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How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life

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Scott Adams has likely failed at more things than anyone you’ve ever met or anyone you’ve even heard of. So how did he go from hapless office worker and serial failure to the creator of Dilbert, one of the world’s most famous syndicated comic strips, in just a few years? In How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, Adams shares the strategy he has used since he was a teen to invite failure in, to embrace it, then pick its pocket.

No career guide can offer advice for success that works for everyone. As Adams explains, your best bet is to study the ways of others who made it big and try to glean some tricks and strategies that make sense for you. Adams pulls back the covers on his own unusual life and shares what he learned for turning one failure after another into something good and lasting. Adams reveals that he failed at just about everything he’s tried, including his corporate career, his inventions, his investments, and his two restaurants. But there’s a lot to learn from his personal story, and a lot of humor along the way. While it’s hard for anyone to recover from a personal or professional failure, Adams discovered some unlikely truths that helped to propel him forward. For instance:

• Goals are for losers. Systems are for winners.
• "Passion" is bull. What you need is personal energy.
• A combination of mediocre skills can make you surprisingly valuable.
• You can manage your odds in a way that makes you look lucky to others.

248 pages, Hardcover

First published October 22, 2013

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About the author

Scott Adams

185 books1,164 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Adams was born in Windham, New York in 1957 and received his Bachelor's degree in Economics from Hartwick College in 1979.

He also studied economics and management for his 1986 MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.

In recent years, Adams has been hurt with a series of debilitating health problems. Since late 2004, he has suffered from a reemergence of his focal dystonia which has affected his drawing. He can fool his brain by drawing using a graphics tablet. On December 12, 2005, Adams announced on his blog that he also suffers from spasmodic dysphonia, a condition that causes the vocal cords to behave in an abnormal manner. However, on October 24, 2006, he again blogged stating that he had recovered from this condition, although he is unsure if the recovery is permanent. He claims to have developed a method to work around the disorder and has been able to speak normally since. Also, on January 21, 2007, he posted a blog entry detailing his experiences with treatment by Dr. Morton Cooper.

Adams is also a trained hypnotist, as well as a vegetarian. (Mentioned in, "Dilbert: A Treasury of Sunday Strips 00).

He married Shelly Miles on July 22, 2006.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,759 reviews
Profile Image for Liz.
23 reviews39 followers
November 11, 2013
Preface: I randomly bought this book on my kindle when its ad popped up after I opened my kindle cover. I have a habit of impulsively buying/downloading arbitrary books onto my kindle and because thus far I've always been pleased with my stray purchases influenced by Amazon's ads, I don't object to the marketing. I didn't know who Scott Adams is. I've heard of the Dilbert comic strip but that's it; never read them. I've never read any of his works until this book. My opinion of this book? Absolutely worth my time and mere $12. Reading the book was akin somewhat to how I think it would be like to have the good fortune of knowing a sharp, successful, resolute person who was willing to share his thoughts, over time and many coffee get-togethers, on his success and life in general.

Tongue in cheek title but quite a fresh, enlightening book that actually is more aptly described as 'How to Think towards and about Success'. This is a book of opinions. That make good sense. Nothing earth shattering but rarely is anything that is simultaneously difficult and easy to do novel or original. Jim Rohn used to explain that behaviors that are conducive to the path toward success are easy to do but also easy not to do. The value in Adam's thoughts come in the form of offering his experiences and methods in his own life on making it easier to do the right behaviors, and thus making it easier for him and us to choose the successful habits. Adam's book offers his macro view of what allows for success, what greases the wheels for success. And how not to get hung up on popular concepts like "passion". Great short chapter on the fallacy behind being fed advice to "follow your passion" which Adams reasons can be detrimentally misleading. In short, readers will be better off simply reading this single chapter and understanding Adam's explanation that success is more a factor in causing passion than passion is in causing success and that energy is good but the concept of passion can be bullcrap, as Adams says.

