Ep. 8: SUCCESS, FACTS & FICTIONS: ERIC BARKER

A lot of the maxims of success that we all heard growing up…didn’t seem to apply to a lot of scenarios I found myself in and I realized they’ve never been thoroughly vetted – Eric Barker

Is everything you know about “success” wrong?  

Maybe not everything, but a hell of a lot of what we’ve been taught about achievement may be simplistic at best.

Eric Barker’s blog Barking Up the Wrong Tree. has almost 300,000 subscribers. His work has been mentioned in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly, Time Magazine, The Week and Business Insider. His recent WSJ best-seller of the same name, subtitled The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong is also the topic of this podcast.

The good news is there is much you can do to up your odds of “success” whatever that means to you. That’s a hint BTW.

Eric cites in his book research done by Benjamin Bloom’s on successful people. He found that talent usually doesn’t control what you can achieve in life. Eric quotes Bloom as saying “After forty years of intensive research on school learning in the United States as well as abroad, my major conclusion is:

“What any person in the world can learn, almost all persons can learn, if provided with the appropriate prior and current conditions of learning.”

 That is very encouraging to me. 

There are things that separate the extremely successful from the rest of us and on the podcast Eric talks about them. The question, however, is not just can we learn from them to be more successful – we can – but also to ask ourselves, do we really want to be like them? Eric says, be careful what you ask for. “When you see some of the extremely successful there are times where there is that Faustian bargain and I don’t think that’s the tradeoff that a lot of people want.”

On the podcast Eric tells me what he found to be the most surprising thing when studying what successful people actually do. It’s not a paint by number kit. 

“A mistake that’s commonly made is that you just kind of check these boxes and do these things and you get good grades and each your Wheaties you’ll be successful.”

Doesn’t work that way and success is not always a straight line. 

 

Sketch by Demetri Martin

 

Here are the just some of the things I learned by talking with Eric.

  • Why valedictorians rarely become millionaires
  • How your biggest weakness could be your greatest strength
  • What high performing CEOs and junkies have in common 
  • The big benefit of humility 
  • What you really need to make it through Navy Seals BUDS training

Listen in and find out if you are doing the wrong things or the right things just the wrong way.

Show Notes

[00:05:18] Some myths about success that we all heard growing up

[00:10:04] The Faustian bargain

[00:14:07] The importance and power of context

[00:16:33] He talks about his most surprising findings (regarding success)

[00:17:07] On extroversion and introversion

[00:19:54] What we get wrong about the topic of success

[00:23:53] “Quitting” and success.

[00:25:22] The value of pretending

[00:31:16] Why confidence is problematic.

[00:37:59] Is college necessary to be successful?

[00:43:11] On “intensifiers” and personal success

[00:50:26] What to look into if you’re failing or unhappy at your job.

[00:51:16] The real power in positive thinking

[01:01:01] The story of Martin Pistorius

 

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