Top 10 Lessons from Tools of Titans for Productive Thinking

Tools of titans

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Tools of Titans is a GREAT book written by NYTimes bestselling author, entrepreneur, investor, fortune’s 40 under 40 ‘Tim Ferris‘. Believe me when I say it is a GREAT book.

Everyone seeks to find the mantra: to be healthy, wealthy and wise. The book discloses secret tools  & tactics of the titans of diverse spheres of life, particularly the leaders, billionaires, celebrities, health experts and yogis etc.

I will review the book in the book review section later, but first I can’t wait to share some amazing lessons which will make your thinking productive for a better life.

To make it a quick read, but long lasting lesson in your memory I will share one lesson at a time, so here is the first one:


1. “What you track determines your lens – choose carefully” – Seth Godin  

When you have enough food on your table and a roof to shelter you from the storm, you begin to focus on what went wrong more that what went right. Our brain has a habit of  thinking about the past? More than 90% of our daily thoughts are from the past.

How many times you were rejected, have been cheated, misunderstood or heartbroken. But is it making anything better? No. Instead, it is secretly shaping a negative outlook towards everything in your life.

Killing your productivity and chances to succeed



So, why not think otherwise? We all remember the famous quote from the movie  ‘The Iron Lady’

“What We Think, We Become.”


Think how many times you were able to make something better, times when you won, you were appreciated for your skills, you created a positive impact in the world, etc. In the words of  Seth Godin from the book:


“It took me a bunch of cycles to figure out that the narrative was upto me.”


Reflect on how it went wrong and not what went wrong and then change it for better. Choose your own narrative, a good one, a positive one, one that will inspire you and make you move forward in life.


2. Mind Training: The Most Consistent Pattern of All

More than 80% of world-class performers Tim Ferris interviewed, had one daily routine in common ‘practicing some form of meditation or mindfulness everyday

In Tim’s words, this  activity is Cultivating a present state of awareness that helps you to be non- reactive. As an essential meta-skill, it helps you gain a ‘witness perspective’, and focus better on matters of importance like business negotiations, relationships, exams, etc. 

Ultimately, it gives you more control over thoughts and help in making reasonable and balanced decisions for your life.


How to cultivate this productive habit in your life?   

Self-created  inhibitions and mental obstacles are the greatest deal breaker.  I am lazy, I don’t have time, I don’t have enough space in my house, …. There will be thousands of reasons for why is it not possible? But only one is enough to make it happen. That one reason is your goal in life, whatever it is; success, health, mental peace or anything else.



The picture above is my ideal state and place for meditation, but is it possible for me to go there and meditate everyday? No.

Thanks to technology I can create this space in my home, in my head. From using smartphone applications like Headspace or Calm, listening to guided meditation sessions  to taking  professional help like Transcendental Meditation course (if you want to spend some money on it), there is a buffet of options available to us.


How long before we see the results?

Google pioneer, award winning engineer and best selling author Chade-Meng Tan,  who started the ground breaking mindfulness-based emotional intelligence course Search Inside Yourself  gives a practical advice on how to make mindfulness effective.

He says make the mindfulness practice sustainable, sustainable in order to be effective and not burdensome. His three golden tips to make mindfulness sustainable are as follows:

  • Have a buddy to practice with,
  • Do less than you can and
  • Take one breath a day 


Tim’s favorite word from Cheng is ‘just note gone’, observe the breath that is gone. Read more about in  The Power of Gone by Master Shinzen Young. 



“If you are getting frustated, your standards are too high or your sessions are too long.”


To create something great, always begin from something small. 

Dalai Lama’s ’50 hours’  or Arnold Schwarzeneggar’s one year of diligent practice, the time for life changing effect may vary, but the pattern is same; consistency. Make your own time table, suppose 7 or 10 minutes for 7 days, commit yourself to it, and observe how you are doing. Remember, the goal is to observe your thoughts, fulfil the commitment and preserve the momentum of practice.  Preparation and practice will make it work.


“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln



3.  Keep a Morning Journal: The Spiritual Windshield Wipers

Before you close this tab, assuming that this lesson is about 5 goals to accomplish today or things to do list for the day, then you are wrong, but not entirely. So keep reading.



What should you write in your journal for a productive day?

Write down 3 to 5 things that make you uncomfortable and anxious such as the thoughts that you want to escape from or the tasks that are long- pending which you have to do but you don’t want to do. Write them all, but remember to stick to 3- 5 things only. Do not write your autobiography, you have lots of things to do. 


morning journal



To answer this, Tim quotes Author Julia Cameron from her book  The Artist’s Way: Morning Pages Journal:


“Once we get those muddy, maddening, confusing thoughts [nebulous worries, jitters and preoccupations] on the paper, we face our day with clearer eyes.”


If you don’t let those thoughts out, they will be bouncing in your head all day and you won’t be able to do one thing right.

Tim Ferris found it to be the most cost-effective therapy and has been practicing it everyday.


What’s Next?

Next step is to go through each of those tasks you wrote and ask yourself:


“If I can complete this one task, will it make my day complete or satisfactory?”
“If I postpone it, will rest of the task on the list become easier to do later?”


Those were Tim Ferris’s questions.

Shelley’s (that’s me) question (which I ask myself and have often led me to do most annoying things at most odd hours. But the result is a peaceful day with less worries than the last day) is:


“Will completing this task make my life feel less of a mess than it is right now?”


If you find your answer ‘YES’ to any of those questions. Block your 2-3 good and focussed hours of the day to complete that task with your 100% focus. No distractions allowed. You may procrastinate, become nervous, might run  away too!! It happens. Calm yourself down and come back to the task.

Tell yourself that you will get through it, because  checking off that one thing on your list will give you so much peace and happiness. You will feel great. Don’t forget to congratulate yourself!!




You have completed that one uncomfortable, annoying and unnerving task today and you won’t have to deal with it again. You have more time and more clear space in your head for better things to think about and do. So, try adding this one habit to your morning ritual and see the difference. All the best for it and make the most of the day.


“Don’t overestimate the world and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.”


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