Monday, February 19, 2018

Start With Why: This Is Not Opinion, This Is Biology (Chapter 4 Summary)

This book summary series is taken from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2011). Your curiosity and knowledge are infinite, but your time is not. Read this summary – and you’ll be inspired!

The power of WHY is not opinion, it’s biology
(Simon Sinek)

Sinek pointed that “our need to belong is not rational, but it is a constant that exists across all people in all cultures.” It is a feeling we get when those around us share our values and beliefs. When we feel like we belong we feel connected and we feel safe. As humans we crave the feeling and we seek it out. No matter where we go, we trust those with whom we are able to perceive common values or beliefs. In the same way, we want to be around people and companies who are like us and share our beliefs. “When a company clearly communicates their WHY and we believe what they believe, then we will sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to include those products or brands in our lives.” This is not because they are better, but because markers or symbols of the values and beliefs we hold dear. Simon believes that we are drawn to leaders and organizations that are good at communicating what they believe.  

Part of communicating what leaders value and believe is in how they make decisions. When good leaders thought that a certain decision feels right, they have a hard time explaining why they did what they did. Decision-making and the ability to explain those decisions exist in different parts of the brain. This is the famous gut decision, and it happens in the limbic brain. The reason gut decisions feel right is because the limbic brain also controls our feelings. This limbic brain is smart and often knows the right thing to do. It is our inability to verbalize the reasons that may cause us to doubt ourselves or trust the empirical evidence when our gut tells us not to.

Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” This is the genius of great leadership. Great leaders and organizations are good at seeing what most of us can’t see. They are good at giving us things we should never think of asking for. In summary, Sinek writes, “Great leaders are those who trust their guts. They are those who understand the art before science, they win hearts before minds. They are the ones who start with WHY.” Products with a clear sense of WHY give people a way to tell the outside world who they are and what they believe (think of Apple Inc. and their loyal customers). If a company does not have a clear sense of WHY then it is impossible for the outside world to perceive anything more than WHAT the company does. And when that happens, manipulations that rely on price, features, service or quality became the primary currency of differentiation.

The Power of WHY is Not Opinion, It’s Biology

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Start With Why: The Golden Circle (Chapter 3 Summary)

This book summary series is taken from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2011). Your curiosity and knowledge is infinite, but your time is not. Read this summary – and you’ll be inspired!

The Golden Circle finds order and predictability in human behaviour. Put simply, it helps us understand why we do what we do.

WHAT: What do you do? [“Every organization on the planet knows WHAT they do. These are products they sell or services they offer.”]

HOW: How do you do what you do? [“Some organization know HOW they do It. these are the things that make them special or set them apart from their competitors.”]

WHY: Why do you do what you do? What’s the purpose? [“Very few organization know WHY they do it. WHY is not about making money. That’s a result. WHY is a purpose, cause or belief. It’s the very reason your organization exists.”]

Simon Sinek explains that most companies communicate on WHAT they do; from the outside to the inside of the golden circle. They know exactly what product or service they offer and what features it has. Some organizations might even know HOW they do it. This might be the Unique Selling Proposition (USP). But very few know WHY they do what they do. “The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”

By starting with why and communicating from the inside out, organizations can inspire people to take action. For example, Apple Inc. company:

Apple if they were like everyone else:

We make great computers.
They are beautiful designed, simple to use and user-friendly.
Want to buy one?

How Apple actually communicate:

Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. And we happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?

Apple simply doesn’t reverse the order of information, their message starts with WHY, a purpose, cause or belief that has nothing to do with WHAT they do. What they do – the products that they make, from computers to small electronics – no longer serves as the reason to buy, they serve as the tangible proof of their cause. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Most organizations, however, use the tangible features and benefits to build a rational argument for why their company, product or idea is better than another. Companies try to sell us WHAT they do, but we buy WHY they do it. When communicating from the inside and out, the WHY is offered as the reason to buy and the WHAT serve as the tangible proof of that belief. Consumers and investors are completely at ease with Apple offering so many different products in so many categories. It’s not WHAT Apple does that distinguishes them. It is WHY they do it. Their products give life to their cause and everything they do works to demonstrate their WHY.