I don't mind reading opinionated thoughts because I am sufficiently confident that I can ferret out what I need and want from them without getting hung up on them. (There are some weird opinions on hypnosis and notion of humans as holograms in a computer software program that were wasted on me…but it's all good; I still like the book….) I very much liked Adam's "How to Fail at Almost Everything" precisely because he didn't strain over proving his logic or overwhelm us with justifications for his methods. He shares with us his thoughts: he shares a simplified extract of his personal thought processes and offers them as an example of how such might facilitate our own path toward our ideas of success. Adams offers patterns he's observed in his life that can prove useful and ways to think of concepts that are more practical over popular alternatives that tend to weigh us down with intricate methodical scientifically proven plans that may not be easy to sustain in the long-run.

There are some core, foundational aspects in our lives that Adams lays out that need attention in order for us to find our success. Adams believes that you need to tend to the groundwork for success by tending to your mind and body so as to allow yourself and your own set of talents and strengths to surface and flourish. Success is not easy but it's achievable...for anyone. Adams provides a set of skills and areas of knowledge towards which he thinks we should all vow a lifetime commitment to honing, learning and mastering. These make up a manageable and sensible list that will help in dealing with life and other people.

There are a lot of great thoughts packed into this book, little nuggets here and there that you really must extract for yourself because your nuggets will undoubtedly differ from mine. My personal favorite system-based concepts include the following, all of which cannot be adequately expressed through such a list without reading Adam's presentation of them:

1. "If you believe people use reason for the important decisions in life, you will go through life feeling confused and frustrated that others seem to have bad reasoning skills." So damn true, Mr. Adams.
2. Success/Passion fallacy of thinking. It's all comes down to your personal energy.
3. Simplify your systems, thus simplifying your life.
4. Good ideas have no value - it's all about execution, Baby.
5. Always be looking for your next better job options as soon as you get your current job.
6. Appearance matters (don't shrug...common sense yet not common)
7. Systems are ongoing; it doesn't matter if you can't tell their components are moving you towards the right direction on a daily basis.
8. Wishing is for losers. Decide to pay the price and then pay it.
9. Manage your illusions wisely and you might get what you want even if you don't understand why or how it worked.
10. Careful who you surround yourself with.
11. Everyone "is a basket case on the inside."
12. "If you do selfishness right, you automatically become a net benefit to society."
Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,239 reviews2,229 followers
August 27, 2018
I don't think anyone reads Scott Adams for serious life insights. All of us who are familiar with Dilbert knows his ferocious tongue-in-cheek humour, especially targeting the stupidities of the corporate world. So that was what I was expecting while I took up this book to while away a long flight - something on the lines of Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook.

It started well, with gems such as the following:

Making comics is a process by which you strip out the unnecessary noise from a situation until all that is left is the absurd-yet-true core.

I’m not too proud to admit that given a choice between saying what’s true and saying what’s funny, I’ll take the path with the greatest entertainment value.

In our messy, flawed lives, the nearest we can get to truth is consistency. Consistency is the bedrock of the scientific method. Scientists creep up on the truth by performing controlled experiments and attempting to observe consistent results. In your everyday, nonscientist life you do the same thing, but it’s not as impressive, nor as reliable. For example, if every time you eat popcorn, one hour later you fart so hard that it inflates your socks, you can reasonably assume popcorn makes you gassy. It’s not science, but it’s still an entirely useful pattern. Consistency is the best marker of truth that we have, imperfect though it may be.

However, as I proceeded further, this slowly moved into self-help book territory; with Adams speaking of the need for a "system" rather than a goal; about positive energy; and all that sort of rot. Then he began to praise selfishness! I had to rub my eyes and look again. No, he was not being sarcastic but in right earnest. My God! I thought. How did Ayn Rand sneak into this?

Then I came across the following passage:

Capitalism is rotten at every level, and yet it adds up to something extraordinarily useful for society over time. The paradox of capitalism is that adding a bunch of bad-sounding ideas together creates something incredible that is far more good than bad. Capitalism inspires people to work hard, to take reasonable risks, and to create value for customers. On the whole, capitalism channels selfishness in a direction that benefits civilization, not counting a few fat cats who have figured out how to game the system.

No, the guy was not having a joke at my expense. This was written in all sincerity.

