Friday, June 02, 2017

Review of "Barking Up The Wrong Tree" by Eric Barker - An Evidence-based Look At Success

I was first introduced to author Eric Barker when our mutual friend, Harvard Business School professor Gautam Mukunda, invited us both to a dinner he was hosting. I learned of Eric's weekly Blog, "Barking Up The Wrong Tree," and have been a faithful subscriber and reader ever since. So I was delighted when I learned that he was expanding upon the themes in his Blog to offer a book that would address "The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong." I was not disappointed.

The book addresses the global question: "What separates the extremely successful from the rest of us?" In the six chapters, Barker examines this larger question through a variety of lenses, and asks six subsidiary questions:

  • Should we play it safe and do what we are told?
  • Do nice guys finish last?
  • Do quitters never win and winners never quit?
  • Is it what you know or who you know that leads to success?
  • Do successful people believe in themselves all of the time?
  • Is it possible to succeed and have true work-life balance?

In each chapter, the author presents scientific evidence on both sides of the argument. He then offers examples, and allows the informed reader to make reasoned conclusions about where the proper balance is between polar extremes. Along the way, we learn from the success of such diverse examples as a Navy SEAL, Viktor Frankl, Genghis Khan, urban raccoons in Canada, Albert Einstein, and Charlie Chaplin.

The book is full of valuable insights backed by solid scientific research. There is a good reason why Barker's Blog has garnered almost 300,000 subscribers. Each week he offers evidence-backed insights similar to those found in this book; I am already thinking about friends and colleagues to whom I will give copies of this provocative book.




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