The One Book Whose Pages You Can’t Help but Bookmark

Auriane Alix
I read this gold mine of wisdom cover to cover.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
“Emptiness is the fasting of the mind” — Zhuang Zhou

This is exactly the kind of book that nourishes your soul, fuels your creativity, and sky-rocket your ambitions. It’s a gold mine of wisdom, made of selected nuggets from some of the best in the world.

It’s exactly the book I needed at this moment in my life. It filled me with energy, motivation, and confidence, both in myself and in my projects. Books have that kind of magical power to find you, at the right time, for the right reasons.

In “Tribe of Mentors”, best-selling author and podcaster Timothy Ferriss asked some very well-chosen questions to over 130 of the world’s top performers. Among them are entrepreneurs, elite athletes, artists, writers, scientists, of all ages and backgrounds. In this book, they share their tools for success, finding meaning, and happiness.

130+ mentors, 11 questions

“Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask. […] If you want uncommon clarity and results, ask uncommonly clear questions” — Tim Ferriss

What is the book you have most often given as a gift? What was your best purchase under $100? What quote would you choose to display if you had a huge billboard? What is your favorite failure?

Here are some of the questions Tim Ferriss asked. They are specific, uncommon, and open up a wide and actionable field of answers. An interesting point is that some of the answers are recurrent, highlighting crucial points. For example, several books come back more than 5 times, and meditation is an oft-cited habit (it’s high time I started).

I literally read it cover to cover. I was probably under 14 the last time I was so absorbed in a book.

Here are some of my favorite highlights.

“In every difficult moment ask yourself, ‘What is a hard choice and what is an easy choice?’ and you will know instantly what is right.” — Jerzy Gregorek

Jerzy Gregorek has won four World Weightlifting Championships and established one world record.

The choice of the easy way out rarely takes us anywhere else but on the sofa, eating ice cream. This quote seems to apply to everything: finding the motivation to exercise, to sit down and work, to overcome a situation that stresses us but that we can’t reasonably avoid, to jump headfirst into a new — and of course, frightening — project.

This question is an excellent compass because it not only shows us the way forward but also gives us the determination to take action. Knowing it’s the right thing to do makes it the only thing to do.

“Follow your curiosity, wherever you can find it.” — Anna Holmes

Anna Holmes is an award-winning writer, editor, and creative executive.

I can’t stand the feeling of stagnation. It’s a vicious circle: even when one part of me comes up with new ideas, the other part is quick to be a killjoy: “Why start this, when you’ve spent so much time studying this or working on that?”.

Except being curious about a given field should be reason enough to pursue it. It brings joy, purpose, knowledge, and you never know where it might lead you.

This quote encouraged me to take up podcasting, something that has been in the back of my mind for some time now. Certainly, I have been working on my work as a writer (and photographer) for many years. But why would that limit what I am allowed to explore in my life?

“You are 99 years old, you are on your deathbed, and you have a chance to come back to right now: what would you do?”

This is a quote by Christopher Carmichael chosen by Jérôme Jarre when he was asked the question “If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why?”. Jérôme Jarre is a French influencer living in the US.

This one gives perspective. I have tried it on several of my current fights. You know, the ones where your mind keeps bouncing from “yes” to “no” in a few hours — or minutes.

Well, the “right” way is pretty easy to find with this trick. I am willing to bet that you will choose the “daring” path rather than the “easy” one.

“I now take fear and discomfort as a sign that I should be doing something. That’s where the magic happens.” — Amelia Boone

Amelia Boone is an American obstacle racer.

Over time, I have learned that all emotions and sensations are messengers. They talk to us. This makes them a great raw compass from the depths of our heart and soul.

Fear and discomfort, as Amelia Boone points out, are among the best, because when put into practice, they often bring about the greatest changes in our lives. When they appear too frequently, it may be time to re-evaluate your life.

“The question that helps me return to the present is, simply, ‘Is what I’m doing right now aligned with my life’s calling?’” — Dr. Gabor Maté

Gabor Maté is a Hungarian-born Canadian physician.

It’s all about making the next five minutes of your life great. No one can reasonably use their energy to make their whole life great. It’s just too far away. But making the next five minutes of your day meaningful is always within your reach.

It doesn’t mean you have to be constantly productive. Watching an episode of your favorite TV show is perfectly acceptable, as long as it is done deliberately and consciously: for instance, to recharge your batteries and give your best to your work afterward.

This quote is an excellent tool to assess whether this book, activity, group of friends, or event is something you should focus on or not.

“I keep trying to sort of ‘relax’ into where I am now, whether it is where I want to be or not.” — Ben Stiller

Ben Stiller is an American actor, comedian, film producer, film director, and writer.

It may have resonated in a personal way since France is under lockdown again and I’ve been waiting for a year to become a digital nomad. But it has put the situation into perspective: I still have the chance to spend this time in the pleasant company of my parents. Two hours ago you would have found us preparing lunch together while chatting and laughing.

Relaxing in the situation is a relief. It is soothing. After all, once the situation has finally changed, you may find yourself missing it as you weren’t there when it did happen, being too focused on the aftermath. True story.

“Don’t worry about what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. Just find a profitable and interesting use for the next three to five years.” — Sam Harris

Sam Harris is an American author, philosopher, neuroscientist, and podcast host.

This is, I think, my favorite highlight. It takes such a weight off my shoulders! We are constantly told that we have to figure everything out, work every day towards our ultimate goal. I don’t know about you, but I have no idea what my biggest goal is. The only thing I do know is that I have short-term projects, ambitions, curiosities, and ideas.

This quote shows that it is the pursuit of these same elements in the short term that will lead to results in the medium and long term. If what you’re pursuing ignites a real spark in you, then the path can’t be the wrong one.

For now, don’t focus on connecting the dots. They will connect as you adjust your path, as you implement new things, as you take others away, all of which will happen when you are finally and totally honest with yourself. That’s all you should be following.

Final thoughts

There is gold on every page of this book. I have never highlighted so many passages and made so many annotations in my entire life as a reader.

Over the course of the 130+ interventions, some points of view prove to be completely contradictory. That’s great because it shows one thing: there is no “right” way. The “right” path is the one that every one traces for themselves.

There is a great diversity of opinions, profiles, and backgrounds. Some interviews last 2 pages and others 6. Some elements come up often, such as the importance of meditating, walking, exercising, and following one’s guts. Besides, there are many, many suggestions for books.

It is a book to be read with a pencil in one hand and bookmarks in the other.

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