Tim Ferriss: Pessimism Is a Productivity Booster

  • The Find: Visualizing goals is a much-lauded practice among productivity gurus, but author Tim Ferriss suggests ambitious people looking to achieve remarkable results must first do something a lot less comfortable: visualize what we fear most.
  • The Source: A five-minute video of Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, speaking at Google. The sound is very low so crank the volume.

The Takeaway: When business people want to demonstrate the depth of their education and draw on ancient sources for modern management tips, the usual go-to guys are Machiavelli and Sun Tzu, but Ferris suggests a less frequently discussed figure as a source of business-friendly philosophy: Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman and dramatist, Seneca. What does this toga-clad great of the ancient world have to teach the modern cubicle dweller? In short, that before you can dream big, you need to conquer your fears of ridicule and rejection (and relative poverty) by visualizing the worst case scenario and, through exposure, inoculating yourself against the negative emotions that will block your success. How do you do this? Get out a pen and paper as Ferriss has an exercise, explained -- along with the basics of his idea â€" in the video below.


If Ferriss's brand of philosophically-inclined, take no prisoners business advice appeals to you, check out his blog for more of his ideas.