Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The 4-Hour Workweek

I heard Tim Ferris, the 29 year old author, give an interview on Paul and Young Ron recently and my interest was piqued. Surprisingly, this book was really great! I don't usually go for "business/self-help/travel/get-rich/time management" books, but this one had many redeeming qualities. There are quite a few useful tidbits that I will take away from this book, not the least of which is speed-reading.

That said, I should also point out that Ferris and I don't always see eye to eye. My Christian, pastoral, family, dog-loving, South Florida lifestyle doesn't lend itself easily to the lifestyle that he prescribes in his book. Nonetheless, there were many small pieces of advice that he gives which I find to be invaluable, especially coming from a 29 year old vagabond.

Here are some excerpts that really jumped out at me:

  • Tim "cheats the system" and becomes the Chinese National Champion in Kickboxing by pushing his opponents off of the platform for TKO's. In this illustration, he shows not only his genius, but also his complete lack of morals and respect for their sport.
  • Some of Tim's best stories are about other people. Like Jean-Marc, who was stranded in Ghana (West Africa) for four months surviving on a mush-like concoction of corn meal and spinach. "The most basic of foods and good friends proved to be the only real necessities, giving him the most life-affirming epiphany: The worst really isn't that bad. To enjoy life, you don't need fancy nonsense."
  • "I hope you're sitting down. I'm going to tell you something that upsets a lot of people. I never watch the news and I don't read the newspaper. I cultivate selective ignorance for my own good. I read the headlines through the newspaper machines and nothing more."
  • He teaches you how to read 200% faster in less than 10 minutes. I'm already somewhat of a speedreader, but this was the first time I'd seen anyone lay it out so simply and so quickly.
  • He identifies time wasters and shows you how to ease them out of your system: television, reading and watching the news, all non-fiction reading and most fiction reading, email, internet, etc. You see where this is going yet?
  • He tells great stories about the wonders of global outsourcing and currency exchanges. I won't go into detail here, but it is pretty crazy what can be done in our new global economy.
  • The criticism sandwich was a great illustration that I'd never heard before: first, you praise a person for something, then you deliver the criticism, and then close with a topic-shifting praise to exit the sensitive topic.
  • "I have quit three jobs and been fired from all the rest. Getting fired, despite sometimes coming as a surprise and leaving you scrambling to recover, is often a Godsend: Someone else makes the decision for you, and it's impossible to sit in the wrong job for the rest of your life. Most people aren't lucky enough to get fired and die a slow spiritual death over 30-40 years."
  • He tells the story of the rich, successful, Harvard M.B.A. American and the Mexican fisherman who "sleeps late, fishes a little, plays with his children, takes siestas with his wife, and strolls into the village every evening to sip wine and play guitar with his friends." Who is better off - the rich American or the well-rested fisherman?
  • "Whether you're aware of it or not, material possessions create indecision and distractions, consuming attention and making unfettered happiness a real chore. It is impossible to realize how distracting all this crap is until you get rid of it."
Unfortunately, if I take Tim's advice, I'll be spending a lot less time on the internet as well as a lot less time reading. (With the exception of my Bible, of course). We'll see.


the8thperson said...

"Whether you're aware of it or not, material possessions create indecision and distractions, consuming attention and making unfettered happiness a real chore. It is impossible to realize how distracting all this crap is until you get rid of it."

There is much truth in this. America the distracted. Pray that God would show us the distractions in our life, so that we could set them aside and keep our eyes on the prize

Ryan M. Powell said...

Partly from my recent six-month tramping session, I can identify with some of the stuff you mentioned here, particularly the bits about losing jobs, selective ignorance, time-wasting, and rich vs. poor analysis. My head is still so jumbled that I can't really make much of a contribution here, but I'll give it a try.

I found out pretty quickly that very few people with a lot of money are actually rich. Most of them live in a constant state of fantasy that makes them fear the real world. It makes them believe they are better, more important than those of us who don't have so much money. They barricade themselves behind concrete and cinder-block walls and drive luxury cars to keep the real world from reaching them. They expect an imminent terrorist attack whenever they see a guy walking with a backpack.

Conversely, many of the the homeless people I encountered live in relative freedom and happiness. I doubt that many homeless people are actually happy, for countless reasons (like heroin addiction), but they're probably closer to happy than most "wealthy" people are.

As a bum with a camera, I've felt more happiness than at any other time in my life. But it's unbelievably tough sometimes, too, which I think showed in my blog posts over time. The posts became increasingly more negative the longer I stayed on the road, as you may have noticed. There's some cause-and-effect behind that.

Man, I'm trying really hard here, but it'll be a long time before I'm able to communicate effectively again. There's just so much going through my head all the time.

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