I had the great privilege of being introduced to the works of Clayton Christensen when someone shared a link to this talk, “How Will You Measure Your Life?”. It indeed got into a tailspin because, in this talk, he covers this beautiful concept of marginal cost thinking and how it impacts results in the long term for both business and personal goals. He also introduces the idea of doing something 100% is easier than doing it 98%, and he also talks of marketing in a way that I have never thought about myself. As you can imagine, he covered a lot of topics in this one-hour talk. But one concept which stands out is his concept of how one should measure their life.
You are Aggregate of What you Do
Since time immemorial, we have thought that there will be a final judgment day where we will meet god (or his representative as per the Indian way) and then evaluate your good deeds and bad deeds during your life. Based on this evaluation, you will either get into heaven or hell. It is a familiar storyline across many cultures and has been used in religious talks to encourage one to lead a life filled with virtues or good deeds. This concept leads to the idea that you are an aggregate of your acts. The image is useful but may not be very effective because it talks of something which will happen in the future (30-40 years). It leads to people cheating their way i.e. they dont follow good virtues during their prime and tend to become very pious and religious during the later years of their life. We have all seen such examples in our lives where people suddenly turn religious during their final years. Clayton offers a different way of thinking; he used this thinking to motivate himself to lead a better life.
God had Infinite Processing power.
He starts by saying that God has infinite processing power, so he does not need to aggregate our actions. Humans need the concept of aggregation because we have finite ability, so we tend to aggregate things like an accountant to make it easier for us to grasp things and process them. God does not hire accounts(his words ) because they dont need to aggregate our actions. It means that during the final judgment day, God will not aggregate our actions; instead, he will interview us on our activities when put in a particular situation. The question will be something like this “ I put you in this situation, how many people did you help during this time” or “how did you treat that person when he did something to you”. Being a religious person, Clay realized that the only way to be evaluated relatively during the judgment day interview is to see how many people you have helped become successful in your life every day!. Also, focus on whether you treated others with kindness regardless of how they treated you. This way, you will be able to face the final judgment day. I quite liked the way how he has used beliefs to find himself a formulae to guide his day to day actions.
The concept of judgment day may be something which you may or may not believe, but I found this talk offered a compelling way to measure your life. By measuring how you have helped others and treating others with kindness, you have unlocked simple steps that will guide your life’s mission. I highly recommend everyone to listen to this talk because he covers some great ideas in 60 mins. I have never seen or listened to one single talk, which helped me see so many impactful insights. !