Deseret News Exclusive: Excerpt from Clayton Christensen's 'How Will You Measure Your Life?'
I live a life of integrity — and stay out of jail?
These questions might sound simple, but they are questions that so many of my classmates never asked, or had asked but lost track of what they learned.
Year after year I have been stunned at how the theories of the course illuminate issues in our personal lives as they do in the companies we've studied. In this book, I will try to summarize some of the best of the insights my students and I have discussed on that last day in class.
IN THE SPRING of 2010, I was asked to speak not just to the students in my own class but to the entire graduating student body. But that's not the only way things were a little different that day. Standing at the podium with little hair as the result of chemotherapy, I explained that I had been diagnosed with follicular lymphoma, a cancer similar to that which had killed my father. I expressed my gratitude that I could use this time with them to summarize what my students and I had learned from focusing these theories on ourselves. I spoke about the things in our lives that are most important — not just when you are confronting a life-threatening illness, as I was, but every day, for every one of us. Sharing my thoughts that day with the students about to make their own way in the world was a remarkable experience.
James Allworth, who was in my class that semester and in the audience that day, and Karen Dillon, who heard about my remarks in her position as editor of the Harvard Business Review, were both extremely moved by the topic. I later asked them to help me convey to a broader audience the feeling people had that day in Burden Hall on the Harvard Business School campus.
We are from three different generations and have completely different beliefs informing our lives. James is a recent business school graduate, who assures me that he is an atheist. I'm a father and grandfather with a deeply held faith, far into my third professional career. Karen, the mother of two daughters, is two decades into a career as an editor. She says her beliefs and career fall someplace between us.
But the three of us are united in the goal of helping you understand the theories we share in this book because we believe they can sharpen the acuity with which you can examine and improve your life. We've written in the first person, my voice, because it's how I talk to my students — and my own children — about this thinking. But James and Karen have truly been coauthors in deed.
I don't promise this book will offer you any easy answers: working through these questions requires hard work. It has taken me decades. But it has also been one of the most worthwhile endeavors of my life. I hope the theories in this book can help you as you continue on your journey, so that in the end, you can definitively answer for yourself the question "How will you measure your life?"
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