Ep. 161 – Charles Duhigg: Be Smarter, Faster, Better… And Most of All Be Free

Before writing this, I closed my eyes. I allowed myself to rest. I went from, “think, think, think” to nothing.

And nothing felt good.

Nothing worked.

Nothing is my success. Today.

I used to have another kind of success. 

I was a hedge fund manager, web developer, producer, investor, corporate employee, CEO, writer.

I still do some of these jobs.

But not because “they” tell me to.

I look back and see desperation. I was desperate to secure my future. My income. My relationships.

There was always risk of getting fired.

I knew my then-wife could decide she didn’t love me anymore. My kids could, too.

I was shrinking. Physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually shrinking.

I thought if I was miserable, “they” would help me.

They didn’t.

I bled out on the floor.  And then I chose myself.

Now I do the daily practice.

I experiment. I find what works for me. And I write about it. Because advice is autobiography.

But something is still stopping me.

And, if you’ve read to here, I bet there’s something stopping you.

If you learn one thing today, I hope it’s this: experiment everyday.

The steps are:

  1. Experiment
  2. Pay Attention
  3. Experiment

And if it doesn’t work out how you imagined, then you’ll have a better story.

I got evicted last week.

The same day I did this interview with Charles Duhigg. You’ll hear it in the podcast.

Charles is a Pulitzer Prize winner and the author of two New York Times bestselling books, The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business

Renting doesn’t work for me. But I tried it. It was a successful experiment with a failed result.

I’m finding what works for me everyday. Charles says that’s what the most productive people do. They cycle through systems.

Charles cycled. He wasn’t always smarter, faster, better.

“I would come home every night and tell my wife, ‘If this is what success feels like, sign me up for failure.’ It was killing me,” he says.

“It’s very easy to lose sight of the ‘why,’” he says. “[We] lose track of why we’re doing something, how it links up to our deepest values or our biggest aspirations… what we actually want to do with our life.”

This interview might teach you something about experimenting, or focusing, or motivation.

Or it might teach you nothing.

But, nothing is a lesson, too.

Resources and Links:

Also mentioned:

  • Emile Jarreau

    Nice! Beta testing is so fun:)

  • Sulabh Shukla

    “Renting doesn’t work for me”. As per your blog posts you dislike the concept of home ownership. What is the alternative you’re going to try now?

    • No surprises found this Quoran Sulabh here :D
      Do you subscribe to his newsletter on minimalism? On that piece he hadn’t found any place to sleep. James is a hippie wanderer. :p

    • JimBob20

      I owned a home for a long time… while “roots” were nice, I was not really enthused because of all the downsides you mentioned. But … I needed a place to store my “stuff”. (Google: George Carlin and stuff … he has a great routine on it…)

      Well now I’m renting … but it’s still a HOUSE … with a yard and an exterior and is vulnerable to break in, a trees falling on it, etc…..

      I’m in the middle of “minimizing/downsizeing” now and thinking that, as a compromise, buying an inexpensive/small unit (800 sq/ft or less) in a condo/co-op community that has controlled access to the building and no exterior maint. for me the unit owner to worry about.

      I’d still have a “home base” but if I want to head out to South Africa for 3 months i turn off the water and leave. The HOA has a key to get in if something bad happens…. and screw it after that…….. If I get down to being as “minimal” as I’d like there won’t be much in that unit to cry about even if it does get ruined….

      James — your thoughts would be much appreciated.

  • Nina Harrington

    “..advice is autobiography.” Love it. Super podcast with excellent take-aways. Best of luck on finding a new home.

  • Mar162016.Hq

    Hi, James, Tomorrow will be better than Yesterday. :-) Happy every day. ^_^ Please try to imagine, I hold your hands now. Take care.

  • Great interview – love the energy and ideas!

  • James, what did you do to violate your lease to have to move from your apartment? Freaking great episode.

  • James, try Airbnb. Move where and whenever you want.

  • silver surfer

    This was AWESOME, already have Charles Habit book on Audible and I will get his smarter book on audible or amazon kindle next.

  • silver surfer

    Think my mind expanded after this one, the radicalization question is very interesting. I presume there are a lot of factors that influence and impact this decision, I have seen it myself when trying to help or share ideas concepts or strategies and tactics/techniques with others. Nature vs Nurture? Psychological and environmental question, I presume. The fixed mindset is really a roadblock to development which I have encountered dealing with people from LDC’s or developing countries, knowing how to relate and achieving a certain level of success is important for people in this sphere. Culture is an important factor to consider when tackling this question of radicalization.

  • Robert Coop

    Charles Duhigg has really great hair. James has OK hair. Really great post. I always enjoy James.

  • Daryl Nauman

    I’m curious how James and others go about writing about their everyday experiments and capturing lessons learned. I’m thinking of starting a document listing key items that have been successful to reference and hopefully also build into routines.