back to books
Tribe of Mentors
- When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do? I have a friend at the gym who knew Jack LaLanne (Google him if the name is unfamiliar). Jack used to say it’s okay to take a day off from working out. But on that day, you’re not allowed to eat. That’s the short way of saying you’re not really allowed to get unfocused. Take a vacation. Gather yourself. But know that the only reason you’re here on this planet is to follow your star and do what the Muse tells you. It’s amazing how a good day’s work will get you right back to feeling like yourself.
- Seven years of time to write Quiet. I didn’t care how long it took and, though I wanted the book to succeed, I felt good about the investment of time regardless of the outcome—because I felt so certain that writing in general, and writing that book in particular, was the right thing to do.
- The quote I’d put on that billboard belongs to my friend and former Navy SEAL, Richard Machowicz: “Not Dead, Can’t Quit.”
- Thinking of what makes me happy doesn’t give me the same clarity as thinking about what gives me bliss.
- The worst advice I’ve ever been given was to not increase the fee I charged to give a keynote speech. I was told I would price myself out of the market, I didn’t have enough recent media coverage to compete against well-known speakers, blah, blah, blah. I decided to raise my price anyway—incrementally at first, then I doubled it. Now I have twice as many inquiries, and people even negotiate with me less.
- In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to? My biggest shift came after listening to a successful CEO talk about his philosophy for hiring people. When his company grew and he ran out of time to interview people himself, he had his employees rate new candidates on a 1–10 scale. The only stipulation was they couldn’t choose 7. It immediately dawned on me how many invitations I was receiving that I would rate as a 7—speeches, weddings, coffees, even dates. If I thought something was a 7, there was a good chance I felt obligated to do it. But if I have to decide between a 6 or an 8, it’s a lot easier to quickly determine whether or not I should even consider it.
- “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” –Steve Jobs Co-founder and former CEO of Apple
- The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel. I have read hundreds of personal development books, but this is the one that clearly showed me how to visualize, contemplate, and focus on what it was I truly wanted. It revealed to me that we only get what we desire most, and to apply myself with a laserlike focus upon a goal, task, or project.
- There is a big difference between intelligence and wisdom. Many are fooled into thinking they are the same thing, but they are not. I have seen intelligent serial killers, but I’ve never seen a wise one. Intelligent human beings have been given this trumped-up position in society where, just because they’re intelligent, they are to be listened to, and I have found this is extremely dangerous.
- Intelligence is like following a GPS route right into a body of water until you drown. Wisdom looks at the route but, when it takes a turn into the ocean, decides not to follow it, then finds a new, better way. Wisdom reigns supreme.
- In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? I realized that I had to let people leave my life, never to return. Every relationship I have in my life, from family and friends to business partners, must be a voluntary relationship. My wife can leave at any time. Family members can call me or not. Business partners can decide to move on, and it’s all okay. But the same is true on my end. If I say I’m ready to move on and someone doesn’t accept that, now we have a problem. I remember trying to move on from a very close friend because he was displaying behaviors I wasn’t comfortable with. Soon after, I received a letter by certified mail, threatening me with a lawsuit for over a million dollars because of the demise of our “friendship.” It was ridiculous and it still is, so I actually framed the letter as a reminder of the necessity of letting people go and moving on. One approach I use is imaginary great-grandchildren. I talk to them all the time. I ask them about decisions and relationships and whether or not to continue them. They tend to speak loud and clear. “Grandpa, you shouldn’t do this, or you need to leave these people alone because we will be affected negatively, or worse, we won’t exist.” Those moments show me that this whole thing is bigger than me. It’s the realization that there is a “will to pleasure,” a “will to power” and, in the words of Viktor Frankl, a “will to meaning.” You won’t take a bullet for pleasure or power, but you will for meaning. So you sometimes have to do what I call a “crowd-thinner.” One wrong person in your circle can destroy your whole future. It’s that important.
- I’m in psychoanalytic psychotherapy (put another way: psychoanalysis with an emphasis on “Self-Psychology”). For me, talk therapy is the only thing that I’ve really ever felt drawn to. Things like EMDR and behavior modification seem too voodoo for me.
- I would not recommend going to a therapist that one of your friends also goes to. (Most good therapists abide by this rule now.) Things get very blurry and boundaries get weird.
- These are questions I tell my students to ask themselves as they set out on their path in the “real” world: Am I spending enough time on looking for, finding, and working toward winning a great job? Am I constantly refining and improving my skills? What can I continue to get better and more competitive at? Do I believe that I am working harder than everyone else? If not, what else can I be doing? What are the people who are competing with me doing that I am not doing? Am I doing everything I can—every single day—to stay in “career shape”? If not, what else should I be doing?
- Total Freedom by Jiddu Krishnamurti. A rationalist’s guide to the perils of the human mind. The “spiritual” book that I keep returning to. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. A history of the human species, with observations, frameworks, and mental models that will have you looking at history and your fellow humans differently. Everything by Matt Ridley. Matt is a scientist, optimist, and forward thinker. Genome, The Red Queen, The Origins of Virtue, The Rational Optimist—they’re all great.