Apples competitors lost their cause, they turned from companies with a cause into a company that sold products. And when that happens, price, quality, service and features become the primary currency to motivate a purchase decision. At that point a company and its products have become commodities. Simon assured that a company doesn’t have to have to best product, they just need to be good or very good. Better or best is a relative comparison. Sinek argued, “Without first understanding of WHY, the comparison itself is of no value on the decision maker.”

If a customer feels inspired rather than manipulated to buy a product, they will be able to verbalize the reasons why they think what they bought is better. It is the cause that is represented by the company, brand, product or person that inspires loyalty (see previous article). So, instead of asking “WHAT should we do to compete?” the question must be asked is, “WHY did we start doing WHAT we’re doing in the first place, and WHAT can we do to bring our cause to life considering all the technologies and market opportunities available today?

From Inside Out: Ask WHY, then How, then WHAT. Always Start with WHY.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Start With Why: Carrots and Sticks (Chapter 2 Summary)

This book summary series is taken from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2011). Your curiosity and knowledge is infinite, but your time is not. Read this summary – and you’ll be inspired!

Simon Sinek tells that there are only two ways to influence human behaviour: You can manipulate them or you can inspire them. Inspiration (see Introduction) is always better than manipulation. When companies do not have a clear sense of why their customers are their customers, they tend to rely on a disproportionate number of manipulations to get what they need. Here are typical ways of manipulations, Carrots and Sticks:

Price. For the seller, selling based on price is like heroin. The short-term gain is fantastic, but the more you do it, the harder it becomes to kick the habit. Once buyers get used to paying a lower-than-average price for a product or service, it is very hard to get them to pay more.

Fear. Fear – real or perceived – is arguably the most powerful manipulation and also very destructive.

Peer Pressure. When marketers report that a majority of a population or a group of experts prefers their product over another, they are attempting to sway the buyer to believing that whatever they are selling is better. Peer pressure works not because the majority or the experts are always right, but because “we fear that we may be wrong.”

Novelty. Real innovation changes the course of industries or even societies, like the light bulb, the microwave and iTunes. Adding a camera to a mobile phone is not an innovation – a great feature, but not industry altering. Novelty can drive sales but the impact does not last. “If a company adds too many novel ideas too often, it can have a similar impact on the product or category as the price game. In an attempt to differentiate with more features, the product start to look and feel more like commodities and, like price, the need to add yet another product to the line of compensate for the commodization ends in a downward spiral.”

Manipulations Lead to Transactions,
Only Inspirations Lead to Loyalty.

Manipulations don’t breed loyalty, although they can drive sales. Over time, they cost more and more. And they increase the stress for both buyer and seller. Loyalty is when people are willing to turn down a better product or better price to continue doing business with you. Loyal customers often don’t even bother to research the competition.

Addicted to the short term results, businesses today has largely become a series of quick fixes added on one after another. “Carrots and sticks work just fine for transactions occurring on the average just once, but if you want to build lasting relationships, you have to inspire people.” Manipulations are perfectly valid strategy for driving a transaction. But if you want loyalty, inspired people. It is the feeling of “we’re in this together” shared between customer and company, employers and employee, mentor and mentees that defines great leaders.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Start With Why: Assume You Know (Chapter 1 Summary)

This book summary series is taken from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2011). Your curiosity and knowledge is infinite, but your time is not. Read this summary – and you’ll be inspired!

This is important because our behavior is affected by our assumptions or our perceived truths. We make decisions based on what we think we know
(Simon Sinek)

Simon Sinek explained that we make assumptions about the world around us based on sometimes incomplete or false information – we make decision based on what we think we know. Do we really know why some organizations succeed and why others don’t or do we just assume? If things don’t go as expected, it’s probably because we’ve missed one. More data, however, doesn’t always help. There are other factors that must be considered, factors that exist outside our rational, analytical, information-hungry brains.

The author gives an example from the Japanese Automaker. An American executive went to see a Japanese car assembly line. At the end of the time, the doors were put on the hinges, the same as in the America. But one step was missing in Japan. In America, workers would take rubber mallets and tap the edges of the door to ensure that it fit perfectly. The Japanese, however, didn’t examine the problem and accumulate date to figure out the best solution – they engineered the outcome they wanted from the beginning. If they didn’t achieve their desired outcome, they understood it was because of a decision they made at the start of the process. What the American automakers did with their rubber mallets is a metaphor for how many people and organizations lead.

