How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams



Scott Adams is a serial entrepreneur and creator of the famous Dilbert comic strip. His focus on persistence and continuous self-improvement has helped him achieve many things. This book is a collection of some of the most useful lessons that he has learned over the years.

14 lessons

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

– by Scott Adams –

1) Use systems instead of goals

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. Goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do.

2) Program your brain for a positive attitude

Your attitude affects everything you do in your quest for success and happiness. You can control your attitude by manipulating your thoughts, your body, and your environment.

3) The most important metric to track is your personal energy

One simple way to keep your priorities straight is by judging how each of your options will influence your personal energy. It’s not a foolproof gauge, but if you know a particular path will make you feel more stressed, unhealthy, and drained, it’s probably the wrong choice. Right choices can be challenging but they usually charge you up. When you’re on the right path, it feels right.

4) Every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success

You can raise your market value by being merely good – not extraordinary – at more than one skill. You’re better off being good at two complementary skills than being excellent at one. Obviously some skills are more valuable than others, but if you think of each skill in terms of doubling your chances of success, it will steer your actions more effectively than if you assume the benefits of learning a new skill will get lost in the rounding. When it comes to skills, quantity often beats quality.

5) Timing is everything

Timing is often the biggest component of success. And since timing is often hard to get right unless you are psychic, it makes sense to try different things until you get the timing right by luck.

6) Learn to filter truth from fiction

Realistically, most people have poor filters for sorting truth from fiction, and there’s no objective way to know if you’re particularly good at it or not. Consider the people who routinely disagree with you. See how confident they look while being dead wrong? That’s exactly how you look to them. When in comes to any big or complicated question, humility is the only sensible point of view.

7) Failure always brings something valuable with it

Failure is where success likes to hide in plain sight. Everything you want out of life is in that huge, bubbling vat of failure. The trick is to get the good stuff out. Failure is a tool, not an outcome. Failure is a resource that can be managed

8) Passion is overrated

It’s easy to be passionate about things that are working out, and that distorts our impression of the importance of passion. We humans tend to enjoy doing things we are good at, while not enjoying things we suck at. Sometimes passion is simply a by-product of knowing you will be good at something.

9) Focus

It helps a great deal to have at least a general strategy and some degree of focus. The world offers so many alternatives that you need a quick filter to eliminate some options and pay attention to others. Whatever your plan is, focus is always important.

10) If you want success, figure out the price and pay it

When you decide to be successful in a big way, it means you acknowledge the price and you’re willing to pay it. That price might be sacrificing your personal life to get good grades in school, pursuing a college major that is deadly boring but lucrative, putting off having kids, missing time with your family, or taking business risks that put you in jeopardy for embarrassment, divorce, or bankruptcy. Successful people don’t wish for success; they decide to pursue it.

11) Find the pattern in your failures

If you find yourself in a state of continual failure in your personal or business life, you might be blaming it on fate or karma or animal spirits or some other form of magic when the answer is simple math. There’s usually a pattern, but it might be subtle. Don’t stop looking just because you don’t see the pattern in the first few years.

12) Spend time with the right people

Humans are social animals. There are probably dozens of ways we absorb energy, inspiration, skills, and character traits from those around us. Sometimes the people around us give us information we need, or encouragement, or contacts, or even useful criticism. We can’t always know the mechanism by which others change our future actions, but it’s pretty clear it happens, and it’s important.

13) Internalize positive affirmations about your future

Affirmations are simply the practice of repeating to yourself what you want to achieve while imagining the outcome you want. You can write it, speak it, or just think it in sentence form. Affirmations help you focus, boost your optimism and energy, and perhaps validate the talent and drive that your subconscious always knew you had.

14) A healthy diet and exercise help build a strong personal foundation

Focus on your diet first and get that right so you have enough energy to want to exercise. Exercise will further improve your energy, and that in turn will make you more productive, more creative, more positive, more socially desirable, and more able to handle life’s little bumps.