Jim Collins – A Rare Interview with a Reclusive Polymath: The Tim Ferris Show

Jim Collins — A Rare Interview with a Reclusive Polymath (#361)

  • Ludwig Wittgenstein has famously said – “The limits of our language are the limits of our world”
  • The absolute best company leaders are able to dissolve their ego into the company, and develop a sense of humility far above the rest
  • At the end of every single day, Jim opens a spreadsheet with 3 columns and logs the following:
    • The first column contains a description of what he did that day
    • The second column lists the number of creative work hours for that particular day
      • For the past 30 years, he’s clocked more than 1,000 creative work hours for the whole year – Jim always tries to be on pace to hit this
    • The third column lists a number: either +2, +1, 0, -1, or -2
      • This is a way of tracking his overall emotional state for the day (+2 is the highest – aka a really good day)
  • A great quote – “The only way to paint a masterpiece is to start with a blank canvas”
  • Find what Jim terms your “Hedgehog”:
    • Doing what you love to do and are passionate about
    • Doing what you’re encoded for (what you were born to do)
    • Something that pays
  • Trying keeping what Jim calls a “bug book”:
    • It’s a notebook where you write about what you (the bug) like/dislikes about the situations you encounter in life, always keeping in mind the idea of finding your personal Hedgehog
  • If someone is willing to give you mentor time, you owe it to them, and to you, to go prepared and then to do a lot of writing after about what you learned
  • Here’s what Jim learned from a meeting with Peter Drucker:
    • Don’t make 100 decisions when 1 will do
    • Instead of trying so hard to be successful, instead seek to be useful
  • The Flywheel Principle is an analogy for a series of good decisions, supremely well executed, taken with discipline thought, that added up over time produce a great result
    • Another way to think of this – A drives B drives C drives D and so on until you get back to A
  • Look for situations in life where you can fire bullets (try things), aim and calibrate (make sure you’re getting good results), and then fire a cannonball (go all in)
  • An option to fall back on often has negative value in relation to creative pursuits
    • You have to go all in 100%, otherwise you’ll hold something in reserve, and when it gets really scary, you’ll pull back

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