How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big

13 minute read

Lessons learned

  • Your health comes first, and it matters in everything else.
  • Focus on systems (habits) for achieving success, not goals. Systems deliver more consistent results, and provide positive reinforcement.
  • Having a combination of skills, as opposed to learning one skill to world-class mastery is an alternative approach that can deliver better results (if you’re not inclined to do maniacal, repetitive practice)

Notable notes

Consistency is the best marker of truth that we have, imperfect though it may be.

My boss, who had been a commercial lender for over thirty years, said the best loan customer is one who has no passion whatsoever, just a desire to work hard at something that looks good on a spreadsheet. Maybe the loan customer wants to start a dry-cleaning store or invest in a fast-food franchise—boring stuff. That’s the person you bet on. You want the grinder, not the guy who loves his job.

Target customers vary. venture capitalists take a very different set of criteria into consideration that favors long term success over short term repayment

My hypothesis is that passionate people are more likely to take big risks in the pursuit of unlikely goals, and so you would expect to see more failures and more huge successes among the passionate.

It’s easy to be passionate about things that are working out, and that distorts our impression of the importance of passion.

Success caused passion more than passion caused success.

Energy is good. Passion is bullshit.

Energy as in “effort” or work done.

The second thing I learned on that flight—or confirmed, really—is that appearance matters.

Goals vs. Systems

To put it bluntly, goals are for losers. That’s literally true most of the time. For example, if your goal is to lose ten pounds, you will spend every moment until you reach the goal—if you reach it at all—feeling as if you were short of your goal. In other words, goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary. That feeling wears on you. In time, it becomes heavy and uncomfortable. It might even drive you out of the game.

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.

that goals are a reach-it-and-be-done situation, whereas a system is something you do on a regular basis with a reasonable expectation that doing so will get you to a better place in your life.

The minimum requirement of a system is that a reasonable person expects it to work more often than not. Buying lottery tickets is not a system no matter how regularly you do it.

Optimizing is often the strategy of people who have specific goals and feel the need to do everything in their power to achieve them. Simplifying is generally the strategy of people who view the world in terms of systems. The best systems are simple, and for good reason.

This is a point that he comes back to frequently during the text, and I find key. The idea is that systems support a positive reinforcement cycle, whereas goals do the opposite. A system is essentially a habit — something you do everyday (in other words, you win everyday) that contributes to your overall likelihood of attaining success.

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.

If the situation involves communication with others, simplification is almost always the right answer. If the task is something you can do all by yourself, or with a partner who is on your wavelength, optimizing might be a better path if you can control most variables in the situation.

I’m a big fan of flash research, the type you do in less than a minute using Google. You might think a topic is too complicated to master for your use, but you might learn otherwise in less than a minute if you bother to check.

The easiest way to manage your attitude is to consume as much feel-good entertainment as you can.

The daydreaming strategy is more of an everyday practice. It won’t get you out of a deep slump. For the truly bad moods, exercise, nutrition, sleep, and time are the smart buttons to push. Once you get back to your baseline level of happiness, you’ll be in a better position to get the benefits of daydreaming. A powerful variation on the daydreaming method involves working on projects that have a real chance of changing the world, helping humanity, and/or making a billion dollars.

Understanding this two-way causation is highly useful for boosting your personal energy.

I can’t see the future, so I have the option of imagining it in whatever way gives me the greatest utility. I choose to imagine that the book will do well because that illusion is highly motivating. It increases my energy.

we are designed to become in reality however we act. We fake it until it becomes real.

The pattern I noticed was this: Things that will someday work out well start out well.

If your work inspires some excitement and some action from customers, get ready to chew through some walls. You might have something worth fighting for.

It makes more sense to craft a life plan for yourself that embraces your natural inclinations, assuming you’re not a cannibal. Most natural inclinations have some sort of economic value if you channel them right.

You simply need to pick a life strategy that rewards novelty seeking more than mindless repetition.

