Review: “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big” by Scott Adams

Thumbs up
for How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams. Psychology.

I’m allergic to self-help books—not because I’m not interested in getting better at being a human being, but because almost all of them are full of “follow your dreams and think positively and you will be happy and wealthy” advice, despite all of recorded history amply demonstrating that this is false. This book, on the other hand, refreshingly contains a chapter called “Passion is Bullshit.” If you react with knee-jerk objection to that statement, you should definitely read this book, because he’s right, and he explains why. It is hard to convey to you how full of useful, practical wisdom this is. Do you know how many post-it notes I usually put in a book? Maybe three, tops. This one has SEVENTEEN, marking hugely diverse topics such as the importance of systems vs. goal thinking, deciding vs. wanting, enlightened selfishness, daydreaming, quitting, skill acquisition, and a boatload of other things, like why everyone, including Adams, is probably wrong about most things:

My main point about perceptions is that you shouldn’t hesitate to modify your perceptions to whatever makes you happy, because you’re probably wrong about the underlying nature of reality anyway. If I had to bet my life, I’d say humans are more like my dog trying to use psychic powers on me to play fetch than we are like enlightened creatures that understand their environment at a deep level. Every generation before us believed, like [Adams’s dog] Snickers, that it had things figured out. We now know every generation before us was wrong about a lot of it. Is it likely that you were born at the tipping point of history, in which humans know enough about reality to say we understand it? This is another case where humility is your friend. When you can release on your ego long enough to view your perceptions as incomplete or misleading, it gives you freedom to imagine new and potentially more useful ways of looking at the world.


If you enjoyed this post, please share it!