I closed the book and slept the rest of the flight.
Profile Image for Dragos Pătraru.
51 reviews2,494 followers
January 30, 2020
Nu cred în obiective care trebuie atinse. Nu cred deloc în modul ăsta de lucru. Chiar dacă și eu îmi stabilesc obiective de când mă știu, nu m-a preocupat foarte serios realizarea lor într-un timp dat.
M-am concentrat mai degrabă pe punerea la punct a unor sisteme de lucru funcționale, care să permită atât riscul controlat cât și învățarea permanentă din greșeli.
Mai mult decât atât, cred că succesul nu poate veni fără dezvoltarea unor abilități multiple. Câte lucruri care aparent nu sunt legate între ele poți face foarte bine? Dacă te descurci la mai mult de trei, n-ai cum să eșuezi. Nimeni nu va mai angaja oameni care știu să facă foarte bine doar un singur lucru.

Și mai e vorba despre stilul de viață și de oamenii pe care alegi să-i ai alături. Ai un stil de viață sănătos, o alimentație bună, bazată pe legume și fructe, faci sport și te-ai înconjurat de oameni pozitivi și creativi, care înțeleg că trebuie să munciți împreună, într-o atmosferă bună, relaxată, distractivă chiar, atunci ești ok, succesul vine, e doar o chestiune de timp.
Dar nici nu trebuie să ai succesul drept obiectiv, pentru că sistemul pe care l-ai pus la punct e modul tău de viață și îți permite să trăiești, să nu amâni viața până la succesul pe care te gândești tu că-l vei obține, sacrificând totul pe drum.

Și voiam să vă spun că am găsit o carte care vorbește mișto despre lucrurile astea. Se numește How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life. E scrisă de Scott Adams, am citit-o zilele astea și mi-a plăcut. Și-am zis să v-o recomand și vouă. Dacă sunteți cuminți, voi discuta despre ea în ediția din această săptămână a podcastului Vocea nației. Și dacă vrei să vezi podcastul video, activează abonamentul pe youtube. Cu 9,99 lei lunar primești emisiunea Starea nației înainte ca ea să fie difuzată la tv și primești conținut exclusiv, cum ar fi podcastul în variantă video (după ce depășim 2000 de abonați, mai avem puțin până acolo), interviuri și alte producții pe care le pregătim. Mulțumim.

Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,659 followers
August 10, 2019
Dude writes a self-help book--the first third of which is a big complaint about the "diversity ceiling," meaning that he kept not getting promoted because he was a white man. Fine, but it then undercuts his point about learning from failures and moving on. He clearly did not. Also, there's a lot of positive thinking and "the secret" magic talk in here. He keeps saying: "I am not saying I got this success because I thought real hard about it, but that's the only thing that makes sense."
415 reviews6 followers
December 24, 2013
I love the Dilbert comics and The Dilbert Principle, so I thought this book would be an entertaining read. The book was initially rather funny, but became rather serious as it progressed. Any sprinkling of humour after the first few pages felt merely facetious rather than truly comical.

I also felt a little cheated. Adams claims he’s got mediocre talent in writing, drawing and humour, and that his success was due to his being able to combine his several mediocre skills into a winning combination. But I feel that the humour in his Dilbert comics is first rate and the writing is witty and razor sharp. Throughout the book, he tries to downplay his own talent to make it seem like success is possible for anyone, but it is so obviously not true. Other than his talents, it is clear from his stories that he has a measure of tenacity and optimism that most people probably do not possess.

He also makes a big claim that one should not do something one is passionate in, but something one is good in, as being good in it will make it more likely for one to encounter success, and success will make one passionate. Yet, later, he says that one way to figure out what one should be working at is to think about what one was obsessed about as a child, and he explains at length about his childhood passion with drawing!

I did find some useful and interesting information in the book though. Some were commonsensical, such as to build in an exercise routine (good health + good diet = good energy level, which is essential for success). But there were other more unique nuggets, such as having a system being more important than having a goal (he makes an interesting case for missing the occasional exercise session at the gym – the system of having an exercise routine is more important than the goal of going every day), and looking for patterns in life to figure out what works.
Profile Image for Stefan Kanev.
125 reviews206 followers
January 14, 2015
This book is awesome!

