Book Notes | The Courage to be Disliked

By Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

ISBN: 1501197274

Year read: 2019

How strongly I recommend it: 10/10

This book is structured as a conversation between a young man and a philosopher. Over five nights they talk and debate the meaning in our lives through the lens of Adlerian psychology. I didn’t know anything about Adlerian psychology until this book but it struck a deep chord in me. If you feel like you’re struggling to find direction in your life or want to establish a clearer framework on how to live a fulfilling life, this book might be for you.

Notes

Don’t focus on what I don’t have. Focus on making the most of the equipment that I do have.

My past experiences and traumas don’t have to dictate who I become. I can have the courage to change my own life.

Don’t give myself the excuse that because “I don’t have this or can’t do this” that I’m incapable.

Adlerian psychology differs from Freudian psychology because it denies trauma as a deterministic event in one’s life. We have to deny trauma if we’re going to move forward from them. Not to forget it but to not let it prevent us from having the courage to change.

Being a part of a society means that having interpersonal relationships is unavoidable. We must learn to accept and deal with interpersonal relationships.

Problems in our lives emerge because we avoid or fail to deal properly with interpersonal relationships. And the truth is that we will get hurt in these relationships and will hurt others along the way too.

Knowing this, some people go as far as disliking themselves to avoid interpersonal relationships all together so they won’t get hurt. They give themselves an excuse to dislike others so they won’t get hurt.

Competition cannot be the core of any good relationship. A feeling of inferiority is healthy if that competition is against one’s ideal self rather than a comparison to others.

Part of the feeling of inferiority is accepting the “imperfect me” just as I am. When we’re learning something new – and we’re always learning – we must accept we are imperfect but that we are capable of changing that.

There are two objectives for behaviour: to be self reliant and to live in harmony with society.

There are three categories of interpersonal relationships: “tasks of work”, “tasks of friendship”, and “tasks of love”. We have no choice but to confront them when attempting to live as a social being. These, all together, are our “life tasks”.

One must not seek recognition or reward from others.

One must seek to separate tasks that belong to themselves and others.

The way to separate tasks is to ask yourself, “who ultimately is going to receive the result brought about the choice that is made?”

In addition to knowing who will ultimately receive the results brought about the choice that is made, one must allow others to experience the emotions that come with the separation that is created. You don’t and can’t own the emotions of the other person – that is theirs to experience.

It all starts by building horizontal – not vertical – relationships.

Having worth is about being beneficial to the community around you. Someone who is beneficial to their community is someone who has a concern for others, builds horizontal relationships, and takes the approach of encouragement.

The goal of interpersonal relations is to achieve “community feeling.”

If a relationship can breakdown just because you raise an objection, then it’s not the sort of relationship you should be in in the first place.

People who hold the belief that they are the centre of the world always end up losing their comrades before long.

When you feel like “I am useful to someone” it gives you the courage to live.

You can’t just build a horizontal relationship with one person in your life. Even one vertical relationship can seep through other areas of your life. You must have the courage to assert what needs to be asserted in all relationships in your life.

Self acceptance is about accepting “one’s incapable self”. It’s not about lying to yourself, but it’s also not about simply accepting the fact that you’ll always be incapable. You believe that you can change yourself but you’re not lying to yourself about your current abilities.

The key ingredient to changing your “incapable self”? It’s about courage. We don’t lack ability – we just lack courage to change what we can change.

Affirmative resignation (accepting what you are now but knowing you can change) doesn’t automatically lead to community feeling & contribution to others. The second key concept — confidence in others — is critical to recognize at this point.

From the standpoint of Adlerian psychology, the basis of interpersonal relations is founded not on trust but on confidence. It is believing in others without any set condition whatsoever.

“Doubt” cannot be the foundation of any relationship. Suppose you doubt your colleagues, friends, family, and partner? There’s no doubt they’ll detect your doubt in your voice, eyes, and demeanour. They’ll soon realize that you don’t have confidence in them. Building a positive relationship with that feeling of doubt will almost certainly prevent any deep relationship from forming. This is why we have to start with unconditional confidence in others.

Unconditional confidence is about making the relationship with the other person better and building a horizontal relationship.

The courage to overcome the fear of being taking advantage of comes form self-acceptance. We have two options: to believe or to doubt. If we’re aspiring to see others in the world as comrades, we only have one option that makes sense.

There are two objectives for behaviour: to be self reliant and to live in harmony with society. The two objectives of psychology that support these two behaviours is to consciousness that I do have the ability and the confidence in others.

For a human being, the greatest unhappiness comes from not being able to like oneself. The feeling of being “beneficial to a community” or “being use to someone” is the only way that one can feel like they have self worth.

Happiness is the feeling of contribution. You might never know how you contributed to someone’s life but that’s not important. All we need is the subjective sense that we were useful to someone.

The courage to be normal. This is what must be emphasized rather than the desire to be special.

Life is a series of moments. When we cast a dim light on the past or future, we’re forgetting to appreciate the beauty in what’s happening before our eyes.

