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 tenth post in this series, and Tim’s Question #10.
10. In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?
It sounds terrible, but I’ve become better at saying “no” to requests for donations. Most requests for donations I encounter are corporate requests, where a big entity asks for donations they will make in their name, not mine, with some of the donation paying for the resources they invested to get this money. In other cases, a corporate entity is leveraging other corporate entities to get donations for their cause, all the meanwhile spending some of the money on excesses like top executive pay that I absolutely do not approve of. That is fine for other people, and may be needed for some big, centralized efforts. However, it isn’t right for me who want to not only get more value out of my donations, and to solve problems they cannot, namely specific individuals or needs the “system” would either overlook or would take “forever” to get to, who can’t wait until the system gets to them. Whether that’s covering for someone’s rent increase for the year, or getting them an appliance to help ease their daily family cooking, I know what I give has 100% of its value devoted to the purpose. I can’t “save the world”, so to speak, so I just do my share to help, and I pick from among the many cases I see in this world that is far less caring of people than it could be.
I’ve long had convictions about being more local and immediate in helping others, as from a life philosophy I’ve had for decades to “Save YOUR world before you save THE world” that is also partly about self-care that is more local and immediate than anything or anyone else. I’ve also long frowned upon wastes and inefficiencies of corporate fundraising. It is needed and works for others and that’s fine, but I will leave it for them then. For me, I will choose to help my way that is more direct, efficient, and personal. Finally, I’ve long realized that I donate to help others, not for me to look good in the eyes of others. However, the want, possibly need, to still look OK in the eyes of others to contribute when there is group effort, has what left me doing so in the past. More recently, I’ve just doubled down on it and stuck to my own values, caring less about what others in the group might have thought of me. Well, that might be an exaggeration to a lie. I am certainly able to feel less uncomfortable doing that because I do other things to help others that are visible to them outside of the group norms. Sometimes it’s direct that they have to know about it, like helping their kids with free tutoring so time and effort, or supplement their needs on things they gripe about like parking closer to work because it was too expensive for them to park nearby, but it makes their days so much better, so money. Other times, it’s stuff I’m proud of doing, or was creative or targeted with good value which the “system” of corporate donations would never cover, so I tell them as something that made me and others happy. So when it comes to fund raising campaign time, I’m OK with them mistakenly thinking I’m a grinch not to give. I know that they know I’m not a complete grinch, which is all I need them to know.
As for other tips, I would say I try not to put myself in situations where I have to be forced to answer questions of donations, and to have nicer sounding answers so I don’t feel so jarring in answering. For example, I’ve heard some people say “sorry, not today” instead of “no, thank you” when asked for corporate donations at cashiers. I would never say that to someone on the street asking me, of course, as if I might another day, using the non-committal and honest apologetic “I’m sorry” instead. However, I feel I can say “sorry, not today” to a cashier, or worse, auto-checkout robot voice, rather than a flat out “no, thank you”.
And what the fuck is it with all these cashier donation requests these days??? You’re a big corporation. Share some of your fucking profits with the world instead of milking everyone else for it via robotic guilt incarnation, then using some of the donations for your needs or your fundraising expenses, and donating the rest in your name for your marketing image!!! Totally disgraceful!!! but that’s what our capitalistic funnel economy leads many to do, get more desperate to make more money regardless of moral considerations for others, which only spurs others to do more desperate things to survive, in a race to the bottom.
Please click here to read posts with other questions from Tim Ferriss’ Tribe of Mentors.
Please click here to read posts with other podcasts’ signature questions.
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