There was a great article this past weekend in the Wall Street Journal written by Scott Adams, (aka Mr. Dilbert), about his viewpoint on goals, passion, systems and “failing to success.” He’s completely against the first two and for the last two. “Forget passion. Goals are for losers. Suffer defeat. Lots and lots of defeat,” is the precise quote about his secret for success.
As you might expect, some of it is written tongue-in-cheek, but I would venture to say he is pretty passionate about his system. He says he has a system for success, and it is to keep trying different things with the expectation that they will succeed and when they don’t, move on to something else. He discusses his road to success with Dilbert and all the failures he had along the way. He believes that it is only through failure that you happen on success. It’s not that he woke up one day and said, “I have to be a great cartoonist.” He was sure he wanted to be successful at something and was bent on trying. He just kept going and accumulating a variety of experiences until it all came together.
He doesn’t believe in goals because he says you can’t become attached to anything too tightly or you’ll set yourself up for disappointment. His system is to continually look for better options.
I would suggest that Mr. Adams is actually putting a different spin on being passionate and having goals. In fact, he’s pretty adamant that a system for failing and NOT being passionate about any one plan, product or service is critical to success. I think that’s a passion. If you have to try so many different things until you find the one that can be executed successfully, isn’t that a goal? He wanted to find something he could easily reproduce in unlimited quantities, and he obviously did. So, his system had a goal, and that was to fail multiple times, and try various things, until a combination of tenacity and luck collided to produce Dilbert – something that could be easily reproduced in unlimited quantities.
In a previous blog I talked about failure and my belief that failing is essential to success. The key is to fail fast and try again. This is exactly what Mr. Adams is talking about. Luck is out there for those who are willing to try enough times to grab it. Luck is made. First, you have to believe. Then you have to see the opportunities that open up in front of you. Then you have to be willing to fail and pick yourself back up and try again. You will succeed, just not at what you originally might have thought.
Ultimately, I believe Scott Adams does have passion and goals. What he is saying is, “be willing to change those when you fail, because you will.” The “system” keeps you going. His system kept him going until he succeeded, which was his goal and he had passion about it. Fail fast and have some fun with it until you succeed.