If life is a series of moments and the goal is to dance in each moment, the objective isn’t to move forward to a destination in that moment. You’re dancing for the sake of dancing, enjoying it, and being present in that moment.

Life in general has no meaning. We must assign our own meaning to our life.

Adler’s compass – his North Star – is making sure we point ourselves in the direction of “contribution to others”. When we’re making a contribution to others, we’re going in the right direction.

Someone always has to start. Others might not be cooperative but that’s not up to you. I should always be the one to start.

The world is simple, and life is too.

Actionable Book Summary: “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David J. Schwartz

Actionable Book Summary: “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David J. Schwartz

The basic principles and concepts supporting ‘The Magic of Thinking Big’ come from the highest-pedigree sources… minds such as Emerson, who said, ‘Great men are those who see that thoughts rule the world.’ … Amazingly perceptive minds like Shakespeare, who observed, ‘There is nothing either good or bad except that thinking makes it so.’

The Magic of Thinking Big, page 3

The Magic of Thinking Big, by motivational coach and professor Dr. David J. Schwartz, is filled with lessons that illustrate how a subtle shift in thinking can help ordinary people achieve big success in life. Although the book was first published in 1959, there is growing scientific evidence now that having a positive outlook has a myriad of benefits.

This book has plenty of actionable advice on how we can shift our thinking. I found the lessons around using action to cure fear and a “sell-yourself-to-yourself” commercial to be very practical. I write about these in more detail below.

As Emerson’s and Shakespeare’s quotes show, our thoughts have a significant influence on our behavior. If you’re looking for ways to elevate your thinking or perhaps get out of a bit of a rut, this book can be a great place to start.

Continue reading the summary here.


This summary was written for the Actionable Book Club – a book club where members read a business/leadership/self-help book every month and summarize their biggest takeaways. If you’re interested in learning more about the Actionable Book Club check us out here.

To see the full collection of over 1000 book summaries – available for free – visit http://www.actionablebooks.com/en-ca/summaries/.

Actionable Book Summary: “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius

Actionable Book Summary: “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius

The second step: Concentrate on what you have to do. Fix your eyes on it. Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being… Then do it, without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy.

Meditations (page 102)

Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) was a Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD. He is known as the last of the Five Good Emperors and is considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers. His book, Meditations, was written as a personal guidebook to answer some of the greatest questions of life. Why are we here? How should we live our lives? How should we ensure that we do what is right?

Meditations is a popular book read by leaders in business, politics, sports, and many other fields. The lessons, even after almost 2000 years, are still applicable to the challenges that we face today. Aurelius shares his take on a wide range of topics including the importance of humility, the transient nature of human life, and how our mission as people is to help each other. Although I am an amateur when it comes to Greek and Roman philosophy, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Meditations and found the lessons highly applicable to my life.

If you haven’t already read Meditations, I would recommend putting it on your list soon. I specifically recommend the translation by Gregory Hays as it does a fantastic job making it accessible for modern readers.Continue reading the summary here.

This summary was written for the Actionable Book Club – a book club where members read a business/leadership/self-help book every month and summarize their biggest takeaways. If you’re interested in learning more about the Actionable Book Club check us out here. To see the full collection of over 900 book summaries – available for free – visit http://www.actionablebooks.com/en-ca/summaries/.

Actionable Book Summary: “What to Say When You Talk to Your Self” by Shad Helmstetter

Actionable Book Summary: “What to Say When You Talk to Your Self” by Shad Helmstetter

“Your success or failure in anything, large or small, will depend on your programming – what you accept from others, and what you say when you talk to yourself.”

– What to Say When You Talk to Your Self (page 25)

If there are so many “keys” to success being offered by self-help books, motivational speakers, and YouTube videos, why do many of them fail to deliver the results? And for the many great ideas that have worked for people, why does the impact only last for a few days or weeks? Shad Helmstetter, in his 1982 classic What to Say When You Talk to Your Self, believes that the missing ingredient in successful change lies within yourself.

There are many fantastic self-help strategies and tactics that can make a meaningful impact on your life. But if the programming within ourselves is not programmed correctly, our well thought-out and well intentioned actions can be derailed. Helmstetter believes that our programming can be corrected by something called “Self-Talk” – literally, what you tell yourself when you talk to yourself. With improved Self-Talk, you can learn to adjust your programming and be able to rely on yourself to optimize your outlook and build true, inner-confidence.Continue reading the summary here.


This summary was written for the Actionable Book Club – a book club where members read a business/leadership/self-help book every month and summarize their biggest takeaways. If you’re interested in learning more about the Actionable Book Club check us out here. To see the full collection of over 800 book summaries – available for free – visit http://www.actionablebooks.com/en-ca/summaries/.

Actionable Book Summary: “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” by Richard P. Feynman

Actionable Book Summary: “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” by Richard P. Feynman

“Here I stand, atoms with consciousness, matter with curiosity. A universe of atoms, an atom in the universe.”

