Barking Up the Wrong Tree
Author: Barker, Eric
Notes by: Jacopo Perfetti.

CHAPTER 1 Should We Play It Safe and Do What We’re Told If We Want to Succeed?
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Does Playing by the Rules Pay Off? Insight from Valedictorians, People Who Feel No Pain, and Piano Prodigies
Page 8 · 375
When are our weaknesses actually strengths? Is it better to be an outlier with both handicaps and superpowers? Or do we live better lives at the middle of the bell curve?
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let’s first look at those who follow the rules and do everything right. What becomes of high school valedictorians?
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how many of these number - one high school performers go on to change the world, run the world, or impress the world? The answer seems to be clear: zero.
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the great majority of former high school valedictorians do not appear headed for the very top of adult achievement arenas.”
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So why are the number ones in high school so rarely the number ones in real life?
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There are two reasons.
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First, schools reward students who consistently do what they are told.
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The second reason is that schools reward being a generalist. There is little recognition of student passion or expertise. The real world, however, does the reverse.
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intellectual students who enjoy learning struggle in high school.
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School has clear rules. Life often doesn’t.
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Following the rules doesn’t create success; it just eliminates extremes — both good and bad.
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Churchill was a maverick.
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But this “bad” quality is the key to why he is one of the most revered leaders in world history.
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was the only one who saw Hitler for the threat he was.
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Churchill’s zealotry — the thing that had nearly ruined his career early on — was exactly what Britain needed heading into World War II.
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What makes a great leader?
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there are actually two fundamentally different types of leaders.
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The first kind rises up through formal channels,
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These leaders, like Neville Chamberlain, are “filtered.”
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The second kind
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come in through the window: entrepreneurs who don’t wait for someone to promote them;
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This group is “unfiltered.”
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They do unexpected things, have different backgrounds, and are often unpredictable.
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Yet they bring change and make a difference. Often that difference is a negative. Since they don’t play by the rules, they often break the institutions they are guiding.
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A minority of unfiltered leaders
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have enormous positive impact.
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Mukunda applied his theory to all the U.S. presidents, evaluating which ones were filtered and which unfiltered,
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The filtered leaders didn’t rock the boat. The unfiltered leaders couldn’t help but rock it. Often they broke things, but sometimes they broke things like slavery, as Abraham Lincoln did.
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“The difference between good leaders and great leaders is not an issue of ‘ more.’ They’re fundamentally different people.”
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To fight a menace like Hitler, they needed a maverick like Churchill.
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what made the unfiltered leaders so much more impactful
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they had unique qualities that differentiated them.
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These qualities were often negative at the mean
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but due to the specific context, they became positives. Like Churchill’s paranoid defense of the British state, these qualities were a poison that under just the right circumstances could be a performance - enhancing drug.
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Mukunda calls these “intensifiers.”
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There’s an old Swedish expression that says most kids are dandelions but a few are orchids.
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Dandelions are resilient. They’re not the most beautiful flowers, but even without good care they thrive.
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Orchids are different. If you don’t care for them properly they wilt and die. But if given proper care, they bloom into the most gorgeous flowers imaginable.
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Psychologists call this the “diathesis - stress model.” If you have this bad gene and encounter problems in life, you’re predisposed to end up with a disorder like depression or anxiety, so pray you don’t have the awful gene that can turn you into a monster.
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There’s only one problem: more and more it’s looking like this perspective might be wrong.
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pointing toward what looks a lot more like the concept of intensifiers.
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Psychologists call it the “differential susceptibility hypothesis.” The same genes that lead to bad stuff can actually lead to great stuff in a different situation.
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Context made the difference.
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With a bad environment and poor parenting, orchid children can end up depressed, drug - addicted, or in jail — but with the right environment and good parenting, they can grow up to be society’s most creative, successful, and happy people.”
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This leads us to hopeful monsters.
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an individual that deviates radically from the norm in a population because of a genetic mutation that confers a potentially adaptive advantage
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Nature occasionally tries something very different, and if that “monster” finds the right environment and succeeds, it might just end up changing the species for the better.
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They seem to possess just the right amount of weirdness.”
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Too often we label things “good” or “bad” when the right designation might merely be “different.”
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We spend too much time trying to be “good” when good is often merely average. To be great we must be different.
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More often being the best means just being the best version of you.
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In the right environment, bad can be good and odd can be beautiful.
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The same traits that make people a nightmare to deal with can also make them the people who change the world.
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creativity is inversely correlated with employee performance reviews. Creative people are less likely to be promoted to CEO.
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Andrew Robinson, CEO of famed advertising agency BBDO, once said, “When your head is in a refrigerator and your feet on a burner, the average temperature is okay. I am always cautious about averages.”
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When it comes to the extremes of performance, averages don’t matter; what matters is variance, those deviations from the norm.
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Malcolm Gladwell popularized K. Anders Ericsson’s research showing that it takes approximately ten thousand hours of effort to become an expert at something.
