Summary: The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life by Bernard Roth
Summary: The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life by Bernard Roth

Summary: The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life by Bernard Roth

One little trick to change the way you react.

You don’t have a say in what people say or do to you but you can always change the way you react to those experiences. One little track to change your reactions is by exaggerating them. For example, if you are at a boring meeting, just tell yourself it’s the most boring meeting you have ever attended, so boring that it’s amazing!. If you are depressed, don’t get depressed at the idea of being depressed. Admire that you are having this amazing depression! It’s allowing yourself to become amused by the terribleness of your situation. You know how some dogs are so ugly they’re cute? This is like that.

Of course, for most people it’s probably easier to change their attitude toward dishwashing than their attitude toward depression. Yet if you start with the small stuff, you will find it easier to tackle the harder stuff in life.


Reasons get you nowhere.

People are selective when it comes to recording what really happens to and around them. No matter how strongly you feel you have the true picture, you are probably wrong. You can’t know the reason for anyone’s behavior

Things happen; we do things, and others do things. If you like what happens, keep doing what you are doing and hope it keeps working well. If you do not like what happens, do it differently next time. Reasons get in the way of this simple pragmatic approach.

Make a pact with yourself to not use reasons unless you have to. This is actually an incredibly empowering position to come from. Be confident enough in your actions not to need to explain yourself. Trust yourself and act.


Find assistance.

Good artists copy. Great artists steal.

Steve Jobs often mentioned that he believed “good artists copy; great artists steal,” a quote he attributed to Pablo Picasso. The truth is, there’s very little new under the sun. As Larry Leifer says,

All design is redesign.

Everything you can think of has at least in part been thought of before, and it would be stupid to ignore the wisdom of the people who’ve preceded you. If you see good information and you don’t use it, you’re just being silly. Nobody can survive on his own; the fact that you know how to speak, how to read, how to add, it’s all because you’ve taken someone else’s idea and used it for your own needs. Society depends on building on other people’s ideas.

Yet, don’t take credit for someone else’s work or simply copy something outright without improving it or putting your own spin on it. Understand that it’s okay to build off others’ ideas, and don’t be too possessive of your own.


Instead of trying, just do.

If you are doing something, then no matter how many times you hit a barrier, or how frustrated your original strategy becomes, you intend to get the job done, and you bring to bear on it the inner resolve and attention necessary to fulfill your intention. Doing takes intention and attention.

Bernard remembers giving his students in which he asked one of them first to try to take an object from him, and then to actually take the object from him? Wrestling over the object when the volunteer is trying is often fun for both of us. 

Trying can often be fun and easy. Nevertheless it is doing that gets things done.


Failure is okay. Lying is not.

Somewhere along the way, all of us will screw up. Some of us will screw up more than others; it’s just plain going to happen. You’ll fudge something on a résumé and get caught. You’ll say something insulting about your boss and find out he’s within earshot. You’ll accept credit for something that was really someone else’s idea.

And here’s the thing: Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton both screwed up, yet what got them into real trouble wasn’t the original “sin,” it was the lies they told afterward. Had each of them fessed up, their troubles would most likely have blown over much faster. Instead we remember “I am not a crook” and “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” as punchlines.

Lies can snowball. You tell one, and then you have to tell another to back it up.

When you feel painted into a corner, there’s a good solution: tell the truth. It’s uncomfortable, and you may get into trouble, yet it will almost certainly be less trouble than if you compound the issue by lying again.


Problems are good for you.

The word problem has negative connotations. It implies there is something wrong that needs fixing. However, if a problem is reframed as an opportunity to make things in our life better, then it becomes a positive, and problem solving can be recognized as one of our basic life forces

Life consists of solving a series of problems.

We are nearly all very good at it. We learn by repetition, and to a great extent are not consciously aware of our abilities. Most people dress themselves suitably on a daily basis, make their way to their destinations, and accomplish basic tasks such as feeding themselves. And they do so despite of their social and economic constraints.