The thought of reading self-help books makes me uncomfortable. I imagine sitting down in an office with Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer (both of whom I’m sure are wonderful people) and having this feeling that something really bad is about to happen and that it’s going to involve their teeth. However, when I speak to people I trust who’ve read self-help books, it sounds like I’m missing out.
So I read one. How to fail at almost everything and still win big by Scott Adams. He’s best known for being the Dilbert creator. Adams is funny and values simplicity a great deal. Throughout the book, he reminds the reader to be skeptical of the wisdom he’s imparting; he’s a cartoonist, not a guru.
Here are some of the topics he covers: why systems are better than goals; your programmable mind; the importance of tracking your personal energy; and doing sleep, fitness, and diet right (avoid relying on willpower).
Adams also writes quite a bit about his own life. He’s self-deprecating and owns up to his mistakes. “Some of My Many Failures in Summary Form” is the title of Chapter Four.
A revelation for me was in a section entitled Simplifiers Versus Optimizers. He makes the “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” argument in a way that validates the worthiness of simplifiers in a world that tends to appreciate optimizers. This section alone makes the book worth reading.
You’ll find most self-help books in the 158.1 area. This one, both memoir and self-help, is in with the biographical works about cartoonists and graphic artists at 741.5092.