I read the book Upgrade for my April book of the month. I’d read a short summary of the book through GetAbstract, a company that provides book summaries of popular business and management books. I liked the concepts and then decided to buy the book. Overall, I found it quite interesting although at times it did feel a little bit like author Rana Florida delved into a bit of “look at how amazing I am”-ness rather than focusing on the details.
She brought up a lot of heartbreaking stories around those who failed to reach their potential and what holds us back from reaching our most intense desires. I think one of the most interesting concepts is called “satisficing” (theorized by Nobel prize winner Herbert Simon), which combines the words “satisfy and suffice”. It basically means that people choose options about what they hope for and want to achieve from a smaller, limited pool of options that they can plausibly envision rather than the best option. Often times these are brought about by our peers and emotions. For example, a woman dreams her whole life of being an actress and finds out that a Broadway talent scout is going to hold auditions. A “maximizer” will do whatever they can to get to the audition and try their best. A satisficer will skip the audition and try out for a local theatre play or just keep dreaming. These are the people who say things like “well, maybe next time” or “I am not sure I want to be famous”.
What was not in the book though was research showing that satisficers are generally happier with their decisions because they are comfortable with them. Maximizers are often bogged down with too many options and don’t always make the best choice – and that making “the best” choice is not always an option. To that end, it is important to consider where in life it is OK to satisfice and where you want to maximize. I am happy to satisfice with my workouts. I work out every day but probably don’t push myself as hard as I could. I am a maximizer when it comes to staying connected to my family.
Here are some of my other major takeaways from the book:
- Network less. I feel so guilty for leaving a work or networking event “too early”. But there are times when we might network too much and spend time away from friends, family and other interests. I will make a note to say “no” to more networking events if they are not really meeting my needs in terms of career success. People often say that they don’t have enough time but saying yes to a lot of time wasting activity won’t help.
- Collaborate more. Florida shares an example where she really wanted to write a cookbook but had zero time. She connected with her sister who also thought it was a good idea and together they were able to make a cookbook of all of the amazing home cooking that they grew up with. I often have a “go it alone” approach to things and I am going to aim to ask for more help and partner with people in my circles.
- Place more bets. Try doing lots of new, interesting things. Stop being afraid of being turned down, rejected, or disappointed. Get out there and try something new. Don’t put all of your hopes and dreams in one basket. Instead, take some time to look for a number of options and don’t be afraid to step back when something isn’t working.
Overall, this is a really great book for helping to inspire the reader. I liked that Florida also had a corporate background because I could really relate to a lot of the issues that she highlighted, particularly when it comes to the the poor, rigid cultures found in many companies. It was sort of like, “hey, I’ve been there and you can escape too”. Even as I am writing this I am flitting between other tabs to research screen-writing courses and a trip on the trans-siberia railroad. Dream it and use your time and people resources to do it!