Everyone needs a wise friend... That's what Scott Adams thinks.
By reading his book - How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big , it feels like he becomes the cynical mentor you've always needed in your life.
The book is an autobiographical account about how he managed to create an amazing life for himself, and the systems he used to do this.
At the heart of the book, as the title suggests, is the celebration of failure. But don't let this put you off. The idea of 'failing hard and often' has been all but murdered by the startup/growth hacking community, but Adams' outlook is fresh and insightful.
(If you didn't know), Adams is the creator of the Dilbert comic strip. His self-confessed bad illustrations and dry observations on a farcical office life resonated with people when they were first published in the late 1980's.
You can now buy Dilbert books, calendars, mouse mats, t-shirts, coasters, dvd's and keychains to name only a few. From some playful doodles a one man industry was born.
But so what? I hear you say... Why is this story so great?
Well, the interesting thing about this story is how Scott managed to engineer this life for himself. It's like he was destined to do it.
This book is packed full of knowledge and wisdom. Adams describes the countless failures (my favourite was the Dilburrito) along the way to his success and how he turned them to his advantage.
The 'gold' within this book though is where Adams discusses systems vs goals.
There's a lot of talk in personal development about setting goals and working towards them... And on the surface it seems to make perfect sense.
But in this book, Scott Adams deconstructs this idea and shows that having a system increases your odds of success quite substantially.
An example from the book is weight loss.
Imagine you set yourself the goal of losing 10 lbs. A perfectly achievable number for most people... But many of us find ourselves hitting this target and then slipping back into gluttony and tighter trousers.
If you have a system, however, that says 'I will learn to eat well in a way that fits in my current lifestyle', then you have swapped willpower for knowledge.
Another great example from the book is the best piece of career advice he ever received.
When flying across country after recently graduating college. He sat timidly in a cheap suit next to a successful businessman on the flight.
The man said that his job wasn't his current job... His job was to constantly be looking for a better one.
The goal of achieving success would be to get a good job.
The system is to always be looking for the next job.
Statistically speaking, the chances of your perfect job being available just when you need it are very low. But if you're always looking for a better job, and interviewing for them, then you increase the odds in your favour.
And that's pretty much what this book boils down to.
Improve the odds. Stop doing what doesn't work, and start doing what does.
Adams gives tonnes of practical examples and advice. From personal development, learning and career advice to health and fitness, diet and metal wellbeing - It's all in there.
I rarely rave about books and call them essential, but anyone who is attempting to pave their own way in the world will be richer for having read this.
Pick yourself up a copy here, and let me know what you think.