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

Was my eventual success primarily a result of talent, luck, hard work, or an accidental just-right balance of each? All I know for sure is that I pursued a conscious strategy of managing my opportunities in a way that would make it easier for luck to find me.

When it comes to any big or complicated question, humility is the only sensible point of view.

My hypothesis is that passionate people are more likely to take big risks in the pursuit of unlikely goals, and so you would expect to see more failure and more huge successes among the passionate.

In hindsight, it looks as if the projects I was most passionate about were also the ones that worked. But objectively, my passion level moved with my success. Success caused passion more than passion caused success.

If success were easy, everyone would do it. It takes effort. That fact works to your advantage because it keeps lazy people out of the game.

Good ideas have no value because the world already has too many of them. The market rewards execution, not ideas. From that point on, I concentrated on ideas I could execute.

This was about the time I started to understand that 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.

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, focus is always important.

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.
Wishing starts in the mind and generally stays there. But when you decide to be successful in a big way, it means you acknowledge the price and you’re willing to pay it.

Success always has a price, but the reality is that the price is negotiable. If you pick the right system, the price will be a lot nearer to what you’re willing to pay.

When it comes to the topic of generosity, there are three kinds of people in the world: (1) Selfish (2) Stupid (3) Burden on others
That’s the entire list. Your best option is to be selfish, because being stupid or a burden on society won’t help anyone.

Being selfish doesn’t mean being a sociopath. It just means you take the long view on things.

Similarly, when you manage your personal energy, it’s not enough to maximize it in the short run or in one defined area. Ideally you want to manage your personal energy for the long term and the big picture.

My proposition is that organizing your life to optimize your personal energy will add up to something incredible that is more good than bad.

One of the most important tricks for maximizing your productivity involves matching your mental state to the task. For example, when I first wake up, my brain is relaxed and creative. The thought of writing a comic is fun, and it’s relatively easy because my brain is in exactly the right mode for that task.

Human nature is such that we’re good at following simple systems and not so good at following complicated systems.
Simple systems are probably the best way to achieve success. Once you have success, optimizing begins to have more value. Successful people and successful businesses have the luxury of being able to optimize towards perfection over time. Start-ups often do better by slapping together something that is 80 percent good and seeing how the public responds. There’s time to improve the thing later if the market cares about the product.

When you start asking questions, you often discover that there’s a simple solution, a Web site that handles it, or a professional who takes care of it for a reasonable fee.

It’s useful to think of your priorities in terms of concentric circles, like an archery target. In the center is your highest priority: you. If you ruin yourself, you won’t be able to work on any other priorities. So taking care of your own health is job one.
The next ring—and your second-biggest priority—is economics. That includes your job, your investments, and even your house.

Once you are both healthy and financially sound, it’s time for the third ring: family, friends, and lovers.

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 of you know a particular path will make you feel more stressed, unhealthy, and drained, it’s probably the wrong choice.

Smiling makes you feel better even if your smile is fake. This is the clearest example of how your brain has a user interface.

Once you become good at a few unimportant things, such as hobbies or sports, the habit of success stays with you on more important quests. When you’ve tasted success, you want more. And the wanting gives you the sort of energy that is critical to success.

The smartest system for discerning your best path to success involves trying lots of different things—sampling, if you will.

The pattern I noticed was this: Things that will someday work out well start out well. Things that will never work start out bad and stay that way. What you rarely see is a stillborn failure that transmogrifies into a stellar success.

Averages don’t mean much for entertainment projects. What you’re looking for is an unusually strong reaction from a subset of the public, even if the majority hates it.

It’s naive to expect the average person to embrace endless practice in pursuit of long-term success. It makes more sense to embrace your natural inclinations, assuming you’re not a cannibal.
If you’re not a natural practicer, don’t waste time pursuing a strategy that requires it. You simply need to pick a life strategy that rewards novelty seeking more than mindless repetition.

The success formula: every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success.
Success-wise, you’re better off being good at two complementary skills than being excellent at one.

If you think extraordinary talent and a maniacal pursuit of excellence are necessary for success, I say that’s just one approach, and probably the hardest. When it comes to skills, quantity often beats quality.

Another huge advantage of learning as much as you can in different fields is that the more concepts you understand, the easier it is to learn new ones.

The point is that while we all think we know the odds in life, there’s a good chance you have some blind spots. Finding those blind spots is a big deal.

Valuable kills for everyone: Public speaking, psychology, business writing, accounting, design, conversation, overcoming shyness, second language, golf, proper grammar, persuasion, technology, proper voice technique

When you understand the power of honest praise (as opposed to bullshitting, flattery, and sucking up), you realize that withholding it borders on immoral. If you see something that impresses you, a decent respect to humanity insists you voice your praise.

When I got the psychology right, either by accident or by cleverness, things worked out better. When I was blind to psychology, things went badly.
Few thing are as destructive and limiting as a worldview that assumes people are mostly rational.

Learn enough about accounting and spreadsheets that you understand the basics.

Learn just a few design tricks and people will think you’re smarter without knowing exactly why.

All you do is introduce yourself an ask questions until you find a point of mutual interest.
The point of conversation is to make the other person feel good.
You’ll need to take your conversation skills up a notch. And that means becoming the master of short but interesting stories.

It’s a good idea to always have a backlog of stories that you can pull out a moment’s notice. Storytelling is a learnable skill and not a genetic gift.

The secret of overcoming shyness by imagining you are acting instead of interacting.

Being a good persuader is like having a magic power.
Persuasive words: because, would you mind…?, i’m not interested, I don’t do that, I have a rule, I just wanted to clarify, is there anything you can do for me?, thank you, this is just between you and me.

Decisiveness looks like leadership. Keep in mind that most normal people are at least a little bit uncertain when facing unfamiliar and complicated situations. What people crave in that sort of environment is anything that looks like certainty. If you can deliver an image of decisiveness, no matter how disingenuous, others will see if as leadership.

I think my fake professional voice and body language were at least half of the reason I was seen as having management potential.

Hum the first part of Happy Birthday and then speak in your normal voice right after.
Simply speak the way you imagine a confident person would speak.
Substitute silence where you one had “ums” and “uhs”.

When it comes to in person humor, effort counts a lot. When people see you trying to be funny, it frees them to try it themselves.
So-called dry humor is the best strategy if you plan to go for quantity.
Over-complaining is never funny. Don’t overdo the self deprecation. Don’t mock people. Avoid puns and wordplay.

Affirmations are simply the practice of repeating to yourself what you want to achieve while imagining the outcome you want.

I find it helpful to see the world as a slot machine that doesn’t ask you to put money in. All it asks is your time, focus, and energy to pull the handle over and over. A normal slot machine that requires money will bankrupt any player in the long run. But the machine that has rare yet certain payoffs, and asks for no money up front, is a guaranteed winner if you have what it takes to keep yanking until you get lucky. In that environment, you can fail 99 percent of the time, while knowing that success is guaranteed. All you need to do is stay in the game long enough.

To change yourself, part of the solution might involve spending more time with the people who represent the change you seek.

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

The directional nature of happiness is one reason it’s a good idea to have a sport or hobby that leaves you plenty of room to improve every year.
Slow and steady improvement at anything makes you feel that you are on the right track. The feeling of progress stimulates your body to create the chemicals that make you feel happy.

Simply imagining a better future hacks your brain chemistry and provides you with the sensation of happiness today.

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