Short essays by Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., the author of TING AND I: A Memoir of Love, Courage and Devotion, published in September 2011 by Outskirts Press (Parker, CO, USA), available from outskirtspress.com/tingandi, Barnes and Noble [bn.com], and Amazon [amazon.com], in paperback or ebook formats. Please visit us at tingandi.com for more information.
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Learn from a Cartoonist?
Adams, successful author and entrepreneur, is best known for his highly popular
daily cartoon strip, Dilbert,
chronicling the workplace ups and downs of this nicely nerdy engineer and his
odd workfellows, which include a pointy-haired boss and colleagues who make an
art of work-shirking.
has written a valuable, enthusiastically reviewed book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story
of My Life. “This is the story of one person’s unlikely success within the
context of scores of embarrassing failures,” encouragement for those of us who
feel on the edge of success but not yet ensconced there. Rather contrarian, it
serves as an “on the other hand” for the advice we often receive.
It’s Mostly Luck
where, and what you are is largely a matter of chance Adams argues.
so, you can improve your chances. Adding a skill, even at a modest level,
“doubles” your chances for success: public speaking, psychology, conversation,
grammar, persuasion, a second language, business writing, basic accounting, the
Internet, even design basics. He lists about a dozen useful skills. These
skills become part of your “stack of talents.” The more of them, like tickets
to a lottery, the more likely you are to capitalize on an opportunity and win.
Passion Is B.S.
learned this from a commercial loan officer who shied away from lending to
entrepreneurs who were long on passion: “…the best loan customer is one who has
no passion whatsoever, just a desire to work hard at something that looks good
on a spreadsheet.” Finance trumps fervor.
Goals Are Not Golden,
without goals, we are adrift; specific goals can keep us motivated and on
course. And yet…a goal we repeatedly fail to reach is discouraging, sapping our
energy. Better, Adams argues, is to have a system, a method we stick to and
regularly reward ourselves for doing so.
20 pounds? Nice idea for some, but if progress is slow, the diet is dropped. Instead,
we must change our eating habits, adopt a new system. Every day we stick to the
new regime is a victory. I did this myself this year, dropping 10% of my weight
by greatly restricting carbs and replacing them with salads and proteins. The
daily “victories” helped me maintain my new weight. I confess I did keep track
of both what I was eating and how much I lost.
Failure Is the Raw
Material for Success
describes numerous failures on his way to success as an author, entrepreneur,
and cartoonist. “If success were easy, everyone would do it. It takes effort.”
in the mound of your unsuccessful efforts is likely to be a success. “The trick
is to get the good stuff out.”
you generate the mound. Adams amusingly describes his own pile of
trial-and-error. From failure comes knowledge…if the failure is faced squarely,
and if it doesn’t kill you. Next comes success.
Conservation of Energy
Is not Limited to Physics
we can increase our personal energy---sleep enough, eat well, keep active
daily---we have to note what drains our energy, too; avoid the negativity of
much of the news of the day and the people who are pessimists rather than
optimists. Pay attention to how you feel; recognize uppers and downers.
or Just Seem To Be So?
Jane Dough, am going to be a best-selling writer.” That’s an affirmation.
Repeat it often, and it appears to improve your chances of reaching this goal.
Adams gives specific, rather spooky, examples from his own life of his affirmations
that came true. He gives the arguments on both sides of the question of whether
an affirmation really changes your chances or only seems to. He concludes it
costs you nothing and may well be of benefit.
The Best Advice on
you want something, figure out the price, then pay it.” You have to decide rather than merely want.
to be successful, and paying the price for it, may seem excessively selfish,
but doing so can allow you to enjoy your life, help others, and not be a burden
estimates he will consume about a tenth of the wealth he has gained, with the
rest going to “taxes, future generations, start-up investments[D1] and stimulating the
economy.” Failed enterprises do not long support their owners, their employees,
or their communities.
Doubt the Experts
truths are self-evident; some are simply expert opinion. Though experts have a
better record than non-experts, they also make serious mistakes. Advice must be
taken with skepticism.
your gut feeling (intuition) disagrees with the experts, take that seriously.”
Going against expert opinion may lead to ideas that open opportunities for you
that others have overlooked.
sometimes you should doubt even popular cartoonists.
What are you doing to add to your skill set? What have
you done to improve your “luck”?