Book Review – How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

I’m a long time reader of anything that goes out of Scott Adams’ hands: Dilbert comics, books, non-Dilbert books, his blog. He is smart, funny, and writes/speaks his mind in a way that makes you think about the world in a different way. And he’s getting even better because of having a lot of FYM as he describes it. And this book is a great example of that kind of that.

In “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big”, Scott tells his tale of how regardless of many failures he had in life, he managed to succeed. No, not just succeed. Succeed Bigly 😀. The proposed theory is that success in life is a mix of talent, effort, and luck. One can say that the only one that we control is effort, but that is not how he (and I) see things. If you lack talent but you work really, REALLY hard, you can get to be good at most things. Not the best, but really good. And for luck, it can be managed: “I pursued a conscious strategy of managing my opportunities in a way that would make it easier for luck to find me.”

As usual, I summarize by experience of this book with some quotes that I captured from it. Some are just funny and present the writing style, and some are deep and make you think:

  • “My mother, in the style of the times, told me I could do anything I set my sights on. She said I could be the president, an astronaut, or the next Charles Schulz. I believed her because at that point in my life I hadn’t yet noticed the pattern of her deceptions. Her lies included Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and something about a whale eating a guy named Jonah.”
  • “The problem is that our obsession with generosity causes people to think in the short term. We skip exercise to spend an extra hour helping at home. We buy fast food to save time to help a coworker with a problem. At every turn, we cheat our own future to appear generous today.”
  • “You can’t directly control luck, but you can move from a game with low odds of success to a game with better odds. That seems like an obvious strategy and you probably think you already do it. The hard part is figuring out the odds of any given game, and that’s harder than it looks.”
  • “If your view of the world is that people use reason for their important decisions, you are setting yourself up for a life of frustration and confusion… Few things are as destructive and limiting as a worldview that assumes people are mostly rational.”
  • “knowledge of psychology is the purest form of that power. No matter what you’re doing or how well you’re doing it, you can benefit from a deeper understanding of how the mind interprets its world using only the clues that somehow find a way into your brain through the holes in your skull.”
  • “people become unhappy if they have too many options in life. The problem with options is that choosing any path can leave you plagued with self-doubt. You quite rationally think that one of the paths not chosen might have worked out better. That can eat at you.”
  • “understand that goals are for losers and systems are for winners. People who seem to have good luck are often the people who have a system that allows luck to find them.”

I’m sure I missed many others, but that’s life. Loved the book, and will probably re-read it on day. Buy it from your preferred book seller.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.