Tim Ferriss’s Tools of Titans is a consolidation of tools, tips, and life hacks Ferriss has learned from interviewing hundreds of people for his podcast The Tim Ferriss Show. From actor Jamie Foxx to Dilbert creator Scott Adams to PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, Ferriss has made a career of meeting successful people and finding out what makes them tick.
Rather than attempt to discuss the hundreds of tools, however, I have distilled a few traits of titans, if you will. The following four qualities appear to be universal among the titans Ferriss has interviewed over the years:
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Titans take care of themselves
Successful people realize that the greatest investment they will ever make is in themselves. When Warren Buffett was asked what he believed his most valuable investment was, he answered with the public speaking course he took from Dale Carnege. Titans like Buffett invest in themselves by taking care of their minds and bodies to stay at the top of their game. In fact, successful people are uniquely attentive to their mental health: Over 80% of the people Ferriss interviewed meditate daily!
Titans ask questions
Ferriss’s titans aren’t afraid to ask questions because they’re self-aware enough to recognize that no one person can possibly know everything. The universe is simply too vast for that. So, when they have questions, they ask them, even if it means looking or sounding foolish to others. Titans don’t believe in such a thing as a stupid or bad question; if you don’t know, you don’t know. This includes a particularly difficult question for people: Can you help me?
Titans engage in daily rituals
While it’s important to try new things and regularly step out of your comfort zone, rituals keep people grounded and offer familiarity and comfort in a chaotic and confusing world. Rituals also offer the chance for you to carve out time for yourself, check in with yourself, and set your intention for the day. Rituals also help reinforce valuable life skills, like discipline and patience.
Titans start small… and never stop
We’ve all been told the advice to “take it one day at a time.” As it turns out, many of Ferriss’s titans do exactly that. Rather than becoming overwhelmed by all their goals and plans, successful people break tasks into small, manageable chunks. As they accomplish the little things—like making their bed in the morning or eating a healthy breakfast—the long game almost takes care of itself. They build up a “success momentum,” by riding their sense of accomplishment from small tasks into the larger or more intimidating ones. They know the hardest part of doing any project, no matter how massive or complex, is to just get started, but it’s also the single most important step to take.
And when they inevitably run into setbacks (everyone does), they learn from it and keep moving forward. Titans know that obstacles aren’t there to make you fail; they’re there to make you prove how badly you want something.