Eric Barker and Barking up the Wrong Tree

Eric Barker’s blog is called He specialises in exploring counter intuitive insights about success. In this episode, we examine his terrific, fun and bestselling book Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

The main idea in the book is much of what you know about success is wrong!

Should We Play it Safe and Do What We’re Told?

College grades aren’t any more predictive of life success than rolling dice.

Real life does not reward you for being average. If you want to succeed, you need to be an expert at something.

Students performing excellently in academics are not visionaries. not creative.

Filtered leaders vs Unfiltered Leaders (Chamberlain vs Lincoln) Unfiltered rock the boat

Intensifiers – traits that are normally bad, but in certain contexts become huge positives.

Dandelions – come out okay under almost any circumstances
Orchids – more sensitive to everything. When well tended in a nice greenhouse, their beauty will put dandelions to shame.

“What are you good at that consistently produces desired results?” – Drucker

“Feedback analysis” – When you undertake a project, write down what you expect to happen, then later note the result.

Put yourself in an environment where your biases and predispositions and talents and abilities all align.

Do Nice Guys Finish Last?

So should you be the nice guy? Definitely yes, because not being works only in short-term. In the long run, the nice guy wins.

There are three kinds of people, the Givers, the Matchers and the Takers. It is seen that in the long run, the Takers are least successful

The Matchers fall in the average category. The Givers are either very successful or very unsuccessful.

Do Quitters Never Win and Winners Never Quit?

Grit is the key to success comes down to your attitude in life, whether you are an optimist or pessimist

When you try to do something, again and again, there are chances that one of your trials will succeed. But when you stop trying altogether, then from where can you expect success?

Games can also be a source of grit for you.

Stories (that we tell ourselves) are a filter, imposing order on a chaotic world by removing information.

What if you have a story that isn’t working, that isn’t getting you where you want to be? Rewrite it. Play the part.

Whiny neutered goats fly. Winnable, Novel challenges, Goals, Feedback.

Once you’ve found something you’re passionate about, quitting secondary things can be an advantage, because it frees up time to do that #1 thing.

Try lots of little experiments to see what works best

Job-hopping is correlated with higher incomes because people have found better matches.

For any goal setting: Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan.

It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know

Extroverts are naturally good at making friends but for introverts, networking can be very difficult. But the problem is that it is very important to have a big network. New opportunities when you have a big network, Getting a job is easier when you have many connections.

Even when introverts know that networking is beneficial, still they cannot do it. The idea of making friends just to get profit looks awkward to introverts. So how can introverts make friends without feeling awkward? Here are some tips-

We have already seen the how givers make friends in the previous chapter. So be a giver and you will make friends naturally. Give without expecting anything in return.

Find similarities between you and the other person.

Join groups of your interest.

Extroverts make more money

Introverts are far more likely to become experts in their field

Extroversion is associated with increased crime, overconfidence, financial risk taking.

Believe in Yourself…Sometimes

Deep Blue vs Kasparov

Successful people are confident.

Overconfidence increases productivity because you start taking more challenging tasks and you become a star in your workplace.

Harmful effects of overconfidence also. Nothing but a lie. Selfish, Infidelity, Denial.

Work, Work, Work…or Work-Life Balance?

Price Law: 10 people out of 100 will produce half the stuff worth paying attention to.

Hours aren’t enough. They need to be hard. Deliberate practice.

Ambition + hours => Success

Einstein neglected his wife and children. “Probably the only project he ever gave up on was me.” – Hans Albert Einstein.

Creative workers spend less time with their spouses, and the time they do spend is lower quality (tired from work)

Get enough sleep.
Use first few hours of the day to do important work, manage your energy, not your time.

Some metrics that are important:

  1. Happiness – Enjoying
  2. Achievement – Winning
  3. Significance – Counting (to others)
  4. Legacy – Extending

What Makes a Successful Life?

Alignment between who you are and where you choose to be.

Know thyself. What are your intensifiers? Are you a Giver, a Taker, or a Matcher? Introverted or Extroverted? Under-confident or overconfident? What do you naturally fulfill and what do you neglect?

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