The pit of despair

When—despite your best efforts—you feel like you’re losing at the game of life, remember: Even the best of the best sometimes feel this way. When I’m in the pit of despair, I recall what iconic writer Kurt Vonnegut said about his process: “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” Don’t overestimate the world and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think. And you are not alone.

~ Tim Ferriss

slip:4a963.

Priorities

Lack of time is lack of priorities. If I’m “busy,” it is because I’ve made choices that put me in that position, so I’ve forbidden myself to reply to, “how are you?” with “busy.” I have no right to complain. Instead, if I’m too busy, it’s a cue to reexamine my systems and rules.

~ Tim Ferriss

slip:4a954.

Smallest possible pieces

Excellence is the next five minutes, improvement is the next five minutes, happiness is the next five minutes. This doesn’t mean you ingore planning. I encourage you to make ambitious plans. Just rememeber that the big-beyond-belief things are accomplished when you deconstruct them into the smallest possible pieces and focus on each “moment of impact,” one step at a time.

~ Tim Ferriss

slip:4a801.

The power broker

To paraphrase Jim [Loehr]: The power broker in your life is the voice that no one ever hears. How well you revisit the tone and content of your private voice is what determines the quality of your life. It is the master storyteller, and the stories we tell ourselves are our reality. For instance, how do you speak to yourself when you make a mistake that upsets you? Would you speak that way to a dear freind when they’ve made a mistake? If not, you have work to do. Trust me, we all have work to do.

~ Tim Ferriss, but see also, https://tim.blog/2020/12/28/jim-loehr-2/

slip:4a806.

A simple recipe

Based on everything I’ve seen, a simple recipe can work: Focus on what’s in front of you, design great days to create a great life, and try not to make the same mistake twice. That’s it. Stop hitting net balls and try something else, perhaps even the opposite. If you really want extra credit, try not to be a dick, and you’ll be a Voltron-level superstar.

~ Tim Ferriss

slip:4a811.

Tribe of Mentors

Ferriss’s Tribe of Mentors was published in 2017, and arrived in my collection as a gift in 2018. It took me three years—until 2021, March of this year in fact—before I was finally ready to read it. I have a couple, (and “couple” always means two,) of things to say about the book.

Excellence is the next five minutes, improvement is the next five minutes, happiness is the next five minutes. This doesn’t mean you ingore planning. I encourage you to make ambitious plans. Just rememeber that the big-beyond-belief things are accomplished when you deconstruct them into the smallest possible pieces and focus on each “moment of impact,” one step at a time.

~ Tim Ferriss

slip:4a801.

As I was reading, I marked about 50 quotes. I didn’t count the markers I inserted, and some of them are at sections with several quotes. There are quotes from the people in the book, there are quotes that Ferriss included in single-page, “quotes I’m pondering” section breaks, and there are precisely three quotes from Ferriss himself. (All three are here, in this post.)

The first thing I want to share about this book is that it’s not really Ferriss’s book. He didn’t write a book. The vast bulk is other people’s work and writing. Some of those people impressed me, some were “just” solid humans being their best, and some struck me as self-deluded; which makes it a superlative book. Where—let’s be honest—can one get insight on 100 different people and tuck it under your arm? Insight on people you’ve heard of, people you’ve not yet heard of, and even some people you’ll probably never care to hear of. Furthermore, having myself done a bunch of, “you’re just capturing what other people say,” work, I’m qualified to say: He did the deceptively difficult work of asking. He asked and followed up and nudged and organized (and indexed and cross-indexed) and cast light on people he thought were worth giving a platform.

To paraphrase Jim [Loehr]: The power broker in your life is the voice that no one ever hears. How well you revisit the tone and content of your private voice is what determines the quality of your life. It is the master storyteller, and the stories we tell ourselves are our reality. For instance, how do you speak to yourself when you make a mistake that upsets you? Would you speak that way to a dear freind when they’ve made a mistake? If not, you have work to do. Trust me, we all have work to do.

~ Tim Ferriss, but see also, https://tim.blog/2020/12/28/jim-loehr-2/

slip:4a806.