Your skills will increase with experience, which is the more fun cousin of practice.

Practice vs experience. never thought of it that way

Good + Good > Excellent. Successwise, you’re better off being good at two complementary skills than being excellent at one.

When I say each skill you acquire will double your odds of success, that’s a useful simplification.

When writing a résumé, a handy trick you’ll learn from experts is to ask yourself if there are any words in your first draft that you would be willing to remove for one hundred dollars each. Here’s the simple formula: Each Unnecessary Word = $100

As is often the case, simplicity trumps accuracy. The hundred dollars in this case is not only inaccurate; it’s entirely imaginary. And it still works. Note: great communication tool that i often use implicity

This is often something I’ve found rang true for me — I have the ability to take complex matters and simplify them to their crux. He’s applied this skill in so many different realms, and with great results. Almost every field could use further simplification.

If you think extraordinary talent and a maniacal pursuit of excellence are necessary for success, I say that’s just one approach, and probably the hardest. When it comes to skills, quantity often beats quality.

It’s easy to forget that the Musk-ian approach to work is just that — an approach. There are others.

Another huge advantage of learning as much as you can in different fields is that the more concepts you understand, the easier it is to learn new ones.

My natural optimism always tells me I’m going to pull a rabbit out of the hat and win against all odds no matter how far behind I am. That feeling is so strong in me that the only reason it isn’t classified as mental illness is that it works more often than you’d expect.

There are several things to learn from that story. The most important is the transformative power of praise versus the corrosive impact of criticism.

Another thing I learned from my Dale Carnegie experience is that we don’t always have an accurate view of our own potential.

When I talk of the comparison problem, I don’t mean a simple comparison of one thing with its competition. If the competition is simply better than you, your problem is more than customer perceptions. I’m talking about comparisons that common sense tells you should be irrelevant, such as comparing Dilbert the TV show to The Simpsons.

It is tremendously useful to know when people are using reason and when they are rationalizing the irrational. You’re wasting your time if you try to make someone see reason when reason is not influencing the decision.

A working knowledge of psychology is essential to your success—both personally and professionally. Consider it a lifelong learning process. You’ll be glad you did. Over time it starts to feel like a superpower that allows you to understand things that confuse and confound those around you.

If you want people to see you as smart, persuasive, and funny, consider taking a two-day class in business writing. There aren’t many skills you can learn in two days that will serve you this well.

So how do you get a stranger to like you? It’s simple, actually. It starts by smiling and keeping your body language open. After that, just ask questions and listen as if you cared, all the while looking for common interests. Everyone

I credit one of my college friends with teaching me the secret of overcoming shyness by imagining you are acting instead of interacting. And by that I mean literally acting.

Try to figure out which people are thing people and which ones are people people. Thing people enjoy hearing about new technology and other clever tools and possessions. They also enjoy discussions of processes and systems, including politics. People people enjoy only conversations that involve humans doing interesting things. They get bored in a second when the conversation turns to things. Once you know whether you are dealing with a thing person or a people person, you can craft your conversation to his or her sweet spot. It makes a big difference in how people react to you, and that in turn will make you more confident and less shy.

Never seen it described this way. hmm

It helps to remind yourself that your own flaws aren’t that bad compared with everyone else’s.

A theory is a scientific explanation of reality that is so well tested that it is as good as a fact. The correct term for an unproven and untested explanation is “hypothesis.”

people are more cooperative when you ask for a favor using a sentence that includes the word because, even if the reason you offer makes little or no sense.

I’d actually heard this one before.

I’ve found that any question beginning with “Would you mind . . .” tends to be well received.

I’ve found that the most effective way to stop people from trying to persuade me is to say, “I’m not interested.”

Another good persuasion sentence is “I don’t do that.” It’s not a reason and barely tries to be. But it sounds like a hard-and-fast rule.

this is to ask, “Is there anything you can do for me?”

Research shows that people will automatically label you a friend if you share a secret.

