What I Learned this Week
- The power and beauty of self-organizing groups.
- The value of doing what scares you.
After posting a 60 second video where I explained three things I wanted to learn in the next year I was chosen to be one of the students at The 4-Hour™ Life: Healthy, Wealthy and Wise. I thought the odds of being chosen were reasonably good, but it was still a surprise to be told I was in. This was Thursday night before the next Tuesday when I would have to be across the country in Seattle. For about five seconds I made up excuses why going just didn’t seem reasonable but fortunately that mindset evaporated quickly. Time to hustle.
Our master teacher was to be, of course, Tim Ferriss. I didn’t get a photo with him or autograph, but the truth is I was probably the biggest fanboy there. I’ve given away more copies of The 4-Hour Body than I can count and talked many other people into buying it for themselves. (Everyone I meet seems to already own The 4-Hour Work Week.) A couple weeks before the event Damien and I interviewed Tim for well over an hour for our site WallStCheatSheet.com. Prior to the interview we received a digital copy of The 4-Hour Chef. In my opinion this is his best book yet. That, coupled with a very relaxed and enjoyable interview, where Tim was more than happy to discuss anything, made me even more of a fan.
Monday morning, the day before all us lucky students hit the road, I fired off the first email to our group of classmates suggesting we get together the night before. Followed a few minutes later by an email from Seth, who had already researched and found a good restaurant for us. He also set up a private Facebook group to help us coordinate. Anjali set us up on Group.me so we could easily text the group while we were there. Moira got tons of group photos during the breaks from shooting. And Sergio set up a Dropbox folder so we could all share photos. Then he even scheduled some accountability check-ins and group reunions. Talk about a “self-organizing group”!
A self-organizing group is a collective whose members are surprised and delighted by what they become and do together. These collectives create themselves and contain members who become increasingly aware that the group is giving them more than they could imagine and plan as individuals. Self-aware self-organizing groups: groups in which members recognize that the group itself is something special. Read more
Eben Pagan says his company relies on self-organizing groups, but they do assign people they feel would be complementary to the groups. That said, they are flat and no one is put “in charge.” I’ve always wanted to experience that firsthand. Our small PR firm does operate this way but it’s only a handful of people, and at Cheat Sheet we’re slightly more hierarchical. Seeing how a dozen people can just naturally, and spontaneously, collaborate to create a very productive and just plain fun experience was amazing. In fact, it’s not over yet so the amazement continues.
I also re-learned the value of pushing out the boundaries of your comfort zone. I have to admit that it’s been a while since I did that in a meaningful way outside of racing bicycles. It’s not that I wasn’t fully aware of how important this is to personal growth, but after a while of staying in the same workaday groove, or rut, it’s easy to forget how joyous the upside of getting a little uncomfortable, of participating in an event like this, with great people, can be. And if that means some anxiety for a short time while you adapt to the situation, it’s a bargain. I considered just submitting a video to be a success. Everything after that was gravy.
I had planned to mention some of the highlights but the list is just too long. Suffice it to say to that at the top of the list was meeting so many great people. Every Monday morning I write down three goals for the week. This week my number one goal was “have maximum fun.” That was checked off, in a big way. The perfect conclusion to the trip was meeting my old friend Jeff for dinner the night before I came home. It’s been years but it felt as familiar and welcome as ever.
In the short clip below, everyone in the archery demo was able to hit the bullseye in the waning seconds of the show. See that hugging and high-fiving excitement? That’s what the whole trip felt like.
In addition to Tim Ferriss and creativeLIVE I want to thank the other teachers, Noah Kagan, Rick Torbett, Leila Janah, Dave Camarillo, Kelly Starrett, Mark Bell, Neil Strauss, and Philippe von Borries.