5 min read ⌚
The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong
Achieving success is both much more complex and simpler thing than people say it is.
At least that’s what Eric Barker believes.
And he has a book-length apology of his belief:
Who Should Read “Barking Up the Wrong Tree”? And Why?
Wide-ranging and abounding in practical advice, “Barking Up the Wrong Tree” is for everybody who needs a manual for success and happiness.
It’s not a book you read – it’s a book you reread and constantly employ.
About Eric Barker
Eric Barker is an American blogger.
The content of his “Barking Up the Wrong Tree” blog is syndicated by “Time Magazine,” “Business Insider,” and “The Week;” the blog, updated once a week, has over 300,000 subscribers to its newsletter.
A sought-after speaker featured in “The New York Times” and “WSJ,” Eric Barker has so far authored only this book.
“Barking Up the Wrong Tree PDF Summary”
Let’s start our summary with an eye-popping statistic:
A study of 700 American millionaires has revealed that their mean grade point average was 2.9!
In other words, the valedictorians didn’t do as well as the outliers!
Research shows that what makes students likely to be impressive in the classroom is the same thing that makes them less likely to be home-run hitters outside the classroom.
Because to excel at school, you need to conform; and it’s very likely that this will teach you to be that kind of a person even after graduating and getting a job.
Which may get you a top job, and even a few “employee of the year” titles.
However, the ones that actually change the world are the non-conformists, the people capable of defining success in their own terms.
The earlier they do that, the earlier they realize that many of the activities they are made to do while young are actually extraneous to their goal.
So, they choose not to do them.
And, in the long run, this focus gives them just enough grit to come out on top!
If you want to follow them and build just enough perseverance to succeed, then a good idea will be to use the WGNF guidelines and transform your struggles into a game:
#1. Make the games winnable: you’ve played a lot of games in your life and, chances are, you’ve lost at least half of them; however, the very fact that you know a game was winnable has motivated you to play out the game until the very end.
#2. Attach goals: just like a video game, split the game of your life into levels which gradually become more difficult and have a clear goal on each of them; splitting up your goals into smaller chunks will motivate you to move and move you will – with the right pace.
#3. Build in novelty: each level should be not just more difficult than the last, but also introduce something new; just like a character in a video game, acquire new skills as you go along the road to success.
#4. Give/ask for Feedback: in the absence of feedback, you may be tempted to give up; interaction is a great way to keep track of your progress.
Of course, there’s no point in playing a game the outcome of which will not make you happy.
So, how do you discover whether a future objective is worth your time, effort, and attention?
Eric Barker has a solution for that as well!
If you don’t want to bark up the wrong tree, then constantly check your decisions against the WOOP process.
WOOP stands for wish, outcome, obstacle, plan, and, once broken down like that, it seems pretty self-explanatory.
So, when you have a wish to do something, first start with a specification of the outcome you want.
After that, it’s time to see which could be the obstacles preventing you from reaching that outcome.
Once you get to know them, it’s time to make a plan to circumvent them or, even better, jump over each of them.
If the last one is impossible (due to lack of competence, lack of time, etc.), then it’s best if your wish stays a wish until some better moment arrives.
However, when there is a plan, and that plan is doable – it’s time to be gritty!
One thing you should know in advance is that even though a plan is doable, it doesn’t mean that it will work out in the end: some level 10 bosses are just unbeatable!
What should you in cases such as that?
Don’t be afraid to do some experiments and quit the ones that don’t work… you need to try stuff knowing you might quit some of it to open yourself up to the luck and opportunities that can make you successful.
However, while trying to do that, never forget the real objective of success: allowing you to lead a balanced life.
And a balanced life means scoring high on the four metrics that matter most:
Key Lessons from “Barking Up the Wrong Tree”
1. The WGNF Guidelines for Success in Life
2. The WOOP Decision-Making Process
3. HASL: The Four Metrics Which Matter the Most
The WGNF Guidelines for Success in Life
“Homo sapiens” may just as well be called “homo ludens,” i.e., the game-playing man: that’s how much people like to play games!
So, use this to your own benefit and transform your struggles into games.
However, as always in games, there are certain rules you need to follow, or, in Barker’s opinion, the WGNF guidelines.
WGNF is short for winnable, goal-based, novelty-ridden, feedback-centered – and these are all adjectives which should describe each of the games you need to devise.
Do that – and your road to success will be much less thorny, and much more enjoyable!
The WOOP Decision-Making Process
If you are not sure which project you should take, be sure to check it with Barker’s WOOP tool before you embark upon it.
WOOP stands for wish, outcome, obstacles, and plan, which means that you should only try to make your wish come true if you can devise a plan specific enough to address each probable obstacle and, eventually, reach the wished-for outcome.
Otherwise, try to direct your energy on something else.
HASL: The Four Metrics Which Matter the Most
Always measure your life against these four metrics:
Happiness: find a way to live a pleasurable and content life;
Achievement: set yourself meaningful goals and try to achieve them;
Significance: try to have a positive impact;
Legacy: live your life in such a way that others may say that they have benefitted from your existence.
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“Barking Up the Wrong Tree Quotes”
When you align your values with the employment of your signature skills in a context that reinforces these same strengths, you create a powerful and emotionally engaging force for achievement, significance, happiness and legacy. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
“Barking Up the Wrong Tree” is not so much innovative, as it is thorough in its research.
Well-structured and humorously written, it’s easily digestible and straightforwardly applicable; certainly a book worth reading and rereading.