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spending so much time and hard work on anything nonessential has an element of obsession
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In some cases the greatest tragedies produce the greatest intensifiers.
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orphans who became spectacular successes
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such a tragedy instills in a child the feeling that the world is not safe and that an immense amount of energy and effort will be needed to survive.
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these orphans overcompensate and turn tragedy into fuel for greatness.
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“How do I use it to be more successful in life?”
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there are two steps.
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First, know thyself.
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Make sure you have a path that works for you.
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knowing yourself, in terms of achieving what you want in life, means being aware of your strengths.
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secret: they’re not good at everything, but they know their strengths and choose things that are a good fit.
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one of the keys to happiness is emphasizing what are called “signature strengths.”
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the more hours per day you spend doing what you’re good at, the less stressed you feel and the more you laugh, smile, and feel you’re being treated with respect.
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Once you know what type of person you are and your signature strengths,
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pick the right pond.
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You’ve got to pick the environments that work for you... context is so important.
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The unfiltered leader who is an amazing success in one situation will be a catastrophic failure in the other, in almost all cases.
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You were successful because you happened to be in an environment where your biases and predispositions and talents and abilities all happened to align
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find an organization aligned with your signature strengths and go full steam ahead.
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Leverage the intensifiers that make you unique.
CHAPTER 2 Do Nice Guys Finish Last?
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In the short term, sometimes being bad can be very good.
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managing what your boss thinks of you is far more important than actual hard work.
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Research has shown flattery is so powerful that it works even when the boss knows it’s insincere.
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we need to stop thinking the world is fair.
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Ass kissers aren’t the only ones who thrive. Jerks do too.
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Rude people also have better credit scores.
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Eighty percent of our evaluations of other people come down to two characteristics: warmth and competence.
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if someone is too nice, we figure they must be less competent.
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being a jerk makes others see you as more powerful.
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ass kissing results in a reduction of workplace stress, improving happiness as well as physical health.
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they’re assertive about what they want, and they’re not afraid to let others know about what they’ve achieved.
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They do win in the short term. Now we need to hear the other side.
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bad behavior is infectious. It spreads. Soon
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There are three categories: “right,” “wrong,” and “everybody does it.”
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Nobody wants to be the sucker who plays by the rules when no one else does.
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Ruut Veenhoven said, “The quality of a society is more important than your place in that society.”
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when you start being selfish
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Even if you succeed,
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You’ve shown others that the way to succeed is by breaking the rules, so they’ll break them too,
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You’ll be creating other predators like yourself.
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Once trust goes, everything goes.
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To truly scale effort and succeed means going beyond selfishness to create trust and achieve cooperation.
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So treating those around you well can lead to far greater success than selfishness — even if your goal is to make mischief.
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The people who consistently are looking for ways to help others are overrepresented not only at the bottom but also at the top of most success metrics.
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“Matchers” (people who try to keep an even balance of give and take) and “Takers” (people who selfishly always try to get more and give less) end up in the middle. Givers are found at the very top and very bottom.
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It also appears to make them rich.
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on average jerks do better, but at the very top we see the Givers.
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those who gave more to others lived longer.
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ethical people are happier.
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spending money on others makes us happier than spending it on ourselves.
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In a lot of short - term scenarios a little cheating and bullying can pay off.
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But over time it pollutes the social environment
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Who are a Taker’s worst enemies? Other Takers,
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While Givers get tons of help from other Givers and receive protection from Matchers
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The difference between the Givers who succeed and the Givers who don’t
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totally selfless Givers exhaust themselves helping others and get exploited by Takers, leading them to perform poorly on success metrics.
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Givers make sure assisting others doesn’t hamper their own achievements.
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The main reasons for the success of TFT were that it was nice, it was forgiving, it was easy for the other players to deal with, and it would retaliate when necessary.
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The second mistaken assumption was that the games are zero - sum. In real life, cooperation can be far more beneficial and far less costly.
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Givers often take it on the chin in the short term, but over the long term — when they can meet other Givers and gain the protection of Matchers — their reputation becomes known, and boom. They go from the bottom of success metrics to the top.
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four lessons we can learn from TFT’s
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Let’s round up what we’ve got
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When you take a job take a long look at the people you’re going to be working with — because the odds are you’re going to become like them; they are not going to become like you. You can’t change them.
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bad work environments can make you a bad person and can make you unhappy.
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Kissing your boss’s ass isn’t immoral or unsavory if the boss is someone you actually respect.
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volunteer help without waiting to see what the other person will do.
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It’s just human nature that when people do too much and don’t ever push back, they get taken for granted.
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being a saint is actually a very poor strategy for getting ahead.
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giving too much can lead to burnout.
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What lessons can you take from the jerks without becoming a jerk?
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jerks aren’t afraid to push a little. They self - promote. They negotiate. They make themselves visible.
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You do need to be visible.
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bad behavior is strong in the short term but good behavior wins over in the long term.
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Occasionally forgiving. It prevented death spirals.
