Josh Waitzkin and Tim Ferriss on The Cave Process, Advice from Future Selves, and Training for an Uncertain Future (#498)| The Tim Ferriss Show

Tim Ferriss is not associated or affiliated with PodcastNotes in any way. All notes are independently created by PodcastNotes and do not imply any sponsorship or endorsement by, or affiliation with, Mr. Ferriss.

Check out on The Tim Ferriss Show Podcast Page and Episode Notes

Key Takeaways

  • Tim Ferriss’ Guiding Questions for New Project Ideas
    • “What assumptions are you making?”
    • “How can you test your assumptions in a cheap, quick way?”
    • “If it takes twice as long and you get half of the rewards, is this still a no-brainer for you?”
  • Accepting the connection between genius and eccentricity can be liberating
    • It frees you from the pressure of looking “normal”
    • Your superpower is often next to your wound
  • Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast
    • Tim has been repeating this mantra to himself a lot recently
    • He applies that to writing, training, decision-making, and other aspects of his life
      • If someone is trying to rush him in making a decision, his automatic answer is no
  • “A famous sage said there’s only one important question, and that question is ‘What are you unwilling to feel?’” Tara Brach
    • Meditation helps us face many of the things we have been avoiding
  • How Can We Best Prepare for the Future?
  • “You have to focus on meta-learning and meta-skills or you will be toast” Tim Ferriss
  • Learning how to learn makes you Anti-fragile
    • When there’s a shock to the system (like a pandemic), you’ll be the most adaptable to the changes

Key Books Mentioned

Intro

Tim’s Guiding Questions for New Project Ideas

  • Tim often gets presented with new book and startup ideas
    • Josh admires Tim’s ability to ask questions that reveal the blind spots and help people see new perspectives
    • Tim has a set of stock questions that he asks when presented with new ideas
  • “What assumptions are you making?”
    • This checks how aware they are of their assumptions
    • And how well they thought about the idea
    • A follow-up question is 
      • “How can you test your assumptions in a cheap, quick way?”
  • “If it takes twice as long and you get half of the rewards, is this still a no-brainer for you?”
    • Tim often asks this when people ask him for advice on writing a book
    • This allows the person to realize if they are truly motivated to do it, and if the process is intrinsically rewarding
  • “Flash-forward three years. The company failed. What is most likely to have gone wrong?”
    • If people are not able to answer that, Tim sees it as a red flag
    • If they answer that, they’ll be able to find blindspots to work on that they were not considering
  • Tim does not see himself as a risk-taker but as a risk mitigator
    • He tries to take into account different possibilities
    • He always looks to test his assumptions quickly and cheaply

Genius and Eccentricity

  • Most great performers tend to have some dysfunctional characteristics
    • What makes one excel in your career, maybe awkward in their personal life
    • Your superpower is often next to your wound
  • Josh’s obsession with not making mistakes playing chess can be painful in his life
    • Now he practices doing some things mediocrely to accept his weaknesses more
  • Accepting the connection between genius and eccentricity can be liberating
    • It frees you from the pressure of looking “normal”
  • Sometimes there’s the fear that healing one’s personal dysfunctions will lower career performance
    • Some comedians don’t want to do therapy
      • They fear that healing their pain, they’ll lose the wit or cynicism that makes them funny
  • Tim thinks that it’s possible to heal your wounds while keeping your superpowers

Efficiency, Control, and Working on Weaknesses

  • Tim’s obsession with efficiency in training when he was wrestling caused some shoulder issues
    • Excessive efficiency in the physical realm can be very dangerous
  • Now Tim thinks more about how he can change things in his life so that he doesn’t have to think about efficiency or competition
    • They are his strengths but overemphasizing them can make life miserable
  • We tend to focus on our strengths because doing so feels good
    • There’s value in developing your strengths, but it’s also critical to work on weaknesses
  • Tim also sees his wish to control things as both a strength and a weakness
    • “An obsession with security breeds a sense of insecurity” Tim Ferris
    • Now he puts himself in situations that cannot be controlled (but are still safe) and learning to let go
      • Psychedelic experiences helped him with that

Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast

  • “Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast” 
    • Tim has been repeating this mantra to himself a lot recently
    • He applies that to writing, training, decision-making, and other aspects of his life
      • If someone is trying to rush him in making a decision, his automatic answer is no
  • He does not interpret this as being more patient
    • Patience is often used as an excuse for complacency or laziness
  • Rather, he uses the mantra to cultivate a higher awareness of the moment
    • Without always rushing, you enjoy yourself more
  • Martial artist masters embody this
    • They are able to move slower, but still, get there first

Meditation, Feelings, and The Cave Process

  • “Many of our compulsive behaviors are to mask or override things that we don’t want to feel” Tim Ferriss
    • Meditation helps us face many of the things we have been avoiding
    • Gabor Mate says that we should not ask ‘why the addiction?’, but ‘why the pain?’
      • The addiction is a consequence of the pain
  • “A famous sage said there’s only one important question, and that question is ‘What are you unwilling to feel?’” Tara Brach
  • As Tim sat with emptiness more, he found a lot of negative feelings coming up
  • To help the people he works with, Josh guides them through “The Cave Process”
    • Sitting in a space empty enough to get away from the reactivity of your daily life
    • This can take many forms
      • You can “disappear from the world” for a few months
      • Journal first thing in the morning is a mini-version of this
      • All forms involve creating some empty space to step away
    • First, he helps people to reach inner stillness
    • Then he guides them to reflect on their lives

Advice From Your Future Self

  • Years ago Tim wrote a piece of fiction in which he met his future self and receive his advice
    • He found it to be a really useful exercise
  • What Tim’s future self would suggest to him today
  • Take more time to have fun and pay attention to enjoy the simple things
    • He has a lot more energy when having fun
    • He struggled with energy fatigue for a long time
    • Focusing too much on responsibilities and obligation has a muting effect on enjoyment
  • Tim used to think that when he has kids he’ll change things about himself
    • Now he realized that’s very naive and he needs to make those changes before having kids
    • “You better start becoming the parent you want to be now, before game time” Tim Ferriss
      • He’s not talking about learning to be a parent
      • But being the kind of person he would like to be around his kids

How Can We Best Prepare for the Future?

  • “You have to focus on meta-learning and meta-skills or you will be toast” Tim Ferriss
  • Learning how to learn makes you Anti-fragile
    • When there’s a shock to the system (like a pandemic), you’ll be the most adaptable to the changes
  • Tim also recommends Nassim Taleb’s Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness
    • Understanding probabilistic thinking is hugely important for decision-making
  • People tend to focus on the techniques to learn, but learning the underlying principles is much more valuable
  • We need to embrace our humanness and learn to do things that machines can’t do

Additional Notes

  • Jeff Bezos has been successful at setting a long-time horizon with shareholders
    • While most companies are judged on a quarterly horizon, Amazon was often judged on a 10-20 year time horizon
    • Tim highly recommend reading Amazon’s letters to shareholders
  • The attributes Tim looks at before bringing someone his close circle of friends 
    • The most important thing is Tim’s own gut feeling about the person
    • He also looks at their trustworthiness and discretion
    • Now he cares less about what we consider intelligence
  • How to avoid mistaking noise for signal when learning from successful people? 
    • Can they repeat the achievements you admire in them?
    • Can they teach the skills they’re admired for?
    • Are they successful “because of” or “in spite of” X?, Sometimes the two are confused
      • Someone might think their business is successful because they are strict with employees,
      • They don’t realize that giving employees more freedom would improve the business
      • In these situations, ask the people close to them
  • What Tim learned since getting a dog
    • Dogs, just like people, can be a mirror to ourselves
      • We tend to project our insecurities, fears, and compulsion to others
      • In this way, having a dog can reveal your weaknesses
    • With his dog, Tim also learned to love more unconditionally
Tim Ferriss Show : , , ,
Notes By Giorgio Parlato

More Notes on these topics

Top Insights and Tactics From

31 Best Podcasts of All Time

FREE when you join over 12,000 subscribers to the
Podcast Notes newsletter

No Thanks