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How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big summary

Scott Adams

Kind of the Story of My Life

4.3 (165 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams is a humorous and practical guide to achieving success. Adams shares his insights on how to effectively pursue goals by focusing on systems, not goals, and developing a diverse set of skills.

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    How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big
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    Create systems instead of setting goals.

    Walk into a bookstore, find the self-help section and flip open a book. Nine times out of ten, you’ll encounter page upon page of upbeat prose extolling the life-changing benefits of setting clear goals.

    But this praise is slightly misplaced, because goals, no matter how clear, have two problems: they’re future-oriented, and they’re overly specific.

    Let’s start with the temporal trouble. All goals are situated in the future, but in order to achieve them, you must do work in the present. And when you begin working toward a goal, you usually won’t see immediate results. This can be frustrating and discouraging.

    That’s why the author prefers systems, which are firmly grounded in the present. Unlike goals, systems are focused on the here and now and can be worked into your daily life, meaning that you can get daily pleasure from successfully operating them.

    Adams learned about systems by chance. On a flight, he was once seated next to a man who explained how systems had transformed him from an employee to a CEO. His system was simple: keep moving from job to job, always looking for something better. Even though he didn't have a clear end-goal in mind, this system allowed him to accumulate so much know-how that he ended up in the CEO’s chair.

    Systems also trump goals because they’re nonspecific.

    The specificity of goals often creates an illusion of failure. People tend to feel that, if they don’t accomplish exactly what they set out to do, they haven’t accomplished anything.

    For instance, say you want to lose 20 pounds before Valentine’s Day. This is a laudable goal, but it’s got some inherent issues. First, you’ll only get to celebrate when you achieve it; and second, if you fall one pound short, you’ve failed.

    It’d be wiser to set up a system – say, to commit to exercising every day, whether for five minutes or half an hour. This way, you’ll establish a habit and have an easier time staying motivated.

    This is what the author did as a young man. Whether writing or drawing or whatever it might have been, he’d create a system to produce and replicate material that people were receptive to, without a clear end-goal in mind.

    And this was a clever move. Considering the number of jobs and projects he abandoned before creating his hit comic strip Dilbert, he probably would have felt like a total failure had he set his sights on one particular goal.

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    What is How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big about?

    How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big (2013) is a grab bag of life and career advice from the creator of Dilbert, the popular comic strip. Scott Adams explains how he succeeded as a cartoonist and businessman, not despite his failures, but because of them. He also shares his secrets for maintaining high energy levels and using them to fuel a life of constant learning and improvement.

    How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big Review

    How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big (2013) is a book that offers valuable insights on navigating through failures and achieving success in life. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With its practical strategies and relatable stories, it presents a refreshing perspective on how failures can actually pave the way to success.
    • Through humor and honesty, Scott Adams shares his personal experiences and lessons, making this book relatable and engaging.
    • It goes beyond the typical self-help genre, providing practical advice on topics like goal-setting, mindset, and developing skills.

    Best quote from How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

    But being system oriented, I felt myself growing more capable every day, no matter the fate of the project I happened to be working on.

    —Scott Adams
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    Who should read How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big?

    • Exhausted people looking to raise their energy levels
    • Anyone thinking of changing their perspectives on failure
    • Entrepreneurs seeking motivation and guidance

    About the Author

    Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert, a famous comic strip showcasing humorous aspects of office life. It has been published all over the world and in countless newspapers. He is also an author of many books, including the New York Times best seller Win Bigly.

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    How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big FAQs 

    What is the main message of How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big?

    The main message of How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big is that failure can lead to success and happiness.

    How long does it take to read How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big?

    The reading time for How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big is worth reading for its practical advice on finding success through failure. It provides valuable insights in a concise manner.

    Who is the author of How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big?

    The author of How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big is Scott Adams.

    What to read after How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big?

    If you're wondering what to read next after How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Loserthink by Scott Adams
    • Anything You Want by Derek Sivers
    • How to Fail by Elizabeth Day
    • The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
    • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
    • Mindset by Carol Dweck
    • Don't Overthink It by Anne Bogel
    • Hopping over the Rabbit Hole by Anthony Scaramucci
    • The Burnout Society by Byung-Chul Han
    • The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss