“Simplicity requires ruthlessness.”

I picked this expanded and updated version of  Timothy Ferris’s 2007 book up with much trepidation:  The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich sounded scammy to me. Ferris is a proponent of what’s known as lifestyle design, which he describes as “abandon[ing] the deferred-life plan and creat[ing] luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility.”

But buy it I did, and I’ve been deliberating over this blog post for longer than I should, because I really didn’t like or enjoy reading the book. Ferris’s tone and writing style came across as arrogant, and his theories were only supported by his own personal experience.  Often, he seemed to use the ends to justify the means, which sometimes aren’t within the comfort level, ability, or moral range of the average Joe or Jane.  The book begins with self-congratulation and is a fairly blatant marketing/sales tool for Ferris himself. (Not surprisingly, he is now promoting The 4-Hour Body:  An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman!)

Ferris tears down the idea that you should be finding your dream job; instead, you should focus on finding your dream LIFE.  I appreciate the concept, but I question how realistic some of his solutions are for most of us. If you could be systematic about applying the tools and are not a risk-averse person, I think it might just work. But if you are in a place of desperation, not able or willing to take some risks, or are not incredibly self-confident, I think you could actually hurt yourself (financially, professionally, emotionally, etc.) more than benefit.

However, the overall premise – that you can firmly grasp control of how, where, and when you invest your time and efforts – is a powerful one. Ferris does offer many helpful ideas and tools that will help you get that control by removing unproductive and not-worthwhile activities from your life; eliminating them, outsourcing them, or automating them.

A few of my favorite quotes:

  • “Are you inventing things to do to avoid the important?”
  • “Just because something has been a lot of work or consumed a lot of time doesn’t make it productive or worthwhile.”
  • “…you can always do something more cheaply yourself.  This doesn’t mean you want to spend your time doing it.”
  • “Simplicity requires ruthlessness.”

Bottom line:

If you can get past the feeling that Ferris is not “one of us” and focus on the essential points in the book, it’s a good resource.  I think entrepreneurs or would-be entrepreneurs will get the most out of The Four-Hour Workweek, and they’ll identify most with the author’s perspective.  Ferris’s approach to marketing himself through books is one I plan to study more – he’s doing something right if bestseller rankings are any indicator of success.

Grade:    B-


2 thoughts on ““Simplicity requires ruthlessness.”

  1. Great review, but overly generous in my humble opinion. As Shakespeare said, “Even the Devil can quote scripture if it serves his purpose.” The 4 hour week – please! As Socrates recommended, first secure a viable means of support, then you many live a virtuous life.” Sorry you aren’t getting many comments because your blog is well done.

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