C is for Clayton M. Christensen: How Will You Measure Your Life?

Clayton co-wrote the book How Will You Measure Your Life? Looking at his own life, he asks the following questions.

Is there something that I can leave the world that is something bigger than me? Something that will help other people become better people? How will I measure whether I am achieving that goal?

In the video above he describes how the theories he was teaching eventually led to people exploring their life purpose. This led to him writing an article for Harvard Business Review. Clayton wrote the following piece about the book.

As you may know, in the middle of 2010, I wrote a piece for the Harvard Business Review entitled How Will You Measure Your Life?

The article was the result of a conversation I have with my students at the conclusion of the semester.

On that day, we use the thinking we’ve shared in the course for a powerful purpose – to ensure they are successful not just in their careers, but in their lives as well.

I believe it’s my single most important class of the year.

The reaction to that article was beyond my wildest expectations – it has consistently been among the most read articles on HBR’s website and inspired comments from readers all around the world.

Many of the people who were moved by it asked me to expand my thoughts into a full-length book.

Today, I’m very excited to let you know that – in collaboration with my co-authors, Karen Dillon and James Allworth – we have done just that.

I have never done my research as snapshots in correlation; instead, my work has always been deeply focused on trying to figure out what causes things to happen, and why.

The study of happiness is an area which hasn’t really been approached from this perspective — of what causes people to feel this way in their careers, and in their homes.

I genuinely believe that in pursuing this line of inquiry, we have yielded deep insight into some of the most important questions we’ll face in our lives.

Though it’s grounded in serious scholarship, this is a more personal work than I have published before.

In an interview with Harvard Business Review, Clayton expands on some of these themes. You can find the interview here.


On the last day of class, I ask my students to turn those theoretical lenses on themselves, to find cogent answers to three questions.

Though the last question sounds light-hearted, it’s not. Two of the 32 people in my Rhodes scholar class spent time in jail. These were good guys – but something in their lives sent them off in the wrong direction.


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