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Finding Happiness Beyond Success: Insights from Management and Innovation Theories

Living a fulfilling life requires more than just achieving external success; it necessitates aligning our actions and choices with our values and principles. Today, we will explore some of the principles taught by Harvard Business School's Clayton Christensen, who believed that management and innovation theories can guide individuals towards not only building stronger companies but also leading better lives. By examining the concepts of career happiness, resource allocation, and living with integrity, we gain valuable insights into how to navigate the challenges and complexities of living a life of purpose and fulfillment.

Applying Management and Innovation Theories for a Fulfilling Life

In today's fast-paced world, where success is often measured by material wealth and external achievements, it is essential to take a step back and reflect on what truly brings happiness and fulfillment in life. In this article, we will explore the teachings of Harvard Business School's Christensen, who believes that the principles of management and innovation can not only build stronger companies but also help individuals lead better lives. By addressing questions about career satisfaction, meaningful relationships, and personal integrity, we can gain valuable insights into living a more fulfilling life.

Finding Career Happiness

Frederick Herzberg's assertion that the most powerful motivator is not money, but rather the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute, and be recognized, offers valuable guidance for finding happiness in one's career. Management, when practiced well, provides numerous avenues for individuals to find these opportunities and create a sense of fulfillment. It is crucial to shift the focus from merely buying, selling, and investing in companies to creating a work environment that fosters personal and professional growth.

Applying Resource Allocation Principles to Life

The principles of resource allocation, often used in business strategy, can also be applied to our personal lives. If we fail to manage our resources masterfully, the outcomes may differ greatly from our intended life strategies. Similar to the corporate world, without a clear sense of purpose, we may find ourselves wasting time and energy on short-term achievements that don't align with our true values and long-term goals. It is vital to define our purpose and allocate our resources accordingly to prioritize what truly matters to us.

Avoiding the Pitfall of Marginal Costs

Just as a focus on marginal costs can lead to poor corporate decisions, it can also lead individuals astray in their personal lives. The allure of the seemingly low cost of doing something wrong "just this once" can blind us to the long-term consequences. To live a life of integrity and fulfillment, it is crucial to define our values and set boundaries. By drawing a line in a safe place and understanding what we stand for, we can make decisions that align with our principles and avoid compromising our integrity.

Examples of Applying Management and Innovation Theories

Below are some examples of how we can apply management and innovation theories to reach for a more meaningful and fulfilling life:

  1. Career Happiness: Imagine a professional who values continuous learning and growth. Instead of solely pursuing job opportunities that offer higher salaries, they prioritize positions that provide a platform for personal development and the chance to contribute meaningfully. By seeking out companies that align with their values and offer a supportive work environment, they can build a fulfilling career that goes beyond monetary rewards.

  2. Resource Allocation in Relationships: Consider a person who understands the importance of investing time and energy into their relationships. They allocate their resources wisely, ensuring that they prioritize quality time with loved ones over material possessions or fleeting achievements. By nurturing these relationships consistently, they cultivate enduring sources of happiness in their personal life.

  3. Living with Integrity: Think of an individual who has defined their values and principles. They have set clear boundaries and are committed to upholding their integrity. When faced with dilemmas or temptations, they resist the allure of short-term gains and make decisions that align with their moral compass. By consistently living in alignment with their values, they cultivate a sense of inner peace and fulfillment.

The teachings of management and innovation theories can serve as a guide for leading a more fulfilling life. By prioritizing opportunities for growth and contribution in our careers, mastering resource allocation to align with our purpose, and setting boundaries to uphold our integrity, we can create a life that brings us true happiness and fulfillment. It is through intentional decision-making and self-reflection that we can shape our lives to be a reflection of our values and aspirations.

Potential Challenges You May Face When Trying to Live with Integrity

Living with integrity can be a noble pursuit, but it is not without its challenges. Here are some potential obstacles that individuals may encounter when trying to live with integrity:

  1. Temptations and Moral Dilemmas: One of the biggest challenges individuals face when striving to live with integrity is the presence of temptations and moral dilemmas. It can be tempting to compromise our values when faced with situations that offer short-term gains or when the line between right and wrong becomes blurry. Resisting these temptations and making choices that align with our principles requires strength, self-discipline, and a deep understanding of our values.

  2. External Pressures and Expectations: Living with integrity often means going against the grain and standing up for what we believe in, even when it goes against societal norms or the expectations of others. This can be particularly challenging when external pressures, such as peer pressure or societal expectations, push us to act in ways that contradict our values. It takes courage and conviction to stay true to ourselves and resist the pressure to conform.

  3. Ethical Dilemmas in the Workplace: In a professional setting, individuals may encounter ethical dilemmas that test their integrity. They may face situations where they must choose between doing what is right and what is expedient for the organization or their own career advancement. Navigating these dilemmas requires a strong moral compass, ethical decision-making skills, and the ability to balance the short-term consequences with long-term principles.

  4. Maintaining Consistency: Consistency is a crucial aspect of living with integrity. It means aligning our actions, behaviors, and decisions with our values consistently over time. However, maintaining consistency can be challenging when faced with conflicting priorities, changing circumstances, or the pressures of everyday life. It requires self-awareness, self-reflection, and a commitment to staying true to our values even in the face of adversity.

  5. Dealing with Consequences: Living with integrity may come with consequences, such as facing criticism, judgment, or even negative repercussions. When individuals choose to act in accordance with their values, they may encounter resistance or pushback from others who may not share the same principles. Overcoming these challenges requires resilience, the ability to handle criticism constructively, and a strong sense of self-worth.

Living with integrity is not always easy, as individuals may face various challenges along the way. However, by recognizing these potential obstacles and developing the necessary skills and mindset to navigate them, individuals can overcome these challenges and stay true to their values. It is through perseverance, self-reflection, and a commitment to personal growth that individuals can lead lives of integrity and fulfillment.


Incorporating management and innovation theories into our personal lives can provide a roadmap for living a more fulfilling life. By prioritizing opportunities for growth and contribution in our careers, mastering resource allocation to align with our purpose, and navigating the challenges of living with integrity, we can create lives that are in harmony with our values and aspirations. It is through intentional decision-making, self-reflection, and the willingness to face and overcome challenges that we can embark on a journey towards a more meaningful and fulfilling existence.


Jonathan H. Westover, PhD is Chief Academic & Learning Officer (HCI Academy); Chair/Professor, Organizational Leadership (UVU); OD Consultant (Human Capital Innovations). Read Jonathan Westover's executive profile here.



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