Life Strategies: Doing What Works, Doing What Matters (2000), Philip C McGraw - Book Summary

The winners in this life are those who know the rules of the game, they make plans so their productivity is many times higher than those who don't. There are no secrets, it's all true.

To be one of them, break the human code, figure out what makes them successful, why you and others do the things they do, and don't do the things they avoid.

Truth : Life is a contest, the clock is ticking and the winners are keeping their scores.

In short, be honest with yourself and wise with life. No one can do this for you.

General introduction

This is a pretty good book, containing many valuable experiences and lessons about life. After reading the book, you will most likely realize that: So far, you have just closed your eyes and groped, groping to walk in life while lamenting.

If you feel that life is treating you unfairly, if you feel helpless in front of life, find this life boring, wonder why you can't do something xyz… then maybe (maybe) at because you're not doing the only thing that's reading this book.

Who should read this book?

Read this book if you:

  • Bored with yourself
  • Feeling like a failure for not being able to make money
  • Going back to the old ways and not being able to get what you want
  • Indifferent to all my feelings
  • Live a stable life but it is too tasteless and lacks challenges
  • Looking for a change in vain

About the author

Phillip Calvin McGraw was born on September 1, 1950 in Vinita, Oklahoma, USA. Despite his family's difficult circumstances, his father, with the help of GI Bill, got into college. He received a PhD in Psychology and has been practicing for 25 years. As for McGraw, by his own efforts won a football scholarship to attend college, then he became a psychologist. In his spare time, McGraw regularly posts on forums where he can discuss "the law of life".

Not only is a life strategy expert with more than 15 years of experience, the president of the famous US law firm Courtroom Sciences Inc, he also appeared as a key player in the team of "Change Your Life TV" program of the company. Oprah Winfrey. “Self Strategies” has consistently been a best-seller in the world, an achievement that has been followed by two of his books, Self Matters and Relationship Rescue.

McGraw is now married and has two sons.

According to the Chinese proverb: “The source of wisdom is to call things as they are.” Phil McGraw is famous as a man who “calls it what it is”. He always frankly gives his thoughts and views when giving suggestions to others.

In the midst of the current rotation of journalists and writers, McGraw appears as a new breeze. He introduced himself by emphasizing: “Everybody has something to do. Some people build houses, I build strategies for living.

Some famous books by Dr. McGraw: Life Strategies: Doing What Works, Doing What Matters (1990); The Relationship Rescue Workbook (2000); Self Matters: Creating Your Life from the Inside Out (2001);

Dr. Phil and Oprah Winfrey

In 1999, TV presenter Oprah Winfrey got in trouble with the courts when she was sued for fraud and misrepresentation of claims about the dangers of "mad cow disease" (spontaneous encephalitis). in cows). Forced to stand trial in court, she hired strategist Dr. Phil McGraw to defend her.

Oprah couldn't believe what was happening to her. She's sure the trial was unfair, but Oprah still has to shell out $100 million to protect her reputation if she loses the case. Instead of making such a trade-off, McGraw thinks Oprah isn't really ready for the trial. As he wrote in “Self Strategy ”, he was forced to look Oprah in the eye and say, “Wake up! Let's start this game if you don't want to be led by those men."

McGraw also realized that this was a difficult thing to say to a woman so influential in America, but it worked as intended. Since then Oprah has been determined to win the case. And she won, in that moment, McGraw believed.


Oprah indeed took McGraw as the trump card in her victory, and honored him throughout her television shows. But McGraw mentions the story with the sole purpose of proving that that trial is a microcosm of life: There will be people who will take your things, and nothing will change unless you stand up. and fight for them, but since life is a stretch of time, you may not realize that, without a clear strategy, you will lose. The main purpose of “Self Strategy” is to wake you up and realize that the “challenge” will always be there and there is no time for you to slack off. If it could be summed up in nine words, the message of the book would be:

“Life is serious and you are judged by results.”