Some context first: when I got this book, I had no idea what it was about. I just saw a book from Scott Adams, author of one of my favorite comics (Dilbert) and thought "It might be very interesting to read a book by this guy". It remained on my shelf for a few months and eventually I was bored and started reading it. And I really, really liked it.

It's part self-help, part autobiography. Adams tells a couple of personal story and outlines his personal view on life. He invites readers to not treat his words as an advice, but as a data point to form their own opinions. He makes some very nice points that resonate with me:

* Systems are more important than goals. Chasing after goals is hard and risky. Instead, it is better to set up a system and follow it.
* The most important metric is personal energy. One should not optimize for getting stuff done, but for feeling energetic as much as possible.
* Diet and fitness are really important. If you have those right, things fall into their places more easily.

Even if you take just 2% of this book, it's still worth reading it. It makes some very good points. And it's very enjoyable to read.
Profile Image for ScienceOfSuccess.
107 reviews188 followers
September 18, 2021
Summary of many books like The "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" or "Influence" mixed with Scott biography...
Profile Image for Kirsten Mortensen.
Author 32 books78 followers
January 13, 2014
Giving this three stars for purely subjective reasons.

The book is on the whole very good: a mix of memoir and advice from someone who has made it big and wants to share some of the things he learned along the way.

Where it fell apart for me was when he started talking diet. Adams jokes that you shouldn't take diet advice from a cartoonist. That should have inoculated me against reacting the way I did, but alas, it didn't. The problem is threefold: dietary success is based on a staggering mix of variables; the odds that any given reader will actually be helped by copying what Adams does is staggeringly small; and the odds that Adams' advice will run counter to any given reader's personal experience is staggeringly large.

Which is what happened with me. So I ended up skimming and skimming to get past the diet-y stuff. Which left me feeling disappointed -- like I'd only gotten two thirds of a book.

That said, the material Adams shares about things like using systems instead of goals is very interesting and worthwhile to consider. So I'd recommend the book as a bit of pleasant New Year's Resolution-type reading. Just be prepared to discover that -- unless you want validation for vegetarianism and fear-of-the-fat-in-cheese -- there will be some throwaway chapters toward the end.
Profile Image for Arminius.
205 reviews50 followers
July 28, 2016
I enjoyed this book very much. In it Scott Adams, the author of the comic strip Dilbert, tells us how he accomplished a very successful life after years perceiving himself as a failure.

First he states that all his failures prepared him for his success. We tend to learn from our failures things that may help us in the future. He also proposed do not set goals instead use a system to accomplish tasks. An example of a system approach was told to him by a CEO of a screw making company. The CEO told him that when he was young once he got a job, he continued to look for a better one. And finally worked his way up to CEO.

Furthermore, he insists that good health is essential to success. He is a vegetarian who eats as much as he wants because it is all fruits and vegetables and as a result never gains weight. He also believes that exercise is essential. These practices will make you look better therefore increasing your chance at jobs and at making new friendships.

Some tips he offers is eating cheese because cheese is filling. Exercise at the same time every day. If feeling lazy try drinking a cup of coffee to perk you up so you will exercise.

He, in addition, proposes that is better to be good at many things rather than being great at one thing.
Additionally, he has tried and had a lot of success using affirmations.

He lists in his book everything he eats and the last chapter is a summarization of the entire book. I rate this book very highly for a Self Help book.

