What can Siddartha give?

Since starting his podcast in 2014, bestselling author Tim Ferriss has interviewed well over 100 highly successful people, from Navy SEALs to billionaire entrepreneurs.

He uses his interviews to pick apart the, as he puts it, “tactics, routines, and habits,” that have brought these subjects to the tops of their fields. He’s collected his favorite lessons from these discussions, along with a few new ones, in his book “Tools of Titans.”

Ferriss recently stopped by Business Insider’s New York office for a Facebook Live Q&A, and explained that there is a passage in Herman Hesse’s 1922 novel “Siddhartha” that offers a suitable lens for all of the “tools” he shares in his book.

The novel “Siddhartha” tells the story of a young monk’s quest for enlightenment (the Buddha narrative). Four of Ferriss’ guests included in “Tools of Titans” said it was the book they most often gave as a gift to others, including renowned Silicon Valley investor Naval Ravikant.

Ravikant was the person to highlight for Ferriss the passage in which the protagonist is asked by a merchant how he can offer anything to the world if he has discarded all of his possessions. Siddhartha tells the merchant that, “Everyone gives what he has,” and the merchant replies, “Very well, and what can you give? What have you learned that you can give?”

“I can think, I can wait, I can fast,” Siddhartha says.

Ferriss said that this deceptively simple response is the foundation for all high performers. He explains in “Tools of Titans”:

“I can think: Having good rules for decision-making, and having good questions you can ask yourself and others.

“I can wait: Being able to plan long-term, play the long game, and not mis-allocate your resources.

“I can fast: Being able to withstand difficulties and disaster. Training yourself to be uncommonly resilient and have a high pain tolerance.”

“Those are three very, very powerful tools and they’re very flexible,” Ferriss told us. [Link]

I would add the following:

‘Think’ here includes reflection and introspection.

‘Wait’ here more correctly should mean accepting delayed gratification. Being patient for results.

‘Fast’ here includes being prepared to bear and accept pain as part of the offerings of life.

2 thoughts on “What can Siddartha give?

  1. Very nice post. Do you think Trump is capable of doing any of these three things with even a modicum of competency or integrity?

  2. That is an interesting question and a short question. The reply will have to be longer. One answer seems easier: perhaps, he does not fast. As for thinking, leaders/kings have to surround themselves with thinkers than have deep thinking of their own. As for waiting, there is simply not enough information to say if he would or did.

    Second, I am not sure if we pose these questions to all political and Presidential candidates.

    Third, thinking, waiting and fasting are traits that seem to be missing not just in political leaders but in a vast majority of their followers and in the American media too.

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