Never meet your heroes…
Or at least that’s what some people say. Despite this advice, I decided it was worth a shot.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to see Tim Ferriss record a recent podcast for his new book, Tools of Titans.
Tim’s always been a hero of mine, so I jumped at the chance of seeing him speak in person. And I wasn’t disappointed when I showed up and saw Ramit Sethi, Josh Waitzkin, and Adam Robinson on stage with him.
Success is defined by more than just the supplements you put in your body. It’s also the books you read, the people you spend time with, and the events you attend.
These four guys shared some great advice at the event and I wanted to pass a few pieces along to you. If you like what you read or want to hear more, you can listen to the full podcast episode that they recorded right here.
Some Key Takeaways
Deep work is the key to success
Large levels of success require large levels of concentration. You can’t expect to write a book, build a website, or finish any other intensive project if you’re constantly getting distracted while you work. Working in a distraction free environment lets you get into that sweet spot and increase your output and results exponentially.
Tim recommends shutting off your phone and all other distractions, going to a quiet place where you can focus, and then working on a single goal for 3-5 hours.
Cutting out distractions helps you focus on deep work. But deep work isn’t possible if your brain is fried from making too many decisions during the day.
Brain power is limited. Don’t waste it
We can only make so many decisions each day. Why would you want to waste any of them on small things like finding your car keys or deciding what to eat for dinner? You can free up a lot of your brain power by adding systems to your life.
When you want to be massively successful, you want to save as much brain power as you can for the important tasks. Why do you think people like Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg stick to a few simple outfits?
But Jake, I don’t want to automate everything in my life. I want variety, not boringness and monotony. Ramit answers this fear in an interview he did.
“Discipline gives you freedom. You’re actually present in the moment, freeing you to come up with better ideas. Systemizing your life gives you breathing room to make decisions, splurge, or indulge.” – Ramit Sethi
I recommend starting small and working your way up. Start putting your car keys in the same place every day so you don’t have to worry about finding them. Pick out your outfit the night before so you’re not scrambling in the morning. Do meal prep at the beginning of each week so you’re not worried about cooking when you come home exhausted from work.
Put as much of your life as you can on autopilot. Leave room and brain power to focus on the most important things.
The ball bearings philosophy
If you needed money to pay rent by next week, would you apply for a job that has a thousand applicants or a job that has twelve? It may seem common sense, but this principle applies to other areas of life and most of us don’t even notice it.
Take being an expert in a field. It’s a lot easier to be the best in the world at something if less people are trying to achieve it. If you’re interested in copywriting and dog training, there’s going to be a lot less competition in becoming a top 10% dog trainer than there is in becoming a top 10% copywriter.
At the podcast recording, Adam Robinson said that he was given the advice to pursue ball bearings. Uhhh….What? Ball bearings, seriously?
It may sound silly, but if you look past the humor, you can see the brilliance behind this advice.
Fields like programming and advertising are constantly growing and changing. It’s hard to stay ahead of the curve. But ball bearings. No one is working on “cutting edge” ball bearings. It’s a lot easier to revolutionize a field that’s sliding under the radar and going unnoticed. Casper realized this and is working on changing the mattress industry. It’s not too late to jump into a less crowded field that you’re interested in.
And if you don’t want to aim for the obscure, you can aim for the top instead.
In a past blog post, Tim talked about how unrealistic goals are actually easier to reach than realistic goals.
So many people convince themselves that their large goals are unobtainable. But in doing this, they’re also ensuring that nobody is competing to reach these goals.
If you’re stuck thinking of what ideas to pursue, try following James Altucher’s lead and have idea sex.
James writes about idea sex and working on the intersection of multiple ideas. To bring back the example of copywriting and dog training, if you don’t want to pick the less crowded field, why not combine the two topics? Copywriting about dog training would combine two things you love and put you in a very small and specific niche. You can take two things you’re good at and become great at their intersection.
Pursue the obscure, aim for the top, or dabble with idea sex. Find an area that no one else is competing in and be the best in that area.
Don’t Be 30 before you’re 30
Lastly, know this. It’s ok if some advice doesn’t make sense or you’re not ready for it. You can come back to that advice later. As Ramit Sethi would put it, don’t be 30 before you’re 30. There’s a time and a place for everything, and you may have more of the process to go through before you reach the place you want to be. No one becomes a multi-millionaire or a professional athlete overnight. You wouldn’t head to the gym and try to bench 350 your first time. Put in the consistent effort. Improving as little as 1% a day can have some massive results.
Thanks for reading,
Jake at Ignite
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