One important take-away from “The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success”

“The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success” is a self-help book by Dr. Kevin Dutton and Andy McNab that takes some of the many-times-heard, common-sense strategies for success (leaning to say “no“, practicing mindfulness, building new habits one day at a time, etc.) and presents them with a new spin, by comparing them to some of the common psychopathic traits (see details below).

I appreciate the fresh point of view, as well as the authors’ challenging of traditional (and somewhat outdated) assumptions about psychopathy. However, I find the title distasteful and clickbaity.

What I learned (TLDR)

Although most of the advice in this book felt heard many times over, one thing stuck with me and justified reading the entire thing. I paraphrase:

Whenever you feel self conscious about doing or saying something, just imagine how you would go about it if you truly didn’t care about what others might think or feel.

Allegedly, that is how psychopaths think. They are laser focused on their (usually selfish) goals, and wouldn’t compromise achieving them because it might hurt someone’s feelings or general wellbeing. Us common folk, on the other hand, pay too much attention to others.

Being able to catch myself as I hesitate to do something important for fear of insulting or hurting someone, then imagining what a psychopath would do, takes me out of my own head for a second. In that second, I am able to see the more realistic state of things, which is somewhere between hyper-empathy and psychopathy. It reliably stops my from self-sabotage.

What AI learned

In order not to be the last person on the planet who doesn’t have AI generate some content for them, I asked ChatGPT for a witty summary of the book and some of its main takeaways. The answer didn’t disappoint:

The authors argue that some individuals with psychopathic traits can actually use those traits to their advantage in achieving success in various aspects of life. They call these individuals “good psychopaths” and provide real-life examples of successful people who possess these traits, such as Richard Branson.

Now, don’t go thinking you’re a psychopath just because you have a bit of a ruthless streak or a knack for charming people. The book includes a self-assessment quiz to help readers determine whether they possess any psychopathic traits, and even if you don’t, the authors suggest that you can still develop these traits through practice and training.

Here are the said traits and how to develop them:

  1. Ruthlessness: To be ruthlessly effective, you need to know your priorities and make decisions based on what will bring you closer to your goals. Learn to be decisive and take calculated risks. Practice saying “no” to distractions and unnecessary commitments that are not aligned with your goals.
  2. Charm: To be charming, you need to understand and empathize with others’ emotions. Practice active listening and make people feel heard and understood. Use humor and positive body language to make others feel comfortable and at ease.
  3. Focus: To improve your focus, practice mindfulness meditation. This will help you learn to control your attention and direct it towards your goals. Practice eliminating distractions, setting clear goals, and breaking them down into smaller achievable steps.
  4. Mental Toughness: To develop mental toughness, practice pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Learn to tolerate discomfort and uncertainty, and practice bouncing back from failure. Take time to reflect on your successes and failures, and use them to learn and grow.
  5. Fearlessness: To become more fearless, practice exposure therapy. Gradually expose yourself to situations that scare you, and learn to tolerate and overcome your fears. Use positive self-talk to build confidence and self-belief.
  6. Action: To become more action-oriented, practice taking small, consistent steps towards your goals. Break your goals down into actionable tasks and create a timeline for completion. Reward yourself for progress and practice holding yourself accountable for results.

But before you start planning your takeover of the world, it’s important to remember that psychopathy is a personality disorder that can cause significant harm to others. The book emphasizes the importance of using these traits in an ethical and responsible manner. So, please don’t use this book as an excuse to become a supervillain.

One of the strengths of the book is the practical advice it provides for developing psychopathic traits such as mental toughness and focus. The authors suggest exercises and techniques grounded in research and backed up by real-world examples of successful individuals. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want a bit more mental toughness and focus in their lives?

However, it’s important to remember that psychopathic traits are not a guarantee of success. The book stresses the importance of hard work, dedication, and discipline in achieving success. So, if you were hoping to become a millionaire overnight just by reading this book, I’m sorry to disappoint you.

Overall, “The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success” is a thought-provoking and interesting read that challenges traditional assumptions about psychopathy. It may not turn you into the next Richard Branson, but it may help you develop the mental toughness and focus you need to succeed in your personal and professional life. Just remember to use your powers for good, not evil.

Whose answer do you find more useful?

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