– Richard Feynman

If Richard Feynman was one of your family members, he would definitely be the crazy, fun, and beloved uncle. His fascinating personality, curiosity for the world, and love for physics pour through the pages of his autobiography.Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! turns the image of a typical scientist upside down with Feynman’s off-the-cuff observations and a sense of wonder for the world that would make even a five year old boy jealous. His stories about learning how to become a safecracker or landing a gig on a Brazilian samba band shows us how life is full of possibilities and to live it with curiosity, energy, and persistence every single day.Feynman received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1965. He died in 1988 at age 69 and is one of the most prominent physicists of our time.

Continue reading the summary here.


This summary was written for the Actionable Book Club – a book club where members read a business/leadership/self-help book every month and summarize their biggest takeaways. If you’re interested in learning more about the Actionable Book Club check us out here. To see the full collection of over 800 book summaries – available for free – visit http://www.actionablebooks.com/en-ca/summaries/.

Actionable Book Summary: “What Millennials Want From Work” by Jennifer Deal and Alec Levenson

Actionable Book Summary: “What Millennials Want From Work” by Jennifer Deal and Alec Levenson

“Our research revealed that, fundamentally, Millennials want what older generations have always wanted: an interesting job that pays well, where they work with people they like and trust, have access to development and the opportunity to advance, are shown appreciation on a regular basis, and don’t have to leave.”

– What Millennials Want From Work (page 9)

What Millennials Want from Work is a well-researched, data-driven look at Millennials in the workforce. The authors, Jennifer Deal and Alec Levenson, compiled and analyzed just under 25,000 surveys from Millennial-aged respondents across 22 countries. The respondents came from 300 organizations ranging from medium to large businesses. It may be the best researched book on Millennials that I’ve come across.

Millennials are often portrayed in the media as self (or selfie) obsessed slackers with a serious entitlement problem, but the research shows that they’re surprisingly similar to other generations. Here are a few interesting findings from the book’s research:

“More than three-quarters of Millennials believe that hierarchies are useful.”

“When the conversation is about something Millennials believe is important to them (their performance, their career, or their compensation), they really want the conversation to happen face-to-face.”

“…about half say they would be happy to spend the rest of their careers with their current organizations.”

Millennials may be the most tech savvy generation we’ve ever had but the findings above suggest that they’re more traditional than we expected. They believe in hierarchies, they want to have in-person conversations for things that are important to them, and many of them want to stay at their current organizations for a long time.

On the flip side, Millennials are also building upon the progress made by Baby Boomers and Gen Xers in the workplace. They are engaging in conversations to push the boundaries in workplace flexibility, pay equality, and transparency from their organizations. Millennials, like the generations before them, are continuing the generational tradition of pushing organizations to change.

If you lead Millennials in your organization, you need to pick up this book to better understand the generation that is soon to take over the workplace. In the sections below, I’ll share more of the research from the book and how to better engage this generation.

Continue reading the summary here.


This summary was written for the Actionable Book Club – a book club where members read a business/leadership/self-help book every month and summarize their biggest takeaways. If you’re interested in learning more about the Actionable Book Club check us out here. To see the full collection of over 800 book summaries – available for free – visit http://www.actionablebooks.com/en-ca/summaries/.

Actionable Book Summary: “Manager 3.0” by Brad Karsh and Courtney Templin

Actionable Book Summary: “Manager 3.0” by Brad Karsh and Courtney Templin

“If I know anything about millennials, it is that you have the resolve to change the face of leadership and chart a new course for the way business – and therefore our world – works.”

– Manager 3.0 (page 132)

In early 2015, millennials became the largest generation in the US workforce – surpassing the Baby Boomers and Generation X. Looking ahead into the next few years, millennials will become an important part of the workforce as many will assume leadership positions in their organizations. If you are a millennial looking to take a leadership role, preparing for that opportunity is paramount.

There are a lot of challenges in the world of work today. Only 1/3 of the workforce is “engaged” and people are looking for greater meaning and purpose in the work that they do. As millennials, we have the power to create a workplace that is more collaborative, innovative, and fulfilling. According to Marcus Buckingham, the number one reason people quit their jobs is because of their managers. We can change that. We can provide leadership people are inspired by. It won’t be easy but we’re in a great position to make this happen.

As a millennial manager myself, I found Manager 3.0 to be a helpful resource. The book is written specifically for new millennial managers and provides a ton of great advice and frameworks on how to become a more effective manager. If you’ve done a lot of reading in the leadership development space, you’ll notice that much of the content draws from time-tested strategies on improved leadership and team management.

If you’re currently managing a team at work, this is a book worth picking up. It’s information dense and has tons of practical advice (e.g. types of 1:1 you should have with your direct reports or questions to ask yourself to understand your leadership style) that you can apply immediately to help your personal and team development. In this summary, I’ll take you through the book’s core framework – CONNECT – and focus on one area – Communicate – as it’s often cited as a skill millennials struggle with.

Check out my full summary of the book here. Enjoy!


This summary was written for the Actionable Book Club – a book club where members read a business/leadership/self-help book every month and summarize their biggest takeaways. If you’re interested in learning more about the Actionable Book Club check us out here. To see the full collection of over 800 book summaries – available for free – visit www.actionablebooks.com.