The Courage To Be Disliked

Last month I was lucky enough to be given an advanced prepublication review copy of The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga (Atria Books, May 2018 release).

I say “lucky” because the book changed my life.

I had never heard of it before. But the book is a runaway bestseller in Japan. It sold 3.5 million copies in Asia.

  • A million copies sold of any book is miraculous.
  • Over three million copies sold in Japan alone is staggering.

The book is a dialogue between a student and a philosopher.

The chapters are short.

The messages are potent.

Most of the material stems from the work of psychologist Alfred Adler. As much as I’ve read in psychology, I wasn’t familiar with Adler.

I am now.

Adler (1870-1937) was an Austrain physician, psychotherapist, and the founder of Adlerian psychology, sometimes called Individual Psychology.

Around 1907 Adler and Freud, along with Rudolf Reitler and Wilhelm Stekel, began meeting weekly in a type of early mastermind. Their “Wednesday Night Meetings” eventually grew into the birth of the psychoanalytic movement.

Freud and Adler did not agree and went separate ways. I’m currently collecting and reading Adler’s works, such as Understanding Human Nature (1927) and The Science of Living (1929).

While I am digging into the original words of Adler, I find The Courage To Be Disliked an easier approach to understanding him.

Here’s why…

The Courage to Be Disliked is a refreshing stir for self courage.

Rather than giving away your power to circumstances, you use your power for choice.

The book explains etiology, which is the idea of cause and effect, versus teleology, which is the idea of meaning and choice.

“We are not determined by our experiences, but are self-determined by the meaning we give to them…” – Alfred Adler

In other words, many schools of thought (including Freud’s) say you are the product of your past and/or your environment.

That is cause and effect thinking, or etiology.

But Adler’s approach is to say you can create your life from new meaning and choice, which is teleology.

Obviously, the latter is more empowering and freeing.

The latter doesn’t need anything outside of you to change for you to change.

You can change with a decision.

The Adler way is not one of victimhood but of empowerment.

For example, rather than saying you are the way you are due to the circumstances of your childhood, or current circumstances, you instead choose to create how you want to be from goals selected out of this moment.

  • The past has no hold over you.
  • Environment has no hold over you.
  • Others have no hold over you.

At first glance, the concepts in The Courage to Be Disliked could seem daunting and unrealistic.

But as I kept reading the book, and following the concepts being explained, I realized that this book is a manual for awakening.

There are too many concepts to repeat here, but one crucial one is this:

“All problems are interpersonal relationship problems.”

Let that sink in.

“All problems are interpersonal relationship problems.”

The idea (simplified) is that you may sometimes try to please others, which is giving away your power to others.

You can’t easily be happy if you are waiting on another’s approval.

When you choose yourself, you are free.

You may be disliked; but you are free.

But here’s an even deeper insight…

An advanced insight is this: you have an interpersonal problem with someone in order to justify something you don’t want to do.

In short, you created the need for an excuse and then created the interpersonal problem to rationalize the excuse.

The problem or person didn’t come first; your need for a way out did.

This is similar to my own observation:

“The meaning you give an event is the belief that attracted it.”

You don’t realize it, but it’s actually you and your meaning/beliefs creating your life.

This completely transforms the idea of problems with other people.

You created them!

The Courage To Be Disliked explains all of this, and more, in an easy to read style.

It’s simply a conversation.

But “the student” is asking what you would probably ask.

And “the philosopher” is responding as might Socrates, or Adler himself.

Along the way you get “aha” moments of insights.

For example, learning to separate tasks is important.

That means learning to understand what is under your task to do, and what is for others to do.

  • Wanting someone to like you isn’t your task. It’s theirs.
  • Wanting a child to clean his or her room isn’t your task. It’s the child’s.
  • Wanting to be recognized for success isn’t your task. It’s the public’s.

Knowing this “task separation” gives you freedom.

“We cannot think, feel, will, or act without the perception of some goal.” – Alfred Adler

I’ve often referred to people trying to give me their task as them trying to give me their monkey.

They don’t want to care for “the monkey” so they try to pass it off to me.

But I have enough monkeys.

Knowing that I don’t want another monkey, and that their task isn’t mine to do, makes it easier for me to have a boundary and maintain it for my own self-care.

As a result, I can be free.

Here’s a recent example:

Jaime Vendera is a vocal coach. A terrific one. He’s written Raise Your Voice and The Ultimate Breathing Workout. He’s helped lots of singers, including me.

He wrote to me one day saying he had an idea for a book I could write. He suggested it could be about mindset for musicians.

While I liked the idea, I sensed he was passing a monkey to me.

So I wrote back, saying it was his idea, or his task, so he should write it.

To my surprise, and his credit, he took the challenge.

He completely wrote the book, showed it to me, and I added some content, and a subtitle to it.

We are now coauthors of the book, Mind Over Music: Break Through the Blocks to Get Into the Studio and Onto the Stage. (It’ll  be out next month.)

Instead of my taking on his task, I simply kept my boundary and supported him.

The result was a win-win for both of us.

Do you see how this works?

The Courage to Be Disliked contains far more wisdom, theory, and technique than I could possibly relay in this article.

But I don’t want you to settle for this post.

I want you to read the book.

Whether you do or not, of course, is your task, not mine.