The Japanese said, “We make sure it fits when we design it.” There are those who decide to manipulate the door to fit to achieve the desired result and there are those who start from somewhere very different. Though both courses of action may yield similar short-term results, it is what we can’t see that makes long-term success more predictable for only one. The one that understood why the doors need to fit by design and not by default.

Our Assumption is Important

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (Introduction Summary)

This book summary series is taken from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2011). Your curiosity and knowledge is infinite, but your time is not. Read this summary – and you’ll be inspired!

There are only two ways to influence human behavior:
you can manipulate it or you can inspire it
” (Simon Sinek)

The ability to motivate people is, in itself, not difficult. It is usually tied to some external factor. Great leaders, in contrast, writes Sinek, are able to inspire people to act. Those who are able to inspire give people a sense of purpose or belonging that has little to do with any external incentive or benefit to be gained. Those who truly lead are able to create a following of people who act not because they were swayed, but because they were inspired.

For those who are inspired, the motivation to act is deeply personal. They are less likely to be swayed by incentives. Those who are inspired are willing to pay a premium or endure inconvenience, even personal suffering. Those who are able to inspire will create a following of people – supporters, voters, customers, workers – who acts for the good of the whole not because they have to, but because they want to.

People who love going to work are more productive and creative. They go home happier and have happier families. They treat their colleagues and clients and customers better. Inspired employees make for stronger companies and stronger economies.

Great Leaders, inspired!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (Conclusion)

If you like to read all the summaries from Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (2016), click HERE

The key to becoming a happier person right now is to build a better sets of values. When your values are realistic, constructive and completely under your own control, you will be able to lead a life filled with healthy challenges.

If you really want to gain the knowledge from this book, and apply it in real life. Then here’s a checklist for actions to take:

Sit Down Right Now and Make An Honest List of the Values and measuring systems you use to evaluate your life. Then go through the list and using Manson’s criteria, determine which are good and had values. Brainstorm how to change the bad values into good ones.

Take An Honest Look at How Your Thought Measure Up with Your Actions. Are you deluding yourself into thinking that you are extraordinary and exceptional when in reality you have not done anything?

Next Time You Run Up Against A Problem You Are Struggling to Solve, Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something – anything. Let your action lead to inspiration and motivation rather than waiting around for inspiration to strike.

Not Giving A F*ck!

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: ...And Then You Die (Chapter 9 Summary)

This is a chapter-by-chapter summary of a book by Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (2016) series. One chapter, one article. Read this summary, buy the book. Enjoy!

The more I peer into the darkness, the brighter life gets, the quieter the world becomes, and the less unconscious resistance I feel to, well, anything.”
(Mark Manson)

This is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do, because human beings possess an innate terror of death. We are the only animals (writes Manson) able to contemplate our own mortality and it is all too easy to become obsessed with death terror, but paradoxically, this leads us to waste the time we have. Only once we become comfortable with death can we learn how to truly embrace the time we have.

And the only way to become comfortable with death is to concentrate on the legacy you want to leave behind – how do you want the world to have been changed by your presence. If you have good values, you want to leave the world better than you found it. This means believing in something bigger than yourself, and working to serve that something bigger. Some people find it in religion, others in community, but the point is to find it, and let it change your perception of death… to let it transform the way you view your life, said Manson.

Accept the fact that you are going to die.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: The Important of Saying NO (Chapter 8 Summary)

This is a chapter-by-chapter summary of a book by Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (2016) series. One chapter, one article. Read this summary, buy the book. Enjoy!

Ultimately the only way to achieve meaning and a sense of importance in one’s life is through a rejection of alternative, a narrowing of freedom, a choice of commitment to one place, one belief or (gulp) one person
(Mark Manson)

By attempting to “have it all” you can easily end up having nothing. This is what Manson discovered after years of travelling the world, thinking he was living the high life. He would float from city to city, and from bed to bed, never staying long enough to commit to friends or lovers. But what he thought at first was freedom turned out to mean nothing. Eventually, Manson returned to the United States, settled down in one city and married to one woman. Giving up the idea of freedom he had held while travelling allowed him to develop a family and community that gave his life more meaning than ever before.

