The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead

On Amazon.com: The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don’ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life (2014)

This slim book contains clear advice for young people about how to behave in civil society. Author Charles Murray has had a distinguished career as a political scientist, thinker and writer. [Note: Murray was roundly and unfairly called a racist by liberal/progressive folks for his 1994 book The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life.]

The Table of Contents says it all.  Rather than copying and pasting, here is the subset I think are especially important:

  • (1) Don’t suck up
  • (3) Excise the world like from your spoken English
  • (6) Piercings, tattoos, unnatural hair coloring
  • (10) The unentitled shall inherit the earth
  • (14) Putting together your basic writing toolkit
  • (19) Learn to love rigor
  • (22) Get real jobs
  • (32) Take [the clichés about] marriage seriously

Author Murray’s advice may make you unpopular among some of your peers, but following his guide will impress the adults in your family, your school, and your work.

And for completeness, here is the rest of the Table of Contents…

On the Presentation of Self in the Workplace:

  • (2) Don’t use first names with people considerable older than you until asked, and sometimes not even then
  • (4) Stop “reaching out” and “sharing,” and other prohibitions
  • (5) On the proper use of strong language
  • (7) Negotiating the minefield of contemporary office dress
  • (8) Office emails are not texts to friends
  • (9) What to do if you have a bad boss
  • (11) Manners at the office and in general
  • (12) Standing out isn’t as hard as you think (I)
  • (13) Standing out isn’t as hard as you think (II)

On Thinking and Writing Well:

  • (15) A bare-bones usage primer
  • (16) Writing when you already know what you want to say
  • (17) Writing when you don’t know what you want to say
  • (18) Don’t wait for the muse

On the Formation of Who You Are:

  • (20) Leave home
  • (21) Re-calibrate your perspective on time
  • (23) Confront your inner hothouse flower
  • (24) Think about what kinds of itches need scratching
  • (25) Being judgmental is good, and you don’t have a choice anyway
  • (26) Come to grips with the distinction between can do and may do
  • (27) Come to grips with the difference between being nice and being good
  • (28) Don’t ruin your love affair with yourself

On the Pursuit of Happiness:

  • (29) Show up
  • (30) Take the clichés about fame and fortune seriously
  • (31) Take religion seriously, especially if you’ve been socialized not to
  • (33) Be open to a startup marriage instead of a merger marriage
  • (34) Watch Groundhog Day repeatedly
  • (35) That’s it

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