Book review: ‘How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big’

Book review: ‘How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big’

By Scott Adams

I have been a fan of the Dilbert comic strip ever since I left construction and moved into an office environment. Before that I didn’t find Dilbert very humorous, I lacked the experiences.  Then I started working for Hewlett Packard.   It didn’t take long before I realized that the behaviors that Scott Adams exploits to make his comics funny are reflected in almost any office environment, with the exception of academia. Working at a College opened my eyes to an entirely different level of insanity that corporations could never achieve. But that is another story.  During the last few years I have become addicted to the Dilbert Blog on his website.  I really enjoyed his thought experiments.  Sometimes I think he wrote something with the specific purpose of getting hammered so he could learn more about his audience.  So when he announced that he was publishing another book I just had to jump on the opportunity.  Well played Scott, well played.

In his preface he states that following the advice from a cartoonist is rarely a good idea, and I agree to a point.  I enjoy reading self-help books, but never take them seriously in their entirety.  And Scott’s book is not a self-help guide.  Scott does have some wonderful ideas that do seem to work for him, and some wonderful ideas that will not work for me, but they may for you.  Learning from your mistakes is probably the central theme.  He shares his failures and challenges in a very personal manor.  It is almost always inspirational to read rags to riches stories, especially when the rags are so tough and the riches so extreme.  I also like his view on selfishness, probably because it mirrors my own. It is always nice have philosophical confirmation of ones beliefs.

I really enjoyed reading about replacing a goal with a system, and how each skill you learn doubles your value.  I have been practicing this for years without knowing that I had a system, I thought I simply didn’t have a goal.  As far as adding skills is concerned this was usually forced upon me, but still it is great advice.  Scott is also a believer in the positive impact of affirmations.  I have known about this for years, but never really put in the effort.

I highly recommend picking up the book and reading it cover to cover.  But before putting in the money to buy his book please remember that it is not supposed to be funny.  It is not a humor book, nor is it a self-help book with a defined system to improve your life.  The book should be titled “How I failed at almost everything and still won big”.  The failures and wins you may experience will be different.  This is as it should be.

In short:  Take care of yourself, learn different stuff, increase your odds of luck finding you, don’t be afraid of failure, and simplify your life.   Like all advice it is easier to read than to do.  And I am sure it was much harder to write than it was to read.  Good job Scott.



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