This is not to say that travelling is not valuable, or that everyone ought to commit to family life. Rather, it means that at some point you have to choose what is important to you and discard what is not important. Manson realized that family and community was important, and therefore he had to say no to travel around the globe. Rejecting certain choices defined Manson – he created a new identity for himself based on what he discarded.

F#ck! Learn how and when to say – NO.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: Failure Is the Way Forward (Chapter 7 Summary)

This is a chapter-by-chapter summary of a book by Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (2016) series. One chapter, one article. Read this summary, buy the book. Enjoy!

You can become your own source of inspiration. You can become your own source of motivation. Action is always within reach. And with simply doing something as your only metric for success – well, then even failure pushes you forward
(Mark Manson)

Manson considers himself extremely fortunate that he graduated college in 2007, right before the job market tanked. After all, if he had never hit rock bottom, he would never have had the courage to start his own online business. Many would have considered freshly graduated Manson to be a failure, but Manson had his own metric of success: for him, giving up on his dreams and accepting a ‘safe’ job would have meant failing. Struggling for a few years with no money was not failing.

Just as there is no happiness without problems, there are no improvements without thousands of tiny failures. After all, children fall thousands of times when learning to walk, but they get back up and try again. Avoiding failure is a learned behaviour, and it is one that we must break ourselves of in order to move forward and improve. Again, this depends on setting good values for ourselves (see previous article) – actions that we take every day to improve our lives.

Embracing failure will often mean suffering pain and discomfort and fear. Manson gives this advice for dealing with fear of failure; when you are stuck on a problem, don’t just sit there. Do something. The answers will follow. Action is not just the effect of motivation, but also the cause of motivation.

Accept that failure and pain are inherent components
of an active life.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: You're Wrong About Everything... But So Am I (Chapter 6 Summary)

This is a chapter-by-chapter summary of a book by Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (2016) series. One chapter, one article. Read this summary, buy the book. Enjoy!

Being wrong opens us up to the possibility of change.
Being wrong brings the opportunity for growth
(Mark Manson)

Learning is not the process of going from wrong to right: it is the process of evolving from very wrong to less wrong. This is because learning is an endless process. Rather than obsessing over finding the one right answer, Manson recommends that we visualize ourselves chipping away at the ways that we are wrong so that with each passing day, we are less wrong.

Certainty is a fallacy that prevents us from seeking new way to grow. If we are certain that no one will ever find us attractive, we prevent ourselves from seeking a romantic partner who accepts us as we are. If we are certain that a new experience will be painful, we miss out on the chance to see if it could actually become a positive, learning experience. Our minds and emotions are often faulty. Our brains and memories are imperfect and subject to a thousand forms of self-sabotage. Without constantly questioning ourselves and our beliefs, we risk becoming destructive in our zeal to prove ourselves right. Uncertainty prompts us to explore and progress towards being less wrong.

Manson’s advice is harsh: We have to kill ourselves. Not physically, but psychologically. Who we are changes every day as we process new data from our experiences. If a person is afraid to let go of their old self, they never develop a new, better self. In every situation, we must ask ourselves if we might be wrong, what it would mean if we were wrong, and what kind of problems – good or bad – might result from our wrongness.

F*ck! Acknowledge that you are often wrong,
And that learning is just the process of becoming “less wrong.”

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: You Always Choosing (Chapter 5 Summary)

This is a chapter-by-chapter summary of a book by Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (2016) series. One chapter, one article. Read this summary, buy the book. Enjoy!

Whether we like it or not,
we are always taking an active role in what’s occurring to and within us
(Mark Manson)

When we feel miserable about our lives, it is often because we are not in control – someone or something has hijacked us and is forcing us through a series of bad situations. However, when we know that our problems are of our own choosing, we feel empowered. We might still have a lot of work to do, and even some pain, but we feel in control of that struggle.

Manson tells the story of William James, a man who suffered of lot of setbacks in life including disease and disability. Much of what happened to James was not his fault, but he suffered for it all the time. James was on the brink of suicide when he decided to try an experiment: for one year, James decided to take responsibility for everything that happened to him, whether or not it was his fault. Eventually, he went on to become the father of American psychology.

