The Courage to be Disliked (Ichiro Kishimi) – Book Summary7 min read

The Courage to be Disliked Book Cover

Three Sentence Summary

The thoughts and teachings of Alfred Adler supplied through the medium of discussion between a Philosopher and a Youth.  This short book is both thought provoking and insightful with the format being a key reason why this book works. A good read with some pieces of wisdom that I will take forward into my everyday life.

My Top 3 Take Aways

    1. Do not give power to past actions. They should have no input on how you live your life from this point forward. Live in the here and now.
    2. Choose equal relationships over hierarchal relationships and encourage this by showing gratitude rather than heavy praise or negative comments.
    3. Happiness comes from community and being truly valued by others.

Who Do I Recommend This Book For?

I have zero knowledge of psychology or philosophy but books on these matters still intrigue me as a lot can be gained from thinking about other peoples points of view. Somethings will be hard to grasp and some things will truly resonate. If you want to widen your horizons to different ways of thinking about life this book is for you. I’m sure even if you don’t take any of its own points forward into your own life you might find it sparks your own thoughts that could be life changing.

Full Summary


Personally this was a very interesting read not just in its content but in the books format. Not many non-fiction books are set out as dialogues making it quite refreshing for me but this could easily be very polarising for readers. The style is deliberately chosen to keep in line with the Socratic writings (written by Plato) which were scripts of the debates held be Socrates to his disciples. This style of writing does bring its issues as the characters are fictional thus bringing in elements of character development and how you want the reader to perceive the characters not just a simple description of Adler’s teachings. For me I didn’t find the youth character too relatable maybe because I’m quite relaxed as a person and he seemed very passionate and borderline aggressive with some of his outbursts. I much preferred the philosopher although there was a tendency to avoid some questions opting to use his own examples rather than the ones posed by the youth. He’d make an excellent politician.


The overall way of thinking I found very intriguing. I was not familiar with Adler’s work before this so this was an introduction. It revolves around being self-accepting of ones own ability allowing for self reliance and contributing to society which in turn provides happiness and satisfaction in life. Not all points I agreed with, however this combination of philosophy and psychology is meant to challenge social norms and be thought provoking. Some aspects resonated heavily with me and its these that I wish to discuss in more detail.

Living in the Here and Now

This was the key point that I will be taking onboard. In life I’m a thinker and a planner. I like to know what I’m doing and if I set a plan then veer of course I can spiral into a state of paralysis. In the end, instead of getting part of the plan done I end up getting close to none especially if it gets off to a rocky start. Other times I’m too busy thinking about what I need to do or planning out a future goal that I forget to live in the moment and actually take action and do the thing. For me living in the here and now is a point I really need to strive for more.


This methodology suggests firstly to not give power to past actions to effect your current or future ones. Obviously this is difficult to implement but reminding myself that it shouldn’t matter might just give me the confidence to get over mental barriers stopping me from enjoying the present and taking new opportunities. Another point this book brought to mind is living to enjoy the process instead of always focussing on planning and the end goal. Immersing yourself in your goals by doing something everyday to contribute to it thus living in the here and now. One quote from this book which has helped me not only plan for the day but helped me reflect on my day has been this. “Have a sense of ‘this is what I did today’; this is what today, this single day, was for”. It has allowed me to assign purpose to the day and highlight my successes helping me to enjoy the here and now more.

Choosing to keep relationships equal.

Throughout history human civilisation has developed through hierarchal relationships so this point seemed to only be feasible in a world of a more enlightened and civil human race. Still it began to strike a chord with me as I am lucky to work in environment where they are edging more towards this way of working by taking people of all levels of experiences thoughts into consideration. One point which I think I’m going to take forward and keep in mind is my use of language which could be considered as overly praising or rebuke. Both can lead to a sense of hierarchy, eliminating being seen as equals. Praise can give a sense of being talked down to, putting yourself above them, where as rebuke can be seen as punishment which is using the power you hold over someone. Both can be used to manipulate someone and so should be avoided. Instead, showing gratitude to people by saying thank you and being sincere shows that you see them as a peer and they will feel valued. This helps develop a community feel which leads to my final point.

The Correlation between happiness and being valued by others.

One of Adler’s main thoughts was that having a sense of community and being valued in this community is the source of happiness. I have to attest their being some deep routed logic in this. If you feel like you are helping others and feel that you are valued for doing so you are likely to be happier and feel more satisfied with your life. After all even people with large amounts of wealth or jobs of high social standing can still feel deeply unhappy. For me this will be something that I will continue to think about especially in my career progression as I have realised that having a satisfying job comes from being of value to a community.

Making it Actionable!

Next Steps:

This was my first dip into the world of Alfred Adler and I think is something I’m going to have to revisit again in future as I’ve most likely misinterpreted everything! For me this isn’t a big deal though as I am not looking to follow his teachings religiously. To me if I can apply one thing, even if misinterpreted, and it makes a positive impact on my life this is a win. Going forward I’m going to keep these points in mind and try to use them as frequently as possible to see if they can help improve my life for the better.


If you’ve read this book already I’d love to know your thoughts and how you’ve implemented its strategies. Let me know down below!

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