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The old saying is “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” But is it true? We all know someone who wasted years on something that was never going to happen.
CHAPTER 3 Do Quitters Never Win and Winners Never Quit?
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grit — sticking to something, working hard, and not quitting — is the secret to success. Often
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Grit is one of the key reasons why we see such differing levels of achievement between people of the same intelligence and talent levels.
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kids with grit are happier, physically healthier, and more popular with their peers.
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while grit can produce success, there’s a whole other side to the story
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sometimes quitting is the smartest choice. And giving up, when done right, can make you a huge success too.
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number of things that people with grit do — often unknowingly — that keep them going when things get hard. One of them comes up in the psychological research again and again: “positive self - talk.”
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words can be positive (I can do it)
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when these words are positive, they have a huge effect on your mental toughness, your ability to keep going.
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Sometimes there’s a way out that we didn’t see because we gave up.
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It all comes down to the stories you tell yourself.
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Helplessness was the result of a pessimistic attitude. When you believe things will not get better, it’s irrational to keep trying.
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“depression is pessimism writ large.”
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when asked to make predictions, depressed people are more accurate than optimists. It’s called “depressive realism.” The world can be a harsh place. Optimists lie to themselves. But if we all stop believing anything can change, nothing ever will. We need a bit of fantasy to keep us going.
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the people who kept going despite the horrors were the ones who had meaning in their lives:
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Those who saw their life existing for a reason greater than themselves persisted,
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His stories were greater than his suffering. And that kept him going.
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It’s the stories we tell ourselves that keep us going. They can be a higher truth. Or, in many cases, they don’t need to be true at all.
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Daniel Kahneman
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his work on cognitive biases. Those are little hardwired shortcuts in our brains that help speed up decision - making. They’re usually helpful but not always rational.
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Losing a dollar bothers us a lot more than earning a dollar makes us feel good.
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So evolution has wired us to fear losses a lot more than we love gains.
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Our brains are wired to try to make sense of things. Meaning is part of our operating system. We need to think the world makes sense and that we have control. The brain doesn’t like randomness.
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Meaning, for the human mind, comes in the form of the stories we tell ourselves about the world.
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This is why so many people believe in fate or say things were “meant to be.”
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John Gottman realized that just hearing how the couple told the tale of their relationship together predicted with 94 percent accuracy whether or not they’d get divorced
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many people don’t feel good about their lives because they don’t see the good times as aligned with their vision of themselves. They want their lives to fit their stories, so when bad things happen they see that as consistent with who they are;
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people who committed suicide often weren’t in the worst circumstances, but they had fallen short of the expectations they had of themselves. Their lives were not matching the stories in their heads.
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the term “bounded rationality” basically means that human beings aren’t perfectly rational because they always have limitations, such as how much information is available or the amount of time there is to think things through.
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The pessimists were more accurate and realistic, and they ended up depressed
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lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to be depressed
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Pessimists outperform optimists in law school.
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meaningful work is the number - one thing people want from their jobs.
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As long as your story is meaningful to you, it has power.
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how do you find your story?
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just think about your death.
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Thinking about death reminds us of what is truly important in life.
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when you take a little time to think about death, you become more kind and generous to others.
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people who contemplate the end actually behave in healthier ways — and therefore may actually live longer.
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instead of behavior following our beliefs, often our beliefs come from our behaviors.
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“Actions speak louder than words.” Wilson calls it the “do good, be good” method. When people do volunteer work, their self - perception changes. They begin to see themselves as the kind of people who do good things for others.
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“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
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instead of merely focusing on intentions, make sure that in your day - to - day actions you are being the main character in your perfect story.
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Don Quixote. The moral of Cervantes’s story being “If you want to be a knight, act like a knight.”
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Why are puzzles fun but doing your taxes is awful? What is it that makes something a game and not just a frustrating pain in the ass?
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games are merely a framework superimposed over a set of activities. With that structure, things that sound utterly boring on the surface can become incredibly fun and rewarding — even addictive.
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cognitive reappraisal,” a fancy term for “telling yourself a different story about what is happening.” You know how the baby who doesn’t want to eat suddenly opens his or her mouth when the spoon is an airplane? Yeah, we adults really aren’t that much different from toddlers.
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By engaging in cognitive reappraisal, and telling ourselves a different story about what is happening, we can subvert the entire willpower paradigm.
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willpower is like a muscle, and it gets tired with overuse. But it only gets depleted if there’s a struggle. Games change the struggle to something else.
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Why isn’t your job fun? The answer is quite simple, really: work, as we know it today, is a really lousy game.
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David Foster Wallace once said, “If you are immune to boredom, there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish.”
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what all good games have in common: WNGF. They’re Winnable. They have Novel challenges and Goals, and provide Feedback.
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when we feel like what we do is futile or pointless, motivation and happiness plummet.
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good games make sure we’re always stimulated by something just a little different, honing our attention.
