Book Notes: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

By Scott Adams. 231 pages.

NOTE: Whenever I read a nonfiction book, I like to summarize the ‘meat’ of it, the parts that really had value to me (I copied the idea from Derek Sivers). So, fair warning: this is less a book summary and more a ‘points I liked in a book’ summary.

I don’t always agree with Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame), but it’s hard for me to disagree with most of what he says here. The meat:

Have Priorities

In order of priority:

  1. Look after yourself first. This involves eating right, exercising, avoiding unnecessary stress and getting enough sleep.
  2. Look after your economics. That includes your job, your investments, and even your house.
  3. Look after all the other things. Your family, community, country and the world.

Key Concepts

  • Focus on energy, not time. “I make choices that maximize my personal energy because that makes it easier to manage all of the other priorities.”
  • Have a system, not a goal. “Set process goals rather than outcome goals. Stop telling yourself you’re going to write the great American novel, and tell yourself you’re going to do 500 words a day”
  • Success Creates Passion More Than Passion Creates Success
  • Fake it until you make it. Acting powerful can make you feel powerful.
  • Choose positive stories over negative ones. Stories we tell ourselves are powerful, and we voluntarily choose them.
  • Be selfish. Take care of your own needs first.
  • Manage your attitude.
  • Use affirmations.
  • Don’t assume people are rational or make rational decisions. Mostly, they aren’t and don’t.

Chapter 21: The Math of Success

  • See the world as math, not magic.
  • You need to figure out the odds. Are you clear about the odds in your life?
  • ‘You can’t directly control luck, but you can move from a game with low odds of success to a game with better odds.’ Scott Adams
  • Learn to find the blind spots in your life
  • When you fail, there is usually some pattern that caused it. Learn to figure out what is that pattern
  • Learn to be positive
  • Learn about psychology and cognitive traps
  • Learn to know what you are vulnerable against
  • Make psychology your lifelong study
  • Knowledge is power. But knowledge of psychology is the purest form of that power.
  • Learn to fake social confidence
  • Look for something in common
  • Ask questions and don’t complain too much
  • Let others talk and change topic when you get stuck
  • Make the other party feel good
  • Smile and keep your body language open
  • Be a master of short stories
  • Find out who are the thing people and the people people (which interests them)
  • People respond to your energy levels. It is contagious.

Chapter 22: Pattern Recognition

  • Continually look for patterns in life
  • Measure your chances of success
  • Learn to imitate the successful people
  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People are rather good: Be Proactive; Begin with the end in mind; Put first things first; Think win-win; Seek first to understand then be understood; Synergize; Sharpen the saw by learning.
  • Good health is a baseline requirement for success. Sick people can’t get much don
  • Success is a learnable skill

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