Warren Buffett: This is your 1 greatest measure of success in life

Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Warren Buffett is no doubt one of the few business icons who can deliver the gift of wisdom and truth when we need it most. And those truths, when you really stop and consider them, are always spot-on.

In her biography of Buffett, “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life,” author Alice Schroeder writes about a time when Buffett gave a presentation at The University of Georgia. The students asked him about his definition of success.

When you’re nearing your end of life, your only measure of success should be the number of “people you want to have love you actually do love you,” he answered.

“I know 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,” said Buffett. “If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.”

That’s right, a self-made billionaire says that the amount you are loved — not your wealth or accomplishments — is the ultimate measure of success in life.

To give and receive

Love is one of the most powerful emotions a human being can feel, and yet, we still live in an individualistic society of keeping up with the Joneses: We forge ahead with our business ventures and strategically plan our career paths in hopes of finding fame and fortune. We feel we’ve finally arrived at the top when we’re able to vacation twice a year to exotic islands and drop a European luxury car (or two) in the garage. We dream about having all of these things, love be damned.

“The problem with love is that it’s not for sale,” Buffett told the students. “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.”

So how can we follow Buffett’s principle of success in a way where we can truly leave behind a legacy? The path of putting love into motion is a daring and courageous one, but here are a few ways to do it:

1. Be selfless and don’t expect anything in return

The laws of love are reciprocal. When we choose to love someone unconditionally by encouraging and believing in them, love comes back in full force through respect, admiration, trust and loyalty.If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.Warren BuffettCHAIRMAN AND CEO, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY

What’s more, when we receive those things, we become more self-compassionate. A 2011 study conducted by the University of California found that self-compassion can increase motivation, willpower and the ability to recover from failure. Another study, published in 2007 in the Journal of Research in Personality, concluded that people who have self-compassion are more likely to be happy, optimistic and show personal initiative.

2. Be empathetic

Empathy is one of most common traits of likable (or, as Buffett prefers to say, “lovable”) people. True empathy occurs when you’re able to step into someone else’s shoes and see their perspective.

Empathy also plays a major role in a person’s potential to influence others. In a DDI study of more than 15,000 leaders across 20 industries, researchers found that the ability to listen and respond with empathy was the most critical driver of a team’s overall performance.

3. Make work enjoyable and fun

When you enjoy work, you enjoy life. In Carol J. Loomis’ biography of Buffett, “Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything,” she mentions a quote from Buffett: “I love every day. I mean, I tap dance in here and work with nothing but people I like. There is no job in the world that is more fun than running Berkshire, and I count myself lucky to be where I am.”

The evidence here is clear: In positive and uplifting cultures where people share the same values, beliefs and norms, you’ll find a high-performing group of people who attract folks of the same kind.

4. Treat others the way they want to be treated

As children, we’re often taught the Golden Rule: “Treat others as you want to be treated.” But the Platinum Rule takes it to a whole new level: “Treat others the way they want to be treated.”

When we follow the Platinum Rule, we can be more certain that we’re respecting what they want, instead of projecting our own values and preferences. That doesn’t mean we should ignore the Golden Rule altogether, but we should realize its limitations given that every person and every situation is so different.

5. Follow your passion

If you want to have your dream career, you must follow your passion. It’s that simple. Many of us take our cushy paychecks and job security for granted, even though we might hate our jobs and would rather be doing something else — something we actually love.

As humans, doing what we love is a major contributor to true happiness in life. So if you don’t know what your passion is, it’s time to figure that out.

Why we’re numb to 250,000 coronavirus deaths

https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-death-toll-psychological-reaction-f5aab275-1c93-444e-9914-5b0bf8fe07d9.html

Illustration of a graveyard with one giant tombstone

The U.S. passed 250,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 this week, a figure that is truly vast — too vast, perhaps, for us to comprehend.

Why it matters: The psychic numbing that sets in around mass death saps us of our empathy for victims and discourages us from making the sacrifices needed to control the pandemic, whileit hampers our ability to prepare for other rare but potentially catastrophic risks down the road.

By the numbersThe sheer scale of the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 can be felt in the lengths media organizations have gone to try to put the numbers in perspective. 250,000 deaths is:

  • Ten times the number of American drivers and passengers who die in car crashes each year, according to CNN.
  • More than twice the number of American soldiers who died in World War I, according to NPR.
  • Enough to draw a vast hole in America’s heartland, if the deaths had all been concentrated in one area, according to the Washington Post.

