Wisdom from the Oracle of Omaha

11 09 2017

Warren Buffett, arguably the world’s greatest investor, when considering an investment tends to look at and stay within what he calls his “circle of competencies.”  He learned this concept from Thomas Watson, founder of IBM.  Watson said, essentially, “I don’t know everything but what I know I know.  And I tend to operate within my circle of competency.”

When Buffett first met fellow billionaire Bill Gates in 1991, he declined to invest in computer technology, specifically Intel and Microsoft.  He didn’t know computers, simple as that.  (He later invested heavily in Bill and Melinda Gates and their philanthropic ventures.)

Bill Gates knows computers.  Henry Ford knew cars.  Gene Simmons knows rock and roll branding.  Warren Buffett knows chewing gum, soft drinks, insurance and textiles, among other things.  These successful men stayed and stay within what they know.  And they profit doing so.

What are your circle of competencies?  What things do you know better than the average bear?  Buffett tells potential job seekers to seek a job they would do if money were no option.  Corollary to that he likens the résumé building approach to career development the equivalent of saving sex for old age.  It misses the point.

Here are some things to think about when evaluating your circle of competencies:

  • What do you find yourself thinking about and pursuing when off the clock?
  • What ignites your passion—what subjects and pursuits? Dead giveaway on that one is your body language.  Your eyes fire, your pulse increases, you get excited and it’s obvious to those who know you.
  • What do you read about that is not part of some school or work assignment? Same goes for viewing and listening.

Challenge:  Focus on what lights you up and genuinely interests you—whether the pursuit is popular or not.  Then start doing deep dives in these areas.  You’ll be surprised how far you can go with them.

 

Suggested Reading:

Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist (Roger Lowenstein)

Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2013 (Carol J. Loomis)

 

Image Credit

Advertisements




Passion: A Stallion’s Default Setting

13 07 2014

Passion StallionDo you know what gelding is?  It is a stallion that has been neutered.  Testicles removed.  Castrated.  No stones.

Those who raise horses geld stallions for lots of reasons.  One of them is to make the horse more sedate.  Well-behaved.  Easier to manage.

There is one considerable drawback.  Geldings cannot stud.  They are sterile.  Unable to reproduce.  But they’re nicer, I suppose.

In his book The Journey of Desire, John Eldredge recounts an unsuccessful counseling experience he had with a guy named Gary.  Gary was nice.  Well-behaved.  Easy to manage.  His wife was worried because he had no passion for anything.  He was a “nice Christian boy.”  Did all the right things.  But not out of any deep sense of conviction.

A gelding.

Eldredge was unable to help a man who’d lost all drive for anything in life.  A good deal of this hemorrhage of basic testosterone was no doubt rooted in a distorted idea of what the ideal Christian male is.  “Gentle Jesus–meek and mild.”  You get the picture.  Not the type of person who drives thieves from the sanctuary with a whip and uses strong, impolite language with religious bullies.

Passivity, especially in males, is the bane of our age.  It sours marriages.  It produces mediocre job performance.  Is often sedentary and unambitious.  It leaves those who count on us without a leader.

Geldings don’t change the world.  Sorry, but it’s true.

When I read about heroes in history, I find they were possessed with passion for whatever their mission was in life.  Teddy Roosevelt.  King David.  Richard Branson.  Judas Maccabeus.  Steve Jobs.  And Jesus Christ.  True, they made mistakes (Jesus excepted).  And when they screwed up, it was a disaster.  But when they triumphed, it made history.

Your wife wants you to be passionate.  So do your kids.  Your friends and colleagues too.

In fact, the whole world wants it.

This is your time to be all there.  Find something—anything—worth doing and do it with all your might.

Suggestions:

  • Get out of your chair at night and get moving.  Exercise, do extra work, take on a new project demanding effort and adrenaline.  You don’t want to end up like so many poor souls whom you see at the discount stores, grossly overweight, listless and unhappy.  Too many cheap carbs and time in front of a television or computer screen.  It doesn’t have to be you.
  • Start a blog.  I did and so have countless others.  This one is sticking and having the net effect of making me get off my duff and practice what I preach to my readers.
  • Repeat after me: “I matter.  I can do this.  I am not a nobody.  And the world is counting on me being fully there in whatever I am doing.”  Again, if it isn’t worth doing with all your might, it probably isn’t worth doing.  You be the judge.

