How can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail?
August 9, 2010 9:30 AM   Subscribe

How Will You Measure Your Life?

From the article :
First, how can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career?
Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness?
Third, how can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail?
posted by manny_calavera (65 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was going to say something about how the relatively simple act of staying out of jail shouldn't be the third most prominent thing on these kids' minds, but then I remembered we're talking about business school graduates.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:36 AM on August 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


With coffee spoons.

Doesn't everyone?
posted by felix betachat at 9:39 AM on August 9, 2010 [19 favorites]


It has something to do with coffee spoons but I can't remember if they're metric or imperial.
posted by komara at 9:40 AM on August 9, 2010


AUGH.
posted by komara at 9:40 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is remarkably wise. I was put off by the jargon and the starting story, but kept reading and think the advice offered is sound and useful.
posted by bearwife at 9:40 AM on August 9, 2010


How Will You Measure Your Life?

Overheard Lamentations Per Minute.
posted by The Whelk at 9:40 AM on August 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


This article seems familiar to me. The concept, the things he suggests, the bit about how cancer made him open his eyes. I don't think it's lifted or plagiarized or anything, but I feel like this content is what really sells these days. And I don't know why. It can't be just because everything feels more stressful. There's something spurring this proliferation of articles about slowing down and smelling the roses and serving other people and having a purpose driven life.

And it makes me feel bad to feel cynical about it.
posted by anniecat at 9:41 AM on August 9, 2010


Measure it in loooooooooove!

Sorry.
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:43 AM on August 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


And I don't know why. It can't be just because everything feels more stressful. There's something spurring this proliferation of articles about slowing down and smelling the roses and serving other people and having a purpose driven life.

You're not seeing things. This has been a major theme in advertising ever since Lehman Brothers tanked.
posted by The Whelk at 9:45 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Am I going to be the first to quote RENT? Really?

525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life?
How about love? How about love? How
about love? Measure in love.
Seasons of love.


(Ok, so that's one year. If you live the "expected" 78 years in the US, you get 40,996,800 minutes. What do I win?)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:45 AM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Definitely not with that socialist metric system shit.
posted by spicynuts at 9:45 AM on August 9, 2010


On preview: DAMN. Beaten to it.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:45 AM on August 9, 2010


I don't know if the lesson took. Three of the four graduates cited claim their goal is to get a job in the finance industry. Carpe diem indeed.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:46 AM on August 9, 2010


How Will You Measure Your Life?

I haven't read the article yet, but I'm pretty sure the answer has nothing to do with how many Xbox achievement points you have, does it?
posted by crunchland at 9:47 AM on August 9, 2010


I don't measure my life out of fear of changing the outcome.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:49 AM on August 9, 2010 [24 favorites]


Answer: YOU CAN'T. If you think you can be sure of any of those things, whether you follow his buzzword-loaded prescription or not, you have no idea how the world works.

Let's take the jail thing. You could be at the office minding your business following The Plan, and an accidental electrical fire kills your family. No matter how careful you are, you cannot be sure something like that won't happen. You just can't. Even if you hand-inspect all the wiring yourself (and if you've chosen management as "the most noble of professions" you're probably trusting an electrician because you don't know how to do that) it could be lightning instead of an electrical fire.

Then an overzealous DA could decide you're an arsonist and you set the fire yourself and decide not to investigate any other possibility and before you know it you're on death row. You can't be sure that won't happen next. You can help matters by learning your rights but if you've chosen "the most noble profession" (see last paragraph) you're probably trusting a lawyer and you talked too much to the police before you talked to him. Things like that have happened more than once that we know about thanks to the Innocence Project.

