One of my favourite podcasts is the Tim Ferriss Show. Among the many things Tim is successful at in addition to a podcast host, is being an author. Of his books, there is one called Tribe of Mentors: Short life advice from the best in the world, presumably about life advice that is short rather than advice about living a short life. It is based on answers to 11 really good questions that Tim needed to answer for himself at one point in his life, and of which he asked some people who he most admired to see what they would say so he could learn from the best. A sample can be heard in this podcast episode link, along with more about the questions and their sequence.
Personally, I love good, thoughtful and/or philosophical questions that are useful and not just theoretical. So in addition to reading and listening to answers from the book to learn, I thought I’d give them a try first. From answers I will give, I will analyze to see what I didn’t like, or which I thought I could improve on, to see if I can obtain a better answer some time over the next few years, decade, or even some point in the rest of my life. That’s because these questions aren’t just useless and/or silly thought experiments. No. A good answer for any one of these questions can really make a difference in one’s life, even if it wouldn’t always be some grand, life altering kind, though a few might be. At the least, I will end up with a great story for each answer. So on with the seventh post in this series, and Tim’s Question #7.
7. In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
As a competitive person, and one who loves being a sort of jack of all trades, for most of my life, I’ve devoted a lot of effort to working on my weaknesses to improve myself. While it was not an overwhelming concern, it was always an overhanging concern where I thought about, planned to work on, and actually worked on, my weaknesses rather than my strengths.
In the fall of 2017 and winter of 2018, in taking a Science of Well-being and Science of Happiness course, I heard about research regarding living on one’s strengths as a means towards well-being and happiness. More operationally, it related to the VIA Character Strengths survey that tells your strengths among 24 traits deemed worthy throughout all cultures and through the ages, with which you take and try to use more of in life. The theory and results applied to me incredibly well, in theory, with curiosity and creativity leading the way, to go live life where I practice more of that. By chance, I also happened to be listening to more education focused podcasts than before, which is a display of my curiosity, and heard from many successful people about the value of curiosity. And I was sold to give it a try.
So since spring of 2018, I’ve pivoted in one aspect, and perspective, of my life to start living on my strengths and not worry so much about my weaknesses. I still analyze myself for weaknesses and work on the weakest of them, or at least for the moment and short-term future, of course. However, my mindset has since generally been my weakest points aren’t that weak any more to have to worry about them. Basically, I’ll be fine if I get “attacked” or “made victim of” somehow on my weak points. It’s not arrogance so much as confidence because I have done the analysis on it rather than just blindly assumed it.
As for the strengths? It’s been a marvelous ride! That includes through the pandemic with restrictions and all where they are most crucial to keeping me happy and engaged in life with purpose to basically brush off impacts of those COVID restrictions and turn the extra time into more resource to devote to things, sometimes new things, that are now the joys of my life. Not to wish anything upon anyone but it wouldn’t bother me the least bit, for my own purposes, not for impact on the world, if COVID restrictions more or less remained in place for another year! That’s how foundational living on my strengths have been for me!
How’s that for life improvement?
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