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Dark Horse: Achieving Success Through the Pursuit of Fulfillment

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If you have ever felt like you just don’t fit, this book will change your life.

Know your long-term goals, work hard (very, very hard), and stay the course in the face of all obstacles until you reach your goal. This is the commonly accepted formula for fulfilling goals and dreams. But what if we have it exactly backwards? While this standard formula works for some it fails for far too many. Then there are those who buck the formula and triumph on their own terms. They are called dark horses. Researchers Todd Rose and Ogi Ogas have studied these dark horses, and in this groundbreaking book, use the experiences of these mavericks to demonstrate that there is a different and better formula for success.

The Dark Horse Project was born at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to research alternative paths to excellence. Dark horses demonstrate that the secret to personal accomplishment is not dependent on connections, money, or standardized test scores. The secret is a special mindset that empowers them to consistently make the right choices to fit their circumstances and complement their unique interests and abilities. The philosophy behind this mindset is simple: it is not the pursuit of excellence that leads to fulfillment but rather the pursuit of fulfillment that leads to excellence.

Dark Horse reveals the five elements of this mindset that have been road-tested by a wide array of individuals nurturing every manner of aspiration. No matter where you are in your career, Rose and Ogas show how the dark horse mindset can guide you to a life of purpose, authenticity, and achievement.

304 pages, ebook

First published October 9, 2018

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About the author

Todd Rose

11 books190 followers
Todd Rose is the cofounder and president of The Center for Individual Opportunity, and a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His work is focused on the science of the individual and its implications for advancing self-knowledge, developing talent, and improving our institutions of opportunity. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 98 reviews
Profile Image for Mae.
760 reviews25 followers
April 1, 2019
My review may be slightly misinformed because I only read the first half of the book. The first half of this book was Rose's complete guide on how to be a dark horse - someone who society never saw succeeding but they did anyway in the unlikeliest of ways. The second half was more about how standardized the world has become and it charges us to change this system (that part didn't suit my fancy).


My key takeaway points from this book were:

1. There are innate attributes that are unique to everyone (some call them talents, I prefer "attributes"). For instance, I don't have any obvious talents: I don't sing, dance, problem solve, or play any sports or instruments. But after some introspection I realized I like "repurposing things" and I've been doing it my whole life. It's just a natural compulsion for me if I see something around the house that I don't use anymore, I find a different use for it rather than throwing it away. That is a micro-motive for me.

2. This society we currently live in was built upon standardized systems and institutions that don't take into account your individuality. Why? Because this is costly in both time and resources.

3. When you learn your micro-motives (these appear to be things you’ve been doing your whole life… a compulsion or urge that feeds your way of being), you can harness your energy and authenticity.

4. When you learn what choices (goals) fit your micro-motives, you can engineer the meaning and direction of your life, and;

5. When you develop strengths (through learning and practice; or trial and error), you can use these strengths to achieve the goals you’ve chosen.

Todd Rose made clear points and gave vivid examples that I can and have started putting into practical use. This is all I ever ask for from self help books. 4.5 Stars!!
Profile Image for Darnell.
1,072 reviews
April 21, 2019
Long on anecdotes and platitudes about "harnessing your individuality", short on actual insight.
Profile Image for Timothy Nichols.
Author 6 books8 followers
July 12, 2022
This was my first Todd Rose book; it won’t be my last. That said, this is a frustrating read. All success literature is written for a particular context; the early part of the book is a canny assessment of how the current context is changing, and the different attitudes and approaches that may work better in the current context.
Two problems: (1) taking yourself and your desires as the absolute is a mistake; this process needs to be done in conversation with God and the mission for which He made you. (2) Later in the book, the prescriptions for society don’t make a lot of sense — it looks to me like in his zeal to bypass the artificial scarcities created by various rent-seeking brokers of opportunity, he’s not taken sufficient account of the real scarcity of resources. In the Kingdom of God, that’s not something we have to worry about. But without a Kingdom focus, it’s going to be a problem.
Profile Image for Sara Bakhshi.
976 reviews183 followers
December 27, 2022
از کتاب های معرفی شده توسط آذرخش مکری بود.

