“Goals are for Losers” and “Passion Is Bullshit” are among the messages Dilbert creator Scott Adams shares in his new book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. And yes, this is a book about Success.
Adams is probably one of the most unlikely failures that you’ve ever heard of. And again, yes, we’re talking about Scott Adams. In his book, Adams takes a very personal approach to show how he failed his way to success, but did so using a system and a strategy that increased his odds of meeting up with Lady Luck.
Adams used a system to put himself into positions where he became successful through a series of failures and misfortunes that would knock most people to the ground and keep them there. It’s important to bear in mind that this is not an advice book. It’s the story of one person’s journey to success, and how he used his past failures to get there.
Adams really puts himself out there, discussing his career from hapless banker, then phone company worker to creating the wildly successful Dilbert. “My cartooning career … is a direct result of failing to succeed in the corporate environment,” he writes. He also reviews his many entrepreneurial adventures, how they failed and the lessons he learned from each. “Failure always brings something valuable with it,” he observes. “I don’t let it leave until I extract that value.”
Throughout his book, Adams opens up about his trials with a debilitating medical condition — spasmodic dysphonia — that nearly crippled his ability to draw and speak, then his search for a cure where there was none known. It could have ended his career as a cartoonist, writer and speaker. His journey to find and undergo an all or nothing surgery was, to say at the least, courageous.
In his chapter “Goals Versus Systems,” Adams sets out why goals are for losers, but having a system can bring a lifetime of achievement and satisfaction. Adams’s system – which he lays out in detail – begins with “optimizing your personal energy” through diet and exercise, then drills down into area such as learning multiple skills, controlling your ego and sticking things out for the long haul. If you’re skeptical, just bear in mind: It’s worked pretty well for Adams.
In “Math of Success,” he details all the skills – both soft and hard – that his system uses, and provides tips on how to acquire them. It’s a particular juicy chapter, with techniques and information you can use today.
Did I enjoy the book? Absolutely. Did I learn something? Quite a lot. How to Fail at Almost Everything is one of the few books that I notated and underlined throughout. Adams gets into ways of controlling and manipulating your own personal energy and priorities, increasing skills and capabilities, and changing your attitude to increase your marketability, and offers techniques for doing all of it.
Is Adams selling a product with all of this? No. He’s just showing how he was able to use the lessons from his failures as part of a system that creates the type of environment in which success can happen.
Who’s the book for? Well, I would have liked to have had it when I was in college or just starting out in my career as an engineer. Still, after more than 25 years in the tech business, I find it very useful. Bottom line: It’s a book for anyone who wants a successful and happy career.
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams is available online and at your local bookstore.