As I mentioned before, Eric Barker’s book, Barking Up the Wrong Tree is definitely worth reading. Most of the book consists of interesting case studies to prove points (importance of networking, believing in yourself, risk-taking, being kind vs. ruthless, perseverance and the company you keep). However, his final chapter does a nice job of wrapping things up tightly.
In a nutshell, here is what he (and tons of research) find:
You must define success for yourself.
There are four quadrants to everlasting happiness:
- Enjoyment, winning (achievement), feeling significant (to others) and one’s legacy (extending oneself).
Barker recommends creating an actual grid and listing action items for each category. Also, he believes there is value in tracking what you are actually doing against this grid (Netflix marathon would not qualify for “enjoying” – rather, being in the flow of work is true enjoyment).
Lastly, Barker says scheduling your to dos is much more effective than a list!
I feel sorry for my sixth graders.
When I was in sixth grade, the only technologies to distract me were the TV and radio. I received my beloved yellow Sony Walkman years later. But even then, in order to make a mix tape, I had to listen to the radio on my boombox and catch my favorite song, hit “record” and “stop” at just the right time.
Now, the barrage of sounds and images are relentless. You can hear the voices of your peers night and day from your phone. You can catch your favorite TV or film or YouTuber or musician 24/7. Filters and editing programs make everyone look slim, smooth and shiny.
And if you’re one of the very few who does not own a phone, you might be ostracized. You are deemed too poor or your parents are too strict. You’re square (do they say that anymore)! Regardless, laptops are ubiquitous. The temptation to enter fantasy land is everywhere.
I just completed reading Eric Barker’s “Barking Up the Wrong Tree.” The book is a compelling read, replete with interesting anecdotes and scientific data to back up his various assertions regarding personal success. One of the most important tips he offers is the adage “control your environment.” A closely linked axiom: know thyself.
The most successful and productive people practice this. A few examples:
- disconnect from the internet while working;
- place cell phone in the other room;
- never keep junk food in the house;
- never hit snooze – get right up (!);
- work before pleasure;
and so on.
I remind my students that “success” – whatever they define it to be – is within their reach. But they must make a commitment to it and do the necessary work.
Now, more than ever, knowing oneself and taking actions to ensure meeting one’s potential might be the most challenging – yet important – task at hand.
“Success” in the career realm often means “climbing up the ladder” or obtaining a promotion. If you are interested in this, Eric Barker has data-driven advice:
Network. There are wrong ways and “right ways” to do this. The right way is to offer help to those around you at work – and not just to the well-liked people. If you can forge a strong working relationships with everyone, you’ll be more likely to hear about opportunities and therefore, be able to apply for them faster than others.
And, stating the obvious: If you are helpful to others before you need their help (advice, introductions to others, etc.) then you won’t be sleazy. In fact, people will want to help you.
If you aren’t interested in climbing the ladder or playing this game, but you’re kind to everyone regardless of your job, you’ve already reached success.