(Life is harsh and you will always be judged by your results.)

Great quotes from the book:

  • When you pay attention to how the world works, you must pay special attention to how the world reacts to you.
  • Of course you are not responsible for being mistreated as a child, but you certainly are responsible for how you react to that event now.
  • When you choose to behave, you choose the consequences.
  • All the results in your life are built by you.

Rules of life

Before becoming a strategy expert and writer, McGraw was a student of what he called “ The Law of Life.”  Here's how he talks about the 10 laws of life:

“No one will ask you if you think these laws are fair, or if they should exist. Simply put, because like the laws of universal gravitation, they are simply what they are.”

Law 1: You either just know, or don't know.

If you don't "get" that behavior determines outcomes, if you don't have a plan for your life (e.g. dreams or hopes), you're not even in a race against others. already have these basic skills, and have a strategy. Part of this plan is to become the “know the system”. You must be a researcher into human nature and the things you must do to get what you want.

McGraw has listed the 10 most characteristic traits of the way people think and act that you need to know if you want to achieve your goals. The first two are "Man's greatest fear is ostracism" and "What man most wants is recognition."

Law 2: You create your own results

You are the one responsible for your life. If you're in a job you don't like, it's your fault. If you're in a bad relationship, it's because you started it.

If you don't trust people of the opposite sex, even if you were bullied as a child, it's because you're not doing a job of trust. Stop playing the victim and start taking responsibility for the outcomes and circumstances in your life. McGraw said:

“You need to have a pair of steel eyes to call it what it is, not what you want it to be.”

Not being that person will prevent you from assessing and observing the situation in order to make the right decisions.

Law 3: People do what is beneficial.

Why do we end up doing exactly what we tell ourselves we don't want to do? Even though an action certainly doesn't seem right, it will always have its own rewards and punishments. So only when you find it will you be motivated to change yourself. However, your behavior does not always need to be healthy, sometimes it proves that by doing it you can avoid dangerous situations or rejection from others.

There was a woman who went to see McGraw because of her weight problem. Turns out that woman had been bullied for her gender as a child, so every time she lost weight, men would notice her and it reminded her of that horrible memory. , and then she continued to eat a lot again. Realizing this was more than enough to break her self-destructive cycle. Find out what's stopping you from growing, and you'll be able to take control of your behavior and your life.

Law 4: You can't change what you don't acknowledge.

Psychologists use the term "feelings of defense" to describe things that our minds can't cope with. This is often called “denial” and it affects every aspect of our lives. Why? Because if you don't dare to identify the problem, you will never be able to solve it; And this is consuming a lot of your time

Think like alcoholics when you look at your life: You can only get better once you admit you have a problem. "Most of what people want isn't real, but it's still accepted." McGraw said. We crave recognition for being right, even when what we're doing doesn't work. So if you want to change, you have to think differently.

Law 5: Life always honors action.

We need to learn, McGraw said, and “the world couldn't care less about thoughts without action.” Judging your life by your results may seem a bit rigid, but it really doesn't matter whether you like it this way or if you want to live by your own rules, because the world is already there. has its own rules. Living by the results you get requires change and risks, but you will get the inevitable satisfaction because you know you are in control of everything.

“The difference between a winner and a loser is that winners do what losers don't want to do.” – McGraw commented. It sounds like a cliché, but you really have to do what you need to do to get what you want, if you don't want to be called a "passerby". This is true for both family life and work career. Just because you tell someone you're close to them doesn't mean they know it. Do what your heart tells you if you don't want to have regrets.

Law 6: There is no right or wrong, it's all about perception.

Understand that the world is not necessarily as you see it. Everyone has their own “veils” and only by acknowledging them can you get a better picture. Even in a close relationship, a simple act can be interpreted in different ways. For example, a man will think of taking out the trash as an obligation, while his wife, seeing that they stink, will throw them away as an act of love.

