I’m am starting to read HBR’s 10 Must Reads On Managing Yourself as I work my way through my bookshelf. This series of books (the “HBR’s 10 Must Reads” that is) are made up of essays/articles written in the Harvard Business Review. Instead of waiting for the end of the book I’m going to try and write short posts as I finish individual articles. This is the first of those.
In this article Christensen encourages readers to apply business insights to their own lives. He suggests that by approaching life in the same way a successful manager would approach work you can make meaningful impact and be fulfilled. Specifically Christensen recommends having a strategy, consciously spending time, and holding to principles.
Those three points are not novel, plenty of others have suggested similar I am sure. However, the point that most struck me was the phrase “its easier to hold to your principles 100%of the time than it is to hold to them 98%of the time.” The example in the text is the author’s commitment to not play basketball on Sunday which cost him the chance to play in a championship collegiate game. While that is a bit of a trite example (Chariots of Fire much?) it did make me realize the point, so it worked. It makes sense that being consistent and constant is a simpler position than one that has exceptions. With exceptions it is near impossible to know what actually qualifies and so eventually every situation seems to be exceptional.
Christensen uses “resources” when discussing time and focus allocation. His point, as I have heard others make too, is what you focus and intend on is what you end up doing. Another way of saying it is “what you measure is what you improve.” The author attempts to use this as a way of saying to set a culture for your family and children but then hand waves away any kind of directly actionable recommendations. Sure, this isn’t a parenting book, but then the author willingly went there and left without actually saying anything.
Finally, the “strategy” part (which is actually the first point in the article) is supposed to encourage the reader to find their life’s purpose. Which is of course easy to do and something that is constant and easy to know when a collegiate student. That age point is important because the author specifically mentions “I tell the students that HBS might be one of their last chances to reflect deeply on that question. If they think that they’ll have more time and energy to reflect later, they’re nuts…” But I’m in my late 30s and I know any conviction I felt in my 20s would be totally off base. Or if I had stuck to it entirely I would have not changed or grown as much since. The point about life not getting easier with age is true, but this “figure out your purpose” seems like something that needs to happen at all points. Or potentially I am too dense to gather the whole intent of “purpose” and there is some higher level thing to know about myself.
This is not a review and it isn’t a rebuttal or other kind of response. Instead this post is simply putting words on a screen and getting more practice writing quickly.