I've started to listen to audio books when I jog. Doing this turns the normal chore of running into an escape where I can learn new things. I recently purchased the audio book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams. Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert and one incredible individual. He has some interesting life stories and loads of good advice (despite explicitly telling you not to take advice from cartoonists). Did you know he is the first known person to be cured of a focal dystonia? I didn't :-). He describes this in the book and mentions it in an amazing interview he did on Scott Hanselman's podcast here.


One of the things Scott advocates for is something called affirmations. Scott himself explains the idea of affirmations in a document he put together on the subject here. To quote this document:

The idea behind affirmations is that you simply write down your goals 15 times a day and somehow, as if by magic, coincidences start to build until you achieve your objective against all odds.

An affirmation is a simple sentence such as “I Scott Adams will become a syndicated cartoonist.” (That’s one I actually used.)

If you read his book or the document this is quoted from you'll see he certainly does not believe that this is magic. He gives multiple possible explanations for why they might work. He started off skeptical with the goal to debunk them, but then they worked. They worked so well he has converted to believer and makes the point of presenting them as a system you can use to reach your goals. Goals, by the way, are for losers... you can see why in his book!

I spoke with a coworker today about this. Years ago he learned about this thing in one of Scott's other books and gave it a shot. He couldn't remember the exact wording, but it was something to do with getting a nice raise. He would type this into the computer 15 times every day for I have no idea how long. He saved the results to a text document and then deleted it and started all over the next day. After years and years of acceptable but less than exciting raises he ended up receiving a raise that year of over double the percentage he had been receiving, without doing anything different other than affirmations. For some reason he didn't continue to do more affirmations... I wonder if that was a mistake?

Given Scott's seemingly miraculous (but not miraculous) success with affirmations and my coworker's personal story about it, this affirmation thing has passed my personal bull**** filter (another thing Scott talks about in the book) and I've decided to give it a try. I am committing to writing down a goal I have 15 times every day for at least 6 months. I'm not going to tell you what it is, but if it succeeds for fails I'll fill you in later.


Among a list of other things, Scott also suggests that people who want to be successful should take up golf. My dad has been trying to convince me to give golf a try for some time now, but "it's fun" was never a convincing argument knowing I never enjoyed it much when he took me out in my youth. Scott's arguments, which I'll let you discover by reading the thing, resonated with me. Enough so that next time I am visiting my dad I may ask him if he wants to go. I am sure he won't be too hurt that he couldn't convince me, but some cartoonist could.

In Closing

I can't recommend this book enough. It contained great stories and insights. Read it over and consider joining me in giving this affirmations thing a try, or maybe just golf? I'll let you decide.