Love thy neighbor.
Love your job.
Love to show love.
In the biography The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, Buffet offers this advice to students at Georgia Tech.
“Basically, when you get to my age, you’ll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you.
I know many people who have a lot of money, and they get testimonial dinners and they get hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them.
That’s the ultimate test of how you have lived your life. The trouble with love is that you can’t buy it. You can buy sex. You can buy testimonial dinners. But the only way to get love is to be lovable. It’s very irritating if you have a lot of money. You’d like to think you could write a check: I’ll buy a million dollars’ worth of love. But it doesn’t work that way. The more you give love away, the more you get.”
Love is quid pro quo. Like a lighthouse, you give out the energy you get back.
Read Warren Buffett Says Your Greatest Measure of Success at the End of Your Life Comes Down to 1 Word
Goal setting is like game setting. You start at level 1 and graduate into unforeseen directions.
If you’re lucky, you’ll ping-pong forward, making leaps and bounds.
But more often than not, declaring your ambitions acts as a compass, guiding you with mere suggestions on how to proceed.
The lighthouse may tease what's ahead yet what remains murky is only cleared up when confronted in reality.
Still, the opposition throws roadblocks, trying to flip your resiliency into a foot-dragging laggard.
On, in, or around — you’ll find a way to build a bridge or crush through the wall with a persistent hammer. Give into the resistance, and it will proudly celebrate your inaction.
The goose gets bones via experimentation, the same way an athlete strengthens their body through bicep curls or a monk jogs the brain through meditation.
Even the machine evolves to beat a chess master after learning from its own failed iterations. Wrongs accumulate until they make it right.
The choice is yours to either show-up and move or yield to imperious anticipation. It is recommended that one spend less time pausing and more time living en medias res.
Effort investigates the self and paves the road of life with a bunch of guesses. Fortunately, those assumptions appear to get more accurate with time.
3, 2, 1…action!
When we try to sink, we float. When we try to float, we sink.
When we try too hard, we often meet burnout. When we take breaks, we re-energize and excel.
When we get tired of hoping, we give up. When we accept what we have, we get what we want.
Life is like trying to hear something through all the noise, to separate the art from the critic.
We can toil in obscurity for years before we get a lucky break. We can also give up and accept that it isn’t meant to be.
But something happens when we feel like a complete failure. We start to simplify everything — what we own, where what we do — and get back to basics.
Defeat offers its own beneficial limitations. It pushes us to play with what he have and stick to the belief in our art.
When JK Rowling hit her lowest point — divorced as a single mother on child welfare with no published books — the only thing she knew was to keep writing. As she said in her Harvard commencement speech:
“I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.
Even when the publishers rejected her, she kept on and wrote even more. She leaned in on the process of showing up every day at the cafe and getting to work.
Failure can either be deemed temporary or definitive, depending on how we frame it. But with the right mentality, we can leverage the foundation of rock-bottom to help us limit our choices and persist.
When you aim for the donut hole, you’ll certainly miss it. The obsession with victory backfires. Says Olympic biathlete Clare Egan on hitting the last of five targets:
“‘If I hit this, I’ll win the gold medal’ — as soon as you have that thought, you’re definitely going to miss it. That extra push or desire to win is not only not helpful, it’s counterproductive. You have to eliminate that from your mind and focus on the task.”
When you compete against others, you also impede your ability to get the job done. Says Egan:
“I think such a big part of this is focusing on what you are doing. You have to let go of how everyone else is doing, and focus on your own work.”
The lizard brain wants you to compete out of fear. The monkey mind wants to you to assay your inner monologue. Ambition trips you up.
The mental game is just as important as the physical one. Focusing on process rather than pursuit may give you a better chance at achieving victory.
Read How to Manage Stress Like an Olympic Biathlete
“Three thousand photographs and three thousand doubts.”
— Teju Cole, in his new book Known and Strange Things: Essays
The more photos you take, the more words you write, the most shots you take, the more you have to play with. Quantity translates into quality over time, but it takes a lot of trial and error and a lot of time. Seeking reassurance is mostly time wasted.
“I don’t really worry about the reward, but to set in motion the machinery to achieve it. My contribution will be the measure of my reward and success.”
Bruce Lee: The Inevitability of Success
The fear of messing up (FOMU) is precisely what holds people back from getting what they want.
But if you treat mistakes like an experiment, they become lessons in disguise and teach you how to tweak your approach.
To err is human, they say. Maybe they should instead say that to err is to learn. As Miles Davis once said, “If you’re not making a mistake, you’re making a mistake.”
It's not for a lack of trying; it's our interpretation of endeavor that either makes or breaks the future. Perfection is a false expectation that stymies progress.
We can plan all we want but the doing is why there's knowing.
When it comes to success, age is just a number. Van Gogh only sold one piece of art before he passed away, and it was to his brother.
According to a recent study, success is “a combination of personality, persistence and pure luck, as well as intelligence.” Younger people are more productive, increasing the likeliness of obtaining success. They have the energy and the free time (no day job) to keep experimenting.
But experience puts in the bones in the goose. Work at something long enough you're bound to have a breakthrough. A thousand drops make a bucket; little actions create waves.
“The bottom line is: Brother, never give up. When you give up, that’s when your creativity ends.” — Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, one of the data researchers leading the study into scientific careers
Stay the course.
Everybody is saying the same thing about finding their passion. They're just using different words to express it.
“The best philosophers were not academics, but had another job, so their philosophy was not corrupted by careerism.” – Nassim Taleb
“Be regular and orderly in your life like a Bourgeois so that you may be violent and original in your work.” – Gustave Flaubert
”The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the assignment covers both bases, but not often.” – Hugh MacLeod
In short, there are two types of work:
- Work that you do for fun
- Work that pays the bills
You rarely get both.
PS. There’s more on finding your passion in this week's Philosophy/Productivity section of my newsletter.
Hits keep you motivated. Success reinforces positive thinking and propels action. But so too does a good whiff.
You can’t hit a home run every time. That stuff only exists in video games on cheat mode.
Failure teaches perspective. Perspective expands awareness and makes it ok to slip up every once in a while.
What really makes the difference is your attitude. How do you stay focused when all you do is miss?