How to Fail

Book Review: How To Fail At Almost Everything . . .

I had just taken on a new project for a company located an hour and a half away from my home. It ended up being a very stressful project with a long commute so I needed to fill my mind with something positive and light-hearted. I’m not sure why I thought a book about failure was what I needed, but this book, How to Fail At Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams was just what the doctor (in my case, coach) ordered. In the following paragraphs, I promise not to give away the content while still giving you enough information to make a decision regarding whether it’s the right purchase for you.

Scott Adams is the creator of the Dilbert cartoon strip. During my time in corporate, Dilbert was one of the few constants. Well, that, and maybe the guarantee that on a daily basis, decisions would be made that appeared to be based on no data points whatsoever. But I digress. I was intrigued by the idea that the creator of Dilbert would write a self-help book. And honestly, I was so stressed out, I needed the comedic relief. How to Fail At Almost Everything & Still Win Big was a welcome adventure into the life, events, and data points that helped both Scott Adams and the Dilbert cartoon series come to fruition.

But it was so much more than that.

Scott Adams would be the first to tell you this isn’t a self-help book. And he does. Multiple times in the book he makes it very clear that he is not qualified nor does he have an interest in being a self-help guru. That being said, he’s made observations and correlations to how things have worked in his life and he shares those in a light-hearted and humorous way.

One of the things I loved most about this book, other than the obvious comedic approach, was how it felt like a friend saying, “Hey, this is what worked for me. Here’s some data to support this approach. That doesn’t mean it will work for you. But maybe you’d like to try that based on this information.” It wasn’t at all “in your face.” Sometimes “in your face” is just what I need but during this time, while dealing with a stressful project, the conversational approach was not only soothing during my drive, it was effective.

We often think those that have “made it” were somehow blessed with some magic formula of luck, tenacity, and brains. Scott Adams not only laughs at himself and his rise in the corporate world due to no apparent reasoning, but he also takes us into a part of his life where he struggled, with some pretty huge issues, and how he both viewed those situations and overcame them. He not only discusses his approach to overcoming the obstacles in his life but also provides data indicating there are correlations (not necessarily causations) between his approach and success. While being the first to admit luck may have played a role, Mr. Adams reminds us we have the opportunity (and maybe even responsibility) to create our own luck.

Related Article: Benefits of Having a Growth Mindset

In the audio version of the book, I had the added benefit of hearing the stories and anecdotes in Scott Adams’ voice. This added to the feeling of just hanging out with a successful friend and learning everything that contributed to their success.

I’d highly recommend How to Fail at Almost Everything & Still Win Big. In the world of self-help, things can feel pretty serious and directed. This book was a welcome diversion from everyday stress while still educational, thoughtful, insightful, and dare I say, inspiring.

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