Behind it all is surely an idea so simple, so beautiful, so compelling that when—in a decade, a century, or a millennium—we grasp it, we will all say to each other, how could it have been otherwise?
—Physicist John Archibald Wheeler

As Hill advised, “The better way is by making yourself so useful and efficient in what you are now doing that you will attract the favorable attention of those who have the power to promote you into more responsible work that is more to your liking.”

For generations, the message “know your destination, work hard, and stay the course” has been impressed upon us as the most dependable stratagem for securing a prosperous life. This advice appears so unassailable that disregarding it seems perilous and foolish. Indeed, many recent books even go so far as to claim that the Standard Formula rises to the level of timeless human wisdom.

But just because we now desire a new kind of success doesn’t mean we know how to get it.
This rising demand for a life of personalized success has run ahead of what science can deliver because the academic study of success remains stubbornly marooned in the Age of Standardization.

Maybe most dark horses would turn out to be mavericks with outsized personalities, like Richard Branson—rebels driven by a fierce ambition to make their mark and prove the world wrong.
That’s not what we found at all.
Instead, we discovered that the personalities of dark horses are just as diverse and unpredictable as you would find in any random sampling of human beings. Some are bold and aggressive; others are shy and deferential. Some enjoy being disruptive; others prefer being conciliatory. Dark horses are not defined by their character. Nor are they defined by a particular motive, socioeconomic background, or approach to training, study, or practice. There is a common thread that binds them all together, however, and it was hard to miss.
Dark horses are fulfilled.

Like the rest of us, they struggled with getting the kids to bed and paying down the car loan, and there was invariably more they hoped to accomplish in their careers, but they woke up most mornings excited to get to work and went to bed most nights feeling good about their lives. This discovery led us to the most important revelation of all.
As we dug deeper, we realized that their sense of fulfillment was not a coincidence. It was a choice. And this all-important decision to pursue fulfillment is what ultimately defines a dark horse.

People often believe that when it comes to earning a living, you must choose between doing what you like and doing what you must. Dark horses teach us that this is a false choice. By harnessing their individuality, dark horses attained both prowess and joy. By choosing situations that seemed to offer the best fit for their authentic self, dark horses secured the most effective circumstances for developing excellence at their craft, since engaging in fulfilling work maximizes your ability to learn, grow, and perform. Thus, dark horses provide a new definition of success suited for the Age of Personalization, one that recognizes that individuality truly matters:

Harness your individuality in the pursuit of fulfillment to achieve excellence.

“Follow Your Bliss” is a bumper sticker, not a road map. “Do What Feels Good” can often be a surefire prescription for feeling bad. What is really needed is a set of practical guidelines that can help you figure out what you truly want and how to attain it, given your unique circumstances. That is why we wrote this book.

Men in control of vast organisations have tended to be too abstract in their outlook, to forget what actual human beings are like, and to try to fit men to systems rather than systems to men.
—Bertrand Russell

Time and again, we encountered a common theme in the journeys of dark horses: a period when they did not fit into their lives—when they felt like a round peg in a square hole. Some were stuck in tedious jobs that required little in the way of acumen. Others developed enviable expertise in a field they believed they should be mastering because it was respectable, stable, or lucrative, yet they felt little satisfaction. Despite feeling bored or frustrated, underutilized or overwhelmed, most dark horses reluctantly plodded along for years before finally coming to the realization that they were not living a fulfilling life.
Then came the turning point.
As Ingrid puts it, “I didn’t feel pride in myself until I embraced the winding path.”

According to the terms of this Standardization Covenant, society will bestow its rewards upon you as long as you abandon the individual pursuit of personal fulfillment for the standardized pursuit of professional excellence.

the Age of Standardization’s definition of success: attaining wealth and status by climbing the institutional ladder. And once the route to prosperity and competence became well-defined, fixed, and predictable, every member of society could see exactly what they needed to do to achieve professional success: pick your career goal, then march resolutely down the appropriate training track to its appointed end. It should come as no surprise that fulfillment appears nowhere in the Standard Formula.