Which brings me to the second thing: There’s a very slim section hiding at the back. If I noted its existence when I read the Table of Contents, (I always read Tables of Contents,) six months later I’d certinaly forgotten the section existed. I could very easily have put the book down most of the way through and completely missed it. If you read nothing else in the book, this last section is the part you should read. I checked and it’s not published as a blog post by Ferriss, (but it’s small enough it could be.) Borrow or buy the book if just to read the last section.

Based on everything I’ve seen, a simple recipe can work: Focus on what’s in front of you, design great days to create a great life, and try not to make the same mistake twice. That’s it. Stop hitting net balls and try something else, perhaps even the opposite. If you really want extra credit, try not to be a dick, and you’ll be a Voltron-level superstar.

~ Tim Ferriss

slip:4a811.

If you’ve not already guessed, all three of those quotes from Ferriss are from the last section of the book.

ɕ

slip:2ti1a.

Now I feel like I can read this book

The things that worked out weren’t _supposed_ to work, so I realized on my birthday: I had no plan for after 40. As often happens at forks in the path—college graduation, quarter-life crisis, midlife crisis, kids leaving home, retirement—questions started to bubble to the surface.

~ Tim Ferris from, Tribe of Mentors

If you’ve not heard of this book, my pull-quote is from Tim’s Introduction… eight lines into the book. The book is 597 pages, and the pages of the book—not including the hard covers, just the pages—are 1-and-three-quarters inches thick. It’s can serve as a functional foot-rest in a pinch. (But interestingly, not as a doorstop since it’s mysteriously light for its size. I keep wondering if the back half of the book is hollowed out, as in a prison escape movie, hiding a whoopie-cushion full of Helium.)

Anyway, if you’ve not heard of this book, find a copy and start reading the Introduction.

This book arrived in our house November, 2018. I started into it and it is, as one would hope, chock full of stupidly interesting ideas from so many different people. I got through 64 pages before, for some reason which I only just today realized, I put it down one evening. And then I didn’t pick it back up for, well, two years. I mean I moved it around a lot, but whatever it was that made me _want_ to read the book, there was something else that made me _not_ want the book.

You ever have sand slipping through your fingers? I didn’t realize it, (until today,) but that’s what made me walk away from the book. Yes there’s some malarky and woo-wu in the book; But there’s so much that I want to dig further into. Back in 2018, what was I going to do with that? …blog about every other page? Instinctively I knew that wouldn’t do _me_ much good.

But today? Today I’m comfortable knowing that I can bump into ideas, mull them over, and produce a contextualized, reduced to something I’m interested, idea… and drop that into the Slipbox.

ɕ

Learning to say no

How to Say “No” Gracefully and Uncommit (#328)

This is a two-chapter excerpt from a book, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown, a book about being an essentialist.

At the beginning of 2018 I latched onto the idea that by saying, “yes,” to something I am cutting off a nearly infinite number of opportunities. Whereas by saying, “no,” I am cutting off just one opportunity and leaving space for a nearly infinite number of other opportunities. That makes, “no,” the obviously better default answer, yes?

ɕ

Faith nevertheless

…when you look at everything that goes wrong historically, you can see a deep chain of continuous mistakes that lead up to it. And in a way, that’s really discouraging because it makes you think about each step leading to greater consequences. But on the other hand, it’s really encouraging because if you think about it and you think about, “Oh, wait. What if you do something right? And you do something right right now, you’re starting a whole other chain of events that can lead to a really positive outcome.” And so, his point when he was making the statement which was more or less that is even if things seem like they’re going in the wrong direction or things seem really wrong, you can stop, and you can do something small that’s right.

~ Nick Thompson, Editor-In-Chief of WIRED, from, https://tim.blog/2018/04/27/nick-thompson-editor-in-chief-of-wired/

Not only the studying and writing of history but also the honoring of it both represent affirmations of a certain defiant faith — a desperate, unreasoning faith, if you will — but faith nevertheless in the endurance of this threatened world — faith in the total essentiality of historical continuity.

~ George Kennan, The New York Times (27 May 1984), from, https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/George_F._Kennan

This was a great interview where they spent a lot time talking about how writing really works, how good stories get written, and how good editors make or break publications. A long listen, but for me, it was a delightful glimpse into a new world.

ɕ