You can maximize your chances, and if you think in those terms you'll find a number of strategies hold promise. But if you want certainty, you were born in the wrong Universe.
posted by localroger at 9:50 AM on August 9, 2010


Naturally.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:50 AM on August 9, 2010


Well, I lost my job 18 months ago. Focusing on serving others, living intentionally, and finding a purpose that doesn't involve being on-call 24/7 for my idiot former CEO and his short-sighted plans has been a welcome alternative, although I'd also like some upbeat self-help about people who find jobs at their old salaries and are happily part of the insured, productive part of society again. This kind of thing has been helpful, though - I think there are a lot of us who have used work as a large part of our self-definition, and losing that has given some folks I know serious difficulty in figuring out who they are.
posted by catlet at 9:50 AM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


On topic:

My conclusion: Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team.

I know of about a zillion teachers who would like to have a word with you.

I’m trying to have a rewarding relationship with my wife, raise great kids, contribute to my community, succeed in my career, contribute to my church, and so on. And I have exactly the same problem that a corporation does. I have a limited amount of time and energy and talent.

Um. This guy reads a bit like Spock crossed with Donald Trump. I'm sure he's a great guy and all, but I'm having trouble maintaining any kind of distance from my in-flight airsickness bag.

And our careers provide the most concrete evidence that we’re moving forward. You ship a product, finish a design, complete a presentation, close a sale, teach a class, publish a paper, get paid, get promoted. In contrast, investing time and energy in your relationship with your spouse and children typically doesn’t offer that same immediate sense of achievement. Kids misbehave every day. It’s really not until 20 years down the road that you can put your hands on your hips and say, “I raised a good son or a good daughter.”

AAAANNNNNNDDDDDDD scene. If it takes you 20 years to recognize your kids' achievements - first words, first steps, first time they did a quadratic equation - every little milestone on the way to becoming a full-grown human being - then you're doing it wrong. I think that's his point, but man, I just can't grok parents who feel like "Oh man, this kid business totally isn't paying off because he won't eat his peas. The stock market is a way better investment." GAHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Can't. Finish. Article. Head. Asploded.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:51 AM on August 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


There's something spurring this proliferation of articles about slowing down and smelling the roses and serving other people and having a purpose driven life.

Yes it's called the cycle of marketing. I'm not sure how old you are but this stuff comes in and out of vogue every decade or so as the overall economy cycles from growth to recession. During the early 90s everything was about this kind of stuff, then people started making money hand over fist with the internet and the stock market so everything was about getting rich, now we're back to things going to shit. It's amazing how fast editors and publishers can completely turn their content around to the zeitgeist.
posted by spicynuts at 9:53 AM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


With coffee spoons.

And T. S. Eliot.
posted by eriko at 9:57 AM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, LOL - I just looked more closely at the articles. I considered working with Christensen in the late 90s, but at the interview I was asked (repeatedly) how I'd feel about working with other staffers who "aren't as educated as you are". The company vibe was a bit off, and grapefruitmoon's description of Spock crossed with Trump made me laugh because that's what it felt like. Of course, that could have just been the Harvard aura.

Not taking back what I said about finding some of this approach helpful during unemployment, but I feel less compelled to find my Life Metric now that I know the source.
posted by catlet at 10:00 AM on August 9, 2010


Am I going to be the first to quote RENT? Really?

Alas, no, but you could be the last! *crosses fingers*
posted by adamdschneider at 10:01 AM on August 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Interesting...crossing my fingers is how I attempt to answer most of these questions.
posted by spicynuts at 10:02 AM on August 9, 2010


Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people.

That kind of sums it up for me.
posted by storybored at 10:02 AM on August 9, 2010


In contrast, investing time and energy in your relationship with your spouse and children typically doesn’t offer that same immediate sense of achievement.

Chop wood, carry water.

Why do you need Career Achievements to measure your life? Is it possible, just possible, that you have been acculturated to believe that conforming in this way is the only way to Be Successful? And that you have bought into this, and contributed to it (yeah, look, you just graduated from B school!)?

You can feel achievement when you have cleaned your kitchen. Or weeded the garden. Or given your kid a bath, and helped them put on pajamas and choose a bedtime story.