First we standardized work. Then we standardized learning. Then we integrated our standardized workplace with our standardized educational system, establishing standardized careers. And once the full passage of our experience was standardized from our first day of kindergarten until the morning of our retirement, it marked the complete standardization of a human life.
17 reviews
November 13, 2019
Just not that useful. Interesting key points, but the book belabored those points ad nauseam without really increasing value. The anecdotal stories were okay, but they were just that, anecdotal. After the first two or three of these stories they no longer provided additional or clearly actionable steps to finding your own version of success. Again, not a bad book, but it laid out the main points early and the majority of the rest felt like filler. It did spend some time rallying against the current "meritocracy," but the suggested path forward (to institutionalize individual fulfillment as a core value) was less than satisfying. Notionally wonderful, but it landed flat, at least with me.

Note: I listened to a podcast (Art of Manliness, I think) discussing the book and I would say that provided 95% of the benefit of reading the book itself. Maybe if I had read the book first...
Profile Image for Geoff.
Author 2 books15 followers
July 11, 2019
This book really spoke to me. The problems with standardization (especially as a father with children in the public school system) are ever-present, and as a creative I’m always looking for ways to push myself into that “dark horse” mindset. Now I have a framework for things, preferences, and ideals I couldn’t always articulate to myself and others. I think this book is practical and important to really any type of person looking to challenge themselves outside the norm or to find their own “winding path” in life. The stories and examples throughout are also very inspiring, and the book is structured well, building on previous professional examples and expanding them. Definitely will read this one again!
201 reviews2 followers
June 11, 2019
This wasn't nearly as good as the End of Average, but it was interesting enough to probably read again.

Profile Image for Clint.
21 reviews
February 16, 2020
Very interesting. The authors did a compelling job of (a) challenging the conventional wisdom regarding the college industrial complex, and (b) helping the reader think about a less conventional path to professional fulfillment. The numerous examples of unconventionally-successfuly people were interesting. However, these examples were of career paths so far out the mainstream that I did not find them entirely relevant (albeit quite interesting). I would have appreciated some examples of unconventional paths within conventional careers. Anyhow, it was a great book and was helpful for my thinking and especially as I help guide my teenage kids in their thinking about their future.
Profile Image for David  Cook.
457 reviews
May 11, 2021
I became aware of this book after reading an article about the author in my college (Weber State University) alumni magazine. Todd Rose fits the bill of a dark horse. He dropped out of high school in the same community I grew up in. By age 20 he had two children and was on welfare. When he was at his lowest his father said, if he wanted something better, he had to figure out what really motivated him and stay close to that. That advice changed his trajectory completely. Rose went on to complete his GED, then college at WSU, and eventually, Harvard where he now is on the faculty.
The book tracks the unlikely paths of individuals who triumph against the odds. Examples include Jennie McCormick, who became a respected astronomer without a college degree, and sound engineer Susan Rogers, who recorded with Prince before becoming a college professor. According to Rose the secret of a dark horse is, prioritizing personal fulfillment over more conventional notions of success. By prioritizing fulfillment, it doesn't mean they shirk responsibilities, rather they are always willing to sacrifice for fulfillment.

To figure out what motivates you, Rose observes: Think about the things that you enjoy doing and ask yourself why. So if you enjoy football, is it the competition, is it being outdoors, is it the camaraderie that comes with team sports? The more you think about those things, the more you know what really moves you. And if you ask yourself that question often enough, it will reveal your broader motives and that will put you on a path to fulfillment.

He encourages parents to do the same for their children. "But if you think about us as parents, we actually don't ask our kids that very often. We spend a lot of time telling them what should matter and very little time helping them figure it out for themselves." They need to figure out what really matters to them and what motivates them, and we can help them by asking."

I’m not sure there was anything earthshaking or new in the book but it was interesting in light of the stores of “Dark Horses” that were highlighted.


“But if you rely upon situational decision-making - if you pursue near-term goals while maintaining the flexibility of changing course if a better strategy or opportunity presents itself - you will always be climbing higher.”

“Get better at the things you care about most. This is the dark horse prescription for personalized success. It elegantly summarizes all four elements of the dark horse mindset.”
“Sometimes a dimension of ability that appears to be a weakness becomes a strength in the right context.”
Profile Image for RACHAEL HAUGH.
12 reviews
March 31, 2020
I loved this book!!! It helped me better understand the world around me using interesting stories to highlight their points.

