Loserthink – Scott Adams
A book essay written by Pauliina Waters and Timur Kahlun
Break out of your mental prison.
Since the golden age of technology and social media, we have become driven by biased, manipulative and even outrageous ideas and opinions. The book suggests, that rational thinking, a vital tool for countering these opinions and ideas, is not a skill that is learnt in schools and according to Adams (2019) is causing even the intelligent people to see beyond these twisted opinions and ideas and limits their individual mentalities.
According to Adams (2019) that if someone lets their ego influence decisions and behaviors, criticize someone without knowing their position in life or their past, they might have experienced loserthink – a made up word for unproductive thought process and thinking.
This essay will explore the book Loserthink by Scott Adams and tries to find ways for reader to improve their way of thinking and how you can achieve something just via correct mindset and goal-oriented attitude, as the author Scott Adam has.
Use ego as a tool, not as personality.
Utilizing ego as a tool instead of an identity is a recurring point in the book and letting ego take over as your personality, can result in the mentioned “loserthink”. The book uses an example that everyone probably has experienced, that a person is in a room filled with capable people and felt insecurity towards themselves. According to the book, everyone is putting on a show, an act to seem more secure and confident, when they really aren’t. Some people may have their performances closer to their own personality and the act comes more naturally to them than other people, but still they are being an exaggerated version of themselves and hoping that everyone else in the room, believes that its their true personality. The book advices all reader who are struggling with confidence and feel intimidated in these type of situations to “fake it ‘till you make it”. According to the Admas, “all it takes is thinking of your ego as a tool rather than an aspect of your identity”.
There are a lot of situations where ego can work inn your benefit. For example, job interviews, doing a performance etc. Having the thought of being more important and valuable than your merits and achievements suggest, can improve anyone’s professional, personal, social or sports related performances. Slightly inflated ego can help in job interviews and other performances where you are being judged, since it radiates confidence and sense of importance to yourself and helps you to deal with the stressful situation. According to Adam (2019) that’s the sole reason, that confident people tend to be more successful and goal-oriented in life and non-confident people not so successful.
Author suggests a few tools to show confidence and the easiest being body language. Having poor posture, avoiding eye contact and trying to take as little space in the room are signs that a person is not confident, and they have failed to use their ego as a tool and shy away from it. Fixing these things and doing them vice versa has the effect of that person being confident, even if they aren’t. This will result in the other party to see the persons confidence and treat them better, resulting in true confidence.
Having inflated ego and trying to put out confidence does not always work in your favor. According to Loserthink it sometimes better to step back and deflate your ego. If a person has no control over their ego, their behavior and over all personality might seem arrogant to other people, even if they didn’t intend something like that to happen. According to the author, this can also result in loserthink. Letting your ego to influence important decisions and behavior towards other people might even cost you your career or other achievements.
The author, Scott Adams gives an example that how he became one of the biggest cartoon artists in the world. He started a comic strip called Dilbert in 1989 and he made the strip by the events in his own life. His fans started to write letters and tell him, that they enjoyed the office related strips most and Adams was at a crossroad. Would he keep the comic strip in a way, that he seemed humorous and funny or would he let go of his ego and give people what they wanted? He decided to restructure Dilbert to an office related comedy strip and became a nationwide sensation, which made the way for his very successful cartoonist entrepreneur.
Relying on history results in loserthink.
According to the author, Scott Adams people tend to look in the past to find working patterns and practices to guide them in their lives. He states that many people fall in the trap for focusing too much on history and patters and it might harmful, since history isn’t always reliable and true.
Reason for history being unreliable that the books are written from many different perspectives and usually by the winners. There isn’t even one unbiased text about history, because the writer has had some bias towards the historical event. A lot of information provided in the school system, at least in the time that the author was in a classroom, is incorrect. In his American schools, they were taught that Native Americans were saved by colonialists and they were given lands just by the good will of the colonialists. Today we know that the colonialists massacred the Native Americans and stole most of their lands.
“History repeats itself”, an idea originated from with the American philosopher George Santayana. Blindly following this idea leads to unproductive thinking which the author describes, you guessed it, loserthink.
Adams uses a second example to support his claims that if something happened in the past, it might not happen again. When he released his first non-fiction book The Dilbert Principle it became the best-seller book in America. His publisher urged Adams to capitalize on the popularity of the book and recommended that Adams quickly produced the second. The sequel performed significantly worse than the first one, because people usually return to authors who write fiction instead of non-fiction. This is because people think they have heard and read everything the author has to say about the topic and don’t bother to hear it all over again. This made Adams to forget the history and choose another topic for his next best-seller.
Using microsteps to make goals achievable.