Stop buying into the idea that your self-worth is tied solely to your job. It doesn't have to be that way. You don't need to find all your fulfillment and opportunities for leadership, learning, and growth in your job. Diversify your life.
posted by rtha at 10:04 AM on August 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


In snark.
posted by swift at 10:04 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Life's score is kept in regrets: the fewer, the better.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:05 AM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


During the early 90s everything was about this kind of stuff, then people started making money hand over fist with the internet and the stock market so everything was about getting rich, now we're back to things going to shit.

QFT.

Yeah, these "reconnecting with what's important now that we're poor (by middle class standards)" stories were common in the last recession too. And if, despite the government's best efforts, the middle class ever enjoys affluence again, it will be back to "expensive shit you can buy from our advertisers" stories.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:07 AM on August 9, 2010


How Will You Measure Your Life?

In aeons, preferably. Ideally uncountable ones, but that sort of defies "measuring".
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:09 AM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


How Will You Measure Your Life?

Picas.
posted by mazola at 10:10 AM on August 9, 2010


In favorites and the 'Like' status number in Facebook. Does that make me shallow?
posted by Gratishades at 10:12 AM on August 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


There is always this weird moment when some Universe Master-Business School Nerd gets the briefest glimpse of a world outside their own head. It's like watching a baby bird fall out of a nest or something.
posted by The Whelk at 10:12 AM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


In corpses left undiscovered. Thanks, scarabic!
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 10:13 AM on August 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


In liters of rum.
posted by hellojed at 10:15 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm too busy squeezing every last drop of juice out of my life, bitter, sweet or sour, to take the time to measure the damn thing.

(Life juice exsanguinated on MetaFilter tastes like a can of snark & beans).
posted by sciurus at 10:15 AM on August 9, 2010


I'll measure my life like I measure my bridges: in smoots.
posted by .kobayashi. at 10:17 AM on August 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


"After a 10-year bender of gaudy dreams and godless consumerism, Americans are starting to trade down. They want to reduce their attachments to status symbols, fast-track careers and great expectations of Having It All. Upscale is out; downscale is in. Yuppies are an ancient civilization. Flaunting money is considered gauche: if you've got it, please keep it to yourself -- or give some away!" The Simple Life: Goodbye to having it all -- Monday, Apr. 08, 1991
posted by cog_nate at 10:18 AM on August 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also, I measure my life by how much of this here log remains unburned.
posted by cog_nate at 10:21 AM on August 9, 2010


Back in my philosophical twenties, I had an extended conversation with some people about what actually means your life meant something. The best metric we could come up with was friendship, and that the ultimate measure of friendship would be if there were, guaranteed, six people who would step up without hesitation to carry your coffin to its final resting place. Seems that if you have a minimum of six people in your life who truly care about you, you're probably doing pretty well.

Sadly, my experience in this cold world so far has shown that's a more difficult thing to achieve than one might surmise while in one's philosophical twenties.
posted by hippybear at 10:21 AM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Simple Life: Goodbye to having it all -- Monday, Apr. 08, 1991

AND.........SCENE.
posted by spicynuts at 10:25 AM on August 9, 2010


Ah, business. It doesn't mean anything unless you can measure it. I'll give the Middle Ages one thing — they at least looked down at their merchants as being scum.
posted by adipocere at 10:27 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was having a related conversation with a friend yesterday - about how, when you work a lot and are involved in lots of projects and achieving there, there is nothing more exasperating than having to face dating, where putting in more work is likely to be totally counterproductive and you can't save the situation with an all-nighter and there's danger in looking up the bibliography. Both of us are doing creative work and have solid friendships and close family, but were in stitches laughing at the frustration of watching your skills absolutely bring you down if you transfer them to your personal life.
posted by carbide at 10:31 AM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


in smoots

How many hawleys to a smoot these days?
posted by octobersurprise at 10:37 AM on August 9, 2010


I has a sad this article was even written/plagiarized - something something Thoureau something "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation"... or something...
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 10:40 AM on August 9, 2010


but were in stitches laughing at the frustration of watching your skills absolutely bring you down if you transfer them to your personal life.