Main Takeaways:
Standardization Convent: it has seeped into every facet of life because it brings simplicity and shortcuts to processes. However, while the standardization convent excels at providing a simple answer in a short amount of time, it also excels at squashing individuality and processes for individuals to succeed in the manner that suits them.

Assessing risk: not through the lens of probability (what are the odds that I get this job), but by match quality, how well fit am I for a role (how well do my micro motives and characteristics align with this job).

Micro Motives: small elements of activities I take pleasure in - KEEP ASKING WHY, once you can't drill down and further, you've arrived at your micro motives (I like basketball - why? I like being on a team - why? I like being a part of something larger than myself, I like the feeling of adrenaline, I like to be around people, I like to feel like what I do makes a difference, I like to learn (ALL micro motive and can drill down further from each stem)) I look for them MM's in every endeavor to enhance my assessment of job fit and opportunities that better fit them.

Overall, this book exposed how I've simply been fitting myself to a system and provided the tools to reconstruct my operational norms and make the system fit to me.
Profile Image for Adam Ricks.
446 reviews15 followers
October 23, 2020
Was recommended this one by some coworkers. I really didn't like it.

Main points of the book -
1. Not everyone is the same, so "the system" isn't going to work for everyone. I agree with this, to a point.
2. There are so many things wrong with it, we should get rid of "the system."

My thoughts. What a bunch of baloney. If anything, this book may be validating to those who feel like the system failed them and yet they succeeded in spite of that. However, even if someone is struggling to find there way in the system, and wishes to be a "Dark Horse" - this book does not give an insights into how to actually do that. The book recommends finding what is fulfilling, and the rest will fall into place.
I agree that "the system" isn't for everyone. However - I think that having the masses attending public school and having a four year degree are a good start for Most. Not everyone. But Most.
Profile Image for Kim.
297 reviews12 followers
October 28, 2018
Building on his previous book "The End of Average," Dark Horse lays out an alternate worldview from which to approach talent - life - development, sharing results from Rose and Oga's study of "women and men who achieved impressive success even though nobody saw the coming."
Moving past the critique of standardization ("The Standardization Covenant") to a mindset based on the science of individuality where every person has talent, the authors propose the "Dark Horse Covenant," based on the belief that there are endless varieties of merit and infinite pathways to fulfillment. They present four practical guidelines to personalizing your way to fulfillment, each of which have potentially powerful implications for education redesign work committed to learner-centered practices.
171 reviews3 followers
May 23, 2020
This would be a good graduation gift for the kid who just might not be able to do college or needs a gap year to figure things out. The obvious reason most people follow the standard path is they have kids, mortgages, bills, need health insurance. Can’t afford to quit a career and start over or intern or take an unconventional path. Young people starting out have more options before they marry or have kids.
Would like to have seen more examples and less explaining. The authors took unconventional paths I’d like to have read about. And the ending about how to make schools work for all is pretty much go to a Summit Academy. I think they can do better than that.
Profile Image for Kelly Kerns.
85 reviews1 follower
November 19, 2020
More of an inspiring Ted talk than an academic study, this book accomplishes its goal. Forget the negative reviews (unless you are looking for a disciplined academic review of motivation in which case you should check out Thinking Fast and Slow) Rose and Ogas take you on a journey through anecdotal stories of success. They do not provide a recipe or formula, and if your looking for one you missed the whole point.

This book explores personal micro motives and how we can build individual stories of success by not falling into the standardization trap. It's fun, easy to read and if it prompts anyone to follow the path less taken it has done its job.
Profile Image for Joanne.
2,526 reviews
January 31, 2019
Combination of research and self-help book. Rose and Ogas have interviewed dozens of "dark horses," outstanding people in their fields who got their non-standard paths. E.g., of Jennie McCormick, who dropped out of school, but then discovered a love of astronomy and, as an amateur, discovered a new planet.

Rose and Ogas has combined their research on individuality to determine that successful individuals are motivated by fulfillment, which they offer a four-step process to determining what your life fulfillment might be.

