The Problem That I have With The Tim Ferris-es Of This World.
You can’t cheat an honest man; never give a sucker an even break or smarten up a chump.” W.C. Fields
Ok, so speaking as a personal trainer and a guy who has run a gym for the last few decades, the problem that I have with Tim Ferriss’ books, particularly The 4-Hour Body and their ilk, is the same problem that I have with all of this author’s work, the author himself and people like him, in general.
I am fully aware that there is no doubt vastly numbers more of The Tribe Of Ferriss than there are of me. So really, who am I to swim vainly against the rising tides, to criticise hardworking, rich and famous internet personalities? Just a nobody, that’s who.
For those readers who want it simple and wish to avoid the necessity of wading through the significant material backup provided below, in a nutshell: Not only does most material in these books not work, most of it fucking doesn’t work. Just look at the man himself. Is this the body that you aspire to, that you dream of having? Well, those who know better than to do, teach…and all that, right?
You can separate some writers from their body of work and some you can’t. TF is one of those that you can’t. All his books can be lumped together, they are all delivering essentially the same message about different subjects. Criticise one and you can pretty much take down the whole lot with the same bullet.
Please don’t misunderstand, the man himself is no slouch and emphatically not rip-off artist, he’s a charlatan. He knows how to entertain and has developed a system that keeps the money-spinning public well, spinning money. No small talent, R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I will explain myself further after I set the plate of this commentary with a few garnishments (skip them, if you wish).
To paint success with a broad brush. To have a light touch. To enjoy the warm breeze, the cold beer, a thick slice of watermelon on the sand, it’s taste mingled with the watercolour scent of the sea.
A lot of things can be used to pin the S (success)-word on your lapel. Little things that you achieve can go a long way to give you as much rush, satisfaction, and feeling of accomplishment, you imagine, as climbing to the top of the Matterhorn or making a million dollars. We all strive to do the best we can with the little we have.
Also, I like successful people. I am fascinated on how it all works and usually quite comfortable around them. At least, when I run into one, now and then. I feel that I can trust most of them most of the time, that is, as long as I’m not carrying around something that they covet. Yes, successes tend to be a fun and interesting crowd to be around. Even the miserable ones can furnish enlightenment of one sort or another.
Tim Ferriss is intelligent and successful. It appears that a successful, intelligent man like Tim Ferris can make a killing in social media environments by spinning tall tales and coaxing a large segment of the public to feel that they possess the same potential to be just as intelligent and successful, and therefore, by extrapolation just as happy as he appears to be. All you need is 4 hours per week and, of course, a buy-in.
Tim is a seller of snake-oil, but a successful and delightful one. You can pick up any of his books and make believe that you, too are going to be a success in whatever is being suggested by the book’s title. Just like you can pick up any issue of COSMO and make believe that you’re a model, and in a much shorter time than you ever dreamed was possible. So, no tedious and boring reality to get in the way and make a mess. Just buy Big Tim’s book.
People like Ferriss are the symptom rather than a cause of the malady of the Modern Hack Mindset. This Modern Hack Mindset is merely a recycled old body part found in the inner workings maintained in all of us that lives in hope, desperately wanting to believe that you can get your checks for free, understanding that learning of nuclear physics in a week is no problem, positively asserting the only requirement is that by chanting a simple magick mantra any girl you want falls immediately and lovingly into your arms forever and ever.
This is the self-same part of the human psyche that is easily persuaded you’re really going to win that race, after all. Just hold on a little bit longer, until you can get that guaranteed winning ticket from your lucky downtown bookie who is holding one for you with your name on it. Just wait on the man.
You know which man I’m talking about, right? The one who really gives a fuck about you.
Easy online access and cheap advertising has the potential to generate things of light & things of value but also increasingly, deals in questionable creatures selling uncertain commodities requiring for their safety and survival a cloak of bullshit that the opaque shadow worlds of the internet readily provide.
I think many online experts and gurus busy themselves with promulgating the idea that success is a sort of Ponzi Scheme. All you need to do is manage to get a hold of enough followers and likes and you’re strolling down Easy Street with a grin on your lips and not a care in the world. Yep, you can be anyone and have anything you want, all you need is The Secret. And Big Tim has that secret, just throw a like his way and buy his book.
Call me a party-pooper, but very seldom will you find even a nanoparticle’s share of payback even for the relatively small amount of time that it takes you to open and read, let alone discover a smidgeon of chance that the info just now sneaking through your e-mail slot so conveniently, so effortlessly, so free of charge and anonymously carries even the remotest of possibilities that the fortunes of your life will be improved.
Imagination is an intrinsically valuable resource tool and when you don’t have a lot of money, one that will ensure your survival in this worm eat worm world … but it is also explicitly not the only weapon required in your business-building armoury that you are dedicating to success.
Motivation, forged in the crucible of the real world, tacit knowledge, ruthless optimism, flexible stubbornness, selfish integrity and generous attention to detail…you know, all those old chestnuts that grandpa used to dish out with those delicious, perfectly BBQ’d burgers…even these days, sometimes still come in handy.
Yes, it is difficult to cheat an honest man, irascibly and heart-breakingly so.
Luckily, at least for Tim Ferriss-es of this world, this crazy, mixed-up, cockamamie-spinning world doesn’t maintain an oversupply of them.
Originally published in a slightly altered form at www.quora.com.