How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big – Scott Adams Book Summary

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big – Scott Adams | Free Book Summary

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

The creator of the office staple comic strip Dilbert shares his life lessons.

Choose Systems Over Goals

  • If you achieve your goal, you celebrate and feel terrific, but only until you realize you just lost the thing that gave you purpose and direction. 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.


Successful people don’t wish for success; they decide to pursue it. And to pursue it effectively, they need a system. Success always has a price, but the reality is that the price is negotiable. If you pick the right system, the price will be a lot nearer what you are willing to pay.

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Think of your priorities in terms of concentric circles, like an archery target. 

  • In the center is your highest priority: you. This includes your health and mental well being.
  • The next ring—and your second-biggest priority—is economics(finance). That includes your job, your investments, and even your house.  

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

Happiness through right priorities

Good health and sufficient money are necessary for a base level of happiness, but you also need to be right with your family, friends, and romantic partners to truly enjoy life. Free book, podcast summaries

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.

Managing Your Attitude

Your attitude affects everything you do in your quest for success and happiness. A positive attitude is an important tool. It’s important to get it right.

The way to manage your attitude is to understand that the brain can be programmed for success. Increase your ratio of happy thoughts compared to negative thoughts. If your life doesn’t have much to offer in the way of happy thoughts, then try daydreaming.

Smile often. Even if your smile is phony, it will make you feel better. Also, act confidently. If you act confidently, you will feel confident.

 I’ve come to believe that success at anything has a spillover effect on other things. You can take advantage of that effect by becoming good at things that require nothing but practice. Once you become good at a few unimportant things, such as hobbies or sports, the habit of success stays with you on more important quests. When you’ve tasted success, you want more.

Knowing When To Quit

Quitting might conflict with the advice you’ve heard all your life— that sticking with something, no matter the obstacles, is important to success. 

It’s true, overcoming obstacles is normally an unavoidable part of the process. But you also need to know when to quit. Persistence is useful, but there’s no point in being an idiot about it.

Success Isn’t Magic

The Success Formula: Every skill that you acquire doubles your odds of success. The more concepts you learn, the easier it is to acquire new ones. 

Skills that every adult should develop at least a working knowledge of:

  • Public speaking
  • Psychology
  • Business writing
  • Accounting
  • Design
  • Overcoming shyness
  • Second language
  • Golf
  • Proper grammar
  • Persuasion
  • Technology
  • Proper voice technique.

Patterns for Success

Lack of fear. A lack of fear of embarrassment is what allows one to be proactive.

It’s what makes a person take on challenges that others write off as too risky

Education (the right kind). 

Generally speaking, people who have the right kind of education have almost no risk of unemployment.


The only reasonable goal in life is maximizing your total lifetime experience of something called happiness. 

 The happiness formula:

  • Eat right
  • Exercise
  • Get enough sleep
  • Imagine an incredible future (even if you don’t believe it)
  • Work toward a flexible schedule
  • Do things you can steadily improve at
  • Help others (if you’ve already helped yourself)
  • Reduce daily decisions to routine
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