It all sounds a little self-absorbed. Maybe it works?
3 reviews
March 17, 2019
The book does a great job of telling some impactful stories. They have you thinking for the first half “wow I too could break free and live a fulfilled and happy life!”. The second half ends up in a free fall with chants of “break the mold! Down with the system!”. So fine, I get what you’re trying to do, but it took half a book of inspirational stories to just encourage the reader that things need to change? Yawn
Profile Image for Chienting Yao.
3 reviews2 followers
November 24, 2019
Great concepts and inspiring examples and research to encourage people follow the passion. Provides great and practical principles with instructions
Profile Image for Ben Watkins.
4 reviews
January 27, 2023
I came to this book interested in its topic and generally in agreement with the notion that success comes from many different paths, many of which stand at odds with the edicts of “the system.” The book does a decent job of introducing this idea, but that’s about it. It 8/ otherwise convoluted, contradictory, and so repetitive. I really don’t know what Todd Rose and Ogi Ogas were going for with “Dark Horse.” It felt like they got funding for their Project and had to publish something, but couldn’t find any sort of cohesive thesis before the deadline and opted instead to write whatever this is. The first half read like a failed self-help book that focuses mostly on repetitively pointing out the problem without any substantive recommendations for a solution aside from vague suggestions about “knowing your micro-motives, choices, and strategies.” (A side note - the pseudo intellectual buzzwords were never ending. I could not read about the “Standardization Covenant,” “jagged profiles,” or “fuzzy strengths” without rolling my eyes by the end.)The second half is a sort of bizarre, half-baked ideological treatise about how our society needs to shift into one in which “institutional systems and services should accommodate the jagged profile of any individual, of any background, of any age.” What? It’s not that this isn’t a commendable aspiration or vision for what our society could look like, but it feels so tone deaf and simply not grounded in reality to suggest that this sort of shift is possible with a simple change in mindset. And again, it feels so removed from the first half’s purported self-help-oriented focus on the individual. I simply was not ready for the book to go full manifesto.

Additionally, their argument for the “Dark Horse covenant” just seemed so void of any nuance whatsoever. All of their points boil down to “institutions bad, individuality good” with zero consideration for the litany of benefits offered by standardization in addition to its flaws. It drove me crazy how they failed to ever mention how functioning societies necessitate jobs that kind of suck and instead daydreamed about existential fulfillment for everyone. Also, for being so focused on the notion of fulfillment, they never seem to consider the idea that maybe it doesn’t need to be tied to your job… maybe the more radical take is that a job is just a job, and fulfillment could be tied to, I don’t know, your personal passions, relationships, family, friends…