Profile Image for Mohit Parikh.
Author 3 books185 followers
June 16, 2020
Read about 60-70%
Witty, prudent, anecdotal. Could have been shorter/funnier.
My biggest takeaway would be the systems vs goal theory. Makes so much sense.
101 reviews15 followers
January 16, 2017
موضوع اصلی این کتاب اینه که راه رسیدن به موفقیت با ایجاد سیستم خیلی راحت تر و محتمل تر می شه و تعیین هدف های مشخص و دقیق بر خلاف نظر رایج باعث شکست و ناامیدی می شه. وقتی کار خاص یا هدف معینی رو دنبال می کنیم و به دنبال رسیدن اون هستیم تا قبل از رسیدن به اون حس نرسیدن به هدف(شکست) داریم و اگه بهش نرسیم این حس شدیدتر و دائمی می شه. کما اینکه هدف دقیق شاید از کنترل ما خارج باشه و عدم دست یابی به اون حس ناامیدی و ناتوانی رو هم به ما منتقل کنه. که این احساسات و جنبه های منفی توی زمینه های مختلف توی بلند مدت خسته مون می کنه. اما سیستم یک روند دائمیه که توی بلندمدت شانس ما رو برای رسیدن به شادی بیشتر می کنه. در نتیجه به جای تعیین هدف به سیستم متمرکز بشیم. مثلا اگه بحث تندرستی مطرح بشه، کاهش وزن یک هدفه، اما تغذیه و تحرک کافی یک سیستمه.
برای بیشتر زمینه ها توی زندگی می شه سیستم طراحی و دنبال کرد. مثلا دنبال کردن علاقه توی کسب و کار چرنده. باید طرح کسب و کارتون عملی باشه و حاضر باشین زحمت بکشین تا به نتیجه برسین. موفقیت توی هر زمینه باعث می شه تا بیشتر به این موضوع علاقه مند بشین.
به جای زمان، بهتره انرژی خودتون رو مدیریت بکنین. برنامه خودتون رو طوری طرح ریزی کنین که کمترین نیاز رو به قوی بودن اراده داشته باشه. چون هر برنامه ای که اجراش نیازمند اراده قوی توی بلند مدت باشه شکست می خوره. برای مدیریت انرژی هم اول رژیم غذایی تون رو کنترل کنین، بعد هم روزانه ورزش کنین. و مهارت های جدید یاد بگیرین. به قول نویسنده هر مهارت جدیدی که یاد بگیرین شانس موفقیت تون رو دو برابر می کنه. مهارت های خودتون رو با هم ترکیب کنین و شروع کنین خلق کردن. یک سری مهارت هایی هستن که قابل انتقال به حوزه های مختلف هستن. اگه این مهارت ها رو یاد بگیرین می تونین خیلی جاها ازشون استفاده کنین: سخنرانی، روانشناسی، نوشتن تجاری، حسابداری، طراحی، گفتگو، غلبه به خجالت، زبان دوم، گرامر صحیح، گلف بازی، متقاعد کردن، تکنولوژی و به کارگیری تکنیک های مناسب برای استفاده از صداتون.
خوب بخوابین، مثبت فکر کنین، کاری کنین که برنامه زمانی تون انعطاف پذیر باشه، روی چیزهایی کار کنین که قابل ارتقا باشن، با ایجاد روتین تعداد تصمیم هایی که باید بگیرین رو کم کنین.
بگردین الگوها رو توی جنبه های مختلف زندگی پیدا کنین. با این کار از شکست ها جلوگیری می کنین و موفقیت ها رو تکرار می کنین. شانس مهمه. اما می تونین شانس خودتون رو بالا ببرین. آماده باشین. و وقتی فرصتی دیدین تردید نکنین.
جمله های تاکیدی برای خودتون ایجاد کنین و با خودتون تکرار کنین.
این موضوع رو توی بخش های مختلف در کنار خاطرات خودش از موفقیت ها و شکست ها و مشکلاتی که داشته با زبانی ساده و طنزآمیز بیان کرده. توی نوع خودش خوب بود. از ساده سازی ها و منطق پراگماتیکش خوشم اومد.
Profile Image for Santhosh.
128 reviews152 followers
March 28, 2016
I wish I could have got hold of this a few years ago. It sure would have saved me some time and energy in acquiring some of the not-so-common sense and self-awareness as an adult. Definitely a book I'd recommend.

These are mostly personal opinions of Scott, derived from patterns he's observed, on things that he considers are required to succeed at a practical level. I knowingly nodded my head at most of the book, while some parts did result in a puzzled frown. There are also workable mind hacks that might help us do the things that are easy to do, but are also easy not to do. Which should be easy once we realise that we're just programmable moist robots.

As a long-term reader of his blog I'm used to his thought processes and simplifying style, and some ideas were familiar. On reading a compressed volume such as this though, I'm struck by how much I've looked forward to his posts and how his writing has nudged me over the past decade or so. "Cognitive dissonance" as a topic, for example, is something that I vividly remember coming across on his blog about 8 years ago, which led me down to the wider world psychology, behavioral economics, McRaney and the rest.