Even if we try our best to grasp mass death, we inevitably come up against cognitive biases, says Paul Slovic, a psychologist at the University of Oregon who studies human judgment and decision-making.

  • The biggest bias is scope neglect: as the scale of deaths and tragedy grows, our own compassion and concern fail to keep pace. As the title of one of Slovic’s papers on the subject goes: “The more who die, the less we care.”

This is, of course, not rational — by any reasonable, moral calculation, we should find 250,000 deaths commensurately more horrifying than a smaller number. But in practice we don’t, almost as if we had a set capacity for empathy and concern that tops out well below the scale of a pandemic.

  • It doesn’t help that for most of us — save bereaved family members and health care workers on the front line — those deaths go unseen, hidden behind the walls of hospitals and funeral homes.
  • In a news culture driven by the visual — and equipped with a psychology moved by identifiable victims over mere numbers — that makes these deaths feel that much more unreal, and for some, that much easier to deny altogether.
  • Combined with the habituation to trauma that has set in after months of the pandemic, it shouldn’t be surprising that most of us are doing much less to fight the spread of COVID-19 now than we were in the spring, when the number of sick and dead were far lower.

How it works: In a study following the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which 800,000 people were killed in a matter of months, Slovic and his colleagues asked a group of volunteers to imagine they were in charge of a refugee camp.

  • They had to decide whether or not to help 4,500 refugees get access to clean water. Half were told the camp held 250,000 refugees, and half were told it held 11,000.
  • The study subjects were much more willing to help if they thought they were assisting 4,500 people out of 11,000, and less willing if it was 4,500 out of 250,000 people. They were reacting to the proportion of those who would be helped, while neglecting the scope of the raw number.
  • Relatedly,in a 2014 study, Slovic found a decrease in empathy and a consequent drop in donations to save sick children as the number of victims rose, with effects being seen as soon as one child became two.

What to watch: These same cognitive biases make it difficult for us to fully appreciate chronic threats like climate change, or to prepare for rare but catastrophic risks in the future — like a pandemic.

  • Given how hardwired these biases are, our best bet is to try to steer into them, and keep in mind that each of these 250,000 deaths tells an individual story.
  • As the survivor Abel Herzberg said of the Holocaust: “There were not six million Jews murdered; there was one murder, six million times.”

The bottom line: As the death toll rises, it will take willful effort not to become numb to what’s happening. But it is an effort that must be made.

THE NUMBER ONE FACTOR IN EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION

The Number One Factor in Employee Satisfaction

you could use carrots and sticks to energize performance but showing respect is simpler and less expensive

Respectful treatment of all employees at all levels was rated as very important by 67% of employees in 2015, making it the top contributor to overall employee job satisfaction for the second year in a row.

8 out of 10 employees who feel disrespected are less committed.

You could use carrots and sticks to energize performance but showing respect is simpler and less expensive.

How to show respect:

I was asked during an interview, “How do you respect your customers when all you need is for them to make a purchase?” My thoughts went beyond customers to respect in general. The word ‘compassion’ came to mind.

Compassion feels like respect.

#1. Show respect by acknowledging personal struggle. Some team members have wayward children, others have financial stress, still others struggle with their marriage.

When you learn of a person’s struggle:

  1. Resist the urge to solve struggles for people. You disrespect the struggle when you offer off-handed solutions.
  2. Listen with interest.
  3. Express compassion. “I’m sorry you’re going through this difficult situation.”
  4. Express empathy. “It must be tough to face this challenge.”
  5. Offer kindness. “I can’t pay your bills, but is there anything I can do to make today a little better?”
  6. Show appreciation. “I appreciate your contributions while you’re carrying these personal concerns.”

#2. Show respect by acknowledging responsibility. Employees carry important responsibilities. Leading is tough and often under-appreciated.

You show respect when you:

  1. Appreciate the burden, even if you don’t feel it yourself.
  2. Realize that easy for you may be heavy to another.
  3. Notice strengths. “You’re really good at … .”
  4. Acknowledge progress. “I believe you’re an important factor in the way our meetings are improving.”

Research adds 5 ways to show respect:

  1. Delegate important tasks.
  2. Receive advice.
  3. Provide freedom to pursue creative ideas.
  4. Take an interest in someone’s nonwork life.
  5. Stand with people during critical situations.

What makes you feel disrespected?

How might you show respect to team members? Leaders?