On finding your purpose

This week’s book learning is from How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen.

Many a book, blog post, and news article asks us to “find our purpose.” But, how do we go about doing that? Clay recommends a 3 step process to find and live your ‘why’ (addled with my interpretations)

1) Find your likeness. Ask yourself – what would you like to be like? How would you define your ideal you? Define your likeness when you are 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, etc i.e. define how you would look, what your family be like, how you would be known, and what you would be doing.

Clay, a very religious man, asked himself – what does god want me to be?

2) Make commitments. Come back from time to time and revisit your likeness. Does it feel right? Is it you?

3) Define metrics. How do you measure ‘success’ in your definition? In his case, since his purpose was kindness, he always measured it by the number of people he helped. He points out that these metrics are rarely “make more money” or “get a promotion.” Define success and ensure your metrics are aligned.

Purpose must be deliberately conceived and chosen and then pursued. When that is in place, however, then how you gets there is typically “emergent” – as opportunities and challenges emerge and are pursued.

To remember – the world will not deliver a cogent and rewarding purpose to you. You have to craft one for yourself.


Clay also observes that these three parts – likeness, commitment, and metrics – also comprise a company’s purpose. Companies that aspire to positive impact must never leave their purpose to chance. Worthy purposes rarely emerge inadvertently; the world is too full of mirage, paradox and uncertainty to leave this to fate.

All the best with finding your purpose!