Author, entrepreneur, blogger, podcaster, public speaker, charity advocate, health guru and multiple business award winner – Timothy Ferris has achieved pretty much everything one could imagine. Known for pushing the limits, Tim is one of the only people in the world whose other accomplishments completely dwarf the fact that he’s a Princeton alumnus.
The man, the myth that is Tim Ferriss has written another book packed with wisdom and tools that will change your life. His books tend to be long and most of you are probably going to lack the time to read it.
I found the book truly life changing and I’d love for you to get the same gift. It’s my mission here to make things easier and more digestible so you can transform your life and eventually change the world.
This book should be known as seemingly normal people doing extraordinary things. Or maybe it should be called ‘In which Tim Ferriss breaks down the formula for meaningful work or success’. Either way, wow — an amazing book.
Tim states that you’ll like about half the book, love about 20%, and have your life changed by about 10% or 17 of the profiles. He’s right. But what he doesn’t mention is how you likely will have never heard of those 17 people in your life, and will now seek them out as either real or virtual mentors.
The book is a fun little compendium of advice from the best. Some will shock you, few will suit you, fewer yet serve you, but that’s precisely the point: you grow with the book, rather than out of it. Here’s a sneak peek of 3 lessons:
- Failure holds a lot of chances, if you look for them.
- Learning to say no in new ways helps you make a long-term habit of it.
- Always check why you should not take someone’s advice, then decide if you’ll listen.
Tribe of Mentors is extremely similar to Tools of Titans, yet manages to one-up it in several ways. Tim starts the book with the statement of ‘struggling with blah, blah, blah and he just wrote the book for himself’. I’m sure there is a lot of truth to his intent, but I don’t fully believe it represents the final product. I really think this book is more of a ‘I’m going to show you readers just how consistent the formula for meaningful work really is’.
It’s not easy, it’s not comfortable, and it requires a lot of deep though and hard work.
But hard work is part of the process. If your moving in the right direction, then you’ll take breaks not because you really want to, but because you have to.
Another way of looking at this magical success equation that Tim spelled out in the book, is the concept of ‘Talent Stacking’ that Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has. It’s not being strong in any one area, but ‘stacking’ strengths in many different areas. Another way to look at it — I don’t need to be a zen master at meditation, sleep 8.5 hours per night, take a 30 minute siesta, and journal religiously after my introspective nature walk every day. That would be crazy and the law of diminishing returns would kick in. But stacking a few or several of these activities into my daily routine can be greatly beneficial.
What Is The Formula For Meaningful Work?
The different parts of the formula in slightly more detail:
Meditation: At least 50% of the respondents credit meditation as the most important part of their day for staying focused.
Introspection: Perhaps as a side-effect of meditation, the interviewees all showed traits of being highly self-aware, with great degrees of empathy not just for others but for themselves. In addition, they loved taking walks for the opportunity to contemplate on big picture ideas or just be present with the universe and live in the moment.
Determination: After the first 10 interviews, it becomes very clear what 10,000 hours to mastery really looks and feels like. Knowing what you want and going after it with an obstacle-is-the-way mentality.
Reading: Most of the interviewees read very deep and insightful literature that highlights the human condition. Authors like Viktor Frankl, Oliver Sacks, and Salman Rushdie whose works highlight the universal harshness of reality but also show absurdity of it. When you read these books you gain an understanding that your suffering is not unique, and that life can be viewed as a game in which failure and success are not discrete or endpoints but part of a larger cycle.
Keeping a Journal: Part of the meditation and reading power combo, several interviewees went into depth about their journals, process, and affinity for the writing process. In addition, most of the respondents are authors of books, but not by trade.
Napping: Along with meditation, power naps were mentioned as a consistent mechanism for maintaining focus and reducing overwhelm.
What can you learn from the book?
Have a question for everything
Having all the answers is not smart. Having a quality question for everything is how you gain wisdom in life. Trying to have all the answers will make you stupid. Questions will take you to where you want to go and that’s probably the best thing in the book that Tim Ferriss teaches.
Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask. After all, conscious thinking is largely asking and answering questions in your own head. If you want confusion and heartache, ask vague questions. If you want uncommon clarity and results, ask uncommonly clear questions.
Quality over quantity. Another concept that peppers the pages of this book.
Ask yourself, “What is a hard choice and what is an easy choice.”
When you ask yourself this question in a single moment, you’ll instantly know the answer. The answer is always to make the hard choice. Hard choices build courage, character and your inner strength. They’re painful in the short-term but incredibly valuable in the long term.
Anytime you don’t know what choice to make, ask yourself this insanely powerful question.
Your superheroes are all flawed
That’s right, they have mastered one or two things and everything else they suck at. None of the idols you look up to are special. What your idols have done is stay focused on a limited number of things and then executed. Start seeing the flaws and you’ll see that perfectionism doesn’t exist.
