Yesterday’s online INC magazine headlined an article by Marcel Schwantes with this captivating lead-in:
It Took Warren Buffett 2 Sentences to Offer the Best Advice You Will Hear Today
Timeless wisdom from the Oracle of Omaha.
It caught my attention. What financial insight would Buffett share from his vast wealth of financial acumen? A portfolio change? A stock tip? A retirement strategy?
Interestingly, it had nothing to do with money and everything to do with becoming a better person.
Schwantes relates that in the 2004 Berkshire Hathaway annual stockholders’ meeting Buffett was fielding audience questions. Justin Fong, a teenager from California asked the billionaire what advice he would give a young person on how to be successful.
“It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.”
The Oracle of Omaha’s advice reminded me of an oracle from the wise man in Proverbs 13:20. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
This life lesson is vital, not just for young people, but for all people.
Several years ago I attended a seminar and heard Charlie (Tremendous) Jones. One line, among many great ones in his speech, stood out that I’ve never forgotten.
“Remember, you are the same today as you will be in five years, except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.”
Foolish people hang out with foolish people only to their harm and hurt. Wise people associate with people wiser than themselves. As a result, they increase in knowledge, grow in wisdom and gain important practical insights to improve their lives.
If you’re going to follow the advice of Buffett, Jones, and Solomon, then surround yourself with these three kinds of people.
#1 People of godly character.
The world is filled with people who are charlatans with sinister motives seeking success “by hook or crook,” as John Wycliffe expressed it. In other words by any means necessary.
People of character demonstrate integrity, honesty, and honor in both their business dealings and personal lives. They can be trusted. Their word is their bond. They exhibit moral courage in the difficult decisions they make and in their commitment to follow through.
Buffett’s counsel is biblically-based. “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character” (1Cor. 15:33).
#2 People who are values-driven.
Everyone is driven by something. It may be business success. Wealth. Position. Power. Prestige. Or pleasure.
Hyrum Smith says, “Whatever your particular governing values may be, they are represented by the clearest answers you can give to these questions: What are the highest priorities in my life? and of these priorities which do I value the most?
“Your values,” wrote Peter Hirsch “are what makes you tick. Your values are the seat and source of your wants and desires.”
Biblical values of righteousness, goodness, godliness and moral virtue will correctly guide your decisions. Bless the lives of others around you. Glorify God. Give your life meaning and purpose. And transcend this life into eternity.
#3 People who love people.
Several years ago our recently departed friend Dee Bowman wrote a book entitled “It’s All About the People.” Indeed life is about people.
Jesus’ enunciation of what’s been dubbed the golden rule and His second great commandment speaks to the importance of our relationships and how we treat others.
People who genuinely care about people, treat all people with respect and dignity, offer help when needed, and are the kind of people with whom we should associate. Such people even have the capacity to love the unlovable.
Surround yourself with good people. God’s people. They will enrich your life. Encourage you. Enlighten you. Edify you. And serve as an example to emulate.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman