How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big – Book Review

how to fail

Scott Adams is the very successful creator of Dilbert.  He is also a very intelligent guy and sincerely interested in making the world a better place. In this book he gives advice on optimizing your chances for luck and success.  I found this book fascinating because I love learning from smart people who have figured out something I haven’t.

My top five most important take aways from this book were:

  1. Personal energy is your most important resource and the most important metric to track.  Ways to maximize your energy include diet, exercise, sleep, and having a flexible schedule.
  2. Goals Vs. Systems – Adams says goals are for losers.  Harsh words, but he goes on to say that you spend every moment before you reach your goal (if you reach it at all) feeling as if you are short of your goal.  In other words you exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that you hope will be temporary.  The smarter choice is to have a system for continuous improvement.  You succeed every time you apply your system, and this maintains your personal energy in the right direction.  There is a lot of discussion on how to create systems.
  3. Simplifing vs. Optimizing.  An optimizer looks for the very best solution even if extra complexity increases the odds of unexpected problems.  A simplifier looks for the simplest solution with the least chance of complexity complicating things.  Optimizers make elaborate plans that can collapse if one variable is not perfect – think traffic, road construction, an unexpected wait somewhere.  Simplifiers look for simple solutions that might take a bit of extra effort but have a good chance of working out.  Think of a dinner and movie night with friends.  You allow plenty of travel time, make a reservation at the restaurant, meet friends there rather than make elaborate plans to meet somewhere else and travel together.  You don’t tack on other errands or stops on the way.  Chances are you’ll be on time for your movie.  If you optimize the trip you might drop off the dry cleaning on the way, but find a big line waiting to pick up and have your time table go straight to hell.  Sometimes optimizing works and sometimes it doesn’t.  I tend to optimize – I combine all my errands in one big trip with an elaborate itinerary.  Somtimes this is great, sometimes not so much.  Nothing causes me stress like being late, and optimizing can cause the whole house of cards to collapse if one little thing goes wrong.  Simplifying sometimes makes more sense, especially when timing is critical or others are involved.
  4. Knowing when to quit.  No one wants to be a quitter, right? Persistence is a virtue and all.  He posits that things that will work out start out well.  So, if you have a great idea that you just can’t any traction with, maybe it isn’t such a wonderful idea after all, or the timing just isn’t right.  He cites examples like cell phones, the first clunky ones were eagerly purchased even though they were terribly flawed.
  5. Every skill you acquire doubles your chances of success.  Some skills, like business writing and a working understanding of psychology are more important than others.  I agree!  He gives a list of skills he recommends.

Adams invites us to think of ourselves as moist robots, rather than “skin bags of magic and mystery”.  Robots are programmable and we can program ourselves for success and happiness.   I do think we are also magical and mysterious, but I don’t find these two ideas so incompatible that I can’t accept both.

I found this book easy to read and did so quickly, since it was full of good ideas and well written to keep the reader interested in moving forward.

A big thumbs up to How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big, it’s definitely worth a read.

I’m going to create a morning system designed to get me off to a good start every day.  Right now my morning consists of lying around sipping coffee and goofing around on my Ipad for a couple of hours.  I can probably improve that!

 

 

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If I Knew I Could Not Fail

I recently joined a class on marketing and was required to answer this question –

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After some initial resistance, I dashed off some quick answers, and surprised myself!

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

  1.  Become #1  in revenue of all outside vendors in the consignment shop I sell in at the Indiana State Fair.  I don’t know how I would actually know I was #1, of course I don’t have access to other vendors’ revenue numbers.  Perhaps this isn’t such a  great goal.  Goals are supposed to measurable, right?  Maybe a better goal would be – sell $XXXX at the Fair.  Or double last year’s sales at the Fair.  So, I’d double last year’s revenue at the fair.  My revenue was $1,162.50, which means my goal is $2,325.00  That’s a big, scary goal!
  2. Have a functional website with a sales page.  Lots of learning to get to that point.  Seems a little overwhelming.
  3. Create more patterns for sale.  That will take a big time investment that I didn’t think I had available.  More about that later.
  4. Dye more yarns in slightly larger groups, instead of so many one off yarns.  That’s doable.
  5. Create a well organized dedicated dye studio, instead of having supplies here, the dye area there, fiber storage somewhere else in the house.  I was reading this list to my daughter, and she said, “What do you need?  Water?  Electricity? Shelving? Lights?  Oh you can easily create a dye studio, you should have Daddy move his weights, push that bunch of tools here, move those shelves, rearrange the laundry area, move that table and you’d be all set.  Sometimes it takes a fresh eye!

About time availability – one of the assignments  was to create a morning routine and policies.  Mine include a commitment to a certain number of hours dedicated to work, in little 1-2 hour chunks throughout my day, which is quite a change from my previous method of squeezing it in here and there, allowing my mind to get distracted by whatever I notice, and basically getting little done.  This idea of going “pro” and having an actual work schedule now looks like genius to me, of course.

I now dedicate about 4 hours per week day to work, working around the other things I need or want to do.  I still spend plenty of time outside and get my errands done.  But, I have accomplished more in the last two days that I did in a week before I had an actual schedule.  So I can see that I have a lot more time than I thought I did, and I’m committed to finishing a class on pattern writing I began long ago, and then I’ll start writing up a pattern or two that have been rattling around in my brain for a while.

Another benefit of this dedicated time I’ve noticed is that I’m much more organized, my office space is tidy, and I have time to think and plan.  Quite a remarkable change.  At the end of my last work period, around 5pm, I start to think about the next day and get set up for that.

For example, tomorrow I will spend some time working on setting up my dye area, and by the end of day I’ll feel like I made some real progress.

How would you answer the question?

For the folks who come here looking for pretty pictures of fiber, here’s something for you.

Pegasus Fingering Weight 100% Wool Yarn
Pegasus Fingering Weight 100% Wool Yarn

Until next time.  Happy knitting or whatever makes you happy!