A Life Unexamined Is …

January 9, 2013 by Bill Bradley


Title: How Will You Measure Your Life

Competency: self-development, managing self, ethics

Who benefits: those who are still growing emotionally and intellectually

Consultant Usage: Consult not with others until you have consulted with yourself

What’s it about? Clayton M. Christensen is a brilliant man.  An honest man.  And a caring man.   Six months ago he wrote what I believe is one of the most important books written in my lifetime.  It is my belief that Harvard Professor Christensen picks up where Peter Drucker left off.

I can only lament that this book comes my way as I play out the last few holes of the golf game of life.

I am very proud to be the sponsor and mentor of a young Mexican woman named Karen.  Karen has pulled herself up by her bootstraps from extreme poverty conditions to attend and soon graduate from the University of Guadalajara.  She is an international business studies major.  I will be seeing her in May.  I plan to give her this book.  She is about to tee off on the first hole of her business career and this book will help her navigate the course.

In one sense Karen is lucky.  She hasn’t teed off yet.  Many of us have been on this golf course of life for some time now.  We have been in sand traps and roughs.  We have used the wrong clubs and been betrayed by our putter.  Somehow we complete hole after hole, but our scorecard reflects our mistakes and miscalculations.  We experience our youthful visions slicing off the course.

The approach shot: Dr. Christensen has written a self-development book.  The absolute best of any I have ever read.  It is different from all the other “self-help” books I have come across.  At no time does he tell us “what” to think.  He shows us “how” to think.  That’s why it is a self-development book, not a self-help book.

And equally important, he doesn’t “sweat the small stuff”.  And he doesn’t apologize for not having the answers on how to run YOUR life.  Hard problems do not have quick fixes.

What he does do is focus on three questions.  The same three questions he asks his students on their final day each year in the very popular business class he teaches at Harvard. Here is what he writes on his chalkboard:

“How can I be sure that

(1) I will be successful and happy in my career? 
(2) My relationships with my spouse, my children, and my extended family and close friends become an enduring source of happiness?
(3) I live a life of integrity – and stay out of jail.”

One of the best personal stories in this easy to read book is about a classmate of his at Harvard (many years ago).  His classmate was “a good man … smart, he worked hard, he loved his family.”  The classmate was Jeffery Skilling, to become the CEO of Enron.  The great destroyer.  The ultimate definition of greed.  That Jeffery Skilling.  What happened? is why you should read this book.  Jeffery Skilling falsified his scorecard on the golf game of life.

Jeffry Skilling gave Dr. Christensen the impetus for question #3.  As you can read, it is not just an academic question.

If his three questions have any appeal to you, put this book at the top of your reading list.  I give it my absolute highest recommendation.

Catch you later.

Bill Bradley (mostly) retired after 35 years in organizational consulting, training and management development. During those years he worked internally with seven organizations and trained and consulted externally with more than 90 large and small businesses, government agencies, hospitals and schools.

Posted in Leadership Development

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  • You have totally sold me on this one. I got a B & N gift card for the holidays that I hvae not spent yet and now I know why…I was wiating for this recommendation. Thank you! Lucky Karen…Take care.

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