Aspire not to be

Tim Ferriss’s podcast is one of the best out there. His goal: to “deconstruct the habits, tools, and tactics of world-class performers”. He is not alone on this mission. A jaunt through iTunes’ podcast rankings uncovers dozens of shows dedicated to interrogating comedians, authors, scientists, clergy, investors, entrepreneurs, and artists for their personal stories and secret sauces. We want to learn from the people that we aspire to be.

In fact, we would learn more from the people we aspire not to be.

Unfortunately, there are few books authored by unsuccessful people, and those that fail to achieve their goals are rarely interviewed on podcasts. If they were, one might quickly find that their stories and habits are not so dissimilar to their exceptional role models.

One of the best books I’ve found on the topic is Jim Paul’s What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars. Paul chronicles his story of becoming a millionaire through commodities trading and losing it all within a few months via poor decision making. Crucially, he identifies that while there are countless (and often contradictory) strategies to make money, there are only a handful of ways to reliably lose it. Although he uses the world of investing as an example, the psychological principles he discusses apply to any endeavor.

It’s a great book to add to your reading list this year, no matter your goals.

If you’d like a preview, you can listen to Jim Paul’s interview with… Tim Ferriss. Like I said, one of the best out there.

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