I think there's a spreadsheet app for that.
posted by The Whelk at 10:42 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


What an utter waste of time, reading articles like this. It's a crock of shit. More precisely, it's the kind of writing that makes all the right noises to convince you that it's conveying something profound or novel or true, but in reality all it does is proffer meaningless generalities from which every person takes away what they think is in there. It's like a Rorschach test, or politician whose skill is to sound great, and have every voter, no matter what their conviction, to think it speaks to them individually - left, right or center. It certainly is a skill. But it's still bullshit. And this guy is pretty good at it. Many build careers on it. These guys come in a thousand flavors from Deepak Chopra to your run of the mill "consultant".

Take this bit:

"A theory that is helpful in answering the second question—How can I ensure that my relationship with my family proves to be an enduring source of happiness?—concerns how strategy is defined and implemented. Its primary insight is that a company’s strategy is determined by the types of initiatives that management invests in. If a company’s resource allocation process is not managed masterfully, what emerges from it can be very different from what management intended. Because companies’ decision-making systems are designed to steer investments to initiatives that offer the most tangible and immediate returns, companies shortchange investments in initiatives that are crucial to their long-term strategies."

What does it actually say? Gee, that companies can fail because they choose short term metrics over long term metrics of success. Or don't choose management initiatives "masterfully". Wow. And? This is as profound as saying: because they allocate their energies inefficiently. Yeah, and? It's true on a level of such abtraction and generality, that it's trivially true, without any practical advice at all. And it's all in the details. Of which there are none proffered. Let's try this with anything: "walking - it's the proper allocation of energy"; "successful marketing - it's the proper allocation of energy"; "being a great chess player - it's the proper allocation of energy"... and so on for practically anything.

And so on for the rest of the article. It's all empty calories. Tastes great, but has no nutrients. Actually reminds me of those come ons con men use to lure people to "seminars", where they are then fleeced in some kind of scheme (real estate, time shares, job opportunities etc.) - long texts about how you'll learn to blah, blah, blah, strategies, buzzwords, examples, pages and pages that sound like they say something, but actually deliver nothing.

I'm disappointed anyone on mefi would fall for this claptrap.
posted by VikingSword at 10:43 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I finished the minimill story, Grove said, “OK, I get it. What it means for Intel is...,” and then went on to articulate what would become the company’s strategy for going to the bottom of the market to launch the Celeron processor.

I love how the author essentially takes personal credit for the concept of Celeron processor. Business literature is basically 80 percent, self-promotional wankery, 20 percent actual ideas (which themselves may or may not be useful).
posted by KokuRyu at 10:47 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I’d like to share a story about how I came to understand the potential damage of “just this once” in my own life. I played on the Oxford University varsity basketball team. We worked our tails off and finished the season undefeated. The guys on the team were the best friends I’ve ever had in my life. We got to the British equivalent of the NCAA tournament—and made it to the final four. It turned out the championship game was scheduled to be played on a Sunday. I had made a personal commitment to God at age 16 that I would never play ball on Sunday. So I went to the coach and explained my problem. He was incredulous. My teammates were, too, because I was the starting center. Every one of the guys on the team came to me and said, “You’ve got to play. Can’t you break the rule just this one time?”

I’m a deeply religious man, so I went away and prayed about what I should do. I got a very clear feeling that I shouldn’t break my commitment—so I didn’t play in the championship game.

In many ways that was a small decision—involving one of several thousand Sundays in my life. In theory, surely I could have crossed over the line just that one time and then not done it again. But looking back on it, resisting the temptation whose logic was “In this extenuating circumstance, just this once, it’s OK” has proven to be one of the most important decisions of my life. Why? My life has been one unending stream of extenuating circumstances. Had I crossed the line that one time, I would have done it over and over in the years that followed.
He teaches us all a very important life lesson there: don't ever, ever pick a fundamentalist as your starting center.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:53 AM on August 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


Color me surprised this wasn't a Po Bronson piece.
posted by kittyprecious at 10:59 AM on August 9, 2010


KokuRyu: "I love how the author essentially takes personal credit for the concept of Celeron processor. Business literature is basically 80 percent, self-promotional wankery, 20 percent actual ideas (which themselves may or may not be useful)."

