The Ego Is Underrated: Tim Ferriss On Self-Belief And Creativity

Yup, it’s #ThrowbackTuesday!

Okay, so I promise this was me trying not to focus on creative types and engage with business people and entrepreneurs.

I realise everyone who reads this is not a tortured artist or a trendy Shoreditch hipster.

I failed. It’s right up the creative alley again.

But Tim Ferriss proves the Chase Jarvis maxim that “creativity is the new literacy”.

Basically, even hedge fund managers and accountants require creativity and you don’t have to be a foppish poet to make an inventive contribution to the culture.

One of the most useful parts of this episode comes from early on when Brian asks Tim about why he is so cool with giving away the tricks of his trade.

Tim believes that cultivating an attitude of abundance is good in itself. It’s just healthy.

But he also holds to the view that even if people do steal your thunder, an open and expressive way of generating ideas is a gift that keeps on giving.

If you can have one idea, you can have a lot of them – so chill out.

Why is this important? Well, creative professionals and artists can be very paranoid about their ideas and their work.

For good reason. Ideas are at a premium in an economy like ours. But also, you get burned, people can take advantage of the vulnerability that comes with sharing and harnessing things that are dear to you.

Tim uses the analogy of Silicon Valley. Surprisingly, he says most top companies in the tech industry won’t make their partners sign Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs).

They trust that if it is a good enough idea, other people are probably already working on it, and if you can come up with one good idea, there’s plenty more where that came from.

So really it is the creative process that is the commodity, or the thing that marks out your identity as a KPI.

This gave me a lot of pause for thought. I’m a hoarder of my ideas, but as Tim says, being like that means you are not really convinced of the value of your work.

This strikes me as completely commonsensical. Hoarding our ideas is a form of resistance!Things get a little controversial at one point in this episode. Tim admits that his writing is unique among his other pursuits because he does it to last the ages. He’s thinking about a kind of legacy.

Is this a form of narcissism? Is the desire to make great work that will outlast us a way of playing God?

Well, even if it is, Tim believes it is a force for good as long as it is not too vocal and remains self-contained.

In order to do great things, we have to believe that we are capable of great things. In order to innovate, we have to have the necessary arrogance to assume we are capable of doing something that has never been tried in the previous ten thousand years.

That’s narcissism maybe, but it is also the fuel for culture.

I agree with Tim on this. The ego is underrated. To a very large degree, self-confidence comes out of thin air. It’s a gamble.

But I also think that he makes a good point about writing. As a tech investor, life hacker and entrepreneur, I find it really interesting that he places the most value on his books and writing – a practice that has been around for centuries.Tim is full of tricks and hacks and tips for turning your daily life into a rewarding experience.

When I hear the word ‘life hack’ I have to say it makes me sceptical, but for Tim it simply means living your life so that your energies are focused on the things you love to do, and which reap the greatest rewards.

If that’s true then Leonardo Da Vinci, James Brown, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Gandhi were all ‘life hackers’.

Time says people tend to think of him as the picture of efficiency, but it’s a misconception.

I was stunned to hear him say that he rises about 10 or 11 in the morning and uses classic pop songs for his meditation practice!

Then he does some drawing or something equally playful and unashamedly creative, and only then will he get down to tasks.

Our focus should be isolating the one task in our list that will have the most kickback, that will create its own momentum.Yes, ‘renaissance man’ is a horrible cliche, and usually it is used to describe people who do lots of different things.

Tim Ferriss accomplishes many things, but he does so through using creative tools to trick himself into focusing his energies.

The real renaissance men of the past did the same thing. They were not superhuman, they just knew that creative energy wasn’t an infinite resource, and so they took great care in how they invested their time and inspiration.

Tim is the same, and what’s really inspiring to me is the fact he doesn’t try to force his personality into a ‘good routine.’

He knows how he works, and lives his life accordingly. As a result he’s clearly a man with integrity and self-love enough to be a positive presence in the culture.

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