You’re called to be a stallion.  Don’t sell yourself short.  Go and produce life!

Image Credit





What Lights You Up?

22 04 2014

Enjoying the sunWhat lights a fire in your gut? And no, we’re not talking about indigestion from too much Thai cuisine last night.  What drives you to get out of your comfort zone and set off into the dangerous unknown?  What is that inward power, that energy that gets a man or a woman out of their seats and into action–the kind of action that protects life and brings lasting change and good to society?  Where does that kind of heat come from?

The ancient Greeks had very rich languages and dialects.  Greek is a lot like math with its precision.  Many of us are familiar with the many Greek words for love, one of the most common and oft-misunderstood words we use.  Storge.  Phileo.  Agape.  And, of course, eros.  These words talk about the various manifestations of love.

They also gave us the word thumos.  Doctors and nurses will recognize its kinship with thymus, one of the organs in our immune system.  It is not a common word when used in the world of biblical studies—an area very important to many of us.

Thumos may be described as “an inner fire that motivates action.”  It is used of the soul, but, unlike psuche—from which we get words like “psychology”—it describes the soul with a fire lit under its seat.  It is protective by nature.

I first came into contact with writer Paul Coughlin a few years back.  His book No More Christian Nice Guy radically took apart my idea of virtue, namely, that being nice and being good are not necessarily the same thing.  Jesus is the embodiment of goodness.  But he wasn’t always nice.  And He didn’t always play nicey-nice.  He would get into a lot of trouble today, upsetting the applecart.  Being good, rather than just nice, has a way of doing that.

Thumos is the fire, the motivation that enabled Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to champion civil rights—a fight that ended in his death.  It enabled Martin Luther to challenge a corrupt and ossifying Church with the need of reform.  It enables people to defend those who are bullied.  It is that intangible quality that stimulates action—change of behaviour—not simply a change in an intellectual position, a modified idea.  It’s what pushes Popeye to say, “That’s alls I can take; I can’t takes it no more.”  Then out comes the spinach, the muscle and the bad guys are put in their place.

So….how’s your thumos level today?  That fire inside your gut?

Listen to it.  It has something important to tell you.

Image Credit





The Cardone Zone and Full Commitment

17 02 2014

Grant CardoneA friend and colleague of mine has recently turned me on to yet another personal development trainer, Florida real estate mogul Grant Cardone.

While listening to an audio book of his today, Sell or Be Sold, he made this provocative statement:

“I’d rather be fully committed to the wrong thing than be half committed to the right thing.”

I have to admit, his statement rattled me.  Now, I’ve listened to enough of his material to know he’s definitely not arguing for getting behind a losing cause.  “Choose well” is his advice.

But his unnerving statement highlights an important truth, one we’ve discussed here on The Upside:  “Wherever you are, be all there.”

There is energy in full, unbridled passion for what is important to us.  When we decide “This is it—I’m getting behind this effort, this value, this goal, taking no prisoners, come hell or high water,” stuff begins to unlock, paths open, your subconscious mind begins serving you and the target you’ve set.

Life is far too short to live in half-hearted fashion.

What are your goals and are they compelling enough to motivate you to burn your bridges and trash your excuses to make them a reality?

Image Credit





What Brings You to Life? Pay Attention

6 08 2013

Come AliveWhat makes you come alive?  You know what I’m talking about.  When a particular subject comes up, you become animated.  Your pulse increases.  Your eyes light up.  Your speech becomes dynamic and dramatic.  People see that something matters  when they look in your eyes and hear your voice.

You can’t hide passion.

One of the most important things I’ve ever heard anyone say is this: Listen to your own life.

This is not psychobabble.  You need to pay attention to what lights you up.  It is a clue to what you should probably do in life to put your own dent in the universe.  Passionate people are far more effective than the complacent and bored.  Passionate people make better art, better commerce, better lovers.   And they’re far more interesting than a thousand people merely getting by, content with mediocrity and playing it safe.

Some time ago, I had an interesting conversation with an even more interesting young man.  He is near and dear to our family.  As he began talking about his love of wildlife and animals, he got excited.  I told him, “Pay attention to yourself.  Do you hear your own voice?”