Try to cultivate a greater interest in people, forge new connections, aware that your "opinion" can hurt others. Most importantly, make sure that your perceptions and knowledge are based on accurate, verifiable information. If you act solely on feelings and beliefs, you will be very easily swayed. ,totter.

Law 7: Life must be managed, not saved.

Success is a moving goal in an ever-changing world. You must actively manage your life, less than calling problems crises or concluding that you are unsuccessfully managing your life. An extremely useful way to manage is to create a plan of what needs to be done in a day, a week, a month that will help you know what you have to accomplish, and how much time you spend on the task. there. We need to accept responsibility for our lives and live responsibly. Don't blame anyone because this is your life, no one else's. Life is a journey and every day you will be the driver. You can also ask, but be ready to answer. Do not accumulate resentment as a burden in life. Don't give in to negative inertia, ask yourself more about your mind, body, emotions and behavior. Every day ask: "What can I do today to make my life better? ” and got to work.

Law 8: Forgiveness brings strength.

Hatred, resentment, bitterness are emotions (emotions) that have immense power and have the most destructive power. They come from the actions of others that you think harm you and your loved ones, holding hatred in your body will not do any harm to the person you are hating, on the contrary, they also harm yourself and your loved ones. your relatives. Also, do not bring feelings and beliefs into communication. The only way through is to take a higher moral stance and forgive. Regain your strength that your abuser is holding. Get rid of it and forgive the person who did it to you, because you are the only one who decides how you feel about things. Don't judge others' mistakes, let the higher powers do it. And most simply, lastly, remember that forgiveness is your business, not that of the person being forgiven. They don't need to repent, no need to repent. Forgiveness is your business.

Law 9: We teach people how they treat us.

You are also an outcome because you help shape the way others treat you. How you interpret and react to another person's attitude determines whether they repeat it or not. Make no mistake that this rule means that how you treat others will be treated in return. Understand that you are the owner of how people treat you, you should stop complaining but learn how to renegotiate relationships to get what you want. Being kind to others is the best way to teach others to have the opposite good attitude towards yourself. In other words, you expect others to change their attitudes towards you. But you still keep the same attitude to people: you have failed, change yourself first.

Rule 10: You must identify it in order to have the right to claim it.

Maybe talking about what you don't want gives you more confidence, but if you don't specify what you need then your part number is going through life stomping and crying. Naming what we really need is to start over with life like driving a ship towards a lighthouse. Your goal should be the affection you will receive associated with an object or phenomenon rather than the thing or phenomenon itself. Know what you want and take the opportunity. Pay attention to the time factor and stick with what you want and know quickly to receive warnings that are going astray. Also, don't say what you want to be too general or abstract. Because the most harmful thing in life is determining what you want – wrong purpose in life. Naming what you want is the most important – pay attention and try not to get confused. Remember:everything you want is just named and obtained for a certain fixed period of time, not much to infinity, it's like having a product with an expiration date.


What makes "Strategy" different and stand out from the book market today is not only the fact that McGraw "names it as it is" but also in his subtle sense of humour. Example questions:

Question 9: 'Do you prefer to eat in places where you have to look up to see the menu instead of down?'

Question 20: 'If you meet someone new, do they have to sit in the back seat of your car, or push up their seats to watch your TV?'

McGraw refuses to let the reader become part of the "epidemic" of avoiding difficult decisions, and freezes the persistence, which most people living in the twenty-first century are experiencing. He quoted Mark Twain famously saying: “We are not getting a lot of information if we just meditate on ourselves.” Of course your life is still based on information (who you live with, what job you do, your current living situation), and it would be stylish to say that “the most important thing is that you did your best. strength”, the world will only recognize your success.

Books on the same topic

  • The Simple Guide to Feeling Better (Susan D. Kalior)
  • Gumptionade: The Booster For Your Self-Improvement Plan (Robert B. O'Connor)
  • The Life Strategies Workbook: Exercises and Self-Tests to Help You Change Your Life (Phillip C. McGraw)