have.
Frederick Herzberg, who asserts that the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements.
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.
New York Times columnist David Brooks, a reliable source for keen insights, had this to say about Christiansen’s speech.
He emphasizes finding the right metrics, efficiently allocating resources and thinking about marginal costs. When he is done, life comes to appear as a well-designed project, carefully conceived in the beginning, reviewed and adjusted along the way and brought toward a well-rounded fruition.
The second way of thinking about your life might be called the Summoned Life. This mode of thinking starts from an entirely different perspective. Life isn’t a project to be completed; it is an unknowable landscape to be explored.
The first vision is more American. The second vision is more common elsewhere. But they are both probably useful for a person trying to live a well-considered life.
—The Summoned Self