4 Inspiring Takeaways from Dorie Clark's 'The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World'

In 2014, networking guru Susan RoAne, author of How to Work a Room, introduced me to Duke University professor and author Dorie Clark, recently named one of the Top 50 business thinkers in the world by Thinkers50.

Both of these powerhouses generously served as sources for me when I wrote for The Muse, and each is full of wisdom and insight that's delightfully straightforward and actionable. 

The New York Times describes Dorie as an “expert at self-reinvention and helping others make changes in their lives,” and she's done that for me—referring me for jobs and including me in her fantastic networking dinners. So, when she asked if I'd like to read an advance copy of her new book, The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World, I eagerly said yes.

Unlike many business and career-focused books, once I started it, I found myself inspired (as opposed to overwhelmed). I looked forward to getting back to it (rather than returning it to the library unfinished and hoping my beloved librarians didn't ask if I enjoyed it).

Reading The Long Game feels a bit like having a life coach in your living room, whispering inspiration and reminders that anything worth pursuing isn't going to happen overnight. 

Because that's a message that transcends most industries and endeavors, I'd recommend this book to everyone from students to seasoned professionals or really anyone who has a goal or a dream that requires determination, commitment and as Dorie says, "strategic patience."

As she explains in her newsletter, "Playing the long game, at its heart, is about making choices today that you'll be grateful for in the future."

I think of The Long Game as the executive-coaching cousin of Elizabeth Gilbert's more artist-centric Big Magic as both focus on shelving fear and moving forward—even when you can't or don't see any immediate payoff. 

As a writer who always hopes to pen a novel that will be turned into a blockbuster film that allows me to retire (so I can stop pretending to understand corporate jargon), I live for stories of people toiling away wondering if they should give up only to achieve great success.

(Side note: I hate that I can't use that phrase without thinking of Borat.)

I'm not someone who regularly highlights section of books—mainly because I can never find a highlighter and when I do it's usually drier than a cat's tongue—but if I did, here are a few of the passages I'd mark to return to:

Hell Yeah! or No.

Even when you're overcommitted, it can be hard to say "no" to an invitation or a favor. But if you want to achieve a goal, you need to guard your time. How do you decide which opportunities to decline?

In The Long Game, Dorie quotes Derek Siver, a music entrepreneur-turned-author, who uses this very simple strategy. When deciding whether or not to do something, if you feel anything less than "Wow! Hell yeah!" then say "no!"

Put down the faulty yardsticks.

In Dorie's chapter titled 'Strategic Patience, ' Ron Carucci, who writes regularly for Harvard Business Review and Forbes, talks about the cliche: "It takes ten years to be an overnight sensation." But... it really does, he says. Don't let that put you off. Three, five, or ten years will pass either way—so why not pursue your dream on the off-chance it works out?

Too often people abandon projects and goals they've set when they don't achieve them fast enough. Another stumbling block on the rock to success is the temptation measure yourself against others by studying likes, shares, page views, and other "vanity metrics." When you focus on these, you forfeit your own agency. So put down these faulty yardsticks, Carucci advises, and focus on how far you've come.

Optimize for interesting.

Our culture prioritizes the pursuit of a lucrative career, but Dorie argues that just because you're not on the established path, that doesn't mean you're going in the wrong direction. 

In the book, she offers inspiring examples of people who put their interests ahead of dollars and, ultimately, found themselves on the successful path—and better still, they were fulfilled finding their place at their own pace.

Rethink failure.

One thing I really appreciated about this book is the way Dorie shares her own failures—goals she set that for one reason or another (but never for lack of hustle and hard work) didn't pan out. But...Dorie being Dorie... didn't waste the effort she'd expended. 

"Try to adapt plans that didn't work out. Are there alternative ways you can leverage the connections you made, the time you put in, or the work you created?"she posits.

As someone who never likes to see leftovers in the fridge go to waste, I love this. How can your repurpose and reframe those projects that didn't turn out as you'd hoped? Dorie offers up her own examples that you can apply to your own life.

The book is chock full of other solid advice that's stayed with me since I finished. This in particular: "Sometimes our bets pay off, and sometimes they don't. We have to make them anyway."

You can purchase the book here:

US - Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, or independent bookshops

Canada -Amazon.ca or Indigo

UK - Amazon.co.uk or Waterstone's

Germany - Amazon.de

Google Play

Apple (iBooks)

PS: I have no skin in the game. In other words, these aren't affiliate links (mainly because I have no clue how to do that). 

Other books by friends I've recently enjoyed include:

The Little Girl in the Window by C.G. Twiles, a psychological thriller that's a super-quick, fun read,


Babies Don't Make Small Talk (So Why Should I?): The Introvert's Guide to Surviving Parenthood by Julie Vick, which is a hilarious look at all the awkward situations you're forced to endure—from pregnancy on.

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