High Performance Thinking

Tim Ferriss Edition

Thinking Differently

When looking at data:

  • First ask, what do you make of it?
  • Now, I want you to give me the most outrageous explanation that you can get me out of this data. (Source)

Thinking outside of the box:

  • How can I create more blue oceans for myself? (Source)
  • What’s something that you believe that the people you admire don’t believe? (Source)
  • How could this be a 100x return? How could this be an extraordinary success? (Source)
  • Instead of asking ‘what is the new thing?,’ ask ‘what is something old that is being neglected? (Source)
    • Context: Tim heard everyone talking about how email was dead and that social media was the next thing. Instead of swapping platforms, he started 5 Bullet Friday (with the pro of owning his audience).
  • What experiments can I run that I think will meet the needs intended, by say the podcast, in a different way? (Source)
  • If everyone is defining a problem or solving it one way and the results are subpar, this is the time to ask, What if I did the opposite? (The 4-Hour Work Week p. 46)
  • What is the thing I feel like I cannot say? (Source)
  • Is there something we’re not talking about here? (Source)
  • What would an experiment look like for 2-4 weeks to go without X? (Source)
  • When surveying a new solution, idea, or risk - ask yourself, "I feel like this is risky? Risky compared to what?” (Source)

Gratitude: (Source)

  • What am I truly grateful for in my life?
    • Aim for five answers, and if you have trouble at first, ask yourself alternative probing questions such as:
  • What relationships do I have that others don’t?
  • What do I take for granted
  • What freedoms, unique abilities, and options do I have that others don’t?
  • What advantages have I been given in life?
  • Which allies and supporters have helped me to get to where I am?

Your Psychology

  • Am I running away from something or am I running toward something? (Source)
  • What do you want versus what do you yearn for? (Source)
  • Think of a thought that makes you upset. (Source)
    • Is it true?
    • Can you know that it’s true?
    • What happens when you think it?
    • Who would you be without it?
  • Why do I feel compelled to rush? (Source)
  • What can I uniquely do? (Source)
  • What do you see me do that is easier for me than other people? You either have a skill or some type of endurance that will give you a competitive edge. (Source)
    • When am I at my best?
    • What is my unfair advantage?
  • When have you seen me do my best and worst work? (Source)


Before you seek to develop a bunch of new relationships:

  • Are you spending enough time, as much time as you would like, with the people on that shortlist who you know are guaranteed to be nourishing you? (Source)

Getting feedback:

  • Can you give me an example of that? (Source)
  • What is it you notice that is prompting you to say this to me? (Source)
  • If I were to take your advice, what would I do differently? What specifically are you suggesting or requesting? (Source)


Be prepared going into the discussion:

  • What am I going to do to satisfy my interests if I am not able to reach agreement with the other side? (Source)

Social Media

Avoid doom scrolling:

  • Will I definitely use this information for something immediate and important? (The 4-Hour Work Week p. 113)
  • If your friend told boring or pointless stories, would you call them up in the middle of the day and give them your uninterrupted attention? (Source)

On negative comments:

  • How do we defend ourselves against full-time idiots?” but also “how do we defend ourselves against part-time idiots who are probably cool most of the time but woke up on the wrong/stupid side of the bed this morning? (Source)


  • 50 years from now, how much would I pay to come back to this moment for just 10 minutes? (Source)
  • Is this really a problem? Is it significant enough for me to allocate attention and resources to it? (Source)
  • Ask your anxiety: what is the thing you’re most afraid of? What is the most important thing I need to learn from you? (Source)
  • Feeling overwhelmed? Chances are that, after looking everywhere else, unclear or cluttered thinking is the root problem.
    • Have you defined your desired outcome and eliminated the extraneous? Removed all of the busy but non-mission-critical activities that consume attention? (Source)
  • Too often we feel like we need to reply to every email. But we don’t. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that will happen if I delete this? (Source)
  • In all cases where doubts crop up, ask yourself, “If I had a gun to my head and had to do it, how would I do it?” It’s not as hard as you think. (The 4-Hour Work Week p. 318)
  • “But, you don’t understand my situation. It’s complicated!” But is it really? Don’t confuse the complex with the difficult. (The 4 Hour Work Week p. 287)
  • Step back and ask yourself if you’re feeling negatively about a project, do my feelings really matter? Or am I just caught in the weeds and looking at this from a negative perspective? (Source)
  • What is the one goal, if completed, that could change everything?
    • What is the most urgent thing right now that you feel you “must” or “should” do?
    • Can you let the urgent “fail”—even for a day—to get to the next milestone for your potential life-changing tasks?
    • What’s been on your to-do list the longest?
    • Start it first thing in the morning and don’t allow interruptions or lunch until you finish. (The 4-Hour Work Week p. 362-363)

