Never Choose Seven

Right now I’m in the middle of Tribe of Mentors, a book by Tim Ferriss that is better than I expected.

(I’m on a bit of a Tim Ferriss kick right now. It’s not that I haven’t admired his work; it’s that I think his work has increasingly gotten better and better, and he’s now operating at a level that has eliminated much of the ego that came with The Four Hour Work Week. In short, it’s great.)

In the book, he distills his top eleven questions he’s found to work best on his podcast, and shares his notes on how the art of asking great questions gets you better connection, conversation, and insight.

Then, he shares the answers from dozens of well-known people, including Esther Perel, Maria Sharapova, Jason Fried, Kevin Kelly, and more. Perhaps my favorite part about the book is that each interview is itself an isolated essay worth pondering, which makes it easy to read serially. It’s like a mini-essay for each day that I read on my subway commute or in line at the coffee shop.

Today, what’s sticking with me is Kyle Maynard’s note about hiring as a CEO. In the answer, he talks about how a well-known CEO shared with Kyle his philosophy on hiring. He insisted that employees rank new candidates on a 1-10 scale, with one stipulation: they couldn’t choose 7 as an answer.

He goes on to share how this mindset shift helped him rethink decisions he was making in his everyday life. How many things in your life—like invitations to events, job opportunities, places to live, vacations—would you rate as a 7?

A 7 is an easy answer, because it’s comfortable. It’s familiar. You’re saying it’s good enough, not offensive, will do the job.

Forcing yourself to choose a 6 or an 8, however, means you have to decide whether or not you’re opting out of making a decision. It makes you evaluate: is this really good enough right now? Do I feel strongly enough to rank it as an 8? Or would I actually consider this closer to a 6?

If it’s a 6, then it’s clear you’d skip it.

And if it’s truly an 8, then, you’ve also made the decision.

For me, this has stuck in my brain for weeks.

Never choose seven.


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3 Responses to Never Choose Seven

  1. Thank you for this! Whenever my wife asks me how my day was, I always seem to rate it a 7. No more!

  2. What a great message. I think I choose 7 way too often.. Thank you, Sarah!

  3. Lonnie says:

    Wow! That’s a really cool idea. I’ll be using that from now on too.