Scott Adams, author of the book is a cartoonist, but also a hypnotherapist. He gives an example of the process, that he tells his clients small things at a time to get them engaged and open for more instructions. For example, saying that eyelids are getting heavy, results in the customers’ brain to be more open to more commands and eventually overcoming a phobia. This example is given for the reader to understand that a huge project, like changing a workplace or applying and studying for an entry-test can be achieved by using something called “microsteps”. A person can easily become overwhelmed by the magnitude of a life changing project and microsteps can help them break the task down and make it significantly more achievable. According to Adams (2019) these microsteps are useful towards combating procrastination.
A microstep can be simple as slightly moving your little finger. If a person is feeling unproductive and wants to counter it, moving their pinky and riding that momentum can help them achieve something they wanted to do. Doing one simple and small thing after the other is a road towards great things.
If a persons’ problem is more complicated than just getting up from the couch and start making dinner, the same process can help the person to break down a big project or some other complex task. Adams suggests that the person should find the single smallest thing toward the project that helps them achieve it. He gave another example of microsteps in action. In 1988 he decided to become a cartoon artist and started working towards it slowly. He used to wake up 30 min before his usual time just to practice drawing before heading off to work. This might seem insignificant, but a year later, his comic strip was in newspapers nationwide. “Loserthink involves imagining the entire task ahead and letting it stun you into inaction.” (Adams, 2019).
Failing to ask clarification before criticizing is loserthink?
Scott Adams is a famous public figure and has a huge follower base on social medias, like Twitter. There have been many times he has been labeled as a racist, misogynist or even a neo-Nazi. He has also been criticized for being a supporter of Donald Trump. According to Adams, he has been misinterpreted many times and usually deliberately. He urges people to wait for 48 hours to let the person who made a controversial comment to clarify what they meant, since it’s impossible to see what they were thinking, when they were writing that statement. He also states that making judgements before knowing the other person’s intentions are a form of loserthink. He came up with this 48-hour method in 2018 when an American actress Roseanne Barr compared Obama’s advisor, Valerie Jarret to an offspring of a Planet of the Apes and the Muslim Brotherhood. Jarret is Iranian born African-American and many people were outraged that the actor used racial stereotypes to describe a black person and labeled her racist and destroying her career. Barr tried to explain the situation that she didn’t know about the African background, but no-one believed her, and she was done.
Adams (2019) claims, that if people had waited for 48 hours before the outrage, they might have received an explanation and probably dropped the case. This method most likely would not have worked, since being blatantly racists, can rarely be saved by saying “I didn’t know”. He urges that people who are uncertain about an offensive remark should wait for clarification before an outrage.
Future is not as bad as you think, or is it?
According to the book, people are constantly living in anxiety because of the news outlets that try to capitalize on fear and anger to receive the maximum number of clicks. Many of the threats like climate-change, unemployment and healthcare problems keep us on the verge of anxiety.
Author believes that things are usually better than the picture that mass news broadcasters portray them. He uses unemployment as an example, that the fear is that robots might take over jobs that don’t require high level of skill to perform. According to him, that will result in lower costs in living and new sources of energy will lead to lower costs in transportation and insurances. Rise of technology and its availability result in easier ways to train and educate the unemployed. Adams claims that it will result in the end of unemployment.
He also takes a stand on climate-change and gives the example of Richard Branson, a British business mogul, collaborating with the Indian government to offer 3 million dollars to anyone who can come up with an air conditioning method that is affordable to anyone. He claims that this is an answer to global warming, if everyone can keep their houses cooler.
Adams urges people to think that there are two sides for any story and that news outlets are designed to get the maximum amount of traffic to survive and stay relevant in the tough market. He gives advice that next time you see an article about something, don’t finalize your opinion before doing your own research.
Loserthink by Scott Adams was an interesting read to say the least. The book offered plausible tools for countering procrastination and harnessing ego and creating confidence.
These tools were quite self-explanatory, and lot of the advices seemed repetitive and sometimes even boring. The book was a decent read after the author started talking about his Twitter and Roseanne Barr’s scandal. The book should have just been oriented towards self-development. Instead it became something for him to justify his controversial statements and remarks and it was hard to stay interested when he was just blatantly defending himself. Also adding his own political beliefs in the book was not interesting and it didn’t serve any purpose other than how ignorant the author seemed to be about serious issues like global warming. It’s dangerous and irresponsible to claim, that global warming is not a serious issue and the solution is to make sure everyone has air conditioning.
Overall the book was okay read until it took an ugly turn. Recommended to read half of it to people who want to reduce procrastination and be more confident. For propaganda, keep reading.
Adams, S. (2019). Loserthink: Portfolio