5 Keys for Personal Achievement According to Tim Ferriss

According to Tim Ferriss, achievement is gained through a refocus of priorities and a change in mindset.

Tim Ferriss has been listed as one of FAST Company’s “Most Innovative Business People.”  Tim is also an angel investor to startups and invested in companies such as Uber, Facebook, Shopify, Alibaba, and 50+ others.  He is an author of several books, including several bestsellers.

When asked about how people can achieve great success in what they desire, Tim isn’t shy about giving his advice.   Odds are, the more you implement the following points shared, the more you will reach and achieve your goals.

Question Assumptions and the Norm

How often do we follow what the crowd is doing or do what the majority of people do?  Tim challenges this way of thinking when it’s appropriate and has found results that prove it.

At the time of the interview, he was in the process of reducing his network rather than growing it.  Same as in the reduction of book reading.  He believes in obtaining information and relationships as more “just in time information and relationships” versus “just in case information and relationships” where you read a lot of material on things to gain information just in case you may need it.

In setting his mindset, he values “the ability to completely question any type of assumption or best practice in any industry. Nothing is sacred.”  Furthermore, he mentions the most successful people he knows “are perfectly happy to turn everything upside down.”

Another example Tim provides is within the corporate environment.  The culture of an organization can be anyway the founders or stakeholders deem it to be and to fit the best-suited employees into that culture.  So, if a company wants to conduct in a way that isn’t so “warm and fuzzy” but more of a “military” structure, then employees need to know what they are signing up for. 

One more example is in the creating and building of a company.  The current mindset out there is that to be successful; you need to have an office and raise money.  Counterexample: look at a company like Automattic (which powers WordPress.com).  The company has a completely distributed workforce all over the world.  The company has no central office and is now worth billions.

Seek Your Own Role Models

With more and more social media platforms, comparing yourself to other people that appear to have more achievement or success is commonplace today.  Tim challenges this view by modeling himself after people he admires and respects.

Tim states that “The desire and impulse to compare yourself to others is a part of being human.”  However, it’s the way we do it that can be manifested into positive results versus negative

Tim restates an idea that is very popular in Silicon Valley:  “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with….financially, physically, emotionally, and so on.”

Therefore, try to choose your inner circle very carefully.  The more you expose yourself with other people you admire, you naturally start to model yourself after them. 

Create personal disruptors in situations where you know you have a weakness.  When you need to refocus, think of the people you admire and ask yourself:  “What would they do in this situation.” 

You can also get these characteristics from books. Read about those whom you think highly of to glean more characteristics to model. 

The end goal is to model yourself after world-class performers for the characteristics you want in a holistic fashion.

Energy and Attention Management

It’s important to think not just time management.  But more on “energy and attention management.”  Tim mentions that you can have all of the time in the world but, if you are distracted or preoccupied with something that just happened, then your current state of time is gone. 

For instance, if you check your work email on Saturday morning even though you promised yourself, you would check on Monday, and learn about problems, your weekend is mostly gone with the anticipation of the new work week.

Tim mentions, “Time is worthless without attention and energy.”  Really successful people know the value of the difference.

Tim adds, “to do anything great, you have to say ‘no’ to a thousand small “yes’s.”   In other words, you need to learn to say no to a lot of things that are not aligned to your goals and priorities. 

Warren Buffett echos this with the following quote: “You’ve gotta keep control of your time and you can’t unless you say no. You can’t let people set your agenda in life.”

Lastly, Tim says: “You have to get comfortable saying no to almost everyone and recognize that there’s no one path to success.  But the path to failure is certainly trying to make everyone happy.”

Develop Grit

Why do some people skyrocket and others plummet?  How people view mistakes and failures in life is the sole determinant in the success and achievement factors.  Exposing yourself to making mistakes and learning from them is extremely important for all facets of life. 

Tim’s definition of grit:

“Progressively exposing yourself to discomfort in different ways that makes you more comfortable with plowing through pain or temporary embarrassment.” 

Tim add to this by saying that “you have to have some comfort with discomfort.”  Life will force you to go through periods of time of great stress and how you respond to it makes you the person you are. 

Stress can also be internal or external.  It’s a good practice to do one thing every day you fear.  Make it a habit to expose yourself to situations that make you nervous, fearful, and vulnerable.  Over time, you will learn to adjust and overcome these feelings as you adapt. 

As John Maxwell wrote in his book “Failing Forward”: “The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.”

Tim also mentions showing gratitude can also help adjust the feeling of being vulnerable.  Reach out to people you care and love and tell them ‘thank you.”  Do it with a colleague at work, a neighbor, and friends.  Do this one thing every day, and incredible benefits will be realized over time.  

Tim adds: “These tiny micro-changes, cumulatively, can just produce monstrous productivity.”

Be Yourself

Finally, when asked what makes someone unmistakable, he describes a person that is being themselves and “being different and just better.”   This is done by knowing thyself and being true to yourself. 

Tim goes on and says: “Be that weird person which is yourself. You’re not normal. No one is normal.  No such thing. Embrace the things that make you unique, and even if you view them as weaknesses.”

So being consistent and true to yourself with the goal of exposing yourself to vulnerabilities, failure, and learning along the way will produce huge benefits down the road. 

The opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect the official position of my current or prior employers or its partners or customers.

Source: Podcast – Best of: Making the Impossible Possible with Tim Ferriss:

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