Wellbeing causes performance to increase
You can’t outperform or beat your past results without looking after yourself. That’s why you hear so much about diet, sleep and taking holidays. These three things will help you take care of yourself and increase your performance, which will get closer to your goals and ultimately fulfillment.
There’s significant value in procrastination
We get mad at ourselves when we procrastinate and we’re going about it all wrong. When we procrastinate, our mind and body are solving problems in the background which we can’t face head-on.
Redlining in our daily activities should be avoided at all costs , too often people work at things too hard and don’t take the time to recover — this leads to burnout. If you really love the process, what is the benefit in going so hard?
Success still comes with a side of weakness
That’s why you need to focus on your strengths and accept that you’ll always have some weaknesses no matter what. Focus on what you want and what you know you can get results in.
You don’t “succeed” because you have no weaknesses; you succeed because you find your unique strengths and focus on developing habits around them. Something I really loved about this book was how the talent stacks of each person was very different. What was the same was that they all took the time and put in the work to go deep and find that unique combination. Going deep frequently involved killing distractions, putting the cell phone away, disconnecting the internet, finding some silence, slowing down, taking a sabbatical, moving, and lots of other frequently uncomfortable actions.
Success is measured by the volume of uncomfortable moments
Having that tough conversation or taking that bold action displays courage. Having increased amounts of courage will lead you to your version of success. If you’re trying to figure out what’s missing, try increasing the number of uncomfortable moments in your life.
During difficult times, let kindness guide you. We all go through breakups, stuff ups, low points in our career etc. During these uncertain times, focus on kindness and you’ll see how it will guide you back towards what you want. Kindness brings the people who can help you closer to you.
Exposure to stress equals growth. You can’t grow without a familiarity to pain, stress and unpleasant feelings.
You’ve got ten lifetimes ahead of you
Millennials are trying so hard to achieve every goal they have as quickly as they can. The reality is that we reinvent ourselves multiple times in our life and you’ve got time. Impatience will cloud your judgment and force you to make decisions you’ll later regret.
Slacking off makes you feel a little off
If you’re feeling guilty or like you’re not where you want to be, it’s probably because you’ve slackened off recently or you’re not putting in enough work. The solution for this is to do a solid day of work and you’ll start to feel yourself again. A good day’s work feels so good and there’s no substitute for it.
Remove the number 7 when you rank things
Using a 1–10 rating system to assess an action or a decision is a fantastic idea. We’ve all been asked to do this in surveys our whole life. The challenge is it’s easy to fall for indecision and to not say what you think because of a fear you might be judged.
Get better at making judgments by removing the number seven from your rankings. Number seven says “I’m not committing to a decision or haven’t thought about it enough.”
Inspired people have all the energy and fun
Being an inspiration and doing things that inspire you will give you everything you need. The physical limitations of older age can be forgotten about when you live an inspired life.
People love inspiration and it’s one of the best feelings in the world. Spend a large proportion of your time doing things that inspire you. It’s fun too!
The most fulfilled and effective people look at their life’s journey as perhaps 25 percent finding themselves and 75 percent creating themselves. It’s really worth noting that the 25% of finding yourself is just as important as the 75% of creating yourself. What Tim is really noting is that even if you know what you want, that’s only one small step in our hero’s journey.
Your energy is far more important than what you say.
We all do a hell of a lot of talking and that’s not what will get people to listen or notice you. The energy that you show up with- your passion, body language, positivity — is what will attract people to your vision and get them to join your tribe.
Energy makes us feel good. We’re drawn to people that make us feel good.
Creativity removes competition
When you’re in your creative zone, there is no one to beat, only yourself. No one has the exact same creative ideas as you so it’s the one field where you can’t compete and you’ll always win if you try and do better than before. When you’re creative, you render competition obsolete, because there is only one you, and no one can do things exactly the way you do.
Creativity is how you stand out and you should wear it on your sleeve. The world needs more creativity. Life is not a zero sum game. Don’t like the rules — create your own. Never will you find a well paved path to doing what you love.
I think it’s worth adding that inspiration can often come about by having a mindset shift. Want to find inspiration in working at a mini-mart while your a starving writer… then write a novel about all of the interesting people that you meet and their 5 second stories they tell you at the cash register.
Creating will be far more valuable to you than possessing. That’s because possessions are short-term, but anything you create has the potential to outlive you. Anything you create is uniquely you and it allows you to share your own set of gifts with the world. We need more creators if we want to push the human race forward.
Criticism means you are doing something meaningful
If you’ve never experienced any criticism while chasing your goal, you’ve probably not done anything overly meaningful or different. Push the boundaries and challenge the status quo with your goals. When the critics start talking, you’ll know you’re on the right track.
How you react is the only thing you can control. So, when bad stuff happens, you’re in control. You determine the reaction which will determine how you feel. Don’t make yourself feel bad when you have the power to react positively and feel good. We all have roughly the same set of bad situations that will occur in our life.
