Tea Time with Tim: How to Find Mentors, Decrease Anxiety Through Training, and Much More – The Tim Ferriss Show

Check out The Tim Ferriss Show Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • On finding a mentor:
    • Don’t ask – “How do I get a mentor?”
    • Instead ask – “How can I encourage people I aspire to be like, who are 10-30 years ahead of me, to respect me and want me to succeed?”
  • Before reaching out to a mentor with questions, ask yourself – “Is this a question they could answer in 4 lines or less?” 
    • Make sure the answer to this is yes – successful people are very busy
  • Instead of trying to save the world, focus on helping yourself
    • Paradoxically, this will help others
  • A great quote:
    • “You don’t develop confidence in a vacuum. You develop it by systematically exposing yourself to things outside of your comfort zone. As you do that, you condition yourself to better tolerate stress….that’s how you build confidence.”
  • It’s VERY NORMAL to not have any idea of your purpose in life…especially in your 20s
  • A good metric to assess you’re overall state:
    • How easily do you fall asleep, and how excited are you to wake up in the morning?
  • Instead of trying hard to pick projects to work on, aim to instead develop skills and relationships that transcend any one narrow area of specialty
  • Consider finding a therapist or relationship coach to frequent, even if things are going great with your partner

Books Mentioned

Intro

  • In this episode, Tim calls listeners and answers their questions

How can you go about finding a mentor?

  • Never ask someone directly to “be your mentor” using those words
    • The people you want as a mentor are probably quite busy, and will hear “mentor” as “unpaid, part-time/full-time job forever”
  • Check out the book – The Third Door by Alex Banayan
    • Tim says this book does a good job of exploring real-life case studies of communication that works and communication that doesn’t work when reaching out to possible mentors
  • Try volunteering
  • Related:
    • Check out these Podcast Notes where Tim talked about how to network at a conference
  • And finally, reframe the question:
    • Not – “How do I get a mentor?”
    • But – “How can I encourage people I aspire to be like, who are 10-30 years ahead of me, to respect me and want me to succeed?”

How do you go about “staying in touch” with a mentor, without pestering them?

  • Tim recalls reaching out to Jack Canfield a while after the event mentioned above, saying something like:
    • “Jack – I really enjoyed our interactions. I really hope we get to meet again and if it’s okay with you, I’d love to very rarely, if the occasion calls for it, send you a question that overlaps with your deep experience if I’m totally stuck after trying to figure something out.”
    • Tim did end up keeping in touch with Jack. What does “keeping in touch” mean?
      • NOT pestering, NOT clogging their inbox
      • Once ever 6-12 MONTHS, Tim would send him a legitimate question and indicate what he had already tried to do to answer the question himself. Here was the email format:
        • The question I’d love to ask you is X
        • Here are the things I’ve already tried
        • My tentative plan is X
        • If you have any other thoughts, I’d appreciate them
        • Add – “If you’re too busy to respond, I totally understand.”
          • DO NOT END AN EMAIL SAYING – “I look forward to your reply” or “I have next Thursday at 2 PM and 4 PM open, which one works for you to chat about this?”
      • Before reaching out to a mentor with a question, ask yourself – “Is this a question they could answer in 4 lines or less?”
        • Make sure the answer to this is yes

What does Tim think about sending handwritten follow-up letters?

  • It’s not necessary
  • A lot of people don’t even want to give out their mailing address

How does Tim think about pursuing his purpose in life?

  • The listener asking the question brings up how he really enjoyed the book Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
  • “My approach to book writing, the podcast, the television shows I’ve been involved in… have had a common thread…If I have a pain or a problem, or I have a desire or goal, I assume it is very likely that many other people have the same pains, problems, desires or goals.”
  • Getting Real:
    • “Everyone is fighting battles we know nothing about”
      • Literately EVERYONE
    • “Everyone has some type of suffering that’s affecting how they make decisions, how they interact, and how they view themselves” 
      • “If I can provide any tools whatsoever to decrease that suffering…I view that as time very well spent”
  • Check out the “Filling the Void” chapter in The 4-Hour Workweek
  • “Instead of trying to save the world, look at how you can help yourself. By doing something that seems very selfish on the surface, you’re actually being very practical. You’re scratching your own itch in such a fashion that you’re not purely speculating, even if it isn’t limited to you, which I can pretty much guarantee – if it’s any type of suffering or desire, there’s a near 100% likelihood that there are thousands or millions out there with some close cousin of that feeling, if not the exact same thing.”
  • But the answer will differ for everyone – if you find meaning in it, if it helps people in any way – rock it
    • Check out the book Awareness by Anthony DeMello for some more on this topic

How does Tim, and can others, stay calm during stressful times?

