Once upon a time I needed cover blurbs for a book. I got three. Good ones! And I learned so much about how things get done in the world.
But I always had a nagging feeling the exercise was meaningless. This comic strip by Scott Adams sums it up. Scott doesn't have blurbs on the back of his book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. I hope I get a chance to ask him about that someday. Meanwhile I hope you'll at least avail yourself of what is on the back of it, a sample of what's inside.
As host of a radio talk show that helps people do what works, you can imagine how many books cross my desk. Most of them are boring. Most of them go "STL" -- straight to the library, as a donation. Scott's book is so good I paid for it with my own money and enjoyed it again when my husband read it. Our daughter has it now. "A lot of people wish there was some sort of roadmap for life," I told her, "which of course there isn't. But this comes pretty close."
A few highlights...
The most important metric to track is personal energy. It's difficult to argue with that one, but until I heard Scott say it I never really thought about it. Now it's the thread that ties everything together. Does this food make me feel better, or worse? These people? This town?
Happiness is health plus freedom. Another duh, but amusing if only because happiness is such a booming business these days.
Scott considers himself a professional simplifier. I used to make fun of people who taught -- or felt the need to take -- a business writing class. Isn't that terrible to admit? "Writing is writing," I reasoned. "Be clear, be concise, what else is there?" Scott says business writing taught him to strip everything but the essential. In its purest form, life is hilarious.
My life changed when I realized I rewarded myself for losing weight by eating what made me gain it to begin with. I was always either gaining or losing. Bad system. I replaced it with a real system -- and it was eerie to see Scott lay out a similar system in his book. What does a healthy weight have to do with success in life in general? Pretty much everything. See the first two highlights!
You can't win if you're not at the table, as the saying goes. Scott says you need systems in place for luck to find you. It might help to wake up thinking, "Today's the day." Like he did! Oh, sure. You can believe people who say things like, "Who are you trying to kid?" Odds are they're not successful, though, or happy. What could it hurt to emulate someone who is? Anticipating a future wildly better than the present costs nothing.
Figure out the price and pay it. Enough said?
For the longest time I wondered why I felt guilty if I didn't pass along a compliment. Scott articulated it for me: "Withholding praise borders on immoral." Scott makes me think your mother's advice, by the way, to not say anything at all if you can't say something nice is lazy. You can always find something nice. Like, "Wow. That was brave." That story was worth the price of the book.
Hang with winners. The importance of that step cannot be overstated.
Reason rarely drives decisions. I'm still processing that one, but I already find myself going easier on myself and others.
You can often open books in this genre to any page and walk away with something useful. The same is true for this book -- but as Scott says, you'll get much more out of it if you read it the way people did before someone decided 140 characters was enough. Start at the beginning, stay with it, and don't be surprised when you have a roadmap for one life -- which you can modify to suit your own.
Scott doesn't tell you how to do the impossible. He shows you how he did, by (spoiler alert) finding his voice.