《How to fail at almost everything and still win big》 reading notes


Author: Scott Adams
Amazon.com: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life eBook: Scott Adams: Kindle Store

Keywords: system vs goals, trade-off, personal energy, luck,
I have read this book for about two months, and it gave me a clear explanation about the idea of "systems matters, not goals" that I have not understood very well before. I think this is the most important gift the author gave me.
In this reading note, I will summarize some worthy ideas.

Introduction: A system for sorting truth from rubbish

In the beginning of the book, the author (Scott) told the reader that they should distinguish whether this book contents are truth or not. The method or system is called "the six filters for truth".
The Six Filters for Truth:
Personal experience (Human perceptions are iffy.)
Experience of people you know (Even more unreliable.)
Experts (They work for money, not truth.)
Scientific studies (Correlation is not causation.)
Common sense (A good way to be mistaken with complete confidence.)
Pattern recognition (Patterns, coincidence, and personal bias look alike.)

After knowing the six filter for truths, the next important principle is consistency. That means to use two or more filter to check the truth at the same time, and do not believe opinions with only one kind of evidence.
So please use the six filters for truths and the consistency principle to judge this book's ideas.

Chapter three: passion is bullshit

In math, it's important to find out what is the cause and what is the result. In this chapter, what Scott wants to tell us is that passion is the by-product of success, not the opposite.
Most people saw the successful people are passionate, or the successful people told their followers to keep going with passions. But where are the failed people with enough or even more passions? This looks like a concept in psychology, that is "Survivorship bias or **survival bias". **
There is a very good book about the survival bias in economics, the name of the book is 《Economics in One Lesson》 by Henry Hazlitt. The books told us many situations we forgot the long-term values and many other peoples.
You should never make a loan to someone who is following his passion
If you ask a billionaire the secret of his success, he might say it is passion, because that sounds like a sexy answer that is suitably humble. But after a few drinks I think he’d say his success was a combination of desire, luck, hard work, determination, brains, and appetite for risk

Chapter five: Goals are for losers, systems matter.

I have got a idea that success needs only two thing: (1)keep doing, (2) do with the right method. In this book, Scott told us that the method of "keep doing" is to pay attention on the process, not the goal.
“System is the most important method to improve ourselves".
In the beginning, Scott got some career advice on a flight. The advice is related to the choice of to stay on the current job or to find a good one. The most important thing of the CEO is to continue to find a better job, in the process of doing good today and doing better tomorrow.
He said that every time he got a new job, he immediately started looking for a better one. For him, job seeking was not something one did when necessary. It was an ongoing process. This makes perfect sense if you do the math. Chances are the best job for you won’t become available at precisely the time you declare yourself ready. Your best bet, he explained, was to always be looking for the better deal. The better deal has its own schedule. I believe the way he explained it is that your job is not your job; your job is to find a better job>>.
This was my first exposure to the idea that one should have a system instead of a goal. The system was to continually look for better options.

People can be divided into goal-oriented people vs system-oriented people. Goal-oriented people pay more attention to the results and what he wants finally, such as more money, job promotion, light weight, and so on. System-oreinted people pay more attention to the process and the action flow, such as what I should do everything, like exercise regularly, eat well.
System-oriented people is satisfied and self-motivated everyday because he can accomplish what he should do everyday, so he succeed every time. But goal-oriented people will get satisfied and then sadness.
In other words, goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary
In the world of dieting, losing twenty pounds is a goal, but eating right is a system.

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

Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous presuccess failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do. The goals people are fighting the feeling of discouragement at each turn. The systems people are feeling good every time they apply their system. That’s a big difference in terms of maintaining your personal energy in the right direction

Chapter nine: deciding versus wanting

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard goes something like this: If you want success, figure out the price, then pay it. It sounds trivial and obvious, but if you unpack the idea it has extraordinary power.

Many people want something, but they just want it, do not really need it. If you really want something, decide "how much money, time and mental energy I should spend", and design a system to do things everyday like a habit.
This came be to the chapter about the systems.
When you decide to be successful in a big way, it means you acknowledge the price and you’re willing to pay
Successful people don’t wish for success; they decide to pursue it.
And to pursue it effectively, they need a system. Success always has a price, but the reality is that the price is negotiable. If you pick the right system, the price will be a lot nearer what you’re willing to pay

Chapter ten: selfishness and trade-off

Most successful people told us that we should be generous and not be selfish to others. Make contribution to others and the society is the correct method to success.
Yes, that's right, but we should take care of us first and do not become the burden of the society, otherwise, we are stupid.
Take care of us means to be selfish somehow, such as to grasp the opportunity that is in favor of us.
Just like "Maslow's hierarchy of needs", we should fulfill our basic needs, such as eat enough and healthy, take care of our families, have the basic safety. In this stage, what should be emphasized is that we do not harm the others or the society, such as do not take money from other people's pockets illegally.
Of course, there is a dance or trade-off between too selfish or not selfish enough, between your own need and the need of others, between the short term and the long term. For the poor people, they take more care of themselves, which is not should be criticized. When we have fulfilled our basic needs, we should consider more about how to become an useful people and be benefit to society. This
Who is stupid? The people who cannot recognize his position, and haven't fulfilled his basic need by himself, in other words, become the burden of others and the society.

Chapter eleven: personal energy

In this chapter, Scott told us that the principle of making decisions and solving problem of multiple priorities is to maximize our personal energy.
We humans want many things: good health, financial freedom, accomplishment, a great social life, love, sex, recreation, travel, family, career, and more. The problem with all of this wanting is that the time you spend chasing one of those desires is time you can’t spend chasing any of the others. So how do you organize your limited supply of time to get the best result.
Maximizing my personal energy means eating right, exercising, avoiding unnecessary stress, getting enough sleep, and all of the obvious steps.

Scott described many methods he uesd to maximaze his personal energy, suchash control the temper, write the blog, read and write books, organize the priorities, do right things at right times, etc.
We should control our temper, avoid be controlled by bad tempers and other people. In his book 《how to control your anger》, Albert Ellis told us that the bad temper is controlled by our unconsicious belief, and we can adjust our temper consiously and avoid the bad effects on our future energy and productivity.
Some people like to write blogs, because the action is a good exercise to get relax and can help him restore his energy.
Do right things at right. For example, morning time is the most productive time for most of us, then we should do some important and high-energy-cost tasks, such as read books, make plans, do not glance over the news, play games and chat.

Chapter 37: The power of affirmation

This is a kind of psychologic phenomenon, like "we will get what we want". Perhaps it relates to our subconsicious power, like the book 《The secert》 told us. The unconsicous power relates to our brain, which divided into consious brain and subconsicous brain, or consicousness or instinct.
The affirmation is like the instinct, what we humans ignore often.
Scott gives us some examples about the power of affirmation idea, one is our selective memory including false memory, the other one is that optimist tends to notice the opportunities early, and so on.
We tent to remeber what we want and forget what we don't want to remeber, further more, we sometimes will create false memory to make sure we want or have something.

Book summary

In summary, Scott told the reader a system of success. In brief, we do the right things firstly, such as eat healthy, exercise frequently, maximize our personal energy, think positively, take care of the balance and trade-off. If the process is right, the results will not be bad. It's the system or process that determines the results and our goals.
Of course, we should not ingnore the goals absolutely, we should analize the goals and establish the system --- what we should do. Then we should focus on this process not the goal. The process gives us continuous motivation and push us to go over and over.
Focus on the system and keep forward!
This is the first time that I write reading notes using English. There must be some wrong words or grammar, and some contents not clarified very well. Sorry for that.

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