How I Measure Career Success

How would you measure the success of your career?

In a recent interview by CNN Money, Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen argued that success is measured by the relationships we have, not the amount printed on our paychecks.

Christensen explained, "I believe that the source of our deepest happiness comes from investments we make in intimate relationships with our spouse, children, and close friends. But if you measure your life by how much money you make or where you go in a hierarchy, you invest more and more to maximize those things and less and less of your time and energy on family. Even though you think family is important, you invest in things that are counter to what you had intended to do in your heart."

As an educator, there is a multitude of mathematical measurements that I'm bombarded by.  There is a school's API (Academic Performance Index), student passing rates on the CAHSEE (California High School Exit Exam), the amount of students who score proficient, advanced, basic, and below basic on standardized tests, quarterly benchmark tests, and other miscellaneous test scores (not to mention my students' grades; they do matter).  I could also look at graduation rates (of both my school and students who've taken my classes) and see how many of them graduate from four year universities.

To measure my success, I choose to focus on other factors.  How many of my students leave my classroom better people than when they first came in?  How many of them were inspired to have higher expectations of themselves?  Did they learn something new and useful today?  Was my class a safe and comfortable environment?  How many students did I mentor today?  How much quality time have I spent with my family?  Have I been a good friend lately?  Have my relationships grown or withered due to my career?

When I was in college, an administrator told me that he considered himself successful because he was able to build both a successful career and family life.  His home life didn't suffer for his work life and vice versa.  This, along with Christensen's interview reminded me that my relationships outside of work help determine my success at work.  I would consider myself a failure if I didn't have any qualtiy time with my family and friends. 

Right now I am proud to say that I have a great career and a terrific family; this is how I measure my career's success.

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