HOW WILL YOU MEASURE YOUR LIFE?
An article in the July/August 2010 edition of the Harvard Business Review recently piqued my interest. In “How Will You Measure Your Life?,” Clayton M. Christensen challenged his students to answer three questions:
- 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 [business ethics require a great deal of attention]?
I wanted to share how Mr. Christensen’s “models” have impacted my life and my decision making process.
As I return from a fly fishing trip with my 93 year old Grandfather and my 16 and 23 year old little brothers, I find myself in a unique position to provide some insight on the title of this post. (All quotes below are from Mr. Christensen’s article.)
1. CREATE A STRATEGY FOR YOUR LIFE
“The choice and successful pursuit of a profession is but one tool for achieving your purpose. But without a purpose, life can become hollow.”
Having a purpose for your life is essential to happiness. For the majority of my life, I didn’t know what my purpose was. I really never took the time to even think about it. Without purpose, I could never develop a strategy for success. I sure felt successful. I graduated from law school and developed a fairly successful practice. But, I was not fulfilled. Once I took the time to consider my life’s purpose [I will be eternally grateful to PSI Seminars for helping me do this], I realized that I did not exist to drive a Mercedes, live in a big house, or watch numbers accumulate in a bank account, all of which I was currently very “successful” at doing.
I realized my purpose was to impact the lives of individuals in a positive way and teach them how to do the same. By doing so, I could change the world…one person at a time. Then, I found my passion: health and fitness. I was fortunate enough to have a vehicle to accomplish both my purpose and passion. Team Beachbody has provided me with a way to help people become physically and financially fit. The side effect of this activity is that the world will be a better place. I firmly believe that this country will turn around the obesity trend and that, when we do so, we will collectively be happier, treat each other better, and live longer.
2. ALLOCATE YOUR RESOURCES
“If you study the root causes of business disasters, over and over you’ll find that this predisposition towards endeavors that offer immediate gratification. If you look at personal lives through that lens, you’ll see the same stunning and sobering pattern: people allocating fewer and fewer resources to the things they would have once said mattered most.”
This quote essentially sums up the majority of my life. How sad. It was a continual pattern of focusing on that which matters least and focusing on the elusive “some day” when I could enjoy the fruits of my labor. In the mean time, neglecting my family, my health, my friends, and my purpose. For what? Essentially a paycheck. All of this was, of course, due to my initial failure to assess my purpose in life and then allocate my resources properly. I still work. People just don’t realize how much I work because I don’t complain about working. I don’t complain about working because each minute spent working furthers my life’s purpose. The only time people complain about that is when they have not properly identified their purpose.
3. CREATE A CULTURE
“Families have cultures, just as companies do. Those cultures can be built consciously or evolve inadvertently.”
Consider this quote for a moment. Which would you prefer? Now, maybe you get lucky and stumble into a healthy family culture, but what if you don’t? Start now. Define the culture of your family and be proactive in establishing that culture.
Culture is vital to business as well. We established the Fit Club Network as a way to define the culture of our organization. We focus on personal development, which I believe includes health and fitness. We believe in playing big and overcoming roadblocks. Guess what most people in our organization do? They support each other. They devote time to improving themselves, because they understand that their life will only grow as much as they do. Most importantly, they smash roadblocks and play big. It is difficult to describe how rewarding establishing this culture and watching people embrace their own success and the success of others has been.
4. AVOID THE “MARGINAL COSTS” MISTAKE
“The lesson I learned from this is that it is easier to hold your principals 100% of the time than it is just to hold them 98% of the time.”
Draw a line in the sand and don’t cross it. Whatever it is and whatever happens, don’t cross it. That may look different for you than it does for me, but sticking to your principles is vital in life. The little sacrifices in principles add up over time. Figure out what your non-negotiables are and then don’t negotiate with anyone, most importantly yourself.
5. REMEMBER THE IMPORTANCE OF HUMILITY
“When we see people acting in an abusive, arrogant, or demeaning manner towards others, their behavior is almost always a symptom of their lack of self-esteem. They need to put someone else down to feel good about themselves.”
This may be the most important lesson. Always remain humble. It is amazing the things you can learn from people if you’ll just give them the chance to communicate with you. Law school wasn’t much about humility. It was a trait that was forcibly removed from our psyche in an interesting brainwashing technique known as the Socratic Method. This questioning process is designed to sharpen reasoning skills under pressure. It is also used to weed out those deemed weak through public embarrassment. Those who survive are tough, but many come out anything but humble. I was no exception.
For a period in my life, I was in a mode of almost constant assessment (i.e., judgment) of the people I interacted with. Not very many made my own personal cut and I paid the price for that. When I better understood my purpose, it became clear that I needed to change how I viewed people. I needed to understand my own weaknesses and learn how others could help me overcome them. As a result, my relationships with my existing friends have become much deeper and I’ve been able to really touch a number of people that I probably would have glazed over just a few short years ago. The rewards of being vulnerable and humble have been endless.
6. CHOOSE THE RIGHT YARDSTICK
“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.”
Craig Holiday was kind enough to speak to our team a few weeks ago. Craig is an epic speaker. His words are inspirational and motivational. On our call he said, “The greatest day in Monica and Dave’s careers with this company won’t be when they are on stage receiving their 15 Star bonus check. It will be when someone they sponsored, nurtured, mentored and really loved is on stage receiving that check.” He’s right. My purpose isn’t to make millions of dollars. I won’t complain if that happens, but that’s not why I do what I do. I get up early every day and start my quest because I know my purpose and I’m passionate about helping other people. When your life looks like that, “work” really is fun and rewarding.
Take the time to read Mr. Christensen’s excellent article and see how it applies in your life. I’d love to get your comments about how these principles have impacted your life.