Goal Setting and Aspirations

  • What would excite me? (The 4-Hour Work Week p. 70)
  • What is the pot of gold that justifies spending the best years of your life hoping for happiness in the last? (The 4-Hour Work Week p. 24)

Moving faster: (Source)

  • What do I want that I’m fearful of asking for?
  • What assumptions are holding me back from making this ask?
  • How can I become an asking machine? (Source)
  • How can I build an asking muscle?

Asking to shadow someone at work (Source):

  • "Just call up someone who has your dream job and beg them to spend a slow afternoon with you. Quite literally say something like, “I know this is out of left field, but it’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid to be a _____. I finally built up the courage to look for someone who is a pro in _____, and I found you after hours of research. Is there any possible way I could shadow you for an afternoon, even on a Saturday or Sunday if you prefer? How do I have to beg? I’ll bring a bottle of wine and buy you lunch, stand on my head, or do whatever necessary! Just let me know what I have to do, but please don’t say ‘no’! I’ve come too far.” If that’s a little too dramatic for you, bribe them to lunch to ask them about their job and then spring a version of the above on them."

Getting feedback on projects: (Source)

  • What is the 20% that I should absolutely keep?
  • If you had to cut 20% what would you remove?


  • When were you happiest in your life? (Source)
  • What can I do with my time to enjoy life and feel good about myself? (The 4-Hour Work Week p. 344)
  • Why not take the usual 20–30-year retirement and redistribute it throughout life instead of saving it all for the end? (The 4-Hour Work Week p. 300)
  • What does my life look like in 1, 3, and 5 years if I keep going at this pace? (Source)
  • Do you know how to have fun? (Source)

The Pareto Principle (The 4-Hour Work Week p. 89-90):

  • Which 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems and unhappiness
  • Which 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcomes and happiness? (The 4-Hour Work Week p. 89-90)

The Lifestyle Quotient (Source):

  • How many hours do I work for each day of vacation?
  • What percentage of my life do I really spend working vs. doing something I want to be doing?


  • How would your life change if you bought nothing new for a year? How much of it would be good change vs. bad? (Source)

Having Impact

  • $1,000 invested now may very well have a much greater impact — due to growth and ripple effect — than $10,000 invested in ten years. How many world leaders and innovators could you create or save if you acted now instead of at an undefined “someday”? (Source)
  • Regardless of income, could you afford to empower 100s or 1,000s of others with 5-10% of it, especially if it permanently increased your feeling of self-worth and contribution? (Source)
  • How would you feel about yourself if you just did it and pulled the trigger now? (Source)

Managing Employees and Teams


  • Is this someone in the top 20 percent of people you’ve ever worked with? Are they in the top 10? Are they in the top 5? (Source)
  • Ask friends, who’s the best of the best at this? (Source)
  • Are they civil and good at listening and finding compromises? (Source)
    • Good at identifying common ground, picking their battles, and laughing off the unimportant?
      • Or, do they lose control of their emotions and make hurtful personal attacks or generalizations?
      • Do they use guilt or other negative emotions instead of taking time to discuss things logically? Hold grudges?


  • Are they genuinely happy to see their teammates succeeding? (Source)


  • What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could train themselves to stop? (Source)

Delegating: (The 4 Hour Work Week (p. 361)

  • What did I get in exchange for temporarily putting on blinders and taking a few glancing blows?
    • Make a list of everything bad that happened
    • Make a list of everything great that happened

Time Management

  • What unidentified time sucks have you suffered from, and how did you — or could you — eliminate them? (Source)
  • What kind of hobbies produce flow state for me? (Source)

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