We all know that Warren Buffett is famous for his wisdom.
The Berkshire Hathaway shareholder’s meetings have for years been one of the biggest events on an investors calendar, growing from a few thousand attendees in the 1980’s and up to 40,000 in the mid 2010’s.
People don’t just want to hear him in person, many also pore over his writings in the Letter To Shareholders to decipher any hidden meanings that they can apply to their own investments as well.
But the “Oracle of Omaha” has a core set of rules that he feels explain why the most successful people, which includes billionaires too, are so successful.
What is success?
Buffett once said “the difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”
Think about it this way; we’ve all got no more than 24 hours in every day.
That’s it – no more, no less, whether you’re on-benefits or a billionaire, you can’t make more time and you can’t accumulate or stockpile it.
Rather like how Gary Keller explains in his brilliant book “The One Thing” (AL) we need to identify the one thing that is awesomely important to your success & let the rest take a hike.
The snag is that, despite our best intentions, life tends to get in the way.
That’s why we need to be ruthless in being able to say “no”.
Here are Warren Buffett’s tips
And so here’s how Warren Buffett suggested that his pilot should apply this rule.
Buffett the life coach once walked his personal pilot, Mike Flint, through a life-changing three-step process in goal-setting to hone in on success.
- Take a single sheet of paper and write down a list of your top 25 career goals
- Select and circle the five most important and urgent goals that resonate with you the strongest
- Cross off the list the other 20 goals you wrote, ignoring any relative importance they might have for you listed, despite any connection you feel with them
Flint did this, but here’s where the conversation between them went very deep.
Buffett then asked Flint about when he would commence working on the top five and how he would do it.
“I’m going to work on them right away. I’ll start tomorrow. Actually, no. I’ll start tonight.” Flint answered. Buffett then asked him about the second list, “And what about the ones you didn’t circle?”
Yes, he said, he’d definately focus on the top five goals he’d circled, but as the other 20 held strong connections he’d keep them ticking over, on the back-burner as such, as and when time permitted.
Sounds plausible, yes?
So what did Buffett say?
“No. You’ve got it wrong, Mike. Everything you didn’t circle just became your Avoid-At-All-Cost list. No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top 5.”
Drill down deep to identify your top 5 goals and ruthlessly avoid spending time on those 20 on the second list … at … all … costs.
Be your own team manager
A useful analogy would be for us to consider how a sports-team operates.
The best players are position specialists and earn a small fortune (oftentimes a large fortune!) by only knowing how to do one thing, but how to do it extremely well.
Switch those key players around and put each in some other position and watch their results plummet.
Be focused upon the one thing (or in this case the top 5 goals of your life).
To succeed you need to do the same – drill down to your top 5 goals and actively ignore the rest.
How to identify your top 25 goals
It’s sometimes helpful for my clients to develop a set of mini-lists and then out from those to select their top 25 goals.
Use these questions to help shape your list:
1. Who do I want to be know for being?
2. How do I want to impact people’s lives?
3. What do I want my life to contain?
4. How would I love my life to be seen by other people?
5. What do I want to be remembered for achieving?
You can then develop your top 5 goals but you must also keep a close watch on your don’t do 20 also, since mission-creep can mean those 20 could easily end up distracting you.
Be rigorous in your time management otherwise you’ll miss out on your top 5 goals