How to be a Complete and Utter Failure in Life, Work and Everything: 44 1/2 steps to lasting underachievement (2nd Edition) Paperback – 14 Jun 2007
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"How to be a Complete and Utter Failure" turns the concept of self-improvement on its head. It brings together 43 and a half leading ideas in personal and business development, and offers a total antedote to the motivational, gung-ho, over-enthused tone of all the usual self-improvement guides. Delivered in fast, easily digestible chunks, in a style that makes you laugh while you learn, this book offers tongue-in-cheek advice about what not to do to ensure certain failure in every aspect of your life. From not having any goals, to not getting advice from people you've never met or who are dead, to not taking personal responsibility for your life and results, every idea, strategy, suggestion and story is guaranteed to propel you into the slow lane of total inadequacy and has been tested with thousands of real people. "How to be a Complete and Utter Failure" comes with a warning - that you don't think about taking the direct opposite steps to those outlined in the guide, as this could seriously damage your chances of becoming a failure. Behind the humour, though, is good advice and a serious message.And whether you choose to heed the warning or not, it's an extremely entertaining read.
From the Back Cover
Do you want to fail in everything you do and waste all your potential?
Life is about being negative, right? Its about not taking opportunities, never changing and, most importantly, feeling unhappy and unfulfilled.
How to Be a Complete and Utter Failure is your ultimate ANTI life coach. From not having any goals, to not taking personal responsibility for your life, every idea, strategy, suggestion and story in here is guaranteed to propel you into the slow lane of total inadequacy.
Be warned: whatever you do, dont do the opposite of what you learn here or else youre in serious danger of making some positive changes and leading a more successful life.
This book doesn't do what it says on the tin. Quite the opposite. It is written with commendable charm and clarity, laden with chuckles and insights in equal measure. You will laugh and you will think often at the same time.
Neil Mullarkey, Founder-Member of the Comedy Store Players
I love this book by saying the exact opposite of what you should do it really hones in on the messages and breaks the bad habits.
Sahar Hashemi, Co-Founder of Coffee Republic
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Let me put your cynical minds at ease. McDermott is a bloke from Leeds who takes his lad to watch Rugby League. This is a straight-talking, no-nonsense gem, the equivalent of being slapped around the chops with a bunch of good ideas wrapped up in newspaper and served with gravy.
In fact, reading this book is like being dragged to the pub by a well-meaning mate when you're in a right foul mood... at first, when he's bought you a drink and started making a few well-observed comments on where you're at, you'll find yourself nodding resignedly and going, `yeah, I suppose so... you're right... that's true, I guess...' and so on. Before you know it, you're a few chapters (or beers) in, and you're bouncing jokes of each other, firing ideas and one-liners, and you roll on home full of plans to conquer the world, or at least grab a kebab on the way home and start the diet tomorrow.
Maybe it's because McDermott's references are so familiar to my own experience... he cites `Games Workshop' in one section, a company which I saw grow from one shop off John Dalton Street in Manchester, into the biggest purveyor of 25mm Orcs in the Western Hemisphere. He talks about Rugby League, and his Leeds side were devastatingly humiliated by my Leigh team at Wembley in 1971 (hey, we have little to sing about, so let us sing about that, at least). He's even, wouldn't you know, a Northern Soul bloke. But I'm pretty sure his style will work for almost everyone... he is to "personal development" what Johnny Ball was to maths. And I've never met ANYONE who didn't want Johnny Ball as their maths teacher.
The set-up of the book is pretty straightforward. You can't process a negative in your neurology, as McDermott's four-year-old daughter Megan tells him (ahem!) when she responds to a command not to drop a glass of milk by, er, dropping the glass of milk. `Don't think of blue elephants: what are you thinking about?' is McDermott's example, though I prefer to muse on the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters as proof that we can't think of nothing. In other words, by listing all the key things to avoid if you want to fail, McDermott creates a decent map of where to go if you want to succeed.
McDermott has that particular gift of being able to put things so well that it seems obvious, like there's no way you could have thought differently. You could say the great art in this book is not trying to take apart everything you've been told, but in showing how much you already know (but aren't doing!). The book is all about moving from this:
"Dad, can I be an astronaut when I grow up?"
"Don't be daft son, you're from Doncaster".
"Dad, can I be an astronaut when I grow up?"
"Of course you can, but it's not going to happen by accident, so let's make a plan"
McDermott is well-read, grounded in NLP and quoting freely from the likes of Tom Peters, Brian Tracey, Charles Handy, Norman Vincent Peale, Dale Carnegie and Steven Covey, as well as from wider sources of exemplary thought, the likes of DH Lawrence, Goethe, and the ubiquitous Mark Twain. The synthesis is refreshing, although little of the material itself is `new' unless the reader is new to the genre.
But either way, this is an excellent book. For those dipping their toes into this kind of literature, you couldn't have a better swimming coach than Steve McDermott. He's engaging, funny, and on the money without ever forgetting himself and becoming David Brent.
For the hardbitten veterans of the Nightingale-Conant school of other people's genius, this is a useful, humorous reminder of the most important things you've let slide, delivered with a Yorkshireman's bluff: something like, "you're in what you've got yourself into, you'll be what you make yourself into. Decide what that's going to be before someone else chooses for you. Now stop moanin' an' gerron wi' it. Pint of bitter, was it?".
I'll add a little footnote to this. After I first read this book, I bought copies for everyone I knew who'd be interested. When I started my own business ([...] I gave copies to my fellow founding Directors. On its own, it's fab. But, if anything, the audio version is better, because McDermott's delivery is so good. In fact just last week I went one further, and saw the fella present in London ([...] He's right up there with Mark Thomas and Rob Newman as top notch entertainers with something worth saying. So: start with this book, but don't stop there.
Joe Catcheside, Autumn 2007
By splitting his learning outcomes into six and a half tips, it succinctly summarised how we can practically go about being more successful people in a fairly basic but extremely usable format. The fact that Steve does this in a highly entertaining way has encouraged me to listen to it about eight times so far and hence have committed much of it to memory.
This would be a perfect initial foray for the cynic "dipping their toes" into the world of self-development as it is for the coaches, trainers and "amateur psychologists" out there.
I cannot recommend this highly enough !
...and by stating what you need to do to be a 'Complete and utter failure in life, work & everything' in a semi-comical way, it makes you look at yourself and your current behaviours and strategies in a humorous light. As a result you will find yourself changing your behaviours and strategies and actually becoming incrementally more successful in life, work and everything.
So this book succeeds by failing!
Steve McDermott's book is a clever way to get you to elicit from within yourself the learnings you need to apply to be more successful.
For information - I subsequently attended a presentation skills workshop with Steve McDermott ...and who better to learn from as he's been voted the UK's Motivational Speaker of the Year on no fewer than three occasions!