Life’s a tricky business

Nobody sets out on a strategy to fail. But they make many, many small decisions along the way for short-term gain that end up in overall failure. It’s true in business and in life. We’ve known this for generations, haven’t we? And yet we all succumb to it at one point or another.

Clayton Christensen struck a nerve with me in this BBC interview. The man behind the “innovator’s dilemma” — explaining why big companies like GM fail when disrupted by a newcomer or why newspapers struggle to survive in the digital age — makes the case for how people drastically underestimate the effect that day-to-day decisions have on a fulfilling life. His full argument is laid out in “How Will You Measure Your Life?”

It’s also an argument about integrity — sticking to your guns, avoiding compromises.

It also churns up thoughts about faith.

I suppose the argument is there that religion exists to reinforce a message of long-term thinking throughout our lives — saving your soul is as long-term as it gets. I’m not super religious, but I have to acknowledge its utility. What other institutions are compelling us to do this, to willingly sacrifice for potential reward later on? I suppose educational systems and fitness centers do this for different aspects of our health.

Anyway, the book is on my reading list, and it’s only $4 for the Kindle. Check out the interview; it’s worth pondering.

What do you read? Perhaps more importantly, when?

A student asked me recently what I read when I want to read good writing. It occurred to me I really haven’t done much of that recently. I scan and skim a lot of blogs, mostly about journalism, the media, media tech or college media specifically. Almost like checking the weather rather than actually diving into thoughtfully written material. But I haven’t done even that much recently, finding most of the blogs to be noise written to draw traffic rather than actually engage a reader.

I finished reading “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing To Our Brains” over the break and started up “Outliers: The Story of Success.” I like the way these books explain actual things that happened or are happening. There’s something interesting about the authors’ attempts at making sense of things.

I would read a major newspaper every day, but it’s gotten to be more of a shell of its former self, like a fossil telling a story of a different age. My favorite form of journalism at the moment is NPR. No reading involved, but I do feel like I’m gaining a deeper appreciation for the form. And yes, I’ve actually donated.

What do you read? And when do you find time to do it?