Ao Akua,


PS – The Courage To Be Disliked will be in stores May 8, 2018. You can order it in print, for your Kindle reader, or on audio right now at Amazon:



  1. Beverley-Reply
    May 1, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Thank you intersting article it was so relevant to me at this time.

    • Joe Vitale-Reply
      May 1, 2018 at 1:12 pm

      I am glad to hear it. Thank you.

  2. May 1, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Beautiful stuff, bro. This is the juice.

    • Joe Vitale-Reply
      May 1, 2018 at 1:12 pm

      Thank you, Mark. Coming from you means a lot.

  3. Boots Beaudry-Reply
    May 1, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    I’ve read about Adler years ago. This book sounds interesting. I’m presuming that it isn’t out yet. I haven’t checked. Thanks for the info.

  4. Boots Beaudry-Reply
    May 1, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Oops. Just saw it on Amazon. :-]

    • Joe Vitale-Reply
      May 1, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      Yep. Get it there too.

  5. Nancy Chapin-Reply
    May 1, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    Will it be in any bookstores?

    • Joe Vitale-Reply
      May 1, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      Yes, all book stores.

  6. May 1, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    I can’t wait to read this book, thank you Joe for this excellent blog.

    • Joe Vitale-Reply
      May 1, 2018 at 1:42 pm

      There will be an audio version of the book too.

  7. Masako-Reply
    May 1, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    I’m a Japanese. Thank you very much for reviewing my favorite book. After reading it, it became very difficult to keep on being a victim and cheating myself. It helped me a lot because victimhood is in the way to creat the wanted future.

    • Joe Vitale-Reply
      May 1, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      You are welcome. Thanks for the comment.

  8. Dona Morgan-Reply
    May 1, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    Looks like a great book! Thank you! I studied Alfred Adler during my graduate program in psychology at Naropa University …I’m certain this book is full of wisdom. Can’t wait to read it!

    • Joe Vitale-Reply
      May 1, 2018 at 6:09 pm

      Cool, Dona

  9. May 1, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    This morning on FB, I saw Lisa Winston’s post about this blog, so I clicked over immediately.
    I love the concepts of the book; thanks for sharing!
    My mission is to empower others … and this particular concept of “meaning and choice over cause and effect” is so fresh. Approval-seeking behavior is the best way to surrender one’s power. Eloquently stated. Thanks for sharing!

    • Joe Vitale-Reply
      May 1, 2018 at 6:08 pm

      Thank you, Robin. See you later this month!

  10. Susan Black-Reply
    May 1, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    Looking forward to reading it.. I’m sure it will be inspiring!

    • Joe Vitale-Reply
      May 1, 2018 at 6:08 pm

      Enjoy 🙂

  11. Paco Tonga-Reply
    May 1, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I just made an order to get it once out on the 8! The universe likes speed! Expect miracles.

    • Joe Vitale-Reply
      May 1, 2018 at 6:08 pm

      I believe you will love the book, Paco

  12. Joan-Reply
    May 1, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    Thank you Joe for another empowering blog. You always make my day and get me to take small, yet significant actions.. a lot of points to ponder 🙂

    • Joe Vitale-Reply
      May 1, 2018 at 6:08 pm

      Thank you, Joan

  13. May 1, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    Dr. Joe, may I mention here in most humble way possible, that I have also nearly finished my own ebook, which I would like to show you, to get your most valuable opinion, before I go publish it. You already encouraged me a year ago in April, to let you know when it will be finished. I’m still working on it (over 2,5 hours of text-to speech already), still without ANY feedback from anybody, still not having ANY clue, am I going into the right direction with it or not… I’ve been tried to reach you last 1,5 years, but I can’t go through your support in any possible way… too bad, because I could be losing valuable time while maybe having very interesting ebook in my hands, which I hope to publish one day, but still need some guidance and professional opinion on it (it’s about LOA, but different than any similar ebook or book, I write it in english). I can give you some short preview or also entire ebook (text plus audio ebook in mp3), since I have only full trust in you. I would appreciate your help more as I can tell. Thank you for your any answer! Most kind regards, Zoki from SLovenia. 😉

  14. May 3, 2018 at 12:53 am

    Another piece of brilliant motivation for me. Thank you Joe.

    I’ve had a couple of rejections from agents/publishers in the last couple of days for my first fiction anthology, and it made me a little depressed. Now, I realise that liking my work is their job, not mine. I have to put it out there for them to find, and trust that the Universe will lead the right person to it.

    I’ve just bought and downloaded the book you mentioned, and I look forward to reading it.

    Keep up the good work, Joe.



    • Joe Vitale-Reply
      May 4, 2018 at 6:19 pm

      Hang in there, my friend.

  15. Mirtha Trinidad-Reply
    May 3, 2018 at 1:15 am

    Hola Joe. Hay el libro traducido en español en venta??

  16. Hilmi Hamdan-Reply
    May 4, 2018 at 12:49 am

    Thank you this article, Mr Fire, thank you very much. As always, it came at the most appropriate time.
    Also, I’d like to take this chance to express gratitude for the guidance you have given over the years. Your books and audios have helped me alot as I am sure they help many others. And thank you for introducing me to Ho’oponopono, it is truly amazing and I sincerely feel everyone should learn it.
    Thanks Dr Joe, from the bottom of my heart.

    • Joe Vitale-Reply
      May 4, 2018 at 6:19 pm

      You are welcome, Hilmi

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