Review of How To Fail At Anything And Still Win Big
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I’ve seen this book mentioned a few different times by Mike Cernovich, but I only became seriously interested in it when I started reading the author, Scott Adams’, blog. While you may not know who Scott Adams is, you most certainly are familiar with his famous comic strip, Dilbert. In How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, Adams delivers exactly what he promises in the title of the book: a series of strategies that help him win big in his personal life despite encountering numerous failures and obstacles. I really appreciated How to Fail because I could see a few of my own thoughts reflected in Adams’.
I’m a big proponent of learning through failure. Adams gives detailed accounts of how he tried something, failed, what he learned in failing, and how he applied what he learned to his next endeavor. My biggest criticism of the self-improvement industry is the fact that almost everyone tries to spin the same old information that we all know in a new direction. This isn’t to say that telling people to “learn from your failures” is wrong. It’s not. But it’s effectively useless advice because we often aren’t privy to how, exactly, the author learned from his. In chapter 4, “Some of My Many Failures in Summary Form” (one of the longest chapters in the book) and chapter 5, “My Absolute Favorite Spectacular Failure,” Adams mentions his biggest failures, the lessons he learned, and how these failures taught him something useful for next time. These chapters are early on in the book and for good reason. Once he has established that he’s a big failure who’s managed to become famous and rich, you start to believe that you can do it too.
In order to guide you in your pursuit of an ideal life, Adams discusses how to manage your personal energy. Adams believes that your personal energy is the most important metric to track and he discusses the methods for doing so in several chapters. He also discusses his strategy for setting goals. In short, he thinks setting goals is for losers. Instead, he recommends systems. Many of the stories he shares and the lessons he learned from them detail how to build these systems. A natural part of the construction process is acquiring skills. Adams explains in detail how each added skill increases your chance of succeeding. He doesn’t simply tell you that adding skills is important; the man devotes an entire chapter, 43 pages, to detailing the specific skills you should learn and how those skills will bring you closer to the life of your dreams.
Scott Adams also speaks, at length, on the proper mindsets to have. These are designed to serve as a foundation to aid you in getting more out of this world. Adams gives detailed treatments on how people should look at and manage luck, how to decide whether you should optimize or simplify a task, affirmations, and how to prime your mind to see failure.
Some ideas that I immediately put into play in my own life were from his sections on pattern recognition, managing your odds of success, and practice. Adams shares examples from his life, stories in which he was, at first, doing poorly. He then shares how he improved to demonstrate the importance of these three ideas. And he, of course, tells you how you can do the same.
To summarize this review, I’ll summarize the summary that Adams provides in the final chapter. Reading this book, you will learn how to manage your personal energy levels. With these energy levels optimized, you’ll then need to manage your luck. A lot of that work will come down to recognizing and optimizing patterns. You’ll be in a much better position to exploit patterns as you learn different skills. To facilitate all of this, you’ll need to learn how to use affirmations. When it’s all said and done, you will have set aside your goals in favor of employing a system that will run on autopilot and carry you closer to the life you desire to live.
And remember this: “Failure is your friend. It is the raw material of success.”