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what researcher Mihály Csikszentmihályi calls “flow,” which is when we’re immersed in something enough to forget the passage of time.
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stimulation is what really makes us happy.
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We don’t need to subtract; we need to add novel challenges to create engagement.
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Failure is okay in a game.
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just makes things more fun.
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the most motivating thing is progress in meaningful work.
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The workers got feedback. They saw what they were doing was meaningful
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consistent small wins are even better at producing happiness than occasionally bagging an elephant:
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Celebrating those “small wins” is something that gritty survivors all have in common.
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“Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favor another small win.”
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taking a moment at the end of every day to ask yourself, “What one thing can I do to make progress on important work tomorrow?”
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Plus, games are always more fun when played with other people.
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Time to look at the upside of quitting.
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Spencer Glendon
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Everything we do in life is a trade - off. Choosing to do one thing means not doing something else.
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Henry David Thoreau said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
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“Quit” doesn’t have to be the opposite of “grit.” This is where “strategic quitting” comes in.
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We all quit, but we often don’t make an explicit, intentional decision to quit.
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We fear missing opportunities, but the irony is by not quitting unproductive things ASAP we are missing the opportunity to do more of what matters or try more things that might.
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Time does not equal money, because we can get more money.
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In Drucker’s book The Effective Executive, he explains:
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‘ Is this still worth doing?’ And if it isn’t, he gets rid of it so as to be able to concentrate on the few tasks that, if done with excellence, will really make a difference
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So what’s the first step? Know your number - one priority. Then start quitting stuff that isn’t as important and see what happens
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Which people are the most stressed out? Those who wouldn’t quit what wasn’t working.
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in our current world the answer is often the exact opposite: we need less.
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As the old saying goes, “You can do anything once you stop trying to do everything.”
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lucky people maximize opportunities. The study showed they are more open to new experiences, more extroverted, and less neurotic.
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lucky people just try stuff.
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luck was largely a function of choices,
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doing more means greater happiness when we’re older
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So keep trying new things. It makes you luckier.
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Try things. Quit what fails. Then apply grit.
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“sheer quantity ultimately leads to quality.” Trying more stuff. Just like the old saying “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
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Use trying and quitting as a deliberate strategy to find out what is worth not quitting.
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Job - hopping is actually correlated with higher incomes, because people have found better matches — their true calling.”
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geniuses of the past,
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had a lot of hobbies. Facing different challenges in different contexts allowed them to look at things differently, to challenge assumptions, and to realize breakthroughs.
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people who expect a fairy - tale relationship experience a lot more disappointment than those who don’t.
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in an arranged marriage you need to deal with reality a bit more from day one. You’re not saying “We’re soulmates !” and then later on becoming disappointed
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You’re saying “I’m handcuffed to a stranger and I need to make this work.”
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We have to face life’s challenges head - on and not take the ostrich route of head - in - the - sand delusion.
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seeing love as a “journey” is quite healthy:
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How do you know what to quit and what to stick with?
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It’s called WOOP.
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Not only did dreaming not bring you your desires; it actually hurt your chances of getting what you want.
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When you dream, that grey matter feels you already have what you want and so it doesn’t marshal the resources you need to motivate yourself and achieve.
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If dreaming is so bad, why do we do it? Because it’s the mental equivalent of getting drunk: it feels really good right now but doesn’t lead to good things later.
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while dreaming, we feel good. But dreaming ends up increasing depression later on.
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Fantasizing gives us the reward before we’ve accomplished the task
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The two magic words are “if” and “then.” For any obstacle, just thinking, If X happens, I’ll handle it by doing Y makes a huge difference.
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WOOP. (Yeah, the formal term is “mental contrasting” but,
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WOOP — wish, outcome, obstacle, plan —
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First, you get to dream. What’s the thing you wish for?
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Really crystalize it in your mind and see the outcome you desire.
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Then it’s time to face reality. What obstacle is in the way?
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Then address it. What’s your plan?
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mental contrasting gives a motivational boost when your goal is something you can achieve but it doesn’t when your goal is outside the realm of possibility.
CHAPTER 4 It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know (Unless It Really Is What You Know)
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extroverts get more “reward value” from social activities and from being the center of attention.
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introverts simply have more going on in their heads.
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dealing with others is often an important component of getting ahead.
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extroverts make more money.
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Drinkers make 10 percent more than abstainers
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drinking is primarily a social activity
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increased drinking leads to increased “social capital”:
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those who initially act shy in groups are perceived as less intelligent.
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networking is related to concurrent salary and that it is related to the growth rate of salary over time.”
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extroverts are luckier.
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it exposes you to all kinds of other new possibilities.
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Extroverts are happier than introverts.
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when introverts pretend to be extroverts, they were happier too.
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without anybody bothering you, you have a lot of time to get really good at stuff.
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extroverts can draw on the resources of an incredible network, but that doesn’t leave a lot of time for something important: hard, lonely work in the trenches.
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the superpower of introverts is that they are far more likely to become experts in their field.
