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How Will You Measure Your Life?

Finding Fulfillment Using Lessons From Some of the World's Greatest Businesses

By Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth and Karen Dillon
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How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth and Karen Dillon

As a leading business expert and cancer survivor, Clayton M. Christensen provides you with his unique insight on how to lead a life that brings both professional success and genuine happiness. In How Will You Measure Your Life?, Christensen touches on diverse topics such as motivation and how you can harness it, what career strategy is the best for you, how to strengthen relationships with loved ones, and how to build a strong family culture.

Key idea 1 of 8

Motivation trumps money when it comes to job satisfaction.

What do you think would make you happier at work? Perhaps a little more pay might be nice, or maybe some more admiration from fellow colleagues.

Such assumptions are fairly common. In fact, the tangible aspects of your job, such as money and prestige, are not actually the things that will make you happy. If you think otherwise, go to a business school reunion where you’ll see just how often professional success is often tainted with personal dissatisfaction, family failures, professional struggles and even criminal behavior.

Despite this, an unhealthy approach to the use of incentives in the workplace still prevails. Popularised by economist Michael Jensen and management theorist William Meckling, the incentive theory makes the straightforward statement that the more you are paid, the better you perform.

In light of our business school reunion example, this theory seems too simplistic. What’s more, studies have shown that the hardest-working people are in fact those employed in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – people who do world-changing work, but earn very little.

In fact, it turns out that professional satisfaction and motivation are derived from work that matches your needs and interests. Psychologist Frederick Herzberg proposed that our needs and interests can be divided into two different categories – hygiene factors and motivation factors. This forms the basis of his hygiene-motivation theory.

Hygiene factors cover issues such as general conditions at work, company policies, supervisory practices and job security. If these issues are not satisfactory or are lacking, it’s a case of bad hygiene that then causes job dissatisfaction. However, would a job with great working conditions but no room for promotion or reward be satisfying? Probably not.

Job satisfaction instead is achieved by combining hygiene factors with motivation factors. Motivation factors concern recognition, responsibility, challenges and personal growth.

Consider a job that was intellectually stimulating but burdened with terrible management – would this give you satisfaction? Definitely not. It’s clear that the confluence of hygiene and motivation is crucial, and the next blink presents two strategies to attain this balance.

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