If you show enthusiasm, others will want to experience the same rush.

In any kind of negotiation, the worst thing you can do is act reasonable. Reasonable people generally cave in to irrational people because it seems like the path of least resistance.

What? Seems plausible but also dubious

One of the strangest patterns I noticed during my corporate career was that many of the higher-level managers seemed to have distinctive, interesting voices that commanded attention and gave an inexplicable weight to everything they said.

Same here

I find it helpful to see the world as a slot machine that doesn’t ask you to put money in.

Instead you pay with beffort and persistently pull the handle till you win big

In that environment, you can fail 99 percent of the time, while knowing success is guaranteed. All you need to do is stay in the game long enough.

Simply find the people who most represent what you would like to become and spend as much time with them as you can without trespassing, kidnapping, or stalking. Their good habits and good energy will rub off on you.

Step one in your search for happiness is to continually work toward having control of your schedule.

I’ve transformed work into pleasure simply by having control over when I do it.

Fascinating perspective!

Happiness has more to do with where you’re heading than where you are.

We tend to feel happy when things are moving in the right direction and unhappy when things are trending bad. The directional nature of happiness is one reason it’s a good idea to have a sport or hobby that leaves you plenty of room to improve every year. Tennis and golf are two perfect examples. With either sport, an average player can continue improving well past the age of sixty. Slow and steady improvement at anything makes you feel that you are on the right track.

Pessimism is often a failure of imagination. If you can imagine the future being brighter, it lifts your energy and gooses the chemistry in your body that produces a sensation of happiness.

I love this outlook —

The next important thing to remember about happiness is that it’s not a mystery of the mind and it’s not magic. Happiness is the natural state for most people whenever they feel healthy, have flexible schedules, and expect the future to be good.

I’m here to tell you that the primary culprit in your bad moods is a deficit in one of the big five: flexible schedule, imagination, sleep, diet, and exercise.

Eat right. Exercise. Get enough sleep. Imagine an incredible future (even if you don’t believe it). Work toward a flexible schedule. Do things you can steadily improve at. Help others (if you’ve already helped yourself). Reduce daily decisions to routine. If you do those eight things, the rest of what you need to stimulate the chemistry of happiness in your brain will be a lot easier to find.

You might need your willpower later for something more substantial. What you need is a diet system that doesn’t rely on willpower.

An attractive alternative makes willpower less necessary.

Laziness can make you choose healthy foods if you are clever enough to make those foods the most convenient in your house. You can further game your willpower by allowing yourself unlimited quantities of the good sort of food, at least until your cravings for the bad stuff subside.

But if success is your dream and operating at peak mental performance is something you want, coffee is a good bet. I highly recommend it.

Eating right depends a great deal on your nonfood alternatives. If you get your entire life in order, it will be much easier to have an ideal weight. This is a circular problem, of course, because getting to a healthy weight is a big part of what can improve the quality of your career, health, and social life. You need to eat well to enjoy the rest of your life, and you need the rest of your life to be in good shape to more easily resist bad food choices. Everything is connected. Note: think nezar kadhem. fat means you experience less, theres imbalance

To stay fit in the long run you need to limit your exercise to whatever level doesn’t feel like work, just as kids do.

In each case the key is to have a predictable system. The method that never succeeds is exercising whenever you have some spare time.

the most important rule is that you should never exercise so much in one day that you won’t feel like being active the next day. To put that another way, the right amount of exercise today is whatever amount makes me look forward to being active tomorrow.

By putting those pleasures at the immediate end of my exercise, I develop a strong association between the exercise and the good feelings. It forms a habit.

Here’s what I do when I know I should exercise but I feel too tired and droopy to imagine doing a vigorous workout. Instead of doing what I feel I can’t do, I do what I can do—which is put on my exercise clothes and lace my sneakers. (You might call them tennis shoes or running shoes where you live.) Central to my method is that I grant myself 100 percent permission to not exercise, even after getting suited up for

always remember that 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’s a system.

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