5 stars and a success Mr.Adams!
Profile Image for Negin.
596 reviews151 followers
April 11, 2021
This is probably the best book that I’ve read on how to get my life together. It’s encouraging, motivating, and it helps that the author is entertaining, which one would expect, since he’s the creator of Dilbert. I’m not a Dilbert fan, but that didn’t stop me from loving this book. I really enjoyed his direct and simple writing style. I wish that this book had been published earlier in my life. This book was so good that I plan on re-reading it from time to time.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“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. If you neglect your health or your career, you slip into the second category—stupid—which is a short slide to becoming a burden on society.”

“I blame society for the sad state of adult fitness in the Western world. We’re raised to believe that giving of ourselves is noble and good. If you’re religious, you might have twice as much pressure to be unselfish. All our lives we are told it’s better to give than to receive. We’re programmed for unselfish behavior by society, our parents, and even our genes to some extent. The problem is that our obsession with generosity causes people to think in the short term. We skip exercise to spend an extra hour helping at home. We buy fast food to save time to help a coworker with a problem. At every turn, we cheat our own future to appear generous today. So how can you make the right long-term choices for yourself, thus being a benefit to others in the long run, without looking like a selfish turd in your daily choices? There’s no instant cure, but a step in the right direction involves the power of permission. I’m giving you permission to take care of yourself first, so you can do a better job of being generous in the long run.”

“You’ve seen for yourself that when a sad person enters a room, the mood in the room drops. And when you talk to a cheerful person who is full of energy, you automatically feel a boost. I’m suggesting that by becoming a person with good energy, you lift the people around you. That positive change will improve your social life, your love life, your family life, and your career. When I talk about increasing your personal energy, I don’t mean the frenetic, caffeine-fueled, bounce-off-the-walls type of energy. I’m talking about a calm, focused energy. To others it will simply appear that you are in a good mood. And you will be.”
Profile Image for Laura Noggle.
671 reviews383 followers
August 23, 2018
Although there's nothing exceptionally groundbreaking in this book, Scott Adams' personal touch, and unique perspective on standard self-help fare renders this book quite enjoyable.

Never a big reader of Dilbert, I first became intrigued by Adams' story when he appeared on the Tim Ferriss podcast (great episode). Adams discussed his belief in affirmations and how he'd utilized them at various points in life.

That discussion alone was enough for me to put the book on my TBR list, but it wasn't until I came across this excellent article discussing 10 takeaways from the book—that I actually started reading it.

The portion on affirmations was one of my favorites, but there were many parts that were entertaining, informative, and good reminders. Adams was able to overcome several health issues, and admits part of his success was pure luck, but of course, a plan of attack and mindset play a huge role in life.

Systems, skills, energy and proper management can increase the odds of success tenfold. Adams even discussed giving up Diet Coke and becoming a vegetarian/pescatarian, which really struck home for me as I'm on day 13 with no Diet Coke, and a new attempt at vegetarianism.

Timing probably played a role in my appreciation for this book—however—if things like the power of affirmations and learning the strategies of successful people interest you at all, give this book a chance.
Profile Image for د.أمجد الجنباز.
Author 3 books771 followers
January 21, 2020
الكتاب ممتع ومضحك ومليء بالتجارب الناجحة والفاشلة التي مر بها المؤلف. آلية المؤلف في تتبع وتحليل الأحداث التي عايشها ليستخرج منها الدروس وقوانين النجاح والفشل مبهرة جدا. بعضها اعتمد فيه على العلم، وبعضها على الحدس،
لا أخفيكم أن عددا من نصائح سيئة أبو كلب ومالها قيمة. لكن الرائع أن المؤلف لا يعرض النصائح كنصائح، وانما يخبرك بآلية الوصول لها والترحيب برفضها إن لم تقتنع بها.

