Barking Up the Wrong Tree (★★★★☆)

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Eric Barker   *   Harper One   *   May 16, 2017   *   320 Pages

Find this book on Goodreads | Amazon | BN

We all have ideas of what we think makes people successful. And though author Eric Barker claims to “EXPLODE ALL THE MYTHS!!” in this book, his ideas aren’t actually all that crazy–and certainly not so crazy that we’ve never heard them before. In fact, I recognized more than a few ideas summarized from other books I’ve read (like Give and Take, Quiet, Just Enough, and the list goes on). The great thing about Barking Up the Wrong Tree, though, is that, not only is Barker a great story teller, he’s also very clear, specific, and organized in the way he presents his information. In other words, he makes learning really, really fun.

There are six chapters in the book. Chapter 1 talks about how people become successful–some by rising through the ranks over time, others by being so different and driven that they bust down the door and invite themselves to the party. Chapter 2 discusses the importance of being kind and giving (without being a martyr). Chapter 3 argues that knowing when to quit is just as important as having grit. Chapter 4 points out the many benefits of having a network, but emphasizes that it should be built by giving to others. Chapter 5 argues that self-compassion is more important than self-esteem. And Chapter 6 talks about the power of good close relationships.

There is a lot of information to absorb in here, and it can be overwhelming, but Barking Up the Wrong Tree is still an incredibly interesting and educational book. I think my favorite part is the conclusion where Barker sums it all up:

What’s the most important thing to remember when it comes to success? 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. A story that connects you with the world in a way that keeps you going. A network that helps you, and a job that leverages your natural introversion or extroversion. A level of confidence that keeps you going while learning and forgiving yourself for the inevitable failures. A balance between [happiness, achievement, significance, and legacy] that creates a well-rounded life with no regrets.

At the end of the day, having a successful life really comes down to knowing who you are and finding a place where you can be exactly that. It’s such a simple message, but a powerful one, too.


Advanced Reader Copy provided through Amazon Vine.

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