How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big – a Book Review

Hello guys! It’s Nadia here, in case you forgot my name. I know, I know I’ve been rather quiet these past few months, busy time for us at Pod. Between fundraising and new product launch, locked out from my new home in Jakarta and juggling domestic responsibilities; my blog seems to be chucked into a corner, all sad and alone. Sorry blog! Anyway, I am back to rave about the book I read recently; How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams. Hands down, the best book I’ve read this year. Yes, out of the two books in total that I read this year. 😂

Scott Adams, the author of this book perhaps is better know for Dilbert, the comic strip. But I did enjoy the many lessons he learnt from failing multiple things before the handful successes he had that defined his career and life. Here are some of the learnings I picked up.

1. Being selfish can sometimes be the most selfless thing you can do

Sometimes we are stretched in so many different directions it can get really overwhelming. So Scott’s advice is to basically approach the multiple priorities by focusing on one metrics: your energy. So your main job is to maximise your energy by eating right, exercising, surrounding yourself with people who positively charge you, etc. It helps to allocate your tasks according to your energy and concentration throughout the day, ie: do more creative work in the early mornings and leave the mundane and monotonous work in the afternoon, post lunch where your energy level is low.

Also, it is also important to be selfish (read: choose YOU over others) sometimes in order to conserve/gather your energy before serving others. For instance, you are allowed to carve some time out on your own to do the things you want to do in order for you to feel good and re-energise rather than say, going out with people or doing chores. At the surface, it seems a tad bit selfish but the world need you at your best. So do whatever you need to get there and then, be of service to others.

2. Goals vs Systems

We all have goals, I do too. We make new year resolutions that we look at with disappointments every 31st of December before heading out to make another list of resolutions to disappoint ourselves the year after. Scott’s suggestion is to replace goals with systems. For example, we all have “Work out more/be healthy/go to the gym everyday” on our list of goals. With goals, we constantly feel like a failure until that goal is achieved. That’s not a good way to live.

This seems like a good way to live. #mocktailsforme

With systems, we make gradual improvements every single day to increase the odds of achieving the goals we aspire to achieve. With systems, you do small things that can get you to your fitness goals by doing small acts like eating right and get into workout clothes even when you don’t feel like working out, do small cardio exercises everyday even for 5 mins. The key is to do it consistently rather than forcing yourself to workout for an hour only to feel shitty the next day and you decide to take a break which ended up for a year till your next resolution starts. In fact, Scott said the days when he felt sluggish and don’t feel like working out, he put on his workout gears, drove to the gym and if even then, he still felt like crap and his body refused to workout, he drove home. Guilt free. Because he knows with his system, he will be back at it tomorrow. It is the same with wealth. Making a million dollar is a goal and being a serial entrepreneur/ frequent job seeker/ acquire new skills constantly is a system. With every step, your odd of success improves.

3. Perception of failure

My favourite quote from this book is:

See the world as a slot machine that doesn’t ask you to put money in. All it asks is your time, focus, and energy to pull the handle over and over… In that environment, you can fail 99% of the time, while knowing success is guaranteed. All you need to do is stay in the game long enough

– Scott Adams

Failure to me is the less scary than the regret of not trying something. I think this is my decision making process in general. I don’t mind to crash and burn rather than wondering what if I’ve given something/someone a shot. In this book I learnt all the many failures Scott faced in his life prior and post Dilbert and I wondered how did he stayed positive through all of it? I would have probably died halfway, hosted my own funeral, said a couple of prayers, and buried myself in my own backyard. He said that you end up learning a lot of things from failing and those failures signal that you are dreaming big.

One other thing I like about the book is it talks a lot about controlling your mind and how that shaped your reality. Let’s be honest, no one enjoys failing. But, since we failed due to things that are beyond our control, it helps to gain some perspective to make us feel better about the inevitable and trick our mind to cope with it better. Scott advice in coping is to find something that you can be good at with practice, like a hobby or a sport. This small success can create a spillover into other things in your life. When you feel good about the small win, that energy boost will get you craving for more. This is one of the many tips he shared to help you build the right habits towards success.

Seriously, I wish I can type the whole book for you but then again I might get sued for plagiarism. So go out and get one fro yourself. I’m telling you, it’s worth every penny.



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