Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, recently came out with a new book, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers.It’s based on his podcast for which he has interviewed more than 200 world-class achievers, such as Jamie Foxx and Arnold Schwarzenegger as well as athletes, a legendary Special Operations commander and black-market biochemists.
But it’s not just the people he interviews who are impressive. He is, too! He’s been listed as one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Business People,” one of Forbes’s “Names You Need to Know,” and one of Fortune’s “40 under 40.” He is also an early-stage technology investor/advisor with companies like Uber, Facebook, Shopify, Duolingo, Alibaba, and more.
Ferriss’ interviews have revealed patterns in the habits of “titans.” Here are six that particularly stood out:
The most consistent routine or habit among Ferriss’ guests was committing to some form of daily meditation or mindfulness practice. In fact, more than 80% embraced this as a crucial part of their day. Several use Tara Brach’s “Smile Meditation 2010” audio. Others use apps like Headspace or guided meditations from Sam Harris, PhD. The idea is to start your day by practicing focus when it doesn’t really matter; sitting on a couch for 10 minutes is one example. Focusing when it doesn’t matter helps you focus when it does — such as during a business negotiation or intense conversation.
2. Spec Work Pays Off
Many of us kick ourselves for doing “spec” work — you know, the work you’ve done for free to show a potential client what you could do if given a chance. It turns out that nearly all of those Ferriss has interviewed have done spec work. While we all need to maintain a healthy bottom line, getting your name “in the hat” is sometimes the first step toward landing that dream client.
3. Work on Weaknesses
Exceptional people aren’t afraid to name and claim their weaknesses — and then turn work diligently to turn them into strengths. Sometimes entrepreneurs shy away from addressing these areas, confident their strengths will be enough to carry them through. But that’s not always a wise or sustainable approach. Make a plan to keep learning and developing weak skills to that, even if they never reach “expert” level, you’ll have a more solid foundation upon which to build.
4. Calm Down
Need to settle your nerves? Everyone does from time to time — even the most successful people. How do they do it? Ferriss says some high achievers use what has come to be known as “star therapy.” They look at the stars and ask certain questions to decrease anxiety and gain perspective. This technique is also used by memory champions, hospice-care doctors and others.
5. Minimize Fears
To de-risk a situation, practice imagining what the worst-case scenario would look like. Doing so decreases your fear of taking risks. Once you imagine what “losing it all” would feel and look like, it oddly ceases to control your decisions. You’ve already “lived” in that reality and know you could handle it, which is empowering in the face of real risk or overwhelming odds.
Need to focus? Ferriss found that many people listen to a single song over and over again. Music mentioned ranged from The Glitch Mob to “The Last of the Mohicans” soundtrack. Others turn to nature sounds, white noise — or complete silence. Whatever works for you, commit to finding focus daily to maximize output and boost job satisfaction.
Get control of your future with productive, tested habits that will give you an edge over the crowd. Which ones will you try?