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Insights from Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker

I got a great deal out of this video and summary.

I thought you might like it.

"We all know the good life means more than money...but none of us is exactly sure what those other things are or how to get them...We all know love and friends and other stuff are important too...but they’re a heck of a lot more complicated and we can’t just have them delivered to our house by Amazon Prime. Evaluating life by one metric turns out to be a key problem. We can’t use just one yardstick to measure a successful life.”

‐ Eric Barker

If money isn’t the only measurement of success, what else should we be measuring?

4 Subjective Measurements of Success Achievement: Do you feel like you’re winning?

To feel like you’re winning you need to consistently accomplish meaningful goals. Start by setting and hitting small but meaningful goals each day. I find that writing 500 words for my next video script or reading three chapters of a book gives me a feeling of achievement and sense that I’m winning. Hitting small goals like this every day leads to a larger achievement (like writing a book or running a successful YouTube channel) that I can look back on and be proud of.

Legacy: Do you feel like you’re influencing others in a positive way?

To feel like you’re influencing others in a positive way you need to pass on your values and help others find success. If you’re a parent, you might generate a feeling of influence by taking the time to teach and instill your values in your children, who go on to pass their values on to their children.

Significance: Do you feel like you’re needed by the people closest to you?

To feel like you’re needed you need to be there for the people that matter most to you. You want to find a way to be valuable to the people around you so that you will be missed when you’re gone. I felt needed in my previous career when I refined my organization and presentation skills so that my team could rely on me to provide clarity on the project we were working on.

Happiness: Do you feel like you’re enjoying life?

To feel like you’re enjoying life you need to find a way to enjoy the day‐to‐day experience of life and be grateful for what you have. Make a habit of stopping during the day and appreciating one small thing that’s going well. Be playful and listen to music during the day to experience happiness without the needing to attain specific results.

What can you do to consistently generate a feeling that you’re winning, influencing, needed, and enjoying life?

Put yourself in environments that leverage your intensifiers. Intensifiers are qualities that, on average, appear to be negative but become strengths in specific environments.

  • Winston Churchill’s paranoia and stubbornness are negative qualities in a peacetime environment, but signature strengths in wartime.

  • Michael Phelps’s body is far from perfect. His short legs and long upper body make him an awkward runner on land. But in the pool, his awkward physical qualities enabled him to become the most successful swimmer of all time.

  • Asperger’s is a typically a negative condition in most work settings, but a strength as a tech entrepreneur. A person with a mild form of Asperger’s is more likely to challenge social norms and not feel intimidated by other people, two qualities that every successful tech entrepreneur needs.

To identify your intensifiers, create a mind‐map of your so‐called flaws; a list of attributes that most people find odd and negative. After you've generated a collection of attributes, try to identify specific contexts where each attribute could be considered a strength. Some flaws, like chronic procrastination, won't be very useful in any situation. However, a few so‐called "flaws" can become your signature strengths in the right environment.

When you develop and leverage these signature strengths, you maximize the rate of progress you can make towards meaningful goals and will often feel like you're winning. By developing and leveraging your signature strengths, you'll stand out and have a better opportunity to influence others. Your signature strengths will make you uniquely valuable, which will ensure that you always feel needed. And according to a recent Gallup study, when you routinely leverage your signature strengths, you'll smile more often, be less stressed, and enjoy life. All of which leads to a satisfying and successful life.

“What’s the most important thing to remember when it comes to success? One word: alignment. Success is not the result of any single quality; it’s about alignment between who you are and where you choose to be. The right skill in the right role. A good person surrounded by other good people.” – Eric Barker

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