Gary’s Newsletter #396 – MEASURING YOUR LIFE

“Doing deals [in business] does not yield the deep rewards that come from building up people.” These are words from Clayton Christensen in a Harvard Business Review article (July/August 2010) titled “How Will You Measure your Life?”

Professor Christensen’s business school students (like many of my psychology, coaching, and theological students) seem aware of how the world has changed and is changing but they don’t know how to apply these changes to their careers and to their personal lives following graduation. Christensen urges his students to find answers to three questions:

  1. How can I be sure I’ll be happy in my career? The answer is in finding a clear sense of purpose. This purpose and career success are not tied to money, writes Christensen. Purpose comes from “the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, [and] contribute to others…. Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have received; worry about the individuals you have helped to become better people.” In words that are unusual for HBR, the writer concludes that “the metric by which God will assess my life isn’t dollars but the individual people whose lives I’ve touched.” Purpose often is found in “the deep rewards that come from building up people.”
  2. How can I insure that relationships with my family provide an enduring source of happiness? Christiansen gives three answers. First, keep your purpose in mind when you decide how to spend your time, talents and energy. Second, allocate your resources by giving your time and energy to the things that matter most. Third, create a culture in your life and family that will reinforce and meet your ultimate goals and purpose.
  3. How can I live a life of integrity? Clarify your values and stick with them. Remember the importance of humility. That includes building up others. The article argues that humble people tend to have high self-esteem, with no need to be putting others down.

How does this apply to your life and to the people with whom you work? How can we help them measure up? Please share your comments on this newsletter.


  1. A great post. I really appreciate the take off from the Harvard Business Review. So much of what I read on the net is meaningless fluff. Your application is simple, practical and I can use it in my life and business today.

    Living by values (#3) is so important but neglected. In coaching others it is the foundation of our working together. We need to put a lot of different words in the ___________ by values statement.
    Thanks for great insight.


  2. Thank you, Gary, for pointing us to this article. I seldom get around to reading the full text of what you summarize for us but this one is well worth taking the time to read. I have already passed it on to a few folks with whom I have been in conversation about vocation and values, even in the last day or two. This is a pertinent topic for people at all stages of life.


  3. I needed to hear that because I have been a people builder in my life. Though, one friend just about took the life out of me. She just kept taking and taking until I felt stripped. I have never had that happen. Recently, I have had some set backs in my life and now I have felt regret from investing so much time and energy without any pay back from her.

    In reality God will reward us and we are not to look to those we have invested in. Though, I have had to use boundaries with the person because she refused to stop demanding my ongoing support and encouragement, at an unhealthy level.



    1. Thanks for your post Alicia. (It is nice to hear from you again). Being a people-builder can be costly and time consuming. Sometimes there is not much payback and needy people latch on to us like leeches. But the answer to this is setting boundaries, just like you did. At times we need to say “sorry, I can’t keep spending time with you.” But here is the good news in all of this. In the end, building people is very rewarding and the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages and inconveniences.


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