Book Review – Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris

Tribe of mentorsI bought the Tribe of Mentors for myself as a gift, just to read something totally different from what I was currently reading and I didn’t regret it. I had never actually read any of Tim’s books before and I really enjoyed this one. The book is a chronicle of responses from a couple of questions Tim had asked a number of people successful in diverse fields ranging from business, entertainment, mysic and sport such as Craig Newmark of Craig’s List,  Steven Pinker, a psychology professor at Harvard, Whitney Cummings Co-Creator of CBS comedy, Two Broke Girls, Rick Rubin, a producer who’s worked with the likes of  Johnny Cash, Jay-z, Sheryl Crow and Shakira, and Ryan Shea, Co-Creator of BlockShack, a new decentralized internet where users control their data. While the response for each person is brief, they are really insightful. To say I have learnt a lot from this book is an understatement. 

Here are some of the questions Tim asked:

  • If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere, what would it say and why?
  • What is an unusual habit or absurd thing that you love?
  • What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
  • When you feel unfocused or overwhelmed, what do you do?
  • What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve made?
  • What advice would you give a smart driven college student about to enter the world? What advice should they ignore?
  • In the last five years what new belief, behaviour or habit has changed your life?
  • In the last five years what have you become better at saying no to? What new realizations and/or approaches helped?
  • How has failure or apparent failure set you up for later success? Do you have a favourite failure of yours?

Here are some of the statements from the book that left an impression on me. There are many more that I couldn’t write here:

Great opportunities never have great opportunity in the subject line.

Join a team not for what it is, but for what you can help it become.

Life’s greatest opportunities run on their own schedule, not yours.

Deep work for me means no interruptions or jumping around casually between tasks.

For me the realization was that I can add more value by going deep on a few things rather than engaging with a broad range of activities.

Most likely the problem won’t be around in a year, but my reputation of how I dealt with it will.

There’s something very liberating about being dirty, because then you don’t have to worry about getting dirty.

Only focus on things within your control. And if you don’t know what those things are, find someone who can tell you. 

Don’t network, just work.

Free yourself to try anything. The best ideas are revolutionary.

Be present…..The act of being present versus being preoccupied with the past or future can have a massive impact on our happiness.

Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

If you set a goal, it should meet these two conditions, 1) it matters, 2) you can influence the outcome.

When you stop caring about being right in the eyes of everyone – versus being right in your own eyes and the eyes of those who matter to you-it’s amazing how little you care to waste energy trying to convince people of your view.

I’ve realized that instead of following the trends, you want to identify the trends, but not follow them. It’s good to recognize the trends, but if you follow them, you get sucked into them, and then you also fall with the trend.

The lifetime cost of emotional isolation far exceeds the cost of occasional betrayal.

Failure will happen, and failure is an opportunity to build resilience, and to practice forgiveness of self and of others and to gain wisdom.

Discipline equals freedom.

Personal lessons from the book

  1. Write a gratitude list each day to focus on what you should be thankful for and not what did not go your way.
  2. Minimise or get out of social media. You won’t miss anything if you’re not there. Also focus on relationships where you can either benefit from someone or be a benefit to them.
  3. Create and share your ideas, don’t bother about people’s feedback, otherwise you will do nothing.
  4. When opportunities come your way, always ask yourself, is it a ‘need to have’ or ‘want to have’? Needs are what you pursue. But think about ‘wants’ before going for them.
  5. Be yourself and not a fake to please people.
  6. Do daily journalling. When you track your daily behaviour, it creates a sense of sense awareness that can help you to improve in certain areas.

 







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Prepare yourself to say NO

There is no doubt that one of the most difficult things for us to do is say NO to people. For instance we want to say NO to being part of that project our manager has volunteered us for, but we sheepishly say yes. Or we don’t want to follow our spouse to that party because we would rather rest at home, but we still say yes. What about saying No to yet another request for another toy from your daughter. You know she’s only going to use it for three days before something else catches her attention. What do you say to that? Yes. The “want to say NO but end up saying yes” goes on and on and on for us. We all have areas in our lives where we would rather say NO but still say yes. 

One of the best things we can do in such cases is prepare ourselves to say NO. William Ury has a great framework for how to do this. He wrote about it in his book called, The Power of a Positive NO. You can read my review of the book here. The steps in Ury’s framework are:

  1. Uncover your YES.
  2. Empower your NO.
  3. Respect your way to YES.

In coming posts I will briefly introduce each step.

Ten quotes to get you respecting

William Ury has been teaching me about respecting others and that’s even if people disrespect me. These ten quotes from his book, The Power Of a Positive No, really resonated with me and have really made me think about the importance of respecting others. Let me share them with you.

  1. Before we can truly give respect to the other, we need to give respect to ourselves because it allows our respect for the other to be genuine.
  2. Some people didn’t like the ceremonious style, writes Churchill. But after all, when you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to he polite.
  3. Respect does not mean liking the other personally – because you may not. It does not mean doing what the other wants – because you are about to do the opposite. What respect does mean is simply to give value to the other as a human being just as you would like others to give value to you.
  4. To be respected means to be seen and to be heard – every human being deserves that chance.
  5. Basic respect begins with concrete behaviours, such as listening and acknowledging, which may (or may not) lead to genuine feelings of respect. The important thing for the moment is to act with respect, whatever your feelings may be.
  6. When I’m dealing with an armed criminal, my first rule of thumb is to be polite (from a police officer).
  7. An obvious reason to give respect to the other is because it works.
  8. Respect, in short is the key that opens the door to the other’s mind and heart.
  9. When we respect the other, we give ourselves the opportunity to look again at someone whom fear and anger may have kept us from seeing fully.
  10. Respect, in the sense I am using it here, is not something that needs to be earned by virtue of good behaviour; every human being deserves it simply by virtue of being human.



    Make friends to destroy enemies

    Books certainly teach us great lessons and here is one lesson I really like from Getting To Yes With Yourself by William Ury.

    On one occasion in the White House when Lincoln was speaking sympathetically of the plight of the South, a Yankee patriot took him to task. “Mr. President,” she decried, “how dare you speak kindly of our enemies when you ought to he thinking of destroying them?” Lincoln paused and addressed the angry patriot: “Madam,” he asked, “do I not destroy my enemies when I turn them into my friends”

    On this William commented that:

    Taking a lesson from Lincoln, we might look around and ask ourselves if there are any “enemies” in our lives whom we can “destroy” by turning them into our friends.

    I believe the lesson speaks for itself.

    Listen before you speak

    Nowadays I’m learning to listen to people’s story before speaking. Instead of jumping straight to judge people’s behaviour, I want to try and understand clearly the motivations behind their behaviour. And I’m not doing very well. It’s really difficult and to succeed at it I need to practice a lot.

    Unfortunately we live in a world that encourages us to judge people without understanding their full story. The number one culprit that promotes this behaviour is the media. We get given information everyday which in most cases tells us only one side of the story or doesn’t furnish us with the history that led to the story and we believe.

    Next time you decide to say something judgemental about someone because of their behaviour. Pause for a second and ask yourself, what’s behind this behaviour? Maybe, just maybe that will help you to suspend your judgement and listen to the person.