We are each given different gifts, callings and interests.  You can still the voice of these deposits through fear.  What will my friends think if I want to play the violin?  Can I make a living as a writer?  Do I really want to be a politician—people don’t trust them because they all lie, right?  Listening to these voices will slowly kill something inside you.

The problem is this:  If you stifle who you are and what you are called to do, it will inevitably emerge in a number of different ways, either 1) in inferior forms–like settling for being a technical writer when you’re really a novelist–or 2) in toxic forms.  The depression and frustration that accompany the unfulfilled destiny, like buried nuclear waste, will poison the water table of your life.  And when that happens, you will seek to medicate and mask that pain and discontent with all sorts of unhealthy stuff.  Believe me, I’ve been there.

The next time you find yourself getting excited about some pursuit—creative, vocational or social—pay attention.  Note your own body language.  It doesn’t lie.  If you’re near a mirror, take a look.  What you see is a clue.  A clue to fulfilling your destiny.

Life’s too short to settle for getting by.  You are here for a purpose.  Listen to your life, lock on and pursue.

You and the world will be better for it.

Image Credit





Listen To Your Own Life

1 01 2013

Christian and DavidWhat makes you come alive?  You know what I’m talking about.  When a particular subject comes up, you become animated.  Your pulse increases.  Your eyes light up.  Your speech becomes dynamic and dramatic.  People see that something matters  when they look in your eyes and hear your voice.

You can’t hide passion.

One of the most important things I’ve ever heard anyone say is this: Listen to your own life.

This is not psychobabble.  You need to pay attention to what lights you up.  It is a clue to what you should probably do in life to put your own dent in the universe.  Passionate people are far more effective than the complacent and bored.  Passionate people make better art, better commerce, better lovers.   And they’re far more interesting than a thousand people merely getting by, content with mediocrity and playing it safe.

Some time ago, I had an interesting conversation with an even more interesting young man.  He is near and dear to our family.  As he began talking about his love of wildlife and animals, he got excited.  I told him, “Pay attention to yourself.  Do you hear your own voice?”

We are each given different gifts, callings and interests.  You can still the voice of these deposits through fear.  What will my friends think if I want to play the cello?  Can I make a living as a writer?  Do I really want to be a politician—people don’t trust them because they all lie, right?  Listening to these voices will slowly kill something inside you.

The problem is this:  If you stifle who you are and what you are called to do, it will inevitably emerge in a number of different ways, either 1) in inferior forms–like settling for being a technical writer when you’re really a novelist–or 2) in toxic forms.  The depression and frustration that accompany the unfulfilled destiny, like buried nuclear waste, will poison the water table of your life.  And when that happens, you will seek to medicate and mask that pain and discontent with all sorts of unhealthy stuff.  Believe me, I’ve been there.

The next time you find yourself getting excited about some pursuit—creative, vocational or social—pay attention.  Note your own body language.  It doesn’t lie.  If you’re near a mirror, take a look.  What you see is a clue.  A clue to fulfilling your destiny.

Life’s too short to settle for getting by.  You are here for a purpose.  Listen to your life, lock on and pursue.

You and the world will be better for it.





One Of A Kind

22 08 2012

“Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” (Henry David Thoreau)

Years ago I read a book by John Eldredge that said, in effect, that the most important battle we will ever fight is the battle for our hearts.

He was on to something.

Human beings are like snowflakes.  While we all have certain commonalities like the marvelous geometry of snowflakes, we are, nevertheless, individuals.  Sui generis.  One of a kind.

We have unique talents, fascinations, propensities, drives, goals and potentialities.  The war for the heart, at least in the realm of sense and society, takes place as we are confronted with the “safe” choice of conformity to expectations of peers and loved ones versus that road less traveled by which we fulfill our unique design and destiny given by God.

You have your own voice and perspective.  There are enough parrots in the world.  There are lots of people you touch daily who want to hear the events of the day through your perspective.  What happens, then, if we play it safe and give the expected response, perspective or party line?  Or put another way, what happens if we are not authentically ourselves by letting self-preservation rather than our values dictate our contribution to those around us?

Step to the music you hear.  Don’t play safe.  Play honest instead.  Integrity is your watchword.  It is what lets you sleep well at night.  Be courageous and be who you were created to be.

And let the chips fall where they may….

Image Credit