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The more extroverted you are, the worse you are at your job.
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almost nine out of ten top athletes identify as introverts.
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Elite musicians? Same thing.
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introverts knew more than the extroverts
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Best investment bankers? Emotionally stable introverts.
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the better leader depends on whom they are leading. When employees are passive, the social, energetic extroverts really shine. However, when you’re dealing with very motivated workers, introverts do better because they know how to listen, help, and get out of the way.
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while extroverts are more likely to stand out as leadership material initially, with their more talkative nature and social dominance, studies show this often doesn’t last long. Extroverts’ weakness in listening skills become apparent after they assume a leadership role
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one - third of people are die - hard introverts or 24 / 7 extroverts, but the remaining two - thirds are what are called ambiverts. They’re somewhere in between.
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ambiverts make the best salespeople.
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while extroverts may have a natural talent for networking, it’s a skill any of us can develop,
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having a network is something you need.
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Be a friend. Yeah, it’s that simple. Networking isn’t just a skill anybody can learn. It’s a skill you already know. Make friends.
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Do not be transactional about networking. Do not offer something because you want something in return.
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Friends are just family we choose. This allows us to collaborate on a scale that’s impossible for other animals. This is the secret to our success as a species.
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We all choose to be friends with people who are like us.
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Even similarity of stuff you don’t like helps you bond with others.
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listening is vital to bonding — and it’s something most of us are terrible at.
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the most important thing to do is to “seek someone else’s thoughts and opinions without judging them.” Stop thinking about what you’re going to say next and focus on what they’re saying right now.
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We all prefer warmth to competence.
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don’t offer advice or tell them how they’re wrong. Asking for advice, however, can really help others warm to you.
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Offer to help people.
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trying to make others in your network happy makes the happiness come back to you.
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techniques that can make the process easier,
Page 144 · 2653
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allocate an amount in advance to make sure networking goes from something you’d “like to do” to something that actually gets done.
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what makes close friendships endure is simply staying in touch every two weeks.
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1985 most people reported having three confidants in their lives. In 2004, the most common response was zero: “The number of people saying there is no one with whom they discuss important matters nearly tripled.”
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you’re gonna need a mentor:
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You don’t have time to make all the mistakes yourself, and of course making those mistakes can mean failure. It’s better to let others make those mistakes and you can learn from them.
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Mentors make learning fun. They add a relationship to the stress and help you overcome the frustration while pushing you to be your best.
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how do you find the right one?
Page 153 · 2805
this person is gonna be busy.
Page 153 · 2807
Here are five principles:
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if you’re doing awesome work, people more successful than you will notice and want to help you.
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To be intimately familiar with someone’s work is rare and quite flattering.
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you want someone who scares you a bit. Yeah, they need to know their stuff, but they also need to be able to motivate you.
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Page 156 · 2847
Asking great questions is a perfect way to build a relationship. But the key word here is “great” questions. Never ask a mentor a question Google can easily answer for you.
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Asking your mentor a question is like a power up in a video game. Don’t waste them.
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start a relationship, not close a sale. It’s going to take time,
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No mentor wants to feel they wasted their time helping you.
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you can’t have just one. In Roche’s studies of executives, the average number of mentors was two and among females it was three.
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don’t just think about who can help you. Think about whom you can help.
Page 161 · 2943
the motto of the NYPD Hostage Negotiation Team is to this day? “Talk to me.”
Page 162 · 2947
Fighting may end things quickly, but the research shows it doesn’t end things well.
Page 162 · 2948
in our personal relationships. Things go sideways and often our first response is to fight.
Page 162 · 2949
yelling and arguing vs. discussing and negotiating.
Page 162 · 2951
In almost every conversation, status is on the line. Nobody wants to look stupid.
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we set up a situation where learning is equivalent to losing.
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intimidation can be very effective — in the short term. If your boss shouts, you probably back down.
Page 163 · 2965
Bosses who do this too often aren’t going to have much luck retaining A - player employees with options.
Page 164 · 2983
three big mistakes when it came to dealing with crisis incidents: they made everything black and white, they wanted to solve things immediately, and they didn’t focus on emotions.
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When we just focus on the concrete bargaining and not the feelings, that’s when things fall apart.
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food is an effective persuasion tool:
Page 165 · 2998
Emotions get people to change their behavior.
Page 165 · 3005
Without the loyalty and trust of friendship, the model is competitive by nature.
Page 165 · 3009
happy people are better negotiators.
Page 165 · 3011
Here are four quick steps
Page 165 · 3012
that can help you turn wars into friendly discussions:
Page 166 · 3013
Page 166 · 3014
Don’t get angry.
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you are listening and you are letting them know you’re listening. Don’t make statements.
Page 166 · 3021
ask them open - ended questions.
Page 166 · 3023
Don’t judge anything they say.
Page 166 · 3023
Every now and then paraphrase back to them what you’re hearing.
Page 166 · 3024
Your goal is for them to reply “Exactly.”
