I love reading. Unfortunately, I realize that after finishing any given nonfiction book, I pretty much forget everything I read. I might be able to hold onto it for a week or two, but many of the critical insights I’ve gleaned blur soon after reading that last page. If I don’t commit to some kind of immediate action after reading, listening or watching something, it just becomes entertainment (of which there is nothing wrong with, but not exactly the main reason I personally read nonfiction).
My intent with the Mentor Series is to record and share the lessons from the people who’ve influenced me most in my life. They’re by no means exhaustive. Rather, they are the key takeaways I have chosen to build into my personal and professional life. These are the distilled actionable and practical frameworks that I’ve learned from people whose thinking I admire.
The first of these is on Tim Ferriss.
“What keeps me going is the promise of the ‘aha’ moment. That I can find an elegant or non-obvious solution to an ongoing problem.”Tim Ferriss
Read the Same Books as Your Mentors
Books shape the way people think. Read the books of those whose thinking you most admire and you will get the closest approximation in how they perceive the world.
Test Shorter Time Horizons
Instead of seeking long term goals, set short-term experiments. Challenge your beliefs on how much time you have to devote to achieving a goal. This involves testing everything, especially assumptions.
“If someone held a gun against your head and said you can only work 2 hours to get this done, how could you do it?”Tim Ferriss
There are some bigger concepts that are applied in this takeaway like Parkinson’s Law (work expands to fill the time available for its completion) and the Pareto Principle (80/20 Rule – roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes).
Confront Your Fears
Set your fears and attack them head on so that you preemptively overcome them. It’s like the Muay Thai practice of strengthening shins through intentionally creating repeated micro-fractures in the bones. The practice may be unpleasant, but it arms the body with a powerful weapon for combat. Fear setting builds courage and creates a protective armor for your heart and mind to tackle decisions.
Create Autonomous Systems in Your Life
It’s the central thesis in his seminal book, The 4-Hour Work Week. Instead of spending all your energy on the trivial day-to-day decisions, create systems that can operate autonomously with little to no input from you. And, ideally, minimize the frequency of system upkeep as much as possible.
Explore the Margins for Non-Obvious Solutions
If you listen to Tim’s podcasts and the types of questions he frames, he tries to shine light in the dark corners of why people unconsciously do what they do. At face value, morning routines, dietary habits, and exercise routines may seem mundane, but Tim makes it a mission to explore every facet of a person’s lifestyle for the potential of a breakthrough to share with his readers and listeners.
If you seek how the majority practice their craft, by definition, you’ll get average results. Rather, question what do the top 1% of performers do differently in a domain that is non-obvious and even non-commonsensical that you might be able to tap into for your own goals.
View Failures as a Stepping Stone
A common trope in Tim’s interviews is “favorite failures.” It’s easy to forget that many of the people we may consider as successful are not necessarily destined to be so. They overcame their failures to be where they are. More importantly, it was because of their early failures in life that they succeeded.
Above Everything, Value Your Time
The overarching theme in Tim’s thinking seems somewhat connected to freeing up and being more efficient with time. Whether it’s learning how to delegate tasks to create a system, or it’s batching a series of tasks that are alike together (e.g. batching phone calls or emails). It’s not about being more productive for just being more productive’s sake. It’s about creating an intentional relationship with time. Preserve the sanctity of your time and decide if what you’re doing with it is what you really want. If not, review everything above.
Tim has taught me a lot through his books, podcasts, and blog. Most importantly, he’s been a connector to other mentors (I mean, he has a book called Tribe of Mentors). He introduced me to Stoicisim, which has had added tremendous value in my life. We even share a fascination with Japan, its language, and its culture. I hope some of the lessons I’ve valued over the years from Tim will be helpful to you as well.
Tim’s Books I Recommend
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