Sunday, August 19, 2012

Reading this book will change your approach to life

Like me, you must have asked yourself these questions many times over the years:
  • How can I be sure that I will find satisfaction in my career?
  • How can I be sure that my personal relationships will become enduring sources of happiness?
  • How can I avoid compromising my integrity?
Unbelievable as it sounds, there is a book that not only provides the answers to these questions but also explains, with the help of real-life examples, how you can find fulfillment.

Slim in size (206 pages) but big on ideas, How Will You Measure Your Life? does not offer, in the words of the authors, simplistic answers: "It will not tell you what to think. It will not prescribe a set path for happiness." Instead, the authors say, it will equip you to lead the type of life to which you truly aspire.

Here's an apt excerpt from the opening chapter:

People often think that the best way to predict the future is by collecting as much data as possible before making a decision. But this is like driving a car looking only at the rear-view mirror — because data is only available about the past.

Indeed, while experiences and information can be good teachers, there are many times in life where we simply cannot afford to learn on the job. You don't have to go through multiple marriages to learn how to be a good spouse. Or wait until your last child has grown to master parenthood. This is why theory can be so valuable: it can explain what will happen, even before you experience it.

What an insightful illustration that is of how the theories this book propounds can help us in our lives!

Now here's an excerpt from the first section, "Finding Happiness in Your Career":

The starting point for our journey is a discussion of priorities. These are, in effect, your core decision-making criteria: what's most important to you in your career? The problem is that what we think matters most in our jobs often does not align with what will really make us happy. Even worse, we don't notice that gap until it's too late. To help you avoid this mistake, I want to discuss the best research we have on what truly motivates people.

In the next chapter comes an intriguing examination of what it is that really makes us tick, followed by a fascinating debate on "incentive" versus "motivation". By the time we come to the end of the chapter, we understand clearly why motivation trumps incentive every time and why motivated people truly love their work more than anyone else.


Section 2 deals with "Finding Happiness in Your Relationships". Here's a relevant excerpt from the introductory chapter:

[There] is much more to life than your career. The person you are at work and the amount of time you spend there will impact the person you are outside of work with your family and close friends. In my experience, high-achievers focus a great deal on becoming the person they want to be at work — and far too little on the person they want to be at home. Investing our time and energy in raising wonderful children or deepening our love with our spouse often doesn't return clear evidence of success for many years. What this leads to is over-investing in our careers, and under-investing in our families — starving one of the most important parts of our life of the resources it needs to flourish.

The third and final section, which is also the shortest, is devoted to the topic of "living a life of integrity". Titled "Staying Out of Jail" (how appropriate!), this section offers a theory called "full versus marginal thinking". This theory, the authors say, will help you answer your final question: how can I be sure I live a life of integrity?

And, finally, here's a quote from the book that, I hope, will motivate you to pick it up ASAP:

It is frightfully easy for us to lose our sense of the difference between what brings money and what causes happiness.

If you read only one book this year, or over the next ten years, let it be this one. Especially if you are young and have embarked, or are about to embark, on a career and a relationship. (How Will You Measure Your Life? is available on Indiaplaza for Rs.259.)
  • UPDATE (April 3, 2013): How Will You Measure Your Life? has been given top billing in the latest issue of Forbes Life. Charles Assisi, managing editor of Forbes India, writes in an article titled "Happy Reading" that the first book "I think is mandatory reading is How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen". The other books on Assisi's list are Howard's Gift, by Eric Sinoway; The Happiness Hypothesis, by Jonathan Haidt; The Thinking Life, by P.M. Forni; and Mastery, by Robert Greene.

"This was just the book I needed"

By Commitscion Archita Nadgouda (Class of 2011)

I ordered How Will You Measure Your Life? from Indiaplaza as soon as I read your post on Facebook. This was just the book I needed at this point of time when I’m embarking on a new relationship and planning a new career. There is no shortage of people willing to dispense advice but, often, you're not completely convinced with the advice you get from them.

This book teaches you "how to think" and apply your own mind, based on the situation you are in, to find solutions because "one size fits all" doesn't work when it comes to advice.

I cannot thank you enough for recommending this book to us!

1 comment:

  1. This is a must read book for all, especially those starting out in life.
    When I started out on life's journey, it's always been family first (parents and siblings and later my own) and believed that with hard work, everything else will fall into place. It did. Your best CV is your work. Not reference letters. When you love what you do, it will show and it WILL be noticed. There will ups and downs, slaps and praises, betrayals and admonishments, promotions and demotions, but remember what they can't take away from you is your skills. Learn it, hone it and, above all, share it. With a smile. And expect nothing in return. Which is why the last quote holds true: "It is frightfully easy for us to lose our sense of the difference between what brings money and what causes happiness."
    Remember, the only legacy you leave behind is the love and respect you gave others and that's what you need to pass on. Patrick


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