Warren Buffett is arguably the greatest investor who ever walked the planet. But his life and business lessons outside of his investing prowess have had an equally profound effect on people.
Some of Buffett’s musings are pure genius — legendary (and comical) quotes that make your wheels turn as you ponder the possibilities. Remember this?
You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.
Basically, exercise less stupidity and stick to good, smart choices. While that sounds simple enough, let’s admit that we all fail and make stupid mistakes; it’s bound to happen.
To keep your failures to a minimum, doing “very few things right in your life” over and over again is critical to steer you in the right direction, as it has for Buffett.
Buffett isn’t calling us to some higher order of achievement and losing sleep to get more stuff done. Even he once said, “It is not necessary to do extraordinary things to get extraordinary results.”
Buffett’s advice for success
The road to success comes from the daily habits we practice over and over again with rigor and determination. Some of it is counterintuitive in the harsh, transactional business world where the takers greatly outnumber the givers. To Buffett, it’s what he has advised us to do for years because it has worked for him. Here are three to consider:
1. Invest in yourself
In a 2019 interview with Yahoo Finance editor-in-chief Andy Serwer, Buffett said: “By far the best investment you can make is in yourself.”
This may be the most valuable of all lessons from the Oracle of Omaha. To make the most of your investment means never stop acquiring knowledge — the kind of knowledge that betters yourself as a whole person, not just as an investor.
According to Buffett, one of the keys to your success is to go to bed a little smarter each day. By investing in yourself, like honing your communication skills, Buffett says you will “become worth 50 percent more than you are now.”
2. Measure your success by your “inner scorecard”
When setting the bar for your own goals, don’t fall for the trap of measuring it by other people’s measure of success. Instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses, measure yourself by one of Buffett’s most famous rules — your “inner scorecard,” which defines your own standards and not what the world imposes on you.
The inner scorecard, a principle he learned from his father, comes from deep within and speaks your truth. It gives meaning to who you are, and how you naturally behave and see the world on the basis of your values and beliefs, not someone else’s. In short, it’s taking the higher road to achieve success because it comes from the heart.
3. Your life’s success should be defined by one four-letter word
In the Buffett biography The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, Buffett explains that the highest measure of success in life comes “by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you.”
You can die with the biggest bank account and the most toys, but if you haven’t left a legacy of good stewardship of your wealth and resources, “the truth is that nobody in the world loves them,” says Buffett. In the end, the ultimate test of how you’ve lived your life basically comes down to how far and wide your love was spread to impact the lives of others.
“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. 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,” asserts Buffett.