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posted on 25 June 2016

Failing Toward Success

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There may be no better philosophy for a happy life than to think it is about the journey more than the destination. The basis of this idea has been expressed by many, including Bhudda and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Note: The direct verbatim attribution to Emerson is apparently incorrect.


Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, has written a book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life which documents how he has failed at many things but has achieved what many would say is great success. He says that "everything you want in life is in that bubbling vat of failure". What better way to understand the importance of the journey than to recognize that.

An aside: One of the most famous "failures list" is that for Abraham Lincoln who had at least 11 major life failures before being elected president in 1860. Yet, this list is embedded in a list of steps in a journey which documents the progression of an extraordinary life.

Facts are what one interprets them to be. Thus, if you follow a "belief", you are abdicating the interpretation of facts to others. Belonging to any group, be it Democratic Party, Libertarian, Austrian School of Economics, Keynesian Economics, neighborhood social club, or whatever, you are a prisoner in some way. You may derive some perceived benefit in return for subduing your own independence but recognize that you have surrendered some aspect of personal freedom. Says Scott Adams (watch video below):

"You can defend an entirely different view of the world using the same data that's used to defend the standard model. So whenever I can do that, I'm so there. Because as soon as you realize that the model you've been looking at maybe isn't so firm as you thought... Then you're free."

Adams is a man of many talents: Best-selling author behind books such as God's Debris and How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, serial entrepreneur and creator of the time-management system Calendar Tree, and, of course, the man behind Dilbert.

Hat tip to Roger Erickson for recommending this video.

See also Documentary of the Week: Is Donald Trump a Political Genius? for more analysis by Scott Adams.

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