The conceptual framework for a man's search for meaning

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How Will You Measure Your Life

August 9th, 2014 by dimpledbrain

The 6th great idea* I discovered comes from a book called How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen, a book I highly recommend.

It starts with the question:

(1) What to think vs how to think

  • If you want someone to always rely on you, teach them what to think. But if you want to build leaders, teach them how to think.
  • Telling someone to think of the causes or solutions to a problem is teaching them ‘what to think’. That’s very easy to do and is usually the short cut way to getting things done.
  • How to think means teaching someone a framework on how any problems should be approached. The solutions will often come from the other person.
  • That’s where a framework or a conceptual guideline or a theory is important – it teaches us how to think. Looking back, this website is all about how to think.

(2) What is a strategy

  • “You can talk all you want about having a clear purpose and strategy for your life, but ultimately this means nothing if you are not investing the resources you have in a way that is consistent with your strategy.”
  • A strategy has 3 parts:
    • Priorities
    • Opportunities and threats
    • Allocation of resources
  • Priorities means our end goals.
    • But how do we really know what we want?
    • We could have set our priorities too high (i.e. too much disappointment) or too low (life’s too smooth without occasional failures)
  • Opportunities and threats come in 2 ways – i.e. deliberate planning or emergent one. Either one is ok as long as we recalibrate it with our priorities.
  • Allocation of resources sounds the simplest, i.e. investing all we have based on our priorities.
    • However, we often think investment in life can be sequenced. I used to think like that. Let’s focus on one area in life, achieve it and move on. Life unfortunately doesn’t work that way. Investment in life is not sequential.
    • And often, if we defer something till we need it, it’s often too late.
    • There is also a natural tendency to invest resources in short term stuff with immediate payoff.

(3) The job to be done

  • Always think in term of ‘job to be done’. Not just completing any task for the sake of completing it but rather the real ‘job to be done’ behind it.
  • Too often we just do what we think is important vs what is really important for the other person.

(4) The structure of capabilities

  • In evaluating our ability to allocate the resources we have to achieve the priorities we set, it is good to breakdown the structure of capabilities into 3 parts, i.e. (a) resources (b) processes and (c) priorities.
  • Resources means what, processes means how and priorities means why.
  • The interaction between how and why (processes and priorities) will create the culture of getting things done that will either emerge on its own or via deliberate design.
  • Understanding this is important so that we don’t leave culture creation to chance but rather via careful deliberation.

(5) Finding your purpose – I have to admit I haven’t really cracked this part but the general idea worth pondering:

  • Likeness – who you want to become
  • Commitment – to becoming that at every step. Actually spending your time and energy in ways that get you closer to your likeness.
  • Metrics – to measure your progress towards becoming the likeness



*The previous 5 ideas are: (i.e. Top 10 List)

(1) A Great Man is One Sentence (2) A Great Man is Also One Question (3) Cracking Life’s Code (4) The Elephant and The Rider (5) Lateral Thinking (click here for the post)

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