The Real Truth about Success: Secrets to winning an unfair fight

Truth about success quote: “If you find yourself in a fair fight, you didn’t plan your mission properly” – Colonel David Hackworth

The Real Truth about Success by Garrison Wynn

The Real Truth about Success by Garrison Wynn (my copy – get your own)

Book review: The Real Truth about Success

I love the subtitle of this book by Garrison Wynn: What the top 1% do differently, why they won’t tell you, and how you can do it anyway!

This pretty much sums up the book.  So why am I even bothering with this review?

We’ve been lied to since childhood.

He opens the book with a confession about how he almost gave up in his effort to write a book about success. Mainly because almost every one of the wildly successful professionals he interviewed gave him the same pat answers you hear from motivational speakers ad nauseum:

  • I work hard.
  • I plan well.
  • I listen intently.
  • I gather lots of data.
  • I build strong relationships.
  • I present information well.
  • I have a high level of activity.
  • My information is superior to my competitors’ information.

It’s all a crock.

And the biggest lie of all is that life is fair: “You can be anything you want to be.” Ever heard that one? Yup.

Why do we believe the lies we’ve been told about success?

  • We’ve been told them all our lives.
  • It’s often easier to believe them than to question them.
  • When you want to believe something, you’ll look for anything that supports your belief.

This last one actually has a psychological term for it: Confirmation Bias. You can learn a lot more about confirmation bias and how to avoid it in Scott Adams’ book: Win Bigly.

So if we’ve been lied to all our lives.  What’s the truth about success?

Wynn spends most of the rest of the book talking about the personal advantages that people exploit to get where they were. Whether they are physical like Michael Phelps’ big hands, big feet and short legs, or psychological, like an ability to get people to trust them practically as soon as they shake hands.  Or their inheritance.

The following stories demonstrate finding and making the most of your personal advantage:

One fellow named David realized that at six-foot-six and almost 400 pounds, he was usually the biggest guy in the room. And he noticed at group gatherings that “people would follow him around like he was the pied piper.”

So he enhanced his attention-getting size by wearing bright-colored shirts.

And so people remember him.

But in the interview, he had originally given pat answers such as working hard, planning well and listening; the same or similar answers Wynn heard from almost all of his interviewees.

He didn’t mention that taking advantage of his size was what got him where he was until pressed for a legitimate answer.

Leveraging popularity

This story involves a guy named Rob (what a lovely name), who uses his power of popularity from his high school days to get ahead in the business world.

How did he get so popular? He adopted a policy that almost guarantees he’ll become and remain popular wherever he works:

He talks about people behind their backs.


But here’s the difference:

He says nice things about people behind their backs; builds them up, knowing that eventually, word will get around.

Pure genius.

Lastly, let’s talk about a woman whose celebrity puzzled more than a few people: Paris Hilton.

Yes, she had a certain amount of innate celebrity just because she was a pretty heiress to a very big fortune.  But that wasn’t going to advance her desire to become a model and actress.  So she parlayed her biggest advantage, her family’s wealth, to get the celebrity buzz she was looking for:

She paid the paparazzi to follow her around and take pictures of her acting like a celebrity. A version of the old adage, fake it till you make it.

And now that I have said “Lastly,” I’m going to violate it by telling you about something that has absolutely flummoxed my Democratic friends for years.

How George W. Bush beat John Kerry

How did George W. Bush, a man who does not come across as being the sharpest tool in the shed, beat a favorite of Democrat intellectuals everywhere, Sen John Kerry.

Actually, it was pretty simple, and something that has plagued many Democrat candidates for various offices for years.

George Bush and John Kerry could explain the exact same topic but with a profound difference:

Bush would explain it in three-letter words and wrap the explanation up in two sentences.

Kerry would explain it in $25 words and take 30 minutes to flesh out every last detail until even his biggest fans were begging him to stop.

Policy wonks loved Kerry. But the average voter, when they got to the voting booth, were too confused to know just what Kerry would do. But even if they disagreed with Bush on some things, they knew exactly what he stood for. Certainty beats ambiguity every time.

I would catch myself yelling at the TV, “Shut up! Shut up! Stop babbling on about the whichness of the why. Just say what needs to be done and you’re the guy who can do it.”

But it seems intellectuals just can’t help themselves. And so they lose the election to the guy who can keep it simple without acting like he’s dumbing it down for the howling masses.

Time to get tough.

I can already hear the excuses…

“Well, David was 6′-6″…”

“Rob was popular…”

“Phelps was a freak of nature…”

“Paris was rich…”

“Blah, blah, weenie, weenie, woo…”

And I’m a writer.  Nobody handed that to me on a silver platter.  At 38 years old, I realized I’d wasted years being a draftsperson because it was easy for me.  And there was always work.  But I was also miserable and bored out of my skull.

So I went back to college, got a writing degree, and now I sit at home in my underwear writing blog posts.

Okay, that probably felt creepy.  But I wasn’t born a writer.  I was the kid everyone made fun of because I always had my nose buried in a book.  And at 38, I also realized writing was the only thing I would ever be happy doing.  And when you’re happy doing something, you’ll probably be pretty good at it.  Or at least you’ll enjoy yourself!  That’s the truth about success.

So get The Real Truth about Success because Wynn gives you simple methods to figure out what your advantages are and how to put them into practice.  So you can be successful and happy.  If you want to be.

If you don’t want to be bothered with reading the book, your favorite part starts on page 201.

Quick advice for people who’ll pretend they’ve read the book.

(And, yes, that’s the name of the chapter.)

“Most successful businesspeople get where they are because they have a secret advantage, and they’re not afraid to use it.”

“All I ever wanted in life was an unfair advantage.” (My unfair advantage is I’m a darned good writer so I chose blogging so I could take full advantage of it. Hey, I’m up against over 20 million blogs. That’s the definition of an unfair fight!)

“Remember, if you think your boss is stupid, that person is just smart enough to be your boss. The smartest people in the world are not in charge; they work for the action takers.”

“Approach life talent first. Find or create your personal advantage.”

“Satisfaction may be the goal of the average person, but it is the enemy of greatness.”

“Long-term success is the result of relationships built on a foundation of trust. People get more value from those they trust.”

“It does not matter how smart you are if no one knows what you are talking about.” (If you need further explanation of this, look above for the story of George versus John.)

(And to paraphrase legendary leadership consultant Marshall Goldsmith: ‘You took test after test in school to show how smart you are. It’s time to stop viewing life as a contest to show how smart you are and how right you are and realize, ‘I’m here to make a positive difference in the world.’)

“Knowledge is not power; implementation is power.” (Willingness to use advantage is just as important as discovering it.)

“Action and flexibility create opportunity.” (You must strategically plan how you can use your personal advantage to best effect.)

“Circumstances do not create the quality of your life.” (It is not unethical or wrong to use every resource you can get your hands on, as long as you are not hurting others. Get out there and find your personal advantage and use it to succeed.)

If success (and happiness) really is your goal, you need to buy: The Real Truth about Success.

Or, keep thinking life is fair and you’ll just wait until life hands you that silver platter…

There’s just too much value in this book to cover even a hundredth of it in a review.

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