From a Money Magazine interview with Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen and reported by CNN, we find our first definition:

You apply a lot of business-school thinking to life.  What’s one example?

“In organizations, once you articulate how success will be measured, everybody tries to game the system so that they are measured in the best possible way. If you judge schools based on test scores, every school will start teaching to the test. The whole organization optimizes on a yardstick, very often to the long-term detriment of that organization.

So individually we need to think very carefully about how we measure our life.  .  .  .”

How should a person be measuring his or her career?
“You want to be in a job where you’re motivated.

There’s a theory that was articulated by the late psychologist Frederick Herzberg. He makes a strong point that there’s a big difference between motivation and incentives. An incentive is, “I will pay you to want what I want.” Motivation means that you’ve got an engine inside of you that drives you to keep working in order to feel successful and to help the organization be successful. It causes you to keep at it through thick and thin.

Motivators are things like, “I have the opportunity to achieve important things,” “I get recognized for my achievements,” “I learn ways to be better,” and “I’m an important part of a team.” If you have those kinds of experiences every day, you’re motivated, and you’ll be satisfied.

Many of the factors that we think will cause motivation, such as fair pay and a good manager, won’t make you love your job. Even if you eliminate what makes you dissatisfied, that doesn’t make you motivated. It doesn’t make your work rewarding. You just are less bothered by things.  .  .  .”

 Unfortunately, for more and more of our young people, “success” is being equated with annual income — and the resulting inference has become, “the more you earn, the more ‘successful’ you are.”

Combined with a greater and greater emphasis on hiring only those individuals who have a college degree, attitudes are changing — and, not for the better.

There is no correlation between “smart” and “great grades.”  There is no correlation between “success” and “earned income.”  Americans used to understand this.  The respect we had for people who work “successfully” with their hands was equal to whatever academic or income achievement one might attain.

Gifted carpenters, farmers, auto mechanics, and factory workers were considered “smart,” “successful,” and commanded our respect alongside those who excelled with their PhDs in science, medicine and mathematics.  (Today, with the never-ending flood of PhDs in every imaginable discipline, the degree itself has become devalued.)

On a personal note, “Success” often makes me think of a niece who has spent the first thirty years of her adult life serving the hungry and shelterless people that her organization encounters — first in Nebraska and today in the State of Washington.  The pay may not be much but few individuals will ever enjoy the “Success” she does. 

We should re-open our eyes.  “Success” is not a function of how much one makes or how many degrees one has.  “Success” is leading the way in a profession and place of your choice —  doubly so if, along the way, contributions to society are a direct result of one’s “smarts” and “skills.”

More on Monday  –  –  –

       — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning

         March 14, 2018  (Mondays & Wednesdays)


 (This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner,, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)