Barking Up the Wrong Tree The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success is (Mostly) Wrong

Author – Eric Barker

Date Started – 12 August 2021

Data Finished 31 August 2021

The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. The WGNF Guidelines for Success in Life: 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.

    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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

My Top 3 Quotes

  • “Don’t just network. Make friends.”
  • “Sometimes more is not the answer, sometimes we need to relax and have fun and maybe act a little crazy.”
  • “Incompetence is frustrating, but overconfidence can do much more damage.”

Summary + Notes

Schools consistently reward students who consistently do what they are told. Grades are, however, an excellent predictor of self-discipline, conscientious, and the ability to comply with rules.

Schools rewards being a generalist. There is little recognition of student passion or expertise.  The real world, however, does the reverse.

The majority of those with high GPAs are now in professional careers with 40% in the highest-tier jobs. They are reliable, consistent, and well-adjusted and by all measures, the majority have good lives.

But how many of these number-one high school performers go on to change the world, run the world, or impress the world? Zero.

Valedictorians aren’t likely to be the future’s visionaries. They typically settle into the system instead of shaking it up.

There are two types of leaders. The first kind rises up through formal channels, getting promoted, playing by the rules, and meeting expectations. These leaders are “filtered”.

The second kind doesn’t rise up through the ranks, they come in through the window, Entrepreneurs don’t wait for someone to promote them. This group is “unfiltered”.

Following the rules doesn’t create success, it just eliminates extremes – both good and bad.

How do you know what to do to be successful? Know thyself. Being aware of your strengths. If you are good at playing by the rules if you are a filtered leader. Then double down on that. Make sure you have a path that works for you.