Things happen to us that are out of our control, but Manson reminds us that our interpretation of these things is always under our control. Taking responsibility for our own experiences gives us power. It also helps us to realize that we cannot control anyone else –we can only control how we respond to the other people in our lives. This is often tricky, such in the face of tragedy. Events like cancer, tsunamis and car crashes happen to people every day, and those people did not choose to be affected. However, they must choose how to proceed.

F*ck! Take responsibility for everything that happens in your life.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: The Value of Suffering (Chapter 4 Summary)

This is a chapter-by-chapter summary of a book by Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (2016) series. One chapter, one article. Read this summary, buy the book. Enjoy!

If what we value is unhelpful, if what we consider success/failure is poorly chosen, then everything based upon those values – the thoughts, the emotions, the day-to-day feelings – will be all out of whack.
(Mark Manson)

Not all problems are bad. In fact, problems are necessary for cultivating happiness. However, this does not mean that all problems are good. Sometimes we find ourselves confronted with bad problems, and inevitably these problems are a result of bad values. To illustrate this point, Manson uses contrasting anecdotes:

The first is the story of Dave Mustaine, a guitarist who was kicked out of the band Metallica just as they were poised for their big break. Mustaine vowed that he would start his own band and become more successful than the band who had snubbed him. He went on to form Megadeth, a band that sold over 25 million albums. However, even as a famous millionaire, Mustaine still felt like a failure because Metallica had gone on to sell over 150 million albums. By anyone else’s standards or values, Mustaine was successful, but by his own values, he was a loser.

The second story is of Pete Best, the drummer who was kicked out of The Beatles just as they were poised on the brink of success. Best did not go on to become a famous musician, but he eventually considered himself to be a great success and said that getting kicked out of The Beatles was the best thing that could have happened to him, because it lead to him meeting his wife and starting a family. The difference between Mustaine and Best is that Best chose better values with which to measure failure/success.

Manson defines bad values as superstitious, socially destructive and not immediate or controllable. For example, Mustaine’s values were to become better than Metallica. But Mustaine could not ultimately control which band became more popular. On the flip side, Manson defines good values as: 1) Reality-based, 2) Socially-Constructive, and 3) Immediate and Controllable. For example, Best probably valued spending time with his family – something he was able to control every day of his life and which helped his family bonds grow stronger.

Good values include things like honesty, creativity and charity. Bad values include things like becoming rich or being better than someone else. Choosing good values means choosing good problems. Valuing honesty sometimes means having painful or awkward confrontations, but these confrontations will lead to growth and healing, whereas lies would have “spiralled into destruction and a loss of trust.” In order to avoid bad problems, we must take the time to define our values and determine whether they fit the criteria to be good values.

Fill your life with good problems based on good values,
rather than bad problems on bad values.
F**k, bad values!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: You Are Not Special (Chapter 3 Summary)

This is a chapter-by-chapter summary of a book by Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (2016) series. One chapter, one article. Read this summary, buy the book. Enjoy!

It turn out that merely feeling good about yourself doesn’t really mean anything unless you have a good reason to feel good about yourself.”
(Mark Manson)

In the 1960s, a trend began in psychology focused on helping people develop higher self-esteem. The theory was that people who felt good about themselves would perform better and cause fewer problems. School, churches and companies began employing this theory. People were bombarded with messages telling them that they were all exceptional and capable of achieving greatness.

The huge problem is that many people take this message and believe it – but never actually do anything to make themselves exceptional or successful. They talk a big talk, but do no walking to back it up. These people are entitled and delusional in their confidence in themselves to the point of self-destructive – and often other-destructive – narcissism. And sometimes it happens the other way round. People who suffer traumatic experiences or huge failures or disappointments start believing that they are special because of their pain. They brand themselves as victim. These people are also entitled, in that they feel entitled to bad behaviour because they have been victimized. Both of these forms of entitlement lead people to hugely selfish behaviour and demands that the world revolve around them and their feelings (social media is the best examples).

And it doesn’t help that we are constantly bombarded with examples of extraordinary and exceptional on TV and the internet. When we compare ourselves and our accomplishments to what we see, we feel average – an average has become the new standard of failure. But the idea that everyone can be extraordinary is simply impossible – if everyone is something, than that thing by definition is ordinary.