No no, see, he goes on to explain: Grove adopted to the author's mindset and arrived at the solution himself. Never mind that the parable story he told is so mind-blowingly obvious my dog could've figured it out.
posted by graventy at 11:16 AM on August 9, 2010


Me, I'd like to make pots of money and then rediscover the true meaning of life after I've got enough money to bugger off to Bali or adopt an orphan or something.
posted by Phalene at 11:23 AM on August 9, 2010


How Will You Measure Your Life?

Well I won't, because right now I'm too busy living it. But I'm hoping that when the time comes, and forensics team is done, I break some records in the areas of greatest temperature, highest velocity, loudest recorded sound, and most seagulls impaled.

I believe that one's life should benefit others; mine will be as a cautionary tale.
posted by quin at 12:01 PM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


“You’ve got to play. Can’t you break the rule just this one time?”

Shomer Shabbas, dude.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:56 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I will measure my life by how much time I had to spend with B-School grads.
posted by Babblesort at 2:09 PM on August 9, 2010


[ F * * * * * * * S + ] ; )
posted by doobiedoo at 2:11 PM on August 9, 2010


It amuses me how this kind of stuff gets classified under management/business but "Chicken Soup for the Soul" is under self-help/psychology. Especially at the airport bookstores.
posted by zix at 2:27 PM on August 9, 2010


In a little app that automatically recognises a zillion human activities and shows me RPG stats bars, in my mind.
posted by yoHighness at 2:43 PM on August 9, 2010


This is silly. Everyone knows you measure your life by the grades your children get in school and how well-kept your lawn is.
posted by scrowdid at 3:34 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


and how well-kept your lawn is.

My lawn in incredibly well cared for. You can tell by how much more long and lush it is than everyone else's. Plus, they only have grass, I've got dandelions and goldenrod and catnip and a bunch of other things I can't even identify!

And the nice thing is that it's deep enough now that you can barely even see the leaves I didn't rake up last fall.

Plus, when I bought the house, the hedges were only like four feet high, clean, square and boring, now they are easily 12 feet tall and look like a slow moving green explosion attacking the roof.

I'm sure my neighbors are the picture of envy when they look at my masterful ability to get any number of distinct species to thrive together. That's why they are always frowning and shaking their fists at me; Jealousy plain and simple.

I am winning.
posted by quin at 3:45 PM on August 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


this is just pathetic. Like the effectiveness of 95% of the MBAs I've known.
posted by txmon at 3:50 PM on August 9, 2010


I'm measuring my life in romantic partners, friendships and regrets. Here's to hoping all of them show little year-over-year growth, strictly from a numbers perspective, but that the second measurement has the normal, expected market variations.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 4:11 PM on August 9, 2010


Since the author lives in the country with the very highest incarceration rate in the world, where 1 out of every 11 boys born today will serve a prison sentence, and where a full 1% of the country's adults are housed in prison tonight, it's unsurprising that "avoiding jail" ranks among his top priorities.

What's surprising is that most of his countrymen fail to realize how much harsher the USA's brand of justice is, as compared to the other advanced democracies.
posted by Dimpy at 5:36 PM on August 9, 2010


Why does everything have to be measured? Can't my life just be "my life?" I don't believe everything has to be regarded as good or bad. Some things just are.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 6:58 PM on August 9, 2010


how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness?

Awfully assumptiony here. In 45 US states, some of these graduates can't get a spouse of their preferred gender (so not exactly 'enduring happiness', I'd say).

Though to be fair, they can while at Harvard.
posted by threeants at 10:45 PM on August 9, 2010


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