Tim Ferriss: How to feel like the Incredible Hulk (TED talk)

Born prematurely, with a collapsed lung, Ferris always had trouble swimming. After an accident in the water when young, he always felt afraid of it. He went from feeling like the incredible Hulk, to feeling useless.

At age 31, he took two weeks to re-examine swimming fully. He conquered his fear and ended up swimming out to sea. On returning he felt like the Hulk again, invincible.

Ferris’ art: reconstructing things which we’re afraid of.

It took a lot of effort, and help from others, to learn to swim. Here’s what he learnt from that experience:

  • Forget about kicking – kicking harder doesn’t solve the problem. The average human only transfers about 3% of their energy into forward motion.
  • You want your lower body to draft below your upper body, like a small car behind a big car. To do this you need to be mostly under the water, not swimming on top of the water.
  • The purpose of the small kicks with your legs is to rotate your sides, you can bring the other arm through.
  • Many swimming coaches will teach you to pull the arm over the water and in – this is not correct.

Ferris then goes through similar experiences with learning languages and ballroom dancing.

Fear is your friend. The most enjoyable times in life have come from asking a simple question: what’s the worst that can happen?

(Part of TED a day for June)

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