Ferriss, Clear, and Naval Live Extraordinary Lives Because They Beat Their Excuses with a Sledgehammer

Tim Denning
Nov 24, 2020 · 5 min read
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Picture by Drew Anthony Smith

Excuses are the downfall of humanity.

An excuse a day will lead you to mediocrity faster than a famous Japanese Bullet Train can turn you into tomato sauce if you get too close.

I was a man of many excuses. Excuse was my middle name. When I wanted to be the next DJ like Calvin Harris, I kept telling my manager what I was lacking. She kept trying to help me find the “inspiration” and eventually gave up. The problem wasn’t what I lacked. The problem was my excuses. I needed fans, or a new Moog synthesizer, or a bigger venue to play at.

You know the truth?

When I got up on stage to play a set, I felt sick and like I wanted to shit my pants. The excuses were a band-aid for my fear. It was easy to lie to myself about what was really going on in my head than confront my reality and bust open my excuses.

You don’t live an extraordinary live when you’re full of excuses. You live a lie.

Feeling Better About Your Goals Doesn’t Make Them a Reality

We use lukewarm phrases like, “I’m doing well with the time I have available.” Or, “I’ve been trying really hard recently.”

Rarely do these statements include any type of hard measurement. They are usually just soft excuses that make us feel better about having a goal that we haven’t made much real progress toward — James Clear

You use excuses because they make you feel better.

A reader said to me the other day “I hope to get time over the holidays to start your online course.” A goal you wait until the holidays to work on isn’t a goal at all. A goal is something you work on every day if you’re serious about it.

You make progress when you refuse to drown in your excuses.

James Clear wrote the famous book “Atomic Habits.” Rather than rely on willpower or huge audacious feats of human awesomeness, James, much like myself, suggests small steps taken frequently. By going small, you build a habit. With a habit, you can build anything you damn well want.

A habit replaces excuses.

James’s habit was writing. He wrote online when everybody told him it was impossible and he’d never get anywhere. The blog posts he wrote became chapter ideas for his eventual books. Nobody read his work a lot in the beginning. That didn’t matter. What mattered is that he didn’t give in to his writing excuses and dream about becoming Hemingway overnight.

It was a slow rise for James to become one of the most well-known writers to ever grace the internet.

When you find yourself making excuses, be like James.

There’s No Excuse for Spending Most of Your Life in Misery

There’s no excuse for spending most of your life in misery. You’ve only got 70 years out of the 50 billion or so that the universe is going to be around.

Whatever your natural state is, it’s probably not this. This is your living state. Your dead state is true over a much longer time frame. When I think about the world that way, I realize it’s just kind of a game — Naval Ravikant

Naval is the Buddha of Silicon Valley. He takes the idea of excuses and looks at it on a much larger time scale. 70 out of 50 Billion years seems kind of small, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. There is no time to play it small with excuses.

Naval started writing a blog called Venture Hacks. It was lube for entrepreneurs who loved startup porn but didn’t understand the practical skills like negotiation and term sheets.

The blog turned into AngelList which became his own little slice of internet heaven. The habit built the blog, not his excuses about why he couldn’t be an entrepreneur or tech investor. By being in and around tech, he managed to invest in many startups including Uber and Twitter.

Naval brought the network he needed to him through a blog. Genius.

You need people to build cool shit. You can attract people to your project and obliterate your excuses by starting a blog about the thing.

The Most Successful People Are Mythologized by the Public

“Successful people aren’t different — you’re just making excuses,” according to Tim Ferriss. I used to believe people who had achieved a lot in their field were different to me. I fetishized their success and thought “that can never be me.”

I met Gary Vaynerchuk at an event and expected to meet Yoda. The person I met was quite average.

What stood out was his humility. He made me feel special without saying very much at all. But Gary definitely wasn’t some social media superhero like the media made him out to be.

“If you organize your life through the lens of seeing successful people as fundamentally completely different than yourself, it gives you a way to absolve yourself of responsibility.”

“Then you are telling yourself you cannot be successful. And oftentimes that is just to give yourself an out so that you don’t have to commit the time or the resources or the thinking to determining how to improve yourself.” — Tim Ferriss

You’re no different to the person you admire. It’s time in the game, not natural talent, that separates you from achieving the same results as your idol.

You can do anything when you destroy your excuses and replace them with focused, consistent, simple effort.

What’s different about Tim Ferriss, Naval Ravikant and James Clear is that they have found unique approaches to overcoming their excuses. Without excuses, they were each able to achieve extraordinary results in their respective fields.

The dark truth is they each have their demons. Ferriss, a so-called productivity genius, has admitted to seeing a therapist, being lousy at romance and dealing with childhood sexual abuse quietly by himself for years.

Preparation for the worst helps you not only battle your excuses, but deal with the inevitable tragedies that will take you by surprise and smack you in the face. The more you study extraordinary people, the more you realize they’re not so extraordinary at all.

The difference between where you are and where you want to go is tiny micro-doses of effort unleashed daily. Give up your excuses and replace them with effort. If you wait to feel like it, or wait until you’re ready, you’ll be waiting your entire life to make a tiny splash.

You’re good enough based on where you are right now.

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The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness and fulfillment.

Tim Denning

Written by

Aussie Blogger with 100M+ views — Writer for CNBC & Business Insider. Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship — timdenning.com/wc

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 150,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

Tim Denning

Written by

Aussie Blogger with 100M+ views — Writer for CNBC & Business Insider. Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship — timdenning.com/wc

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 150,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

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