empire he created, with over $525 billion in assets.
Are you curious to know what habits enabled him to get there? Well, there are three we all can, and should, adopt.
Never stop learning
In the 50th annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Charlie Munger, the longtime second-in-command at Berkshire, spoke about one of Buffett’s most enduring and important traits that led to his success:
In other words, Buffett figured out what he was good at and stuck with it through thick and thin, always honing his skill.
In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell suggests that for anyone to truly become an expert at something, there is some element of inherent skill involved, but there is also a key component of practice. And the key is dedicating at least 10,000 hours of time to become a true expert. Gladwell asserts: “[P]ractice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”
He cites examples such as Bill Gates, who sneaked out of his parents’ house at night while he was in high school to learn computer coding, or the Beatles, who played eight hours a day in various bars across Hamburg, Germany, before they really mastered their craft.
And the same is true of Buffett, as he himself once remarked:
In the same way, in his hit song “I Know I Can,” rapper Nas said:
So no matter where life takes you or what you do, always remember — whether you learn from Buffett, the Beatles, Bill Gates, or Nas — while we’ll never be perfect, persistent practice will always help take us one step closer.
Patience is key
The world around us is moving at a speed that is truly hard to grasp. As The Wall Street Journal reported, “[I]t took 75 years for telephones to achieve 50 million users, while Angry Birds reached that goal in a mere 35 days.”
Another of Buffett’s distinct and admirable characteristics is his patience.
In 2003, he noted:
But consider for a moment his remarks in the 2010 letter to shareholders, in which he said that for Berkshire to succeed:
It’s widely thought that means Buffett intends to purchase a single business worth tens of billions of dollars. While his trigger finger was itchy in 2010, and Berkshire’s cash pile now stands at over $60 billion, Buffett has distinctly been willing to sit on the sidelines until the right opportunity presented itself.
There is obvious value in moving quickly into something if it’s a no-brainer decision and time is of the essence, but otherwise, we would all do well to take a step back and exhibit a little more patience.
And that could be patience in buying batteries at the grocery store, or, like Buffett, the company that makes those batteries.
Give credit where it’s due
One of the final things to note about Buffett is his eagerness to commend the team of managers who surround him.
Consider his 2009 remark about Ajit Jain, who heads Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance and is widely speculated to be a candidate to replace Buffett atop Berkshire:
Or his remarks about Todd Combs and Ted Weschler — who each manage a sizable stock portfolio at Berkshire Hathaway — in the 2013 letter:
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Or consider his praise for Tony Nicely in 2005:
And the list could go on and on.
Here’s a man worth more than $70 billion, who understands that the works of others were just as important to his success as his own. So no matter where we are, we should always take the time to thank the people who helped us get there.
While we’ll always only be ourselves, adopting these three habits will help us no matter where our path takes us.
Patrick Morris owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and Coca-Cola. The Motley Fool recommends American Express, Berkshire Hathaway, Coca-Cola, and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and Wells Fargo and has the following options: long January 2016 $37 calls on Coca-Cola, short January 2016 $37 puts on Coca-Cola, short April 2015 $57 calls on Wells Fargo, and short April 2015 $52 puts on Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.