How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, by Scott Adams

In humor there is truth. I think that’s why I enjoy studying the work of comedians so much. They tend to point out something obvious and make you rethink it.

That’s just the sort of perspective that Scott Adams brings to your professional life in his book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life. In the book, Adams takes you behind the scenes of his success, which is based largely on failure. And it’s all written in a very clever and witty tone, as you might expect from the author of one of the most successful comic strips of all time.

He challenges the reader to find success by reframing many common assumptions. For instance, Adams argues (in a chapter aptly titled “Passion is Bullshit”) that there is no need to find your passion as a prerequisite for success. If you find success, passion will come. Moreover, focusing on finding your passion could lead you astray, so it’s better not to get caught on that dead end road.

Similarly, he makes a case against goals saying, “goals are for losers.” Adams argues that you should focus on systems instead. Good systems will increase your odds of success, and that repositioning is far more powerful than any goal that places too much emphasis on specific outcomes.

Throughout the book these curious perspectives are engaging and thought-provoking. And they all focus on some essential truth looked at from a fresh perspective. I found it to be a great exercise to consider the many ideas presented in the dozens of short chapters of the book.

All of the insights are based on Scott’s own life and career experience, which is shared in great detail in the book. He even goes into some very personal areas and discusses a rare medical condition and how he worked through it. It’s through all of these experiences that he forms his theories and supports his arguments. Which is why his recommendations extend into areas of personal life — Adams sees fitness, sleep, and diet as crucial to business success.

If you like to rethink the obvious and consider novel perspectives on strategies for success, this book is for you. It’s an entertaining and engaging read.