How will you measure your business, and life

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How will you measure your business and life

How will you measure your business, and life

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The day, last Friday, started on a sad note when I read about the untimely demise of Professor Clayton Christensen, author of ‘How will you measure your life”.

He is more popularly known as the author of nine terrific books on Disruptive Innovation, most notable among them being ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’.

Professor Christensen had conducted a series of management lectures (https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=rpkoCZ4vBSI) for our Saïd Business School MBA-cohort in NMLT at Oxford. I had become a fan of him and really wanted to meet him to tell how much I enjoyed his lectures.

However, there was no way I could meet him just-like-that given his stature. Having said that, Oxford is a place where you can get randomly lucky, especially when it comes to meeting important people.

And lucky I got on that day in late-June almost seven-years ago, when I had a chance meeting with him in the lobby of SBS.

I still remember the day vividly, for it was a cherishable moment for me.

I was chatting with Leo, the ever-helpful receptionist at the front-desk, when I saw him coming from ‘The Jam Factory’ side.

I got really excited at the prospect of saying Hello to him.

When he entered the lobby, he appeared to be deeply engrossed in some thoughts. I observed that he was very tall physically too.

Unsure of whether or not to disturb him, I still went up to him and wished him, only half-expecting a reciprocal greeting in return.

To my pleasant surprise, he stopped and smiled at me. I gathered courage, introduced myself, and told him how much I had enjoyed his sessions, particularly the way he narrated the disruption in the steel industry and the concept of ‘getting the job done’.

He thanked me with a smile and asked me what I wanted to do post my MBA. I told him my plans as briefly as I could.

He seemed genuinely interested and further asked me what purpose I wanted to fulfil that will help me achieve success and happiness [from it]. Clearly not ready for such a question, I mumbled something which roughly translated as ‘I will work very hard to…something something’.

On hearing my answer, he gave me one of the kindest smiles I have received.

He then told me this, which were very insightful words for me.

He said, “Success and happiness are two different things.”

Once the purpose is clear, everything else will follow.”

First know what will make you truly happy.

Furthermore, he told me to achieve a balance [in everything].

I thanked him for his advice. After this little conversation, we wished each other well, and he moved on.

That was the last I saw him on the campus.

I was perplexed as to how such a busy and great man still found time to speak with (then) a student like me.

Later, I learnt that he had recently had a non-management book published.

The book was ‘How will you measure your life’.

I found this small 240-page book full of wisdom, for business as well as for life.

It comes from a man who was not just a great management strategist, but a great thinker, philosopher, and a genuine advisor.

Then I found it, there in the book, is written a sentence by him which solved my perplexion.

I came to understand that while many of us might default to measuring our lives by summary statistics, such as number of people presided over, number of awards, or dollars accumulated in a bank, and so on, the only metrics that will truly matter to my life are the individuals whom I have been able to help, one by one, to become better people…. These are the metrics that matter in measuring my life.

You indeed have, Professor Clayton Christensen!

Rest in peace!

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