• AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Life Lessons


    I was looking for inspiration a couple of weeks ago and serendipitously, my good friend (and mentor) Pat gave me a shout….we went to grab coffee.  The conversation was great, as always, and in between bites of breakfast burritos he dished bits of personal and professional advice.

    As we started talking about the future, he asked me a really tough question……what’s your 5 year plan….how about further out, where’s Erik going to be in 10 or 15?  I immediately realized the gravity of that question; to be honest, it weighed heavily on me for the rest of the day.  I didn’t have a great answer.

    He recommended a book:  How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen.  Christensen is a Harvard professor and author of the popular book The Innovator’s Dilemma.  In his latest book, he turns some of those business practices on personal life.

    Christensen begins by recounting his 5 year reunion from Harvard Business School.  He remembers the exotic cars, beautiful women, fancy job titles with top-tier consulting firms and investment banks.  His classmates had done extremely well for themselves, showing off their wealth and prestige that they had earned through hard work and great personal sacrifice.  But a strange thing happened by the 10th reunion.  Some of his classmates didn’t show up.  Stories of divorce, personal dissatisfaction with their career, and general unhappiness ran rampant.  By the 25th reunion, one of his classmates (Jeffery Skilling) has been famously incarcerated for his role in the Enron scandal.

    What had happened?  Why were these “successful” people suffering from such personal struggle?  What he saw in his Harvard Business School class were a bunch of high performing individuals, working their tails off to pay back the crushing student loan debt they had amassed during business school.  As they made more money, they also invested in more luxuries thus creating a never-ending cycle.  A former boss (and wonderful friend) once put it best telling me “you never have more money…just nicer crap.”

    “The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

    -Steve Jobs

    The company you work for has a strategy, the organization you volunteer with has a mission, you probably have defined specific objectives for your current role knowing that 2013 is coming.  Why not do the same for your life?  Steve Jobs was a very purposeful person who even claimed that he was more proud of the things he said “NO” to in his personal life and professional career.  There’s no doubt that Steve’s success (at Apple, then Pixar and Apple again) was a product of purpose.

    My purpose?  Personally, I want the people around me to be happy with life, successful in what they do and encourage them to make the world around them a better place.  Professionally, I want to continue building skills that make me a better leader and influencer, giving me the ability to continue spreading my personal goal.

    That may sound extremely soft, but defining a high level purpose is a big step forward…  Understanding the end goal gives me something to measure every single step forward in life.  What should my next career move be, what kind of people should I surround myself with, where should I invest my free time, money and other scarce resources?  Without a plan, those finite resources could easily be wasted.

    If you haven’t clearly identified a high level purpose yet, go pick up this book.  The digital version is only $3.99 and I can guarantee it will be an invaluable tool regardless of where you are in life.


4 Responses to READ THIS BOOK: How Will You Measure Your Life

  • Karen Noel wrote on November 9, 2012 at 10:31 // Reply

    Erik-  Well said.  I’m going to go grab a copy of the book.  
    I especially like your point on needing a plan that encompasses all components of life not just the ‘work’ space. Because time is a finite, we may not know the specific end point but we do know it will come.  And who wants to reflect back and that there was a regret.  I found a book that had a similiar impact on my career and life in general called “Tuesday’s with Morrie”.  It is a short read, written by a sports writer Mitch Albom documenting one of his mentors insights for the most important aspects of life.

    • ErikWullschleger wrote on November 9, 2012 at 11:38 // Reply

      @Karen Noel Thanks Karen!  I’ve heard of that book but never picked it up…I’ll have to check it out. It’s fun to hear suggestions on defining purpose in life…I never thought about being strategic with my life prior to reading this book, but I’m finding that people who take it seriously are extremely happy.

  • JessicaMerrill wrote on November 9, 2012 at 2:58 // Reply

    I’ve been listening to Zig Ziglar’s “The Selling Difference” these last few weeks as I drive around my territory and one point of many that I’ve taken in is that you should invest more in yourself than in your career…don’t miss out on developing your ‘self’ while you’re developing your career path and goals. This sounds like a great addition to my person investment portfolio;). Thanks Erik!!

    • ErikWullschleger wrote on November 9, 2012 at 7:53 // Reply

      @JessicaMerrill Right back at you buddy!! Sounds like you’re doing well!!  If you’re in KC be sure to look Stacey and me up…..


FILL THE FIELDS TO LEAVE A REPLY. Your email address will not be published.