The Winner Effect

The Neuroscience of Success and Failure
by Ian Robertson | 320 pages

Ian Robertson is one of the world’s preeminent neuropsychologists. He’s both a clinical psychologist AND a neuroscientist—which is a rare combination. In this book, he walks us through “The Neuroscience of Success and Failure.” It's a fascinating reading. Big Ideas we explore include (Genetic Fatalism (the curse of), Goldilocks Goals (and how to get our goals juuuuuuust right), The Winner Effect (fish, mice, Mike Tyson and you), Oscar Winners (plus their cookie jars and highlight reels), and True Winners (the noble use of power).


“What makes a winner? …

Why do some people have an enormous drive to win, while others shy away from success and power? What does power do to people—and what about powerlessness? Do success and power make you live longer and better—and if so, why? Is power really an aphrodisiac and if it is, how and why does it have this effect?

The question of winning underpins almost every part of our lives. Who wins is the factor that shapes our lives more completely than anything else. Winning is a drive as powerful as sex, and we all want to win, whether we are aware of it or not. Think of the ambitions swirling around the desks of any office; consider the emotions and skirmishes surrounding promotion and advancement. In its more naked form, look at the parents howling at the sidelines of the football pitch for the victory of their seven-year-old darlings. What are they shouting for? Winning. And they want it very, very badly. Why do we want to win so badly, and what makes a winner?

That is the question that I aim to answer in this book.”

~ Ian Robertson from The Winner Effect

This is our second Note on one of Ian Robertson’s books.

I basically read them both back to back. Well, technically, I read his most recent book (The Stress Test) then ordered this one then read The Genius in All of Us by David Shenk while I waited for Amazon to deliver this one then read it the day I got it. It was a good week. :)

As we discussed in our other Notes, Ian is one of the world’s preeminent neuropsychologists. He’s both a clinical psychologist AND a neuroscientist—which is a rare combination.

In The Stress Test he walks us through the neuroscience of “How Pressure Can Make You Stronger and Sharper.” In this book, he walks us through “The Neuroscience of Success and Failure.” They’re both FASCINATING reads. (Get a copy of this one here.)

Before we jump in, I want to make one thing REALLY CLEAR.

If we want to “win” in life—in every sense of that word—we need to KNOW (!) that it ALL starts with our beliefs about ourselves. The most important core belief? We need to KNOW (!!!) that, with effort and perseverance, we CAN get smarter, healthier and happier.

In the first chapter, Ian leans heavily on Carol Dweck’s research. We’ve talked about her wisdom many times and have Notes on two of her books: Self-Theories and Mindset. As I read this book, I was reminded of JUST how essential her wisdom is.

So… If you haven’t read and absorbed and started practicing the wisdom from those Notes yet (for yourself AND for your kids/family/colleagues/clients/etc.), I HIGHLY recommend you get on that.

Note: This is PhilosophersNote #603. I’m pretty sure I’ve never used an Introductory blurb to make a point like that. So… Yah. I feel strongly about it. :)

With that, let’s jump in. This book is packed with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share some of my favorites to help you WIN TODAY.

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About the author

Authors

Ian Robertson

Scientist, Psychologist and Writer