Since the release of his bestseller “The 4-Hour Workweek” in 2007, Tim Ferriss has made a career of studying experts at the top of their fields.
His latest book, “Tools of Titans,” collects what he’s learned during this period, including his insights from more than 100 interviews with highly successful people for his podcast.
Ferriss wrote that in 2012 he picked up a question he’s since regularly asked himself: “Am I hunting antelope or field mice?”
It’s adapted from former speaker of the US House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, by way of Bill Clinton’s political strategists James Carville and Paul Begala in their 2003 book “Buck Up, Suck Up … and Come Back When You Foul Up.”
Carville and Begala wrote that they “disagreed with virtually everything” Gingrich did in terms of policy, but they respected him for his talent as a shrewd political leader.
They particularly liked an analogy Gingrich used:
“A lion is fully capable of capturing, killing, and eating a field mouse. But it turns out that the energy required to do so exceeds the caloric content of the mouse itself. So a lion that spent its day hunting and eating field mice would slowly starve to death. A lion can’t live on field mice. A lion needs antelope. Antelope are big animals. They take more speed and strength to capture and kill, and once killed, they provide a feast for the lion and her pride. … So ask yourself at the end of the day, ‘Did I spend today chasing mice or hunting antelope?'”
Ferriss said that while this can be applied to long-term projects, he often applies it to his daily to-do list, asking “Which one of these, if done, would render all the rest either easier or completely irrelevant?”
In other words, which is the antelope?
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