Saturday, October 23, 2010

The 4-Hour Work Week and What I Took Away from Ferris' Book

I recently attended a conference where I received Tim Ferris' book, the 4-Hour Work Week, as a gift.  While much of the book is hyperbole, I found two enduring lessons in the book worth reflecting on further.  The first takeaway is the importance and power of fear.

Perhaps, Mark Twain said it best, "I am an old man and have known many troubles, but most of them never happened."  

What? My reading of the quote and Tim's points on fear is that we often let our brains beat us - fear of the unknown, fear of what might happen, fear of making mistakes, fear of change, fear to realize our dreams....fear is a self-defeating, calcifying presence in all of our lives. We all suffer from insecurities, self-doubt...however, we must recognize that most of the "bad things" that we fret about are figments of our imaginations/stories we tell ourselves. Overcoming fear and conquering self-defeating thoughts is vital to self-realization and achieving a life well-lived.

My other favorite quote regarding fear and overcoming it comes from Teddy R, "

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

The second key insight, for me, from the book is reflection and projection. Am I happy/excited about my current direction in life, my job, my current reality?  If yes, then great. If not, then what must I do, what path must I follow, to align my life's work with my life's passions?

Projection?  Tim writes about the importance of taking a good, hard look at your boss. Do you want his/her life? In 15 years, do you want to be the person, live the professional life that they are/do?

If not, change it.

In summary - the book is a shot across the bow. First, are you fears holding you back?  What are you missing in life by letting fear trump growth, experiences, and discovery.  Second, are you sufficiently reflective about the path your life is on? Are you projecting where that path will lead? Do you like what you see? If not, what are you going to do about it?

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