How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life: Scott Adam

Tired of having failed goals?

What does Consistency, using a system , and having an energy metric mean to your success?

We share 3 major TIPS on how to fail yet still win BIG in our mini-review of DILBERT creator and author of

“How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life” Scott Adams

Are you willing to fail?   Perhaps you should.

So says, Scott Adams in his book

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life

Filled with tons of self-awareness and a equal amount of well positioned self-deprecation – for effect, Scott Adams shares multiple failures and what he learns from each.

Let’s dive into our First Major Take away…


Scott Adams suggests…

we mortals need to navigate our world as if we understood it. The alternative—acting randomly—would be absurd. To minimize the feeling of absurdity in your life, (Adams) recommends using a specific system for sorting truth from fiction.

Scott Adams states –

The system recognizes that there are at least six common ways to sort truth from fiction, and interestingly, each one is a complete train wreck.

These Six Filters for Truth are…

Personal experience (Human perceptions are iffy.)

Experience of people you know (Even more unreliable.)

Experts (They work for money, not truth.)

Scientific studies (Correlation is not causation.)

Common sense (A good way to be mistaken with complete confidence.)

Pattern recognition (Patterns, coincidence, and personal bias look alike.)

In our messy, flawed lives, the nearest we can get to truth is consistency.

Consistency  is the bedrock of the scientific method.

Scientists    creep up   on the truth    by performing controlled experiments and attempting to observe consistent results.

In your everyday, nonscientist life you do the same thing, but it’s not as impressive, nor as reliable.

Adams states… For example, if every time you eat popcorn, one hour later you fart so hard that it inflates your socks, you can reasonably assume popcorn makes you gassy. It’s not science, but it’s still an entirely useful pattern. Consistency is the best marker of truth that we have, imperfect though it may be.

Second major takeaway

Systems Over Goals

Adams shares…

Throughout his career he had his antennae up, looking for examples of people who use systems as opposed to goals.

In most cases, as far as he could  tell, the people who use systems do better. The systems-driven people have found a way to look at the familiar in new and more useful ways. To put it bluntly,  Adams says, “goals are for losers. “

And shares how that’s literally true most of the time. For example, if your goal is to lose ten pounds, you will spend every moment until you reach the goal—if you reach it at all—feeling as if you were short of your goal.

In other words, goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary. That feeling wears on you. In time, it becomes heavy and uncomfortable. It might even drive you out of the game.

Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous pre-success failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out.


Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do.

The goals people are fighting the feeling of discouragement at each turn.

The systems people are feeling good every time they apply their system.

That’s a big difference in terms of maintaining your personal energy in the right direction.

The system-versus-goals model can be applied to most human endeavors.

In the world of dieting, losing twenty pounds is a goal, but eating right is a system.

In the exercise realm, running a marathon in under four hours is a goal, but exercising daily is a system.

In business, making a million dollars is a goal, but being a serial entrepreneur is a system.

Let’s say a goal is a specific objective that you either achieve or don’t sometime in the future.

A system is something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run.

If you do something every day, it’s a system.

If you’re waiting to achieve it someday in the future, it’s a goal. Language is messy, and I know someand I know some of you are thinking that exercising every day sounds like a goal.

The common definition of goals would certainly allow that interpretation.

For our purposes, let’s agree that goals are a reach-it-and-be-done situation, whereas a system is something you do on a regular basis with a reasonable expectation that doing so will get you to a better place in your life.

Systems have no deadlines, and on any given day you probably can’t tell if they’re moving you in the right direction.

My proposition is that if you study people who succeed, you will see that most of them follow systems, not goals.

When goal-oriented people succeed in big ways, it makes news, and it makes an interesting story.

That gives you a distorted view of how often goal-driven people succeed.

When you apply your own truth filter to the idea that systems are better than goals, consider only the people you know personally.

If you know some extra successful people, ask some probing questions about how they got where they did.

I think you’ll find a system at the bottom of it all, and usually some extraordinary luck. (Later in this book ADAMS,  tells you how to improve your odds of getting lucky.)


The Energy Metric

When Adams talks about increasing your personal energy, He doesn’t mean the frenetic, caffeine-fueled, bounce-off-the-walls type of energy.

He’s talking about a calm, focused energy.

To others it will simply appear that you are in a good mood. And you will be.

Adams says, “Before I became a cartoonist, I worked in a number of awful corporate jobs.

But I still enjoyed going to work, partly because I exercised most evenings and usually woke up feeling good, and partly because I always had one or two side projects going on that had the potential to set me free. Cartooning was just one of a dozen entrepreneurial ideas I tried out during my corporate days. For years, the prospect of starting “my own thing” and leaving my cubicle behind gave me an enormous amount of energy.

My proposition is that organizing your life to optimize your personal energy will add up to something incredible that is more good than bad.

Adams shares a section on Matching Mental State to Activity suggesting timing of activities plays a roll in productivity.

He also compares and contrasts Simplifiers Versus Optimizers

Where in simple terms…

Adams suggests…

A simplifier will prefer the easy way to accomplish a task, while knowing that some amount of extra effort might have produced a better outcome. An optimizer looks for the very best solution even if the extra complexity increases the odds of unexpected problems.

Knowledge and the Lack Thereof

Adams describes…

One of the biggest obstacles to success—and a real energy killer—is the fear that you don’t know how to do the stuff that your ideal career plans would require. For example, you might have a terrific idea for a small business, but you don’t know how to get a fictitious name, how to do your accounting, how to build a Web site, how to outsource work to China, and so on. When you don’t know anything about a particular topic, it’s easy to assume it would be too hard to learn it quickly. I run into that all the time, and I’ve developed a few tricks and work-arounds you might find helpful.

Priorities… as they contribute to energy…


Adams states, is… useful to think of your priorities in terms of concentric circles, like an archery target. In the center is your highest priority: you. If you ruin yourself, you won’t be able to work on any other priorities. So taking care of your own health is job one.

The next ring—and your second-biggest priority—is economics.

That includes your job, your investments, and even your house. You might wince at the fact that I put economics ahead of your family, your friends, and the rest of the world, but there’s a reason.

If you don’t get your personal financial engine working right, you place a burden on everyone from your family to the country.

Once you are both healthy and financially sound, it’s time for the third ring: family, friends, and lovers.

Good health and sufficient money are necessary for a base level of happiness, but you need to be right with your family, friends, and romantic partners to truly enjoy life. The next rings are your local community, your country, and the world, in that order. Don’t bother trying to fix the world until you get the inner circles of your priorities under control.

These Major takeaways were just a fraction of the value I received from reading AND re-reading Scott Adams, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life.

If you want to kick start your failures that lead to Winning BIG,  then follow the links in the description below to get your copy of How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, by Scott Adam

Share with us your own TOP TIPS for success in the comments section below.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, by Scott Adam on Amazon