$1,000,000 in the bank isn’t the fantasy. The fantasy is the lifestyle of complete freedom it supposedly allows. – Tim Ferriss
I don’t hate Tim Ferriss.
Heck, I don’t even dislike him.
But I did.
That was after I fell in love with him.
Boom Shakalaka Ferriss
Tim confused me. He led me on and taunted me with his effortless swagger and micromanaged mastery.
With that silent s tacked onto the end of his last name.
There’s just something so enticing about emulating a man who appears to have it all: a sharp brain, an endless supply of money, a fit body, a genius knack for self-promotion.
And the desire to emulate him is overwhelming for precisely one reason: he makes it all seem so damn accessible.
Tim rose out of complete obscurity. No contacts, no fame, just grit and hustle. His rise has been admirable to some – the American Dream yadda yadda – slimy and repugnant to others.
But we’re captivated by him because his story is wrapped up in a way that allows us to identify directly – to draw correlations with our own lives, to take his marketing/teachings and attempt to use it all to quickly (like him, apparently) replicate his success.
Other celebrities do not seem so accessible.
For example, Sir Richard Branson has it all – and more. But repeating what he has done seems more-than-impossible. He created an empire. He’s the one in a million… no… one in 7 billion anomaly.
But Tim, he lets you think…
If he can do this, I can too. [4 hours elapses…]
Then reality sets in… and some different thoughts creep into the picture…
Wait, why can’t I do this? What the hell’s wrong with me? If he can do this, I can too… right?
That’s what ran through my head at least, when, after buying hook-line-and-sinker the effortless success stories I was sold, or rather – marketed – I actually tried to put what I “learned” into action.
The real problem was: reading his books didn’t teach me anything because I wasn’t actually reading between the lines. In the same way we read rapid fat loss testimonials or fall for muscle gain supplement ads, I fell for the idea that “hacking” your lifestyle and productivity actually means something.
That it’s actually something I want to do.
Before I get into any more details about why Tim Ferriss is actually a great thing for your goals, especially your health and fitness goals, I want to introduce you to a concept I like to call The Ferrisswheel. It will allow you to fully understand where I’m going with this whole thing.
If you’ve read any of Tim’s bestselling books:
- The Four Hour Workweek
- The Four Hour Body (<– that’s a free torrent if you want it)
- The Four Hour Chef
…then there’s a 99.9% chance you’ve ridden the Ferrisswheel. Most of you just don’t know it.
And if you haven’t read Tim’s books, or even know who he is then, well, you’re probably completely lost right now.
1. The Hook
This is the part where you arrive at the carnival, right after you walk around a corner of the arcade, full of pimply 12 year olds shooting radioactive zombies with blue and orange shotguns, and you see it for the first time…
Looming overhead, in all its shiny glory, is the Ferrisswheel.
“What! This dude gained 34lbs of muscle in 28 days?! That’s incredible!”
or “You’ve gotta be kidding me! Hey Brian, listen to this (holds book out), there’s a guy in this book who runs a multimillion dollar website from his beach house and only works on it for an hour a day! And this book tells you how to do it!”
You wander up to the Ferrisswheel in awe.
“It’s beautiful,” you mouth to yourself, eyes agape.
Overcoming your initial stumble, your gait accelerates as you make your way around sticky-fingered kids begging their moms for cotton candy. You push past the corn dog cart, the normally drool-worthy aroma merely bouncing off of your nostrils – after all you’re barely breathing. Your heart just flatlined for second.
You’re in love.
Your new goal in life is to ride that Ferrisswheel.
3. Reality Check
You strap into the restraining bar as the wheel starts to lift… you’re actually doing it! OMG.
The Ferrisswheel stops. Abruptly.
The jolt causes you to knock your teeth on the railing. Ouch. You look down to notice that you only got about a foot off the ground.
4. Distrust and Disappointment
You curse quietly under your breath as you mope away from the Ferrisswheel, a static-voice crackling over the megaphone PA system, “we’re sorry, but the Ferrisswheel is closed until further notice for technical difficulties.”
It was nothing like you envisioned it to be. You just wasted $5 bucks on a ride that took you 12 inches into the air then broke your front tooth. Great.
You take a deep breath. You’re over it. Sure, it was a waste of money. Sure, it was disappointing and you’ll probably never ride that ride again. But you know what…
You’re still gonna have some fun.
You look around the carnival for an idea.
6. Small successes and true progress
You see a nearby hammer smash game, hiding behind the broken Ferrisswheel. You hadn’t seen it before. “Awesome,” you think. “I’m going to release some of this emotion by hitting a button with a hammer as hard as I can.”
Even better, the game’s admission actually ends up being included in the price of your Ferrisswheel ticket. Great.
You grab the hammer and swing down hard. The little blue dot climbs high up on the light bulb scale, about 20 feet into the air.
“Nice!” you think. It took a little work but that felt good. It was worth the effort.
You swing again. This time the blue light climbs up up up to 40 feet.
Wow. You turn around to look back at the Ferrisswheel. “That thing is no more than 100 feet high, let’s see if I can get the blue light to climb higher.”
You muster up all your strength and take one big massive swing, bringing the hammer down with muscle-screaming force on the platform. BOOM. 110 feet!
You’re exhausted, but damn was that worth it. “I feel good!”
With your newly discovered confidence you stride back around to the front of the Ferrisswheel. Wait, what’s that? You spot a jam in one of the gears. You notify the attendant but he cannot unjam it.