It’s disappointing because it feels like there could have been real value to this book if they just committed to one idea or the other. I did enjoy the personal stories of the Dark Horses; it feels like they missed out on an opportunity to expand on these and take real, actionable lessons from them to distill to readers.
Profile Image for avaa.
32 reviews
August 31, 2022
I definitely recommend! Started well, many of the examples and connections to their “manual” resonated with me until literally about halfway through the book. At that point, I could understand where the authors arguments were coming from but the discussion felt one-sided.
The whole book felt like the authors had an ax to grind but the later half of the book took on an oddly Traditional American/patriotic-and-political tone (like the fervent, honk-if-you-love-America-and-its-political-traditions tone/ 'Murica! ). The section against the US school system (and how unfair the selection process is) also seemed at odds with the fulfillment dark horses felt in providing such “quotocracy” concepts such as scholarships. The book starts breaking down at the end as a utopian ideal of what the authors feel the education system should do without providing sufficient answers as to how it will work economically. Their Standardized vs Dark Horse model is self-described as mutually exclusive but I wonder if it isn’t more like a spectrum. Some of their foundational concepts can more simply be described with the increasingly common term “authenticity” and the concept of being “authentic to yourself.”
Book design: interesting matte black book jacket and gold lettering but the book itself could be my preferred 8inch length without losing much in layout. The subsections within each chapter felt like I was reading many related essays shoved into each chapter... it was a touch odd
Profile Image for Amillya.
2 reviews
March 15, 2023
Todd Ross and Ogi Ogas. Both i should say, co-founder of this newly invented mold of success n building intelligents through the pursuit of fulfillment. Encouraging and discover methods of success by Personalisation, democratic meritocracy, and digging up experiences are practical ways to introduce it to the world. This is no The Best One, but it rather showing you how it should be done under Age of Personalisation. I get to know all new terms under the Dark Horse Project, such as individuality and Positive-Sum. In contrast, i also get to know the consequences of Age of Standardisation, Negative-Sum, aristocracy and equant talent. Rendering examples of universities has open my eyes wildly about how Malaysia also should build their own institutional and academic as such way. As a standardised fellow in my past years of living, up to this reading n completing to end of the chapter, i realised that i should keep this dark mindset which i put within my head. I really recommending this book to anyone who really wanna get out from those caged philosophies. You will never regret of knowing the truth about our mediocre yet trivialising standard of success. We need to be freed of what people telling us to do. Being rigid to one path is leading to worse failure in life. Thus, Dark Horse will guide you, not forcing to accept their notions, instead giving you the best of satisfying words through actions in the book mentions. ❤️
Profile Image for Julie.
35 reviews6 followers
February 27, 2019
I wish everyone would read this important book. I believe it puts forth a view that may, at a minimum, help our paradigms catch up with our current age. It offers ideas of why and how a significant mindset shift can begin to move us towards securing the best possible outcomes for the most people at our time in history. There are many interesting concepts here such as micro-motives and quotacracy. I found the last part of the book, the Interlude and the sections that followed, particularly vital and compelling, although I do not suggest skipping the earlier parts of the book. That said, some sections are more readable than others. I got a little bogged down in the middle of the book, but it is definitely worth sticking with it until the end. Also, I get that personal story examples are always components of this type of book. However, I do worry that they may allow readers to feel that the book’s conclusions only relate to these dramatic cases, while the core ideas here are truly relevant and applicable to the masses. As someone who’s a proponent of major paradigm shifts over and above simple hacking of current systems, I found this book enlightening and encouraging in both theoretical and actionable ways.
Profile Image for Alejandra .
17 reviews8 followers
July 12, 2020
This book felt a bit like a relief on many aspects on my personal life. The message that I liked the most about this book was about not getting fixed with a specific end goal, as it might blind you from many opportunities. I understand there are some people and some personalities that having a very specific goal (become x company's CEO) can be great for motivation but not for me.

His example explains it so simple that I was able to visualize it very quickly. Suppose you start climbing a mountain and once you have been climbing for a while, you look back and realize there are other routes and places that you can take to maybe other summits that you didn't see before you started your journey. This idea helps you pivot into what interest you most without feeling like you failed on your previously stated goal. The point here is no one can tell you about this in time because some might be looking for a steep way up, some might be looking for a pathway with flowers... either way I will be going through the route that seems the most adequate and learn as I go what other possibilities life will give me.

Very excited for my next chapter. Thank you to the author.
The only reason I am not giving it a 5 stars is because I save those for the very very best and just a few.
Profile Image for Shahnaz Radjy.
150 reviews8 followers
March 7, 2020
A Must-Read! What an inspiring, empowering concept - that of a whole new way of doing things, the Dark Horse Covenant.

Instead of trying to make the system work for you, of "pursuing excellence which leads to fulfillment", the authors encourage you to do what makes you happy. The idea is that by reversing this maxim and pursuing fulfillment, you will enable yourself to attain excellence.

In other words, do what makes sense to you, and do not worry about not following a predetermined "logical" path to success. If you do, you may well end up checking boxes on a list without in fact making yourself happy or fulfilled.

As a self-proclaimed Dark Horse, this was music to my ears, and made much of my life make a lot more sense than when I was basing myself on the Standardization Covenant.

