I am currently working through an excellent biography of Warren Buffet: “The Snowball: Warren Buffet and the Business of Life,” by Alice Schroeder. This book is long–over 800 pages–yet is well-written and engaging. Warren Buffet is probably one of the most referenced investor of all time, and financial writers are constantly mentioning him. Yet I didn’t know much about him. I’m glad to finally be changing that.
I’m about a quarter of the way through the book. Buffet is still in his 20s, yet is quickly approaching millionaire status (this is back in the 1950s, when being a millionaire was more than eight times more powerful than it is today). At one point, Schroeder makes an interesting reference to how Buffet remembers things:
Warren… never dwelled on the unpleasant. He would later come to think of his memory as functioning like a bathtub. The tub filled with ideas and experiences and matters that interested him. When he had no more use for information, whoosh–the plug popped up, and the memory drained away. If new information about a subject appeared, it would replace the old version. If he didn’t want to think about something at all, down the drain it went. Certain events, facts, memories, and even people appeared to vanish. Painful memories were the first to be flushed…The bathtub memory’s efficiency freed up enormous amounts of space for the new and the productive….Buffet thought of the bathtub memory as a helper that allowed him to ‘look forward,’ rather than ‘looking backward’ all the the time like his mother. And it allowed him, at the age of twenty-six, to ruminate in depth on business to the exclusion of almost everything else–in pursuit of his goal of becoming a millionaire.The Snowball, by Alice Schroeder, p208
This strikes me as a very effective way of thinking about things. It is basically “selective” memory, but in the service of pleasant things. It reminds me of the Abraham Hicks philosophy of focusing on wanted things, and not focusing on unwanted things.
Think about the benefit of being this way: you are constantly filling up your “tub” with things you want to think about. If something isn’t appealing, you can just release it!
Certainly, some people may claim that this is irresponsible or something. Yet really, what good does it do to spend your present moments focusing on unwanted things? How does that help anyone? Warren Buffet is probably the greatest investor of all time. Clearly this approach has worked for him. I am becoming more and more “selective” with my focus. I used to focus on all kinds of unwanted things. Speaking of money, in this area I was especially prone to think negative!
The problem with focusing on unwanted things is that you tend to attract more of them. As I understand from the description of Warren Buffet, he is filling his mental tub only with things he wants to think about. The mechanism of draining away unwanted thoughts seems to be a very effective Law of Attraction tool. It is an extraordinarily powerful form of single-mindedness, useful whether you are creating a new company, writing a symphony, becoming a pop star… or being Warren Buffet.