Adams basically starts with stories of times when people told him he was in over his head (winning an egg hunt, becoming valedictorian, becoming a cartoonist with no prior relevant experience) and then succeeds despite the comments.
Intentionally, I think he comes off as a braggart, but finally tells his secret that he’s failed 9 times for every success… a generally lackluster 1 out of 10 average. What’s interesting and important is that he glosses over the failures; a sign that they’re not important and that, in fact, his average is perfectly fine and, given his success, actually amazing given his high standards for success (as Seth Godin points out).
A big lesson here is one that is echoed over and over. Sometimes the failures don’t matter because you only have to win once.
Adams also points out that his failures ALL seemed entirely feasible. Ideas that are feasible are beaten to the ground because everyone does them. The lesson there is to do something extraordinary that others are afraid or otherwise don’t want to do.
Finally, the most important lesson is to recognize what’s most important in everything you do. In academics, business and life, it’s paramount to get to ‘the essence’. Time and time again, the most successful people have this ability or develop this ability.
If you can boil down your thoughts/idea/business/movement in a few powerful words, you’ve got my attention and probably many, many more along with me. Now go make it go happen even if you’re in over your head.