Tim Ferriss’ new book Tribe of Mentors is a compilation of advice from some of the best in the world.
They come from the most diverse backgrounds, including CrossFit Games champions (both male and female winners), authors like Steven Pressfield, bloggers like Tim Urban, ultra-successful investors like Ray Dalio, and performance psychologists Michael Gervais and Jim Loehr. Not to mention Jimmy Fallon, Tim McGraw, and Tony Hawk.
Several years of interviewing has led Tim to craft a series of 11 questions meant to prompt actionable advice. Tim has sequenced each question in a way meant to yield deeper responses each time, hoping to “tease out” the tidbits of information that have propelled these individuals to the top of their fields.
This is not an easy endeavor, because high performers are masters of doing and even Pressfield, who authored one of the most popular creative self-help books of all-time, struggles to describe the journey that took him from unemployed screenwriter to master of craft.
You’ll notice immediately that the process is different for everyone. But if you look below the surface, you will notice that there is always a process, borne out of necessity and self-awareness.
Tribe of Mentors has been a sort of reading companion and has helped me to develop some ideas and create new ones. (For this, I use the notetaking system that I adopted from Robert Greene and Ryan Holiday).
ENTER TERRY CREWS
While reading Mentors, I have often flickered to the names I recognize and admire. However, I have been also reading it from cover to cover to ensure that I read the entire book while simultaneously rereading and reviewing the notes that I have already accumulated (similarly, I borrowed the idea of marginalia).
This process is what led me to the profile of Terry Crews. Everyone knows who he is, the dancing muscle guy from the Old Spice commercials and through his various acting gigs. He is nearly impossible not to notice.
However, his responses in Mentors was bar none the piece I found to be most inspirational.
For example, he makes a note of inspiration itself:
Creativity operates differently. You work hard because you’re inspired to, not because you have to. Work becomes fun, and you have energy for days because this life is not a “young man’s game.” It is an “inspired person’s game.” The keys belong to whoever is inspired, and no specific age, sex, gender, or cultural background has a monopoly on inspiration. – Terry Crews
Let the enormity of those words sink in. Life is not a “young person’s game,” it is an “inspired person’s game.” Often times it seems like youthfulness is the source of energy we crave but it is not — what we need is inspiration.
That is why younger people seem to have more energy, they are acting on inspiration; driven by a dream, idea, ambition or simply the will to succeed. That is why many older people lack energy — they are bored, sullen, sick (fat), trapped, and very much uninspired.
They lack the keys and the keys, belong to whoever is inspired.
INSPIRATION TO COURAGE
“God will not have his work made manifest by cowards.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Crews response to Tim’s “billboard question” was another thought provoker. The idea of courage is ever-present and it is omnipotent. To some degree, everyone understands that courage is a necessity to succeed.
But what is courage exactly and how does it manifest? Crews’ explanation is simple: courage is all about defeating fear.
Every great and extraordinary accomplishment in this world was done through courage. Hell, you don’t even get to be born unless your mother has the courage to have you. I repeat this phrase when I’m anxious or nervous about something. I ask myself, what’s the worst that can happen. Usually, the answer is, “You can die.” Then I answer back, “I’d rather die doing something I feel is great and amazing rather than be safe and comfortable living a life I hate.
THE POWER OF SELF-TALK
Crews is heavily vested in self-talk. The power of this practice is immense but its application is not so simple. Besides the example from the quote above, Crews also uses “imaginary great-grandchildren.” He talks to them and asks them about decisions and relationships and it is this practice that enables him to cut negative relationships. Cutting relationships is difficult because you may feel like you could be missing something and often times it is easier to just keep negative people around. Crews is adamant in stating that even one wrong person could destroy your whole future.
This comes from a realization that there is more to life than just one person or one moment: “It’s the realization that there is a “will to pleasure,” a “will to power,” and, in the words of Viktor Frankl, a “will to meaning.”
Like many of his other musings, his advice on missing something (or not being patient): “Ignore any advice that tells you you are going to miss something. Every mistake I have ever made in business, marriage, and personal conduct was because I thought if I didn’t do or get this now, it was never going to happen.”
Mentors and Tim’s previous book, Tools of Titans, is chocked full of book recommendations. What’s interesting is that Crews recommends three books that have grounded his mindset and perspective:
♦ The Master Key System by Charles Haanel is one of the preeminent self-development books of all-time. First published in 1910, it has stood the test of time and has since been foundational for other classics such as Think and Grow Rich and The Secret. The way Crews references this book makes it clear that it is his source of clarity, the guiding hand that has paved his way to success: “It revealed to me that we only get what we desire most, and to apply myself with a laserlike focus upon a goal, task, or project. That in order to “have” you must “do,” and in order to “do,” you must “be”- and this process is immediate.”
♦ Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is perhaps the most influential book of the 20th Century. It is the most referenced book in Mentors and has been a source of inspiration for practically anyone that reads it. The reason is that it provides perspective and it helps people realize that they have the ability to impact, change, disrupt, and alter their own lives by giving it meaning. The most profound observation from Frankl was that prisoners stayed alive only if they were able to give their existence meaning, in a place and time where there was little promise for anything else except death.
♦ You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney also helps to provide Crews with perspective. McRaney is a successful blogger that writes about how much you don’t know and how dumb you really are. It is a journey into the wild and random facts of life but it is unmatched in revealing how little control you actually have. It is a reminder to maintain awareness at all times, to always ask yourself if what you are doing is conducive to what you want and to realize that your brain is not always right. “Picking out clusters of coincidence is a predictable malfunction of a normal human mind.” – www.youarenotsosmart.com
The idea for this book stemmed from Tim’s realization that he didn’t have much of a plan for his life past its current point. He asked himself repeatedly, “what would it look like if it were easy?”
This was a sort of self-reflection on what he needed to do next in life, which must have been difficult considering his current streak of successful endeavors.
The answer was to assemble a Tribe of Mentors. There is so much good advice, tidbits of helpful information, and anecdotes that have worked time and time again for the best in the world. I cannot recommend this resource enough.
(click on image to get a copy on Amazon!)
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