Tools of Titans (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). What a name. It suggests that these pages contain not just the habits of mere mortals, but of titans. Titans being, at the very least, the equivalent of Gods. Probably even a divine rung above, depending on your interpretation.
We are all mostly the sum of our habits. So, if what’s being suggested here is true, we’re about to unlock, not just the answers to what us regular schmucks do, but how the enlightened go about their business.
Tools of Titans delivers on its promise. This book is so dense with advice, that if you’re like me and start taking notes of things to remember as you read it, you find yourself transcribing the whole thing. How can you not pay attention to what doctors who are at the forefront of the latest research about nutrition are supplementing with? How industry innovators start a business, or the ways some of the planet’s greatest artists go about finding their muse? The list of people Ferriss has compiled here is impressive. No matter what interests you have in life, there are going to be a few names you want to rush to and Ferriss nearly suggests just that. That you shouldn’t feel the need to read Tools of Titans in a linear style. Rather skip over the things that you don’t find interesting. But be careful: are you skipping that because you’re not interested? Or are you skipping that because you’re avoiding something?
I’ve read self-help books and often find them to be of relatively limited use. Mostly, doing little more than leaving you with a positive glow of the accomplishment of having read the darn thing. Tools of Titans is not a self-help book. It is a reference book for how to live a better life. This is where I realized the one downside of the work… and it’s a tricky one. If we are constantly comparing ourselves to the best parts of other people, where does that leave room for appreciating the titan that already lives in you? It’s obvious but also important to note these are not a complete telling of how these people live their lives. This is advice from the things they do best, when they are at their best. It’s kind of the equivalent of judging the happiness of your friends by their smiling posts on social media. Also, life is a balance. What’s missing is a paragraph from each person about what they do when they aren’t being titans. Where’s the story of when the lifestyle guru went on a bender? Or the times the super-trainer ate junk food even when it wasn’t part of a strategy? When are they human? I’m not really suggesting that this book requires or even needs such stories. Just that in all of our quests for perfection we should remember that nobody is perfect. That you shouldn’t let the book overwhelm with all its… greatness.
In any event, get this book. It’s January and you’re probably trying to be a better person, like we all are. There’s information in the first 10 pages alone that are worth the price tag. It’s the kind of book you will revisit for years. Different wisdom speaking to you at different times. I’m not going to suggest that it belongs in the same realm as titans like the Tao Te Ching, Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations or Tolstoy’s Calendar of Wisdom, but it might just be valuable enough to be approaching the conversation. ◊
Leonard Huber is a free thinker who enjoys wine, croissants, his bicycle and kobocha squash in no particular order. He’s a champion of the artist inside us all and believes life is a balance of discipline and indulgence. You can see sporadic thoughts from him on his blog 30 days of thoughts. A title that may soon need updating.