Thursday, November 17, 2011

How will my life be measured.

Ralph Waldo Emerson defined success with these words:
"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better; whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded."

I read "How Will You Measure Your Life?" by Clayton M. Christensen on HBR. All I can think of now, it not how my life would be measured, and WHAT would be there to measure.

He said, management has the power to influence the talent in their companies. The companies spend lots of resources training and grooming their people but it is all one-sided. It's all about the career. What about life itself?
"In my mind’s eye I saw one of my managers leave for work one morning with a relatively strong level of self-esteem. Then I pictured her driving home to her family 10 hours later, feeling unappreciated, frustrated, underutilized, and demeaned. I imagined how profoundly her lowered self-esteem affected the way she interacted with her children. The vision in my mind then fast-forwarded to another day, when she drove home with greater self-esteem—feeling that she had learned a lot, been recognized for achieving valuable things, and played a significant role in the success of some important initiatives. I then imagined how positively that affected her as a spouse and a parent. 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 am ashamed to admit that I haven't contributed as much to the community, my family or friends as much as I would love to. I remember that when I was a teen, I wanted to become a doctor so I join Doctors Without Borders and provide free healthcare to the poor. Of course that went out the window since I didn't become a doctor in the end.

I want to help the less fortunate, children and the elderly. I want to make the world greener. I want to spend time with my family and friends. But I am not doing this.

Our time is limited. What is the point of working 15 hour days and neglecting my family and friends? I've lost my dear aunt and grandma, and I have a wonderful relationship from both of them because we were close. I can't bear the thought of losing anyone else without knowing them better, without them knowing I love them.

I go home to J, who watches me turn on my laptop every evening. I go home feeling tired, unappreciated, frustrated and perplexed at why things are run a certain way which seems so inefficient. My friends from work are doing the exact same thing. How long can we go on like this?

How will my life be measured? Am I the busy working wife, daughter, friend who neglects everyone who is important in her life? Are paychecks, reports and Excel spreadsheets all that could be measured since there is nothing else in my life?

I shudder at the thought of this. I don't think I grew up aspiring to achieve just this.

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