The heroes we look up to have just got better at reacting to these situations in a positive way. You can be one of those heroes.
You can have critics or you can be invisible — the choice is yours.
Trying to please everyone will make you invisible. Building a fan base of critics means you’re saying or doing something that is different. It’s easier to be different than it is to be better than your competition. With that said, the most progress you will make will be made by competing with yourself.
Success in your career has three components
They are to act civil, decent and kind. These three ways of behaving are superpowers for anyone wanting to have a long, successful and fulfilling career. They are uncommon and highly desirable. They’ll bring all the right people to your personal and business networks. Who you spend time with is who you’ll become.
Blaming, complaining and gossiping all lead to negativity
Whenever you start one of these behaviors, remember that the outcome is going to be the opposite of what you want. Everything you hate in life begins with these three behaviors. Negativity sucks the life out of you so you want to avoid actions that will lead you down this dead-end path.
Gratitude ends the struggle. It makes you see the good that’s in front of you which helps you deal with the struggles.
Future yes’s will cost you more
It’s easy to agree to do something in the future because there’s no cost right now. The annoying part is that you have to live with the regret in the meantime and you may need that time for something more important.
Every decision has a cost even if that cost is not redeemable right now.
It’s uncommon to be vulnerable
Because you have to share things that are embarrassing and things that scare you. You have to take away the mask and show all of yourself with the good parts and the not so good parts. Showing your weaknesses is challenging to do.
The act of being vulnerable makes you human and this trait will bring many more people closer to your vision or goal. I’ve seen firsthand what vulnerability can do on social media if it’s done with authenticity and comes from the right place.
Say your fears out loud. Knowing what they are and voicing them in front of others is the first step to overcoming them. Acknowledgement of the issue is the hardest part and once you know what you’re fearful of, you can take small steps to overcome it.
Research vs. improvising
The trouble with research is that it takes time and it’s easy to become obsessed with trying to know everything before you get to work and execute. Improvising is about tackling challenges head-on and being okay with not knowing the outcome.
Improvising is much quicker and allows you to adjust your approach with real-world feedback rather than researching and being reliant on someone else’s experience.Experiencing things for ourselves makes the lessons, strategies and “will to win” stay with us.
Your life must have a meaning
If your life doesn’t, you’ll feel off and do things to distract you from this unpleasant feeling. Those things that distract you usually come in the form of unhealthy addictions. Having a meaning for your life makes it so much easier to wake up each day and motivate yourself to do the best you can.
Where some see despair, is where you can see potential.
Certain industries may be down and that can be upsetting. That is a decision though and when you look in a particular area that’s negative or depressed, that’s where the most potential is and probably the least number of people who could take the opportunity for themselves.
Knowing nothing about an industry is your advantage in business
That means you don’t follow the rules or fall into the trap of trying to do things the old way. New ideas and strategies come from being a little naive and bringing the best of other industries to a field you know nothing about.
Getting consistent no’s means you’re onto something. It means you know something that everyone else doesn’t and you can see something that may be camouflaged to the average Joe. People only say no because they don’t understand. Once they understand, whatever you’re trying to do has probably been successfully done. That’s cool, it just means you’ll have some competition.
Getting yes’s all the time is like playing a video game on easy: it’s boring. The no’s bring challenges and that makes the success at the end of the road feel so much better and more fulfilling. If you want more fulfillment, tackle bigger challenges that involve more no’s.
Fantastic opportunities look unattractive at first
You’ll never necessarily predict where your big opportunity will come from. Most of the time these life-changing opportunities come from somewhere that looks unattractive in the beginning. Remain curious and don’t dismiss things too quickly.
Opportunities are presented to you for a reason and you never know which one will lead you to the thing you love or even to the people you end up appreciating the most. Open-mindedness is sexy!
You need plateaus to have giant gains
We’re addicted to seeing the huge leaps forward that our heroes and mentors have yet we don’t see the long stretches of nothingness, lack of progress and silence they experience before the pinnacles of their lives. During the times in our lives where we are making no progress, we are learning new behaviors which we’ll ultimately turn into new habits.
These new habits give us the foundation which leads us to transformation, and then onto the path to achieving our vision/dream.
Most of your hero’s success can’t be seen. That’s the part no one talks about or acknowledges.
This is described as a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ book, but it’s better than that. It’s a ‘flip-to-a-random-page-and-learn-something’ book, perfect for reading in short, daily doses. However, you can just as well filter the advice strategically, if you want to come up with a more elaborate plan. Tribe of Mentors feels like the book Tools of Titans should have been and for re-approaching that concept alone, Tim has once again earned my respect.
Call To Action
This book is not intended to be a passive experience. It’s intended to be a call to action.
You are the author of your own life, and it’s never too late to replace the stories you tell yourself and the world. It’s never too late to begin a new chapter, add a surprise twist, or change genres entirely.
Digital Dandy. Hacker From Heart. Workaholic. Coding Artist. Self-made.