Self-help guru Tim Ferriss explains why too much ambition can be a problem

Tim ferrissAndrew ‘Drew’ KellyTim Ferriss writes in a journal daily.

“Tools of Titans” author and podcaster Tim Ferriss gave a young person some unexpected advice during a recent book tour pit stop in San Francisco.

“Too much ambition … can be a problem,” Ferris said, “not for the world, but for someone individually if it is manifested as a pure focus on self-achievement without any counter-balancing practice that allows you to appreciate [life].”

During a talk at the headquarters of e-book and audiobook subscription service, Scribd, the self-help guru addressed a theme in his newest book, “Tools of Titans,” that warns against keeping busy without making time for some kind of release.

I know people who are unbelievably ambitious. I think I’m pretty ambitious, but they’re 10 times ‘X’ what I am. It’s not a problem if they have for themselves, personally, a practice — whether it is the ‘Jar of Awesome,’ which I write about, or writing in a journal, or a meditative practice, or volunteering, something like that — that allows them to establish in the present tense some form of appreciation,” Ferris said on stage.

Ferris writes in a journal between 8 and 9 AM almost every day, calling the routine a “tool to clarify my thinking and goals.” He follows it up with a cup of tea.

He also writes in “Tools of Titans” about the homemade Jar of Awesome, a Mason jar decorated with glitter letters that sits on Ferriss’ kitchen counter. Whenever something good happens, Ferris writes it down on a slip of paper and drops it in the jar.

“When something great happens, you think you’ll remember it 3 months later, but you won’t. The Jar of Awesome creates a record of great things that actually happened, all of which are easy to forget if you’re depressed or seeing the world through grey-coloured glasses,” he writes.

The jar sits where he will see it constantly, acting as a visual cue that “things aren’t so bad.”

“I came to realise that A) If you’re serious all the time, you’ll wear out before the truly serious stuff gets done; and B) if you don’t regularly appreciate the small wins, you will never appreciate the big wins,” Ferris writes.

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