Page 166 · 3026
You need to resist the urge to open your mouth when they say something you disagree with.
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Page 167 · 3033
giving a name to feelings helps reduce their intensity.
Page 167 · 3034
Page 167 · 3036
use questions, not statements.
Page 167 · 3036
ask “What would you like me to do?”
Page 167 · 3038
Help them solve their own problem by asking questions,
Page 168 · 3051
None of us — not even Newton — can do it all on our own. Have you taken the time to sincerely thank all of them? Of course not. You’re busy.
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what makes gratitude so special is it can’t help but make two people happy.
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As William Arthur Ward once said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
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If it’s that simple — just taking time to say thanks — why don’t we all do it? Researchers call it “hedonic adaptation.” I call it “taking things for granted.”
CHAPTER 5 Believe in Yourself... Sometimes
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successful people are confident. And the more successful people become, often the more confident they are.
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your level of confidence is at least as important as how smart you are when it comes to how much money you end up making.
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Can being overly confident make you deluded? Absolutely. But that can be good too.
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People who believe they can succeed see opportunities, where others see threats.
Page 179 · 3244
They are not afraid of uncertainty or ambiguity, they embrace it. They take more risks and achieve greater returns
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when it comes to confidence, should you “fake it until you make it”?
Page 183 · 3308
smiling when you’re sad can make you feel happy, and moving like you’re powerful actually makes you more resistant to pain.
Page 184 · 3313
Faking it is like moving to Moldova. Trust is very fragile — easy to lose, hard to regain.
Page 184 · 3323
Faking it can be a very bad strategy, because when you fool others you can end up fooling yourself.
Page 186 · 3352
confidence can also be extremely dangerous. It can lead to delusion and hubris.
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incompetence is frustrating, but the people guilty of it usually can’t screw things up that bad. The people guilty of overconfidence can do much more damage.
Page 187 · 3371
Want to know which CEOs will run their company into the ground? Count how many times they use the word “I” in their annual letter to shareholders.
Page 187 · 3373
Me, me, me means death, death, death for corporations. But when hubris takes over and you’re self - absorbed, you can’t see straight.
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The Dunning - Kruger effect is this odd phenomenon of people with the least experience being the most confident because they don’t have the experience to judge just how challenging something is.
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feelings of power have very negative effects on a person’s character. Power reduces empathy, makes us hypocritical, and causes us to dehumanize others.
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feelings of power cause us to be more selfish and more likely to commit infidelity.
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Lower self - confidence reduces not only the chances of coming across as arrogant but also of being deluded.
Page 191 · 3437
people with low self - confidence are more likely to admit their mistakes
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Confidence makes it very hard for us to learn and improve.
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When we’re less sure, we’re more open to new ideas and we’re actively and passively scanning the world for new ones. When we have that confident feeling of power, we don’t pay as much attention, because we feel we don’t need to.
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to take the other person’s perspective.
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James Baldwin once wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
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Psychological research shows that negative emotions produce a motivation to learn.
Page 193 · 3473
Research shows that pessimistic entrepreneurs are more successful, optimistic gamblers lose more money,
Page 193 · 3474
We need optimism and confidence to keep going and convince others to join our cause, but negativity and pessimism help us see problems so we can make them better.
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this kind of humility pays off. Bosses who show vulnerability and underrate themselves are the most popular.
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if you wanted to pick a “bad” personality type who performs well as a CEO, don’t go with a narcissist — pick a junkie.
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their addictive nature can lead them to work obsessively when it counts:
Page 195 · 3499
Overconfidence makes you feel good, gives you grit, and impresses others — but can also make you an arrogant jerk who alienates people, doesn’t improve, and possibly loses everything because of denial.
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Being less confident gives you the drive and tools to become an expert and makes other people like you... but it doesn’t feel so good and can send a lousy signal to others about your competence.
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Compassion for yourself
Page 195 · 3508
get off the yo - yo experience of absurd expectations and beating yourself up when you don’t meet them.
Page 196 · 3511
Unlike self - confidence, self - compassion doesn’t lead to delusion.
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there is a solid correlation between self - esteem and narcissism
Page 196 · 3525
self - esteem is always either delusional or contingent, neither of which lead to good things.
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Self - compassion lets you see the facts and accept that you’re not perfect.
Page 197 · 3541
how do you develop self - compassion?
Page 197 · 3542
talking to yourself.
Page 197 · 3543
talk to yourself nicely, gently,
Page 198 · 3546
You also want to accept your humanity. You are fallible.
Page 198 · 3548
recognize your failures and frustrations
Page 198 · 3548
Then do something about them.
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Page 200 · 3597
Self - compassion beats self - esteem.
Page 201 · 3602
Page 201 · 3604
Are you normally pretty confident?
Page 201 · 3604
keep an eye out for delusion and stay empathetic.
Page 201 · 3605
keep yourself humble.
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Page 201 · 3612
Confidence is a result of success, not a cause.
Page 201 · 3613
become really good at what you do.