High on your “hammer smash” success, but realistically wary that you may not be able to unjam this bad boy, you give it a try. Success! The wheel is fixed.
You hop on it for a nice slow go’round before heading home to a well-deserved glass of wine and good night’s sleep.
Fear And Loathing In River City
So you’ve read the book and you bought the dream that you thought the book was selling. Then reality hustled around the corner and kicked you swiftly in the shins.
Now you’re embittered and disillusioned.
The dream is not within reach after all: at least not with this formula.
There’s trouble… right here in River City.
What you failed to realize however, was that Tim’s writing just facilitated a paradigm shift. You think about the world differently now.
In my own life I got slightly miffed when I realized that the “4 hour dream” was not all I had initially envisioned.
After reading his books I was itching for results… NOW. I wanted everything to happen and I didn’t want to put in very much work. So naturally I felt let-down when things didn’t work out that way. I didn’t instantly increase my testosterone by sitting in tubs of ice. I didn’t set-up an immediate online cash cow that could pay my rent (believe me I tried. One of my attempts got me banned from PayPal for life, but that’s another story entirely).
After all of this struggle, all the kicking and cursing at the man who left a bad taste in my mouth, I finally took a step back.
And I saw something.
I saw the jam in the Ferrisswheel.
I realized that while his marketing and packaging sells an impossible dream, an unrealistic sideshow, the ethos of what he has to say is what actually has legs. And brains.
The idea that traditional barriers are nothing more than commonalities that we accept as truth.
The idea that we can actually challenge the way things are.
Tim’s books cater to our obsessive sides. It’s how he sells millions of copies. Get people obsessed about minutiae that they think they can control.
Personally, my obsessive side is powerful… sometimes too powerful. So I need to channel it. Not unchain it and let it run wild. Unfortunately, a naive and wide-eyed approach to the 4 Hour Series is like attaching a Rib-Eye to a squirrel’s back before letting my obsessiveness off the chain.
There is just so much juicy info, so many sexy metrics, to obsess over. To lose yourself to. To bloodlust after.
But all of that is nothing more than a distraction.
And before I realized this, I didn’t full understand that turning to dislike Tim Ferriss, because I felt hoodwinked and disillusioned, was actually exactly what I needed all along.
The struggle opened my eyes to really how difficult it is to succeed.
I’ve since gotten over my ill feelings toward him, and at this point I actually thank him. Because, more than anything, the 4 Hour packaging was purely a marketing tactic: I’ve heard him say time and time again that the name is actually a bit misleading. And it was genius.
Sadly, 90% of the people who read his books will never really understand what he’s actually trying to say (though I do think the 4 Hour Chef speaks more to his true ethos behind the series).
I learned five important things from this whole experience:
1. Success is easy to maintain when you finally get to where you’re going:
Like I mentioned earlier, achieving success – whatever your definition or goal – is never easy.
It’s a learning process.
Time and getting your butt kicked are part of the equation. Finding a mentor or teacher, a source of education, is also part of the equation. Constructing a support network. Etc.
This all takes a lot of work and plenty of trial-and-error. None of it happens overnight. And it sure as hell doesn’t happen in four hours a week.
However, when it finally all starts to fall into place, you realize that maintaining your success is actually quite easy. WAY easier than actually getting it.
That’s because you spent the requisite time and energy learning how to do it properly.
This is why people who achieve low body fat or high levels of athletic performance through years of trial-and-error, self-experimentation, and dedicated training are able to “effortlessly” maintain most of their progress indefinitely. Because they’re experienced. They’re good at what they do.
2. Don’t be obsessive… but maybe obsess a little… in the right places:
Getting a six pack is simple.
There is no need to complicate things. Unfortunately, it usually takes all of us one or more go-arounds on the Ferrisswheel before we actually start to realize this.
However, sometimes we need to obsess a tiny bit on certain things, but only insofar as we use that selective obsession to achieve an end in terms of knowledge gain or performance ends. But selective obsessing on these things is completely different than being obsessive.
Don’t be obsessive.
Don’t let your desire to lose weight/gain muscle/hack your productivity completely consume your life.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others
Your journey is well… your journey.
It’s not Tim Ferriss’, it’s not your next door neighbor’s, it’s not Ronnie Coleman’s.
It’s yours. So stop comparing yourself to others, measuring your achievements or progress against theirs.
This only leads to disappointment and unrealistic expectations of yourself.
“Know thyself… and mind ya own beeswax.”
4. Effortlessness is an illusion, but anything is possible:
Let’s just own up to it: we’re lazy.
We want to get the most return on our time/money/sweat investment.
But sometimes things just don’t work out in optimal returns (read: 99.9% of the time).
So stop buying the “effortless” marketing. Effortless abs. Effortless income. Effortless workouts.
Suck it up and work.
Then refer to point #1.
5. The Ferrisswheel never ends:
The cycle of unrealistic expectations, naive pursuit, and humbling experience will never end. And quite frankly it shouldn’t.
Because it’s an incredible way to learn.
To fully absorb the importance and gravity of your goal, to truly learn what it takes to reach it.
You want to be super fit? You want to have the coveted six pack? You want to lift more, run faster, jump higher, and be happier/healthier overall?
It’s all rather simple. But the only true way to learn is through trial and error – either your own or by intelligently watching someone else’s.
So when the Ferrisswheel screeches to a halt, don’t get frustrated. It’s a sign.
You’re on the right path.