Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

{5/5} “A goal is a specific objective that you either achieve or don’t sometime in the future. A system is something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run.”

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams, published in 2013

Adams is most known for being the creator of the Dilbert comic strip. Why should you listen to him? Because he’s brilliant. He approaches life a bit different from the average person, and most of us can learn from him.

His main idea in this book is that systems are better than goals for leading you to success. A key sub-idea is that failure is a tool you can use on the way to success. Adams draws lessons from his many failures, including the time he had spasmodic dysphoria¬† — he couldn’t talk in most contexts for several years. Here’s Adams’ recipe for happiness: a flexible schedule, imagination, diet, exercise, and sleep. He shows that you can manage your attitude, and being good at a bunch of things can be better than being amazing at one.

Adams has tried a lot of different things and tells you what works for him, while making it clear that some of it might not work for you. The book contains some humour, but it’s mostly serious. Adams’ style is easy to read, and he will convince you of the merits of at least most of his ideas. There’s a lot in this book — I’m fairly certain you’ll find something useful.

Here are a few more quotations:

  • When it comes to big or important questions, humility is the only sensible point of view.
  • The best way to increase your odds of success — in a way that might look like luck to others — is to systematically become good, but not amazing, at the types of skills that work well together and are highly useful for just about any job.
  • Looking at the familiar in new ways can change your behaviour even when the new point of view focuses on the imaginary.
  • You don’t need to know why something works to take advantage of it.
  • We can’t always know the mechanism by which others change our future actions, but it’s pretty clear it happens.
  • Think of your body as a moist, programmable robot whose outputs depend on its inputs, not magic.

I’ve read many Dilbert comics including a couple of collections, and I regularly read Adams’ blog.

This entry was posted on Saturday, July 4th, 2015 at 8:08 pm and is filed under Reviews of books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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