Home » Blog » How Will You Measure Your Life? Book of the month, April 2020

By Clayton Christensen

Finding fulfillment using lessons from some of the world’s greatest businesses.

First of all, I cannot send out this monthly book review without acknowledging the extraordinary times we are in, so tomorrow I will send you a video that I created recently for some of my clients. It is a short video about ‘having a balanced mindset’ in exceptional times. The video called is called “Are you Preparing for rain?”

So on with the book of the month review …. 
If you have a family AND have a business AND you like to have your thoughts provoked you will most likely love this book.
The main author Clayton Christensen had a serious health diagnosis, prior to sitting down to write this book in which he uses numerous examples of the parallels between growing a business, growing a family and growing yourself.

I never imagined that a book written by a business author could get me to think about not only how I measure my life, but ‘how I raise my children’.

In one chapter the author talks about how Dell Computers outsourced so many of their activities to an originally much smaller Taiwanese computer company Asus, that they became ‘dependent’ and nearly ‘outsourced themselves out of business!’.  I never imagined that this business story would change how I viewed not only outsourcing business activities, but also to realise the consequences of outsourcing tasks that are the potential learning activities of my own children or of my own business team.

At the end of Chapter 7 Christensen says “… you can find yourself outsourcing more and more of your role as a parent …. You have your children’s best interests at heart when you provide them with resources, it’s what most parents think they are supposed to do, provide for their child …. Children need to do more than learn new skills, they need to be challenged to solve hard problems.”

Christensen tells a great story of how his own mother taught him to darn the holes in his socks when he was young. It took her much longer to teach him than to do it herself and it took him much longer to do the task than his mother, however, in doing this alien task himself he learned about the concepts of preparation, process and ‘mindset towards a challenge’ as well as learning a specific sock darning technique. He also learned about ‘job satisfaction’ as he got a sense of accomplishment when looking at or wearing the repaired sock and he was now able to repair any future sock holes. Had his mother instead ‘outsourced this repair task’, by either doing the repair herself or simply buying him a new pair of socks, he would have missed out on an awful lot of learning.

This perspective on outsourcing applies in many family or team situations; I will certainly put a lot more thought into what tasks I outsource both in my family and in my businesses.

If you have been reading my reviews over the years you will know that I don’t read and recommend books because I agree with everything in them. I look for books that provoke my thinking by presenting different perspectives of the world, I search for books that give some nuggets of wisdom that I can apply to my life and my business. This book certainly delivers in all of these categories. 

Clayton Christensen is a Harvard professor and entrepreneur who forged in business performance where I would say that one of his core specialist competence was ‘measuring’.  He has been a bestselling author of several business books such as ‘The Innovators Dilemma’, ‘The Prosperity Paradox’ and ‘On Managing Yourself’ where the importance of effectively measuring and interpreting are heavily featured fundamentals.

Initially, you might think from the title of this book that it is something like ‘The Path of Least Resistance’ by Robert Fritz or maybe even ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho, however, it is not like these intuitively written books. This book’s content is far more like the author himself ‘logical and linear’ whilst recognising the importance of having a ‘guiding greater purpose’. 

Like many other authors Christensen refers a lot to values without aligning to, or referencing ‘Axiology’ (the study of values), but despite this the book more than compensates with the many nuggets of wisdom to be found within it.

It is the fact that the author is such a grounded, logical and linear thinker that creates a truly different perspective on your life, your family in the context of how businesses work.

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