Tools of Titans: Maria Popova

I didn’t even make it into the chapter before Maria was dropping BOMBS!

If you’re looking for a formula for greatness, the closest we’ll ever get, I think, is this: Consistency driven by a deep love of the work.


Life is a continual process of arrival into who we are.

Tim Ferriss was right in stating, “Her quality and output are staggering.” Maria touches upon consistency, passion, and adaptability from the get-go, three important factors to productivity and achieving your objectives. They fall in line with my and many others’ situations where there’s a job to pay the bills, life’s responsibilities, and then everything else.

Within that smaller piece of the pie which is the time for auxiliary endeavors, you need to manage those three aspects I mentioned before: consistency, passion, and adaptability. For me, with my current schedule, there is not a lot of time in the day to do everything I would like. I need to know when I can give and where I can take. I also need to realize that when I dive into creative time (illustrating or writing), I must be all in. The time is very important so optimizing that time is even more so.

First I must be consistent. Some time, any time, I can devote to my book, I need to use it. Even if it’s just a few minutes, I need to get in, do what I need to do, and then get out. Those few minutes add up quickly.

Second is the passion. When I’m creating, love what I’m doing. I have this idea for this children’s book but if it gets to where I’m not in love with creating it, that’s going to show in the final product. If I don’t love what I’m creating for myself, then why would I share it with anyone else.

Third is the willingness to adapt or evolve. I could have a specific vision for this book, or any other project. What ends up being the final product could look totally different. And that’s ok. It’s the consistent assessment of what works and what doesn’t and knowing when to evolve. Being stubbornly married to one vision does not work most of the time. There must be wiggle room.

Take for example a construction budget (stay with me). All of the costs are laid out for “this is how much it takes for us to build a house.” There is a line item for contingencies. They’ve built in dollars devoted to cost overruns or new additions to the original scope of the build. So too must you (I) build in to the vision the capacity to change it.