Page 202 · 3619
Alfred Binet, inventor of the IQ test, said about intelligence, “It is not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest.”
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Page 202 · 3623
The short - term benefits of impressing others aren’t worth being labeled untrustworthy
Page 202 · 3626
Instead of pretending to be what you’re not, the best answer is to focus on presenting the best version of yourself.
Page 203 · 3632
(How many things that you do every day can you really say are making you wiser?)
Page 203 · 3634
To achieve wisdom, you need a little more flexibility, acceptance, and the learning that comes with growth.
CHAPTER 6 Work, Work, Work... or Work – Life Balance?
Page 208 · 3711
Voluminous productivity is the rule and not the exception among the individuals who have made some noteworthy contributions
Page 208 · 3720
“The top 10 percent of workers produce 80 percent more than the average, and 700 percent more than the bottom 10 percent.”
Page 210 · 3743
Research shows ambition alone is predictive of success, and motivation predicts career success better than intelligence, ability, or salary.
Page 210 · 3749
In general, overwork is bad for you.
Page 210 · 3751
one of the top five regrets of people on their deathbed is “I wish I didn’t work so hard.”
Page 210 · 3752
But things change when you find your job meaningful.
Page 210 · 3754
“Those who stayed very involved in meaningful careers and worked the hardest, lived the longest.”
Page 210 · 3755
Meaningful work means doing something that’s (a) important to you and (b) something you’re good at.
Page 211 · 3762
As Mark Twain wrote in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, “Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”
Page 211 · 3769
a meaningful career boosts longevity, what kills you sooner? Unemployment. Eran Shor, a professor at McGill University, found that being jobless increases premature mortality by a whopping 63 percent.
Page 212 · 3778
Retiring is associated with cognitive decline, heart disease, and cancer. Those effects weren’t due to aging but because people stop being active and engaged.
Page 212 · 3780
having a job you dislike can be even worse than unemployment.
Page 212 · 3784
the number - one regret? “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Page 217 · 3864
As George Bernard Shaw said, “The true artist will let his wife starve, his children go barefoot, his mother drudge for his living at seventy, sooner than work at anything but his art.” And where was Mozart when his wife was giving birth to their first child? In the other room composing, of course.
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This phenomenon of neglecting family for one’s passion isn’t the least bit new. The ancient Romans had an expression, “libri aut liberi,” which translates to “books or children.”
Page 217 · 3874
people high in perfectionism were 33 percent less likely to have satisfying relationships.
Page 218 · 3881
“The people who survive stress the best are the ones who actually increase their social investments in the middle of stress, which is the opposite of what most of us do.
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true burnout occurs when we’re not right for the job we’re in.
Page 220 · 3916
burnout was “virtually absent in monasteries, Montessori schools, and religious care centers where people consider their work as a calling rather than merely a job.”
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burnout is the flip side of grit.
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A playful attitude was associated with better grades.
Page 224 · 3992
playful students more often read class material that wasn’t even required.
Page 224 · 3993
More playing equals more learning.
Page 224 · 3995
a significant relationship between humor and trust. We’re more likely to have faith in the people we joke around with.
Page 225 · 4000
money and promotions weren’t nearly as important to people as working somewhere fun.
Page 226 · 4021
the happiness decrease that overtime stress produces is bigger than the happiness boost that extra overtime pay produces.
Page 226 · 4024
creativity comes from being relaxed, not stressed and overworked.
Page 226 · 4027
Archimedes didn’t have his “Eureka” moment at the office. He was enjoying a nice warm bath at the time.
Page 227 · 4046
That’s the really sneaky thing about sleep deprivation: you’re not necessarily aware of it.
Page 229 · 4067
When we’re exhausted, our brains can’t help but focus on the negative.
Page 229 · 4077
most people are productive in the first two hours of the morning.
Page 229 · 4080
Ten hours of work when you’re exhausted, cranky, and distracted might be far less productive than three hours when you’re “in the zone.”
Page 231 · 4103
Taking a ninety - minute nap reversed the effect. Not only did a siesta reduce the brain’s overactive response to negative stuff, it also increased the response to good things.
Page 231 · 4106
Vacations refill your gas tank.
Page 236 · 4184
For most of human existence when we looked around us there were one or two hundred people in our tribe and we could be the best at something.
Page 236 · 4186
Now our context is a global tribe of seven - plus billion. There’s always someone better to compare yourself to,
Page 236 · 4192
“Right now, there’s no aspiration to be middle class. Everyone wants to be at the top.”
Page 236 · 4192
We probably have far more now than we ever had in the past, but we’re probably not much happier
Page 236 · 4193
And instinctively we think the problem can still be fixed by more.
Page 236 · 4196
The problem is that in the quest for “What makes me feel good” there’s no finish line.
Page 236 · 4196
It’s a pie - eating contest and first prize is more pie.
Page 236 · 4198
In today’s world, it’s all our fault. Or at least it feels like it.
