Jun 302013

If you have heard about the book The 4-Hour Workweek then you probably know who Tim Ferriss is. You might also know about his other books: The 4-Hour Chef and The 4-Hour Body. Entrepreneurship, cooking, and physical health are three very different topics. From the outside, some folks might look at Tim’s books — at least the latter two — and assume they are gimmicks. After listening to a relatively recent Mixergy interview of Tim, I no longer have any doubt: Tim is brilliant. And he is legit.

Tim’s interview is one of the best Mixergy interviews I’ve listened to. Since it was supposed to be about his new book, and my wife Varsha and I often think of ourselves as amateur chefs, I had lined it up for a road trip together to Charleston. Although the interview barely covered the book itself, Varsha and I were in stunned silence soaking it in. There were a number of huge take-aways from the interview, but there is one that has stuck in my mind more than any other; it’s the secret of how Tim is, time and time again, able to master anything.

We’re not all born superstars

The most obvious and intuitive approach to becoming better at something is to imitate the best. To most of us, this means copying the superstars. For example, if you want to become a better golfer, you might try to mimic Tiger Woods. If you want to be an Olympic swimmer, why look any further than Michael Phelps? Tim implies that this is a mistake. Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, and most other superstars were born with natural talent and ability that very few of us possess. There is a reason why so many professional athletes grew up dominating multiple sports in their youth.

Tim’s advice? Find the outlier. Look for the person that probably shouldn’t have made it, but did. Keeping the sports analogy going, you might want to learn from John Stockton — not LeBron James. The person who succeeded despite a lack of natural advantages. The one who had to take an unconventional approach, figure out some tricks, and take some shortcuts. The one who had to find some way to do what nobody thought they could do. It’s likely that you will benefit more from studying his or her approach, than by copying a natural-born superstar.

The Mixergy interview with Tim is full of several other awesome take aways, like how your should really apply the 80-20 rule, and why systematizing everything actually creates more freedom in your life. If you are still doubting that Tim could actually become an expert at so many different things, then all the more reason to listen to him. He might be the outlier you need to imitate. Listen to the interview here.