BOOK: Barking up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker; Chapter 1


The Surprising science behind why everything you know about success is mostly wrong. 

Chapter 1: Should we play it safe and do what we’re told if we want to succeed? Does playing by the rules pay off?

  • When are our weakness 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?
  • Differential susceptibility hypothesis: The same genes that lead to bad stuff can actually lead to great stuff in a different situation.
  • David Dobbs in The Atlantic: the very genes that gives us the most trouble as species causing behaviors that are self-destructive and antisocial, also underlie humankind’s phenomenal adaptability and evolutionary success.
  • Hopeful Monster: an individual that deviates radically from the norm in a population because of a genetic mutation that confers a potentially adaptive advantage.
  • Pixar Experience: pixar is thinking that they are starting to lose their edge after ‘Finding Nemo’. They hired a new CEO so that they will have a new strategy. This new CEO’s tactic was to hire the BLACKSHEEP of the company and give them absolute liberty to be creative. Result? a blockbuster The Incredibles”. ‘The same traits that make people a nightmare to deal with can also make them the people who change the world.
  • Idea of Intensifiers: qualities that are universally awful have their own uses in specific contexts. Example, Formula 1 cars are undrivable on city streets but break records on a track. When it comes to the extremes of performance, averages doesn’t matter. What matters is variance, those deviations from the norm. Almost universally, we humans try to filter out the worst to increase the average, but by doing so, we also decrease variance.
  • Mad Genius Paradox: mildly creative people are mentally healthier than average – but extremely creative people have a far higher incidence of mental disorders.
  • Venture Capital Business Mindset: Invest in strength versus lack of weakness. The companies that have the really extreme strengths often have serious flaws. But if you don’t invest on the basis of serious flaws, you don’t invest in most of the big winners.
  • Leadership Filtration Theory: reaching the heights of success requires a dip into qualities that are otherwise problematic.
  1. Know Thyself – In terms of achieving what you want in life, means being aware of your strengths. What are you good at that consistently produces desired results?
  2. Pick the right pond – You’ve got to pick the right environment  that work for you. When you choose your pond wisely, you can best leverage your type, your strengths, and your context to create tremendous value.

 

Too often we label things good or bad when the right designation might merely be different. We spend too much time trying to be ‘good’ when good is merely average. To be great, we must be different. And that doesn’t come from trying to follow society’s vision of what is best, because society doesn’t always know what it needs. More often being best means just being the best version of you. In the right environment, bad can be good and odd can be beautiful.