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The Good Psychopath's Guide to Success – Andy McNab & Kevin Dutton

This review is split into two sections: a short(ish) overview, and then a long, detailed summary.

Short(ish) overview

The seven skills of the good psychopath:

  1. No procrastination: gets it done
  2. Does a really good job
  3. Be your own person: has bulletproof self confidence
  4. Lives in the moment/present
  5. Charming and high levels of social skill
  6. Unflappable: nothing knocks them.
  7. Rational: makes decisions with head, not emotions

Main points

Longer, detailed notes

Just do it

3 step procedure to getting over procrastinating something.


Nail it

Six steps to success

  1. Know what you want. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. A lot of the goals we make for ourselves often aren’t what we really want (see example of guy buying house for feeling of ‘mateship’). Other examples are travel (true motive: to escape work and the job), working out (true motive: feel masculine, see changes in body, take pride in appearance), language learning (true motive: ‘ideal’ of guy who speaks many languages, goal made a while ago to speak 4 languages, seems ‘cool’).

    • A lot of ‘doing’ is needed to undo the effects of bad ‘thinking’. This is essentially about decision making – wrong decisions can have huge impact because they take us away from our goal, so we have to backtrack, and they take time and effort.
    • Obvious q: what do you want? And also: do you just like the idea of the end product, or can you see yourself putting in the daily work needed, for a long time, to get there? Can you formulate a goal?
  2. Once you know what you want, truly commit to it. The level of commitment we make to our goals has a large impact on their outcome. Different goals need different levels of commitment. Some goals don’t need as much commitment as others, and that’s fine. After all, you can’t go 100% on everything – there must be tradeoffs. But, there are some goals where you should go 100% - where you need true commitment to achieve them. Some examples:

    • Learning French:

      • Standard commitment: doing flashcards, Duolingo, and maybe some lessons.
      • True commitment: blocked-out time for sentence generation, italki classes focused entirely on your speaking (and score each class when you’re done with it), reading French books, English-French sentence translation, talking to French people
    • Eating healthy:

      • Standard commitment: cut back on sugar, cut back on fat, do home cooking
      • True commitment: change identity (I don’t eat sugar), update beliefs (sugar is a drug), bring lunch every day, sign up for fruit/veg delivery service
  3. Streamline. Get rid of anything that is counterproductive to your goal. As a swimmer streamlines her body to reduce friction, streamline your life to reduce friction towards your goals.
    One useful phrase: “What am I doing right now to <insert goal here>”. Like: what am I doing right now to be the best I can be at gaining muscle? Learning Hindi? Developing bulletproof self confidence and being your own person? Note: this only works on goals that you are truly committed to, not ones you are only ‘standard’ committed with.
    Some examples:

    • Becoming your own person:

      • Body language: walk with confident body language, sit with confident body language, eat with confident body language.
      • Notice your nervous tics and get rid of them.
      • Notice when you speak fast; speak slowly and clearly
      • Notice when you speak quietly; speak louder and impose yourself on the situation
      • When you feel insecure; fake confidence (until you make it!)
      • Notice your desires when you ‘admire someone’. Do you want to copy their mindset or their behaviours? You will lose your individuality if you copy behaviours without thinking them through first.

      • Notice when you don’t want to do something. Are you insecure, scared? Why? Can you push through it? The less procrastination, hesitation; the easier this will be.

  4. Be result-driven. It is easy to use the time you are putting into a goal as a measure for progress. While that has some merit (mainly for ensuring that you are showing up and putting in the work) the ultimate measure of success has to be the results that you show.

    • It’s clear at work; the hours you work doesn’t matter as long as you get done what you need to get done. This means

      • conserving energy on the ‘slow days’ (i.e. you can leave when you’re burned out)
      • maximising returns on the ‘good days’ (if you’re on a roll, stay late and gun out your work!)
    • When learning a language; the measure of success that matters most to me is how well you can speak it and comprehend it. Not the number of flashcards you have done. Not your duolingo tree.

    • When reading books; the measure of success is how well you can apply the knowledge you gain from books.
      Success is about

      • being able to connect concepts together and combine them in new ways
      • being able to explain concepts from scratch (Feynman technique)
      • being able to apply concepts to your life
      • being able to create things that utilise the concepts of what you learn

      Success is not

      • the number of books you read
      • the amount of time you spend reading
      • the number of books you take notes of (you need to be able to do all of the above! not just take notes)
    • When being your own person; results are

      • removing your limiting beliefs.

        • What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?
      • recognising your desires and why you feel them

      • having zero hesitation to go your own way

Be your own person

Take it on the chin

Live in the moment

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