David A. Antler

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

Kind of the Story of My Life

By Scott Adams

Read: 2016-10-05
Rating: 8/10
ISBN: 978-1591846918

Short, punchy, and easy to read. A couple useful ideas about having systems, and one system in particular is to optimize your decision making to maximize your energy.

my notes

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard goes something like this: If you want success, figure out the price, then pay it. It sounds trivial and obvious, but if you unpack the idea it has extraordinary power.

One day a district manager position opened and I was a contender, or so I thought. My boss’s boss’s boss called me into his office and explained that the order had come down to stop promoting white males. Pacific Bell had a diversity problem, and it might take years to fix it, if it was ever fixed. My bid for upper management at Pacific Bell was officially a failure.

The most important form of selfishness involves spending time on your fitness, eating right, pursuing your career, and still spending quality time with your family and friends.

The way I approach the problem of multiple priorities is by focusing on just one main metric: my energy. I make choices that maximize my personal energy because that makes it easier to manage all of the other priorities.

So while writing takes me away from my friends and family for a bit, it makes me a better person when I’m with them. I’m happier and more satisfied with my life. The energy metric helps make my choices easier.

I’ll define your personal energy as anything that gives you a positive lift, either mentally or physically.

If you give an ant infinite time, it can move a mountain all by itself.

simple trick you might try involves increasing your ratio of happy thoughts to disturbing thoughts. If your life doesn’t provide you with plenty of happy thoughts to draw upon, try daydreaming of wonderful things in your future. Don’t worry that your daydreams are unlikely to come true.

Putting yourself in that imagination-fueled frame of mind will pep you up. Imagination is the interface to your attitude. You can literally imagine yourself to higher levels of energy.

Will it succeed? Probably not. But the idea of it excites me and raises my energy today. That’s my system.

Writing a book is hard work—far harder than most people imagine, and you probably imagine it to be plenty hard. The way I motivate myself to take on a task this large is by imagining that I have fascinating and useful things to say that will help people. The reality might be quite different. I can’t see the future, so I have the option of imagining it in whatever way gives me the greatest utility. I choose to imagine that the book will do well because that illusion is highly motivating. It increases my energy.

To put the success formula into its simplest form: Good + Good > Excellent Successwise, you’re better off being good at two complementary skills than being excellent at one.

I don’t read the news to find truth, as that would be a foolish waste of time. I read the news to broaden my exposure to new topics and patterns that make my brain more efficient in general and to enjoy myself, because learning interesting things increases my energy and makes me feel optimistic. Don’t think of the news as information. Think of it as a source of energy.

Step one in your search for happiness is to continually work toward having control of your schedule.

Happiness has more to do with where you’re heading than where you are. A person who is worth two billion dollars will feel sad if he suddenly loses one billion because he’s moving in the wrong direction, even if the change has no impact on his ability to buy what he wants. But a street person will celebrate discovering a new Dumpster behind an upscale restaurant because it means good eating ahead.

Pessimism is often a failure of imagination. If you can imagine the future being brighter, it lifts your energy and gooses the chemistry in your body that produces a sensation of happiness. If you can’t even imagine an improved future, you won’t be happy no matter how well your life is going right now.

Happiness is the natural state for most people whenever they feel healthy, have flexible schedules, and expect the future to be good.

the primary culprit in your bad moods is a deficit in one of the big five: flexible schedule, imagination, sleep, diet, and exercise.

I no longer had a primary purpose in life because I’d already achieved it. It was an eerie feeling, unreal and unsettling. I had no kids at the time, so I had no reason to achieve anything more. I’d dipped well below my baseline happiness and I wasn’t rebounding.