The Measure of A Man’s Life


Professor Clayton Christensen is my favorite business writer. He take business and high sounding economic terms and dissect them to the practical understanding of the layman. Following in the paths of his other best selling and highly elucidating books on innovation and other subjects, this book is to say the least,  not disappointing at all.

Even though life is not all about business, he (and the co-authors) has severally used simplified and yet highly practical language to propose what should and ought to be the most important measure and approaches to life in general. A highly enlightening book, readers will not be disappointed.

Among other topics, the authors explained how readers can use what they called the deliberate (or planned)  and emergent strategy to discover what their life’s purpose, goal,  pursuits and what might eventually work for them in life. The likelihood of the success of any of these strategies been tested along the way with the statement, “What has to prove true for this to work? ”

Going further, according to them, people in all cadres of life can use the theory of full costs and marginal costs in taking decisions that have overreaching long or short term repercussions in business and in situations that call for moral choices. They explained that, “The marginal cost of doing something “just this once” always seems to be negligible, but the full cost will typically be much higher. Yet unconsciously, we will naturally employ the marginal cost doctrine in our personal lives. A Voice in our head says, “Look, I know that as a general rule, most people shouldn’t do this. But in this particular extenuating circumstance, just this once, it’s okay.” And the voice in our head seems to be right; the price of doing something wrong “just this once” usually appears alluringly low. It suckers you in, and you don’t see where that path is ultimately headed or the full cost that the choice entails.”
This book did not set out to just simply teach us morals. But, in our world and times where people see morals as relative, I find the authors’ emphasis in this area towards the end of the book a highly reassuring guide.

Among other things,  my take home from this book is:
Never lower your morals in other to please others or meet their expectations. Do not debase yourself or go contrary to what you know to be your true inner convictions and what is the right thing to do. Why? This is because, according to the authors, it is easier to stay true to your convictions 100% of the time than it is to stay true to them 98% of the time. Why is this so? This is because,  you never can tell where or how far you will go down the drain after that first,  initial,  “Just this one time only” act of compromise.
All quotations & brief excerpts are from: Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth, Karen Dillon;  How Will You Measure Your Life?
©Harper Business, 2012

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