While abroad, in addition to participating in an internship I am also taking two courses alongside of it. One focuses specifically on the internship experience itself and how to best optimize your time there, and the other is about the fundamental principals of entrepreneurship. For one of the past assignments given in the entrepreneurship class we had to read an autobiography written by a successful entrepreneur, and I surprisingly gained a lot more information than I was expecting through the process of finishing this assignment.
I chose to read “How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big” by Scott Adams. I was intrigued by this title because I have always heard the best entrepreneurs were made after their failures, and I like the idea of accepting failure as a learning opportunity as opposed to it being such a negative experience. In short, the main theme of this book is his idea of how and what should be prioritized in your life in order to be successful. His “selfish approach” focuses on taking care of yourself first, your economics second, and others last. He gives his reasoning for this by saying that if you can’t look after yourself and support yourself financially you will then become a burden to your family, friends, and community.
Basically, you have to know how to take care of yourself before you can start taking care of others. I really enjoyed his approach because it seemed a lot more honest than the typical “selfless entrepreneur” that is motivated by the idea of doing something good for others. I think his book can connect to a wide audience because it emphasizes the way that different people find success in different ways. Adams focused greatly on finding a system that works for you and sticking to it, saying that if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing and how you’re doing it you’re never going to produce your best work.
After finishing this book I challenged myself to identify a time in my life where I experienced failure and question if my feelings about that failure has changed as time went on. I think it’s easy to let certain circumstances overwhelm you in the moment, but as days pass and new experiences present themself I think it’s easier for someone to look at that failure from a less narrow point of view. I also think its important to reminisce on your failures in order to understand how they can help you grow, and in that way you will be accepting and grateful for failures that will happen in the future.
One of my favorite pieces of advise that Adams gave was the plea to maximize your personal energy. He writes, “I make choices that maximize my personal energy because that makes it easier to manage all of the other priorities. Maximizing my personal energy means eating right, exercising, avoiding unnecessary stress, getting enough sleep, and all of the obvious steps. But it also means having something in my life that makes me excited to wake up.” I think it’s important to focus on your happiness first because that will effect how you carry yourself in all other situations. And I appreciate the self loving approach of listening to your body and not straining yourself or overwork just to complete something, because then you probably won’t be producing your best work. By reading this I was reassured that it’s okay to put yourself first.