قد يكون أكثر ما شدني هو التشابه بينيي وبين المؤلف في تحليل الحياة والمواقف التي نمر بها، والمحاولات المستمرة لإيجاد أنماط متكررة نتعلم منها
أنماط متكررة أي
ولذلك ستجد هذه الكلمة تتكرر كثيرا في الكتاب.
Profile Image for Tim Casteel.
162 reviews41 followers
August 23, 2020
A very uneven book- brilliant practical wisdom on how to succeed, mixed with bizarre beliefs (“The Secret”-esque Affirmations- if you believe it, it will happen; we are all holograms created by aliens), cheap shots at religion, and 100% wrong views on human nature (happiness comes from being rich and famous and consuming feel good entertainment- at all costs avoid depressing books/movies).

But it’s the most fun you’ll have while learning about leadership and success!

Very entertaining and enough gold to make up for the parts you’ll have to strain out.
Profile Image for Grumpus.
498 reviews242 followers
May 22, 2015
It was "OK". Most of the insights offered I already knew, but still enjoyed his "take" on them. He always says not to take the advice of cartoonists and check with your doctor before taking any of his medical advice. I don't know why but that always made me chuckle inside. The most interesting part the book was learning of his voice illness and how he overcame that. All-in-all, he has had an interesting and charmed (he says to position yourself for luck to find you) life.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
6 reviews
September 11, 2022
Firstly, the title of this book is so lame. I started listening to the audiobook as a recommendation

This book is literally like having a conversation with your boomer grandpa. There are certainly some nuggets in here but nothing so important that I’d recommend reading this book. The important things mentioned in this book (like so many self help books) could’ve been put into a short blog post and the rest is just filler. An hour of this audiobook is a very surface level diet and fitness stuff which is so far from what I hoped to get from a book written by a cartoonist/funny guy. Most of the hokey advice/philosophy is, again, that simple boomer perspective stuff that isn’t really that helpful.

I will say that if this were someone’s first experience with the self help genre it might not be so bad. The broad stroke/surface level approach is probably helpful when someone doesn’t know where to begin in self development. I think most adults would probably not benefit from reading this and there are certainly entire books that delve deeply on each of these respective topics.

3/5 I was sorely disappointed that this was barely about a cartoonists journey to success and was thoroughly bored reading about how carbohydrates make you sleepy
295 reviews5 followers
November 29, 2021
Part self-help book, part autobiography, Scott Adams the creator of the Dilbert cartoon, talks about his life and what skills he discovered that helped him become successful. He recounts hilarious stories about the many times in his life that he has failed, but he is also very open about the things he learnt from those failures and how he was able to use those learnings to get stronger and become successful. I like the fact that he never tells you what to do. He just tells you what worked for him. If you choose to take it on board and use it or to just disregard it, is up to you.

Great book with loads of little bits of wisdom that I just had to write down.

If you want success, figure out the price and pay it.

Maximising energy - means eating right, exercising, avoiding unnecessary stress, getting enough sleep. But it also means having something in your life that makes you excited to wake up. When I get my personal energy right, the quality of my work and my personal life is better.

Being Selfish - 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.

Positive energy - You’ve seen for yourself that when a sad person enters a room, the mood in the room drops. And when you talk to a cheerful person who is full of energy, you automatically feel a boost. I’m suggesting that by becoming a person with good energy, you lift the people around you. That positive change will improve your social life, your love life, your family life, and your career. When I talk about increasing your personal energy, I don’t mean the frenetic, caffeine-fueled, bounce-off-the-walls type of energy. I’m talking about a calm, focused energy. To others, it will simply appear that you are in a good mood. And you will be.

Happiness is the only useful goal in life. Your own happiness will depend on you being good to others. It tends to happen naturally when you are in good health (physically and mentally).

Systems vs Goals thinking - A goal is a specific objective that you either achieve or don't sometime in the future. A system is something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run. If you do something every day, it's a system. If you're waiting to achieve it someday in the future, it's a goal. If you achieve your goal, you celebrate, and then it is over, but if you have a system you continue getting better or maintaining your level of achievement.

Failure is your friend. It is the raw material of success. Invite it in. Learn from it. And don't let it leave until you pick its pocket. That is a system.
Author 2 books111 followers
March 1, 2018
I've read handful amount of books about self-development and time management, but this one is definitely different from everything I've ever read. It is a little bit about everything, with simple explanations, and with some kind of very attractive wisdom. It is about food and energy, goals and systems, mental and physical health, self-criticism and honesty to yourself.