Personally, I did not care as much about the part of the book talking about systemic change, as it focused primarily on the US - but I do believe that enough people embracing the Dark Horse Covenant and the Age of Personalization will contribute to a societal tipping point.
Profile Image for Ashley Kay.
4 reviews
April 19, 2021
While the book touches on people who have formed their own path, and the importance of happiness and fulfillment, it also ignores topics of racism and privilege. The Pursuit of Happiness chapter sweeps over the founding fathers' claim that everyone has the right to this pursuit; it glides over the fact that it must "fit" the person. The authors even take a few sentences to acknowledge the inconsistencies with Jefferson and slave ownership, though asks us to separate the ideals from the man. The authors are not fully acknowledging the inherent racism then and now that fully prevent their "Dark Horse Covenant" from reaching implementation. All in all, the book repeated itself constantly, showed many inconsistencies, self-contradicted, and swept over genuine issues of prejudice. The book could have been easily half the size. The overall ideals of discovering your micro-motives and individuality are noble and important causes, but do not redeem the book from its ignorance towards important barriers.
Profile Image for The DarkSun.
6 reviews10 followers
October 15, 2018
I don't have too much time to write anything significant right now, but I enjoyed this book immensely. It gave me several ideas that I would like to apply and further consider in order to better my own life and, perhaps, help me find that sense of direction in my life that makes me feel fulfilled. (I do plenty of things I enjoy. I just haven't figured out how to tie them together into something fulfilling and unique.)

I would say, though, that after about the 54% mark (the interlude section forward), the material felt less useful. That's not to say it was completely worthless, just that it had less of an impact on me than the first 50% or so.

Overall, though, it was a very good book. One of the best "self-help" books I've ever read. Very well-written and intelligently laid out. I didn't feel like the author was underestimating my intelligence or padding the book with useless/insignificant examples. Everything came together very nicely and felt like it had a purpose.
Profile Image for junia.
805 reviews56 followers
May 8, 2021
So, I LOVED it when I began it. Like 5/5. I was like YES, these stories are awesome. And unique. And YES to micromotives. And YES we're being standardized. And YES this isn't a meritocracy but a quota-cracy. And Interesting To think strengths are not intuitive because they're context-dependent. And YES, keep following your path but don't fixate on destination bc the context changes there too.

But the blatant ignoring or ignorance of systemic factors and intergenerational wealth that enabled many of the dark horses in this story.... Oh and how within a quota-cracy, it enables bias to favor certain groups over others was pretty sad. And then the ending when he's touting a really clean solution was a bummer because there isn't really a clean solution, methinks.

. Anyway, Todd Rose is a personal inspiration anyway so most of it was good. And it's a short read. But what a lost opportunity.
Profile Image for LAMONT D.
541 reviews3 followers
August 7, 2022
Profile Image for Ted Tyler.
178 reviews
November 26, 2022
This is definitely not your typical self-help/business leader development book. Instead, Rose simply invites the read to step back and examine core assumptions about American life: know exactly where you want to go, pursue excellence, institutions develop talent, and standardization is good for society. He reveals the facade behind each one and invites the reader to consider the opposite: ignore the destination, pursue fulfillment, institutions pick talent, and personalization is good for society. Using very accessible theory and stories, he offers up a powerful and convincing alternative to finding fulfillment in life: pursue fulfillment to build excellence. He talks about how this is simple, yet hard for many of us to do. Rose thankfully manages to offer encouragement and challenge, while offering a definition of happiness that is focused on leveraging your character, talents, and strengths to benefit those around you.
105 reviews
May 19, 2021
This book focused mainly on perceived flaws with the process to admit students to college and people who made unexpected career changes. While I agree the college admissions process is flawed and many viable candidates are rejected, the authors regarding change are idealistic. His thoughts on destandardizing manufacturing is ridiculous. While i am all for innovation i think you have to standardization of product and process for health and safety reasons at least. Should allowances be made for workers who are slower than others? Sure and maybe improvements to the process could occur to enable those workers to be more effective. But what the author proposes sounds move revolutionary and destructive than productive and uniting.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Mike He.
148 reviews3 followers
August 26, 2018
While success may mean different things to different people in all walks of life, Dark Horse presents a new and refreshing perspective that helps demystify a stereotyped, rigid formula for perceived success (and its pitfalls) and a deeply ingrained formula for life-long happiness pursuing success through knowing one's own micro-motives, choices and trial and error strategies in pursuit of fulfillment to attain excellence, namely the standardization mindset vs. the so-called dark horse mindset as the authors vigorously advocate in the book, starting with a fundamental change of the standardization covenant that currently prevails the education system.
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