There are many measures of success but this pearl of wisdom struck me as especially prescient. It was coming from Warren Buffett, who by almost any measure has lived an immensely successful life.
He is one of wealthiest people in the world – yet lives modestly in the same house he purchased in 1958.
He has pledged and has already begun to give away at least half of all his wealth (for those counting that’s $27 billion to date and will probably eclipse over $60 billion.)
He invests in businesses he understands and in people he respects and likes. In describing the benefits of his work and life in Omaha, he says, “I get to paint with my own brush and on my own canvas.”
The freedom from stress – financial and otherwise, is part of what keeps him going strong at 86 years old.
Yet he also appreciates the limits of his wealth and work. “I can buy anything in the world, but the one thing I can’t buy is more time.”
So in choosing to use his time wisely, he minimizes time spent with people he doesn’t like, chooses to make sure he has plenty of time unscheduled to just think and has a 5-minute commute to work in Omaha.
Which brings us back to his quote about children. By most counts, his children have chartered their own course and enjoy an excellent relationship with their father. As his son, Peter, once remarked after his father pledged to give away his wealth to charity, “I watched someone who transferred values to me, and not wealth.”
He laments the situations of some of his friends whose relationships with their own children are fraught with distrust and a lack of confidence in their ability.
When reflecting upon their unhappiness he chalks it up to feeling like “failures” at their chief responsibility in life – raising children into good, happy adults.
No doubt his wealth affords him more freedoms and flexibility than almost anyone else. Yet if we applied the basic tenets of his life: Live modestly, share your bounty, treat time as your most precious resource, and most of all raise good kids – perhaps we could indeed someday be as rich as Mr. Buffett.