The (in)famous Timothy Ferriss got me started on self-improvement with his breakout The 4-Hour Work Week. The book had me seriously scrutinizing my work and effort in ways that made me who I am today.
However, not just one of the best books by Tim, but one of the best books I’ve ever come across (I, who consume some 20 or so books a month [audiobooks FTW]) is the “short life advice” in Tribe of Mentors. Having gathered dozens of top performers, gurus, experts, and objectively pinnacles of humanity, these folks provide advice for goals and life.
What would this look like if it were easy?Timothy Ferriss
The book is well worth a read (it’s one of the few I keep in hardcopy and also loan to friends), the above being the first highlight I made in the tome. Though filled with wisdom throughout, there are ten themes that come up again and again. Don’t take it from me that getting after these will change your life – really work them out, say, over two weeks each. The results will help what is an ultimate goal of life: Wellbeing.
The following are in a suggested order I came up with in my own experience, in which the latter build off of the former for a positively escalating domino effect.
A [person] is rich in proportion to the number of things [they] can leave alone.Henry David Thoreau, Renown Natural Philosopher
Decluttering, reducing, trimming, following the edge of Occam’s Razor – however it is called, simplicity reduces noise that distracts, confounds, induces anxiety and worry, and makes a person objectively weaker.
Going without the unimportant is the hallmark of greatness. This doesn’t mean taking the things found to be important for granted. Challenge those things. It is up to them to prove useful to you and the world.
Simplicity is the first suggestion for you to try as it makes all else easier. It is also the hardest thing to do, as you will strive to simplify and stay simplified forever.
2. Long-Term Yeses and Nos
Say “yes” to long-term activities and people who are of benefit to you, say “no” to everything else.
This echoes the first principle of simplicity, and it will require as great of courage and discipline to follow.
You must be selfish enough on behalf of your future self. Simply put: Practice delayed gratification.
Doing the leveraged, compounding move instead of the emotional ‘feels good right now’ commitment, even if that’s helping other people, is the smarter, kinder thing to do for yourself. It’s putting the cart before the horse, attempting fix the future of others or the world without first having done the hard work to make yourself an avatar worthy of emulation.
Not sure what is useful long-term? Tim and other minds offer strategies to figure this out, such as doing a Pareto evaluation of the best/worst people and activities, or as I would simply suggest: If you don’t feel it’s a “hell yes,” then it’s a hard “no.”
You must act, you must do. Now.
Nothing Good will occur from stagnation. The very universe itself through entropy would rip your very atoms apart, let alone other living things that realize they must act so would take your lifeblood. And that is a natural justice.
So start. Use your head and hands to make something of yourself and the world.
(Need a place to start? Pyscologist Jordan Peterson has this advice: “Clean up your room.”)
Sleep, or rest in general, makes you a better person.
Sleep cleanses toxins, balances biological systems, and allows your body to repair and grow and prepare for the day to come. Before diet, before exercise, having quality sleep (this does not specify quantity) comes first.
Keep in mind that this is not ‘doing nothing.’ Conscious, purposeful, prepared for rest is an act admirable to the principle above, if not more so in today’s workaholic, masochistic-labor-enthroning world (said as a recovering workaholic myself).
Quality suggestions: Cold room, no light, no work/surfing/lounging in bed.
5. No (Added) Sugars
A still raging obesity and diabetic epidemic requires this to be iterated again: Cut the sugars.
This recurring theme in Tribe of Mentors is less about adding to your abilities and more of removing the cap on your wellness and potential. Removing excess sugar will immediately improve your weight, acne, hunger, cardiovascular ability, bodily energy, and mental clarity, to name a few benefits.
A word of warning: A quick reduction in sweetness may give withdrawals, since sugar seems to have a more addictive effect on the brain than cocaine.
Also put as ‘reflection,’ taking the time to be at peace inside your own head both refreshes, clarifies, calms, and readies you with the means to tackle your goals.
It’s about being a stronger version of you. If [it] gets real, you know you could kill and eat everyone in the room which will make you feel more confident.Scott Galloway, Economist and Professor
Your body is the only one you have and is the only thing you may rely on in the moment. It will also be the last thing to fail before you die.
You know the benefits of exercise: you become faster, stronger, longer lasting, more attractive, more confident, better. So do it and become better at it.
Side note: Exercise may also prove to be an avenue of meditation for you, so the sixth and seventh principles roll into one!
8. Zoom Out, Slow Down
Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask.Timothy Ferriss
Forgo being ‘busy.’ You cannot know your destination or if your direction is correct if you do not pause, breath, look around where you are, and look up ahead to where you want to be.
If you don’t know where you need to go, or don’t care where you’ve been or are, going carelessly, blindly, may be especially disastrous! My request would be for you to at least stay out of the way.
- Swimming from a sinking boat without first knowing where land is.
- Running the wrong way in the wrong race at the wrong time.
- Walking in circles.
- Trying the same thing, expecting different results.
9. (Gratitude) Journal
It’s important to give credit where credit is due, especially when you and I live in objectively the best times in history ever.
We as humans have a hard time recognizing that, since a negative experience has more than three times the impact on our psyche.
Though important, gratitude is only a part of this theme. There’s an effect called “Rubber Ducking” that helps you fix your problems and gain insight without needing someone around. If you talk to a thing, even if it’s to your journal, and you’re allowed to work through the situation, a solution or next step is much more likely to appear!
So record the Good things. Appreciate. Go back to find patterns of things you can replicate (or negatives you can avoid). Recall the Good times in the darkest times. And figure out your problems.
10. Fats and Proteins
That ‘fat is bad’ is bunk. Your brain is fat and works better with more of it. You also require proteins for your cells to operate, more so if you’ve been exercising.
This last theme in Tribe of Mentors holds to it that fats and proteins are the key to your diet to increase thinking and performance while maximizing health benefits.
After you make sure you have enough fat and protein, hit the veggies (though you already know that 😁).
These ten recurring themes that come up again and again from top performers craft those that follow the principles into better people. So start here if you’ve yet to get after what you want or need help figuring it out.
If you’re already on the path to accomplishment, may these be a friendly reminder of the tools you have at your disposal for optimal performance. Share with your fellows so they might improve themselves should they be so inclined.
What has worked for you? What would you add to a beginner’s guide to life? I’m listening.