Constantly striving to be extraordinary and exceptional is very bad for mental health, and the cure is to accept that much of what you do and who you are is ordinary and average. Manson compares this to eating your veggies – embracing the bland truths of life in order to grow healthier and stronger. Bottom line? By accepting that not everything you do has to be extraordinary, you regain your appreciation for the simple joys and beauties found throughout your life.

F*ck, Stop Thinking that You Are Special

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: Happiness Is A Problem (Chapter 2 Summary)

This is a chapter-by-chapter summary of a book by Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (2016) series. One chapter, one article. Read this summary, buy the book. Enjoy!

Dissatisfaction and unease are inherent parts of human nature
and necessary components to creating consistent happiness
(Mark Manson)
The second chapter starts off with the story of a prince whose father decided to shield him from all human suffering – to keep him within the confines of the palace grounds and surrounded by luxury; so far away from the poor and hungry that he never even knew they existed. One day the prince discovered what his father had done and was horrified by the state of the world he found outside his pain-free, problem-free bubble. So, the prince began to believe that he could achieve happiness by stripping himself of all of his worldly pleasures, and then replacing those luxuries with a life full of suffering.

But that didn’t work either.

Eventually this prince became known as the Buddha, and his philosophy – that pain and loss are an inherent part of the human existence and shouldn’t be resisted – swept across the globe and continues to be widely practiced today. The actionable insight here is this: We can choose happiness every day of our lives, rather than imagining that we will eventually, someday, be happy. So, pause for just a moment – right here and right now – and make a deliberate decision that, from here on out, you will defeat “someday syndrome” by choosing to be happy right now. Stop saying, “someday I’ll be happy when I can get X or do Y,” and that you will instead start choosing to be happy right now – on a moment to moment basis – regardless of what’s going on in your life.

Discover happiness through the process of consistently solving your problems.
Don’t Give A F*ck!

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck: Don't Try (Chapter 1 Summary)

This is a chapter-by-chapter summary of a book by Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck (2016) series. One chapter, one article. Read this summary, buy the book. Enjoy!

Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience
(Mark Manson)

The author introduce his book with the story of a man who, for the majority of his life, was a complete failure and a loser. Eventually, this man – Charles Bukowski – found success in his writing career. But that didn’t really make him much less of a loser-like behaviours that had become a habit for much of his adult life – getting drunk every night, spending his time with prostitutes, and exposing himself in public, just to name a few.

Interestingly enough, when Bukowski died, the epitaph engraved on his tombstone said: “Don’t Try.” This advice and Bukowski’s story, completely flies in the face of the thousands of books, movies and seminars that all preach that if you don’t give up, you can overcome your shortcomings and become great. But Manson tells us that this supposedly positive self-help advice is actually contributing to your unhappiness because it highlights everything that you lack, essentially saying that in order to improve, you have to feel really bad about yourself first.

Manson insists that the conventional “think positive” approach teaches us that we need to give a fuck about too many things – nice cars, perfect bodies, the biggest house, the most attractive family, etc. And every day we are bombarded with images from our TV and smartphone screens that show us other people that have these kinds of amazing lives. We begin to believe that feeling anxious or sad or unsatisfied is simply unacceptable at all times, which makes us feel even worse for feeling these emotions.

So Manson has an alternative theory. Since the desire for a better life actually has a negative effect on our emotions, we should instead accept the negative aspects of our life. Doing this will lead to a more positive experience, because as soon as we stop fearing the pain of our negative experiences, we are able to truly challenge ourselves without allowing anything to hold us back. Don’t try to achieve happiness by escaping the negative aspects of your life, but rather by embracing them. “To not give a fuck is to stare down life’s most terrifying and difficult challenges and still take actions.”

Manson is quick to clarify that he does not mean that a person should be indifferent to everything in life – those kinds of people are known as psychopaths. Rather than being indifferent, we should learn how to be comfortable with being different. This means not caring what someone thinks of our outfit or our choice of career – standing by our choices in the face of adversity. And to stare down adversity, we must first learn how to care about something bigger than adversity – rising above the trivial annoyances of our lives in order to find a problem worth “giving a fuck about.” And we do control what we give a fuck (care a lot) about.

Bottom line? You have the choice to care or not to care about the things that happen in your life. So you need to choose to care about something that’s really and truly important. Manson writes, “Choose to give a fuck only about the things that are truly important.”

Don’t Give A F*ck!

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