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Read Like a Gent: Tribe of Mentors, by Tim Ferriss
"The quality of your life is a direct reflection of the quality of the questions you are asking yourself" is a quote from Tony Robbins, and a philosophy that Tim Ferriss lives by, as shown in his most recent book, Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World. The book features precisely that, advice from top performers across a specific set of questions. Chapters vary anywhere between 2 and 20 pages, across more than 100 individuals. The book may look daunting, at just under 600 pages, but a few chapters a day is exactly how the book should be read, and at that rate, you'll be through it in no time.
It's important to note that Tim is proposing that these are "the" questions you have to ask yourself to progress in life. He's learned from hundreds of interviews for his highly rated podcast just what questions can get to the heart of an individual and generate some actionable ideas.
- What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
- What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?
- How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?
- If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph.
- What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)
- What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
- In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
- What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?
- What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
- In the last five years, what have you become better at saying 'no' to?
- When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)
The book is full of thoughtful and interesting answers, but here are a few answers to some of the questions.
Tim Urban, founder of the popular Wait But Why blog gives an answer to the "what new habit has most improved your life in the last five years" question that is very relevant to the current atmosphere: "I used to resent obstacles along the path, thinking, 'If only that hadn't happened life would be so good.' Then I suddenly realized, life is the obstacles. There is no underlying path. Our role here is to get better at navigating those obstacles."
Naval Ravikant, the founder of AngelList, echoes the reason we encourage gents to read in his answer to the best/most worthwhile investment question: "The genuine love for reading itself, when cultivated, is a superpower. We live in the age of Alexandria, when every book and every piece of knowledge ever written down is a fingertip away...Cultivate that desire by reading what you want, not what you're 'supposed to.'"
Terry Crews' answer to the billboard question is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "God will not have his work made manifest by cowards." Debbie Millman would have you see, "Busy is a decision." Patton Oswalt's answer: "There is no Them."
When she is feeling overwhelmed or unfocused, author and speaker Esther Perel remembers a quote from Hal Boyle: "What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn't have any doubt - it is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn't want to go anywhere else."
There are literally thousands more quotes from hundreds of answers in this book. This is a (completely unforeseen) time when many of us are at home with the opportunity to contemplate things we may not have thought about recently (or ever). That's why it's as good a time as any to ask yourself these questions and forward them on to some trusted friends to answer. Schedule a time to connect and discuss your answers, learn from each other, and do what Tony Robbins implies in the quote we started with: level up your life by asking the right questions.
As a bonus, if you want to hear some of the answers for free, you can find them on his podcast series done just for this book, which we reviewed here.
Which question above resonates most with you? Share in the comments.
About Ben Davis
A serial entrepreneur, Ben Davis is founder of The Gents Place and a leading investor in gentlemen's refinement and confidence.
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