  • He tries to stimulate the actual test environment beforehand
    • If he has a speaking event, he tries to spend time the day before on the actual stage
  • Practice under the same psychological conditions that you’ll be experiencing during your performance
    • Prior to giving his famous TED talk, Tim knew his heart rate would be going through the roof while on stage
    • So to simulate this – he would do a bunch of push ups, and drink a few double espressos, and then do a dry run
  • Practice calming yourself down while under stress
    • Before giving a talk, actually run through it in front of an audience
  • In general:
    • “The way you overcome stress is not by expecting that on game day you’ll be able to summon the self-talk that is going to be 100x more effective than your self-talk in the past. It’s by rehearsing what you fear.”
  • Tim has found Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living to be very helpful in this regard
  • “You don’t develop confidence in a vacuum. You develop it by systematically exposing yourself to discomfort and things outside of your comfort zone. As you do that, you condition yourself to better tolerate stress….that’s how you build confidence.”
    • You can listen to every motivational talk there is, but deep down…you know if you’re prepared
  • Also, do the Fear-Setting Exercise
  • A few related quotes
    • “We do not rise to the level of expectations, we fall to the level of our training” Archilochus 
    • “How is not a strategy” James Cameron

If Tim had to identify as a cocktail, what would it be and why?

  • An old-fashioned…why?
    • “There should be certain constants in life, like consistency with values and how you make decisions”
    • But past the basic ingredients with an old-fashioned, a bartender has lots of room to add their own flare 
      • This correlates with reinventing yourself with respect to new projects etc.

Is it normal not to know your purpose in life? How can you go about finding your purpose?

  • It’s VERY NORMAL to not have any idea of your purpose in life…especially in your 20s
    • The majority of the population probably has these feelings at least a few times a year
    • DON’T PANIC
    • Tim has experienced this feeling quite a few times in the past
      • “I’ve learned to use it as an indicator something is not working. There is something I need or want that is not being accomplished. So try to use it as an indicator to zoom out and reassess.”
  • To help deal with this feeling – do an assessment
    • It’s important to understand what your baseline is before you can make any type of plan for finding the things you feel you lack
    • What are some ways to reassess, and establish your life baselines?
  • Next – try lots of things 
    • Experiment heavily to find what really gives you excitement
    • Carefully try to find something that leaves you peaceful at night/allows you to fall asleep easily, and excited to wake up in the morning
  • Know that failures can offer you tremendous opportunities
    • If Tim hadn’t been extremely burned out after writing The 4-Hour Chef, he never would have experimented and launched the podcast
  • A final piece of advice:
    • Instead of trying hard to pick projects to work on, aim to instead develop skills and relationships that transcend any one narrow area of specialty

All About Relationships

  • What does Tim think about when entering relationships? (he has a girlfriend at the moment)
    • “I realized in the last 5-10 year that my ultimate nightmare would be dating a long-haired version of myself”
    • He tries to look for a compliment to himself, not a duplicate and focuses heavily on shared values
  • Something Tim has had to work on:
    • “Historically, for me, I’ve viewed any type of feeling of feelings to be unhelpful…to be a primitive clouding of logical analysis”
      • For this reason, Tim always tried to just “turn down the volume” on his emotions
      • “It’s very easy to date someone and mistake their sensitivity for weakness”
        • Meaning sensitivity to one’s own and other’s emotions
      • This led to Tim becoming very frustrated with past girlfriends who were reacting emotionally, without having any view into their internal processes
    • Now – he tries to do a better job of asking employees, friends, his girlfriend etc. to explain what they’re feeling, before allowing himself to get angry/frustrated 
  • A tool to help diffuse relationship conflicts – Nonviolent Communication
  • In the last year, Tim and his girlfriend have been meeting with a relationship coach on a regular basis
    • He says the coach has been incredibly helpful
    • The keys:
      • The relationship coach is not rooting for either partner, they’re rooting for the relationship 
      • It’s very useful to have someone else your partner can vent to that’s not you
  • Related:
    • Tim thinks The 5 Love Languages is a great book
    • “There’s a book I recommend out there EVERYONE read” – Don’t Shoot the Dog
      • It’s obviously about dogs, but many of the principles can be applied to human relationships

These notes were edited by RoRoPa Editing Services

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