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Dark Horse: Achieving Success Through the Pursuit of Fulfillment

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  369 ratings  ·  47 reviews
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
ebook, 304 pages
Published October 9th 2018 by HarperOne
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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  369 ratings  ·  47 reviews

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Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Long on anecdotes and platitudes about "harnessing your individuality", short on actual insight.
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 “ ...more
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This wasn't nearly as good as the End of Average, but it was interesting enough to probably read again.

Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 17, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
The DarkSun
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Emily Rowe
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it
I read this book because I heard Todd Rose speak on an Art of Manliness podcast a few months ago and liked his ideas. But man, this book is heavy handed. The second half reads more like a cult indoctrination than a persuasive essay. I really enjoyed the stories and interviews with people who are actually “dark horses,” but I wish there were more of that, rather than being preached at.

Fav quote:
“These programs are not set up to actually develop the gifts of any student who may want to join ...
Mike He
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Though I don't read mamy self help books as many of them seem to be confusing and seldom provides any concrete steps. But this is one of the few books that I would recommend to read! The first half of the book is very interesting. The second half is equally boring and one can skip! It is about those ordinary people rather than geniuses, whom nobody saw coming. They might not be so famous but they are content and pruprose driven. The author gives vivid real life examples which are quite inspiring ...more
Jenny Stevens
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quite good. The book explains how there is a better way to motivate people than picking a passion and going to school for it and climbing the ladder. It's by following your micro-motives. It helps you realize what motivates you isn't so much a passion as it is your micro-motives.

This book feels like a career help book that doesn't give help in what step to take next but instead imbues you with these knowledge to determine what step you want based on your desires and is a real quest for
Beycan Yavuz
Nov 28, 2019 rated it liked it
I should able to rate this book in two chapters. The first chapter or first half of the book is really good and insightful. Complete Five Stars. The other part of the book goes to deep the critic of the system in the US. Complete Zero Star.
I read the first half with enthusiasm and it really spoke to me, the examples were perfect and make sense. On the contrary, I passed the most pages in the second half of the book. I didn't grow up in the US, therefore I can't understand the flaws of the
I know I've already recommended this book to several people because it was just so. dang. good. Lots of lessons for Americans to learn in here about what makes a person successful, the history of our education system and the problems with systems. To be honest, this book has me rethinking any emphasis on grades and testing scores, and evaluating what is really important to me as a person. It's also changed some of my parenting style around school as I continue to explore what makes a person ...more
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Harvard's Todd Rose has written a must-read book for any potential misfit in need of career advice: Dark Horse: Achieving Success Through the Pursuit of Fulfillment.

The title, 'Dark Horse,' alludes to the idea that people who don't take a standardized career path can achieve just as much success as those who do. In other words, you'll get more success by doing what is right for you than you would by shoehorning yourself into an ill-fitting role. The book is also an homage to those who don't fit
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Mar 31, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was ... ok. It seemed to be a little to dramatic and anecdotal. Behind the efforts to incite the reader there does lie some interesting points about how we handle education and in general maximize utilization of our society. A fatal flaw in the authors idea however is that - in his own words - it requires all members of society to buy in, which is ironic on one level and unlikely on another.
Jesse Stoddard
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I found this book inspiring, especially because it made a solid attempt to simplify complex subject matter. I like the idea of being a “Dark Horse,” and relate to the problems in higher education that the book expounds upon. Mostly, it backs up my hunch that using our unique abilities to design a life is a much better path than the industrial model forced on us at school that we have lived in for the last century.
Jun 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Worth the read. Gives you pause for thought, especially if you are struggling with fulfillment, or more importantly are debating how hard and how to push your kids. Enlightened parents (rare, I am not one of them) will think this is common sense. For the rest of us mortals, this gives us good perspective on other ways to help kids get motivated and to help them find their way to a fulfilling career.
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
The first half of this book is full of interesting stories about individuals who have made an impact in their career with their own plans and strategies, i.e who have found their own "niches."
But the latter half of this book lacks a detailed explanation of how to make a career plans that suit our own prerefences and purpose.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it liked it
An excellent overview of what it means to be a 'dark horse,' and the need to pursue fulfillment, as well as an analysis on why individuality matters and how and why standardization in our workplaces, educational system, businesses and society as a whole, is stiffling growth by ignoring individuality.

I found the second half of the book a bit dry, hence the lower review.
Matt Porowski
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Interesting thesis around the age of standardization vs personalization. Loved many of the individual stories that are sprinkled throughout the book. Certain books are good for people at particular times in their lives over others: I read this book, just as I was thinking about related things in my own life and really gave me a good perspective to think about.
Joe Slowik
May 01, 2019 rated it liked it
A poorly written book about extremely important and valuable ideas. This feels like it needed a bit more time to really come together as the author never quite arrives at a satisfying prescription or conclusion.
Evalyn Glover
Feb 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
I picked up this book after listening to Todd Rose on the podcast Armchair Expert. I thoroughly enjoyed his interview, which has now left me wondering how many glasses of wine I had that night.

The book is melodramatic to say the least. In the earlier chapters I had hoped to look past the rhetoric and absorb some of the more valid points the authors made. By the middle of the book I was just hoping it would be over soon and by end the writing became so unbearably repetitive and circular that I
Cathy Ferringo
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Listened to this audiobook book on audible. Was great especially good if you feel the pull to do your own thing career-wise, and not follow standardized find a job, keep your head down & stay until you're 65 plans. Worth reading right to the last chapter.
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful look at motivation, talent and the pursuit of personal fulfillment and success by being willing to step outside the narrow path society defines as ‘success’. The stories were wonderful and inspiring and the strategies were also useful.
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
I only read the first 50 pages or so and then set it aside. Maybe I'll return to it someday, but it didn't engage me personally. Perhaps that's because I'm already relatively satisfied with my lot in life. Someone still searching for fulfillment might take more from it.
Dec 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Very thorough book but I found myself less interested in all the stories that were presented to support their argument. I wanted more advice on success and less examples.
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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.
“Of all the ways that the covenant can make you underestimate your own potential, perhaps the most deflating is when an institution insists that you adopt a strategy that does not suit you - and then reprimands you when you struggle, condescendingly attributing your failure to a lack of talent” 0 likes
“But if you rely upon situational decision-making - if your 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.” 0 likes
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