Page 237 · 4205
no matter where you go, your work comes with you.
Page 237 · 4207
“Should I play with my kid or should I answer these emails?” That was not an issue thirty years ago.
Page 237 · 4213
when the world doesn’t give you much choice and things don’t work out the way you want, it’s the world’s fault.
Page 237 · 4214
But when you have one hundred options and you don’t choose well, the burden shifts because you could have picked better.
Page 237 · 4215
Here’s the problem: We love having choices. We hate making choices.
Page 238 · 4217
having so many choices increases the chance of regret.
Page 238 · 4218
And if you choose wrong, it’s your fault, making choices even more stressful. We work harder but feel worse because everything is being judged, constantly.
Page 239 · 4242
We can’t sequence relationships. They need regular, consistent attention.
Page 239 · 4244
What can you do about this? You need a personal definition of success.
Page 240 · 4250
You have to make a decision. The world will not draw a line. You must. You need to ask What do I want? Otherwise you’re only going to get what they want.
Page 240 · 4251
in today’s world “having it all” isn’t possible when others determine the limits in each category.
Page 241 · 4276
four metrics that matter most:
Page 241 · 4284
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Page 241 · 4288
Page 242 · 4293
If you ignore any of them, you’re headed for a collapsing strategy.
Page 242 · 4303
constraints are welcome. They make decisions easier. They make life simpler. They make it “not your fault.” So they make us happier.
Page 243 · 4309
Satisficing is living by “good enough.”
Page 243 · 4315
if we’re comparing brain surgeons, maximizing might be a good idea, but in most areas of life it just makes us unhappy.
Page 243 · 4320
It all comes down to the question What do I want? If you don’t decide, the world will decide for you.
Page 247 · 4380
That’s what you need: a plan. Most of us don’t take the time. We’re reactive,
Page 247 · 4382
you need a plan, or you’re always going to feel like you’re not doing enough.
Page 247 · 4385
As Barry Schwartz made clear, we have so many options these days that we end up being pickers, not choosers, and that’s a big part of the problem here. We don’t decide what we want and then go get it. Things are shoved in our faces and then we shrug and say, “Okay, I guess.” Basically, we let other people tell us what to do.
Page 247 · 4390
we often don’t choose to do what really makes us happy; we choose what’s easy.
Page 249 · 4424
Reassuring yourself feels nice. But you’re here to improve your life.
Page 250 · 4427
Page 250 · 4430
Write down where each hour goes as it happens.
Page 251 · 4456
Page 251 · 4459
Ask your boss for a clear idea of your role and their expectations, and whether this or that change would really be an issue.
Page 252 · 4474
Page 252 · 4478
You need to be realistic about what you can get done in the time you have. The only way to do that is to schedule things on a calendar instead of making an endless list.
Page 253 · 4489
at least an hour a day, preferably in the morning, needs to be “protected time.” This is an hour every day when you get real work done without interruption.
Page 254 · 4504
scheduling everything and using protected time can make sure the important stuff gets done.
Page 255 · 4518
Page 255 · 4522
We think that we make decisions on our own, but the environment influences us to a great degree.
Page 256 · 4535
for at least part of the day: hide.
Page 256 · 4536
Not only will you be distraction - free, but you’ll probably be more creative.
Page 256 · 4541
Page 256 · 4543
the key to getting those work – life balance results is to impose a “strict time - off mechanism.”
Page 256 · 4549
What really seemed to matter was the peak amount of discomfort and how it ended.
Page 257 · 4550
a higher average amount of pain but a low peak and a gentle ending was remembered as less uncomfortable
Page 257 · 4550
Meanwhile, a quick one with a low average but a sharp peak and an unpleasant conclusion was remembered as being far worse.
Page 257 · 4552
endings matter. So take the time to end the day well.
Page 259 · 4579
CONCLUSION What Makes a Successful Life?
Page 262 · 4634
Don’t worry about innate talent.
Page 262 · 4634
Benjamin Bloom’s
Page 262 · 4635
revealed that talent usually doesn’t control what you can achieve in life. Bloom said, “After forty years of intensive research on school learning in the United States as well as abroad, my major conclusion is: What any person in the world can learn, almost all persons can learn, if provided with the appropriate prior and current conditions of learning.”
Page 262 · 4638
there is nothing you cannot overcome with time and effort.
Page 263 · 4650
What’s the most important thing to remember when it comes to success? One word: alignment.
Page 263 · 4651
Success is not the result of any single quality; it’s about alignment between who you are and where you choose to be. The right skill in the right role.
Page 263 · 4652
A good person surrounded by other good people.
Page 263 · 4660
How do you find alignment? As the Oracle at Delphi said so long ago, “Know thyself.”
Page 264 · 4663
Then align those qualities with the world around you.
Page 264 · 4665
Being connected to a group of friends and loved ones who help you become the person you want to be.
Page 264 · 4673
“The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”
Page 264 · 4678
The guys who were the most empathic earned two and half times what the most narcissistic did.