For those people who are bestselling authors, Silicon Valley geniuses, top performing Navy SEALs, and top-level scientists, this book is well worth reading. If you are a regular attendee at Burning Man you will enjoy this book. However, of the seven and a half billion people on this planet, the number of people who would clearly fall into the combined group above is probably less than ten thousand. If we liberalized the definition a bit to those who aspire to those lofty ranks we might get the number up to a hundred thousand. For the rest of humanity, the odds against you being members of this elite are a million to one, and this book Stealing Fire – How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work will probably be counterproductive to your life.

I came away from this book feeling that promoting activities for people that are beyond their abilities will hurt far more people than it helps. Granted there will be people for whom psychedelic drugs will enhance their performance, and for whom taking huge risks will have an enormous payoff, and their odds may be better than a million to one that it will work, but the odds are stacked against them. I would recommend reading Jim Collins’s book, How the Mighty Fall and why some Companies Never Give In before you read Stealing Fire. Collins’s book is about the perils of overreaching. It is an analysis of big companies that failed compared to their competitors that succeeded. The lessons to be learned in that book about companies have a direct correlation to personal strategies for winning. Stealing Fire is about the glories of overreaching and the authors interview those who have succeeded with that approach; however, they don’t dwell on the vast majority that tried that super-risky path and failed.

Of course, there is some good advice in stepping up to those people who have succeeded with your good ideas and brilliant conversation, but if you don’t have great qualities in abundance even those contacts won’t work. If instead, you can spend some time and energy figuring out a way to provide for the common person’s needs in a way that will scale up with a product you can sell to the whole world you are more likely to succeed than by taking mind-altering drugs.

The harder you work on your good ideas the luckier you will become.