I can't remember enjoying the book so much (last time it was a fabulous "Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman). It was fun to read, and it provoked so much thoughts, ideas and ... most importantly ... actions.

I would really recommend it!
Profile Image for Andy.
1,350 reviews462 followers
April 22, 2019
I thought this would be funnier and dumber than it is, but it's not a Dilbert book. This is better than the average self-help book because it has some wisdom in it. His frank discussion of all the times he failed was more valuable than another set of rules for success. As with all self-help, the value is in how it resonates with you at a given time. His thing about "goals are for losers, systems are for winners" was a useful reframing for me.
Profile Image for Cari.
188 reviews5 followers
June 30, 2020
Changing my review solely because of his recent comments that affirmative action and D&I initiatives have held him back in his career. Huge eye roll—I no longer recommend this memoir/self-help guide since the author’s white fragility is now on full display.
Profile Image for Josh VanBrakle.
Author 9 books5 followers
January 18, 2014
Let me start by saying I'm a big fan of Dilbert. Having worked in a few bureaucracies, I've read more than one Dilbert strip that has happened to me. That said, this is not a Dilbert book. This is a self-help book. Fortunately, it's a good one. Adams's ability to distill ideas down to their basic elements is what makes this book a solid read. As an author, I agree with his premise that failure is essential to success. If you want to succeed, you have to be willing to fail. I wrote a lot of junk before I was able to have my first novel, The Wings of Dragons, published. It's great to see Adams showing people that failure is a good thing and something to learn from rather than fear.

The book gets off-topic at times, delving into areas like affirmations, Adams's voice therapy, and diet and exercise. Adams's points in these areas are interesting, but they felt disconnected from what I had assumed - based on the title - was the core theme of the book. Overall, if you're only considering this book because it's by the creator of Dilbert, pass. But if you're a would-be artist or entrepreneur looking for inspiration not to give up when your latest project bombs, this book offers a great new perspective.
Profile Image for Eugene.
157 reviews16 followers
February 4, 2017
the decent book with life and business lessons from the Dilbert author. applying system instead of just setting a goal and some insights into the cartoon business.

i have changed the rating after a few days from 4 to 5 stars because some ideas from the book still live in my head:
- judge the quality / impact of the food after few hours after you eat it by measuring your energy level
- the most important thing is to save energy for your business / creative work so need to avoid "energy eaters" at all costs
- you may treat your body as a kind of robot and you are the engineer who tries to find working management methods, and what kind of food is actually better
- to win the game you need to stay long in the game
- golf may be a thing worth trying
- high margin businesses are often built in irrational human nature
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
51 reviews
February 21, 2017
I didn't finish this book. I read the first third and realized that this is a book about someone who has a lot of disposable cash to invest in various ventures that don't work out. I became really annoyed that he continued to recount ways in which he spent large amounts of money supporting ventures that didn't succeed and counted that as how he failed at almost everything. I don't have that kind of money. I would have liked to learn about things he didn't invest money in that failed -- relationships, actual jobs for which he interviewed, etc. I couldn't relate to his failures, even though he thought this book would help others in some way view their failures in a different light. All it did for me was point out just how much money he had to spend on business ventures, a luxury I will never enjoy.
Profile Image for Ryan.
296 reviews37 followers
July 29, 2017
This isn't a flashy book, but it's a practical book for achieving success and happiness in life. There are also jokes that made me laugh out loud a few times. The ongoing story of Scott's voice problems was especially interesting. Intellectually, you know that "everybody has problems," but it's easy to assume that successful people either don't have problems or have only little problems. Turns out, Scott has had some unusually difficult problems. Example: Not being able to speak for about four years. That's crazy. Overall, definitely enjoyed the book. It's an easy read with lots of useful advice.
Profile Image for David Geschke.
Author 6 books11 followers
February 17, 2015
Started this book and fairly quickly decided it wasn't for me. The whole tone felt somewhat condescending and there were a few things that just didn't feel right to me... Like when he left two jobs as a result of the "diversity ceiling", which was never really explained. I moved on right away. I love the Dilbert comic strips, so maybe I'll revisit and finish someday, but for now I'm moving on...
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