Spend a lot of time Sitting & Thinking. Warren Buffett ‘demands’ it!

Buffett ‘Demands’ It

The following quote is perhaps my favorite saying from Warren Buffett.  It’s a simple yet powerful formula that dictates most of his day.

I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day,  to just sit and think.  That is very uncommon in American business.  I read and think.  So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business.  I do it because I like this kind of life. – Warren Buffett

Read. Sit. Think.  It doesn’t get much more straightforward than that.   And yet, it’s easy to overlook this quote or simply take it as mere suggestion.  But the key word in his statement is ‘insist’.  That’s a far cry from an off-handed recommendation.  In fact, Websters dictionary defines ‘insist’ as, “to demand that something happen or that someone do something.”

In other words, Warren Buffett demands it.  He demands it!  For anyone looking to learn from the investing wisdom of Warren Buffett, this is a good place to start.

That’s why I made the picture below and hung it on my wall.  It’s a reminder every day that this isn’t a recommendation.  I must spend a lot of time reading and thinking.

Sit and Think
Sit and Think

Cloning and Greatness

There’s a second reason why I love this quote; it’s unoriginal.  In fact, you can trace the origins of this quote back through a long line of great men who unapologetically copied each other.

I like to imagine that Warren derived this insight from Ben Franklin, whom both he and Charlie Munger admire greatly.  A quote mirroring Warren’s is found in Poor Richard’s Almanac where Ben Franklin wrote;

Reading makes a full man, mediation a profound man, discourse a clear man. – Benjamin Franklin

But the wisdom copying machine doesn’t end there.  Ben Franklin openly admitted that most of his Poor Richard’s quotes were unoriginal.  His typically strategy was to rewrite classic wisdom and proverbs into catchy sayings.  In turn, Ben Franklin likely derived his famous quote from John Locke whose writings were a big part of Franklin’s self-education.   John Locke wrote;

Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours. – John Locke

Once again, John Locke likely derived this statement from influential thinkers he studied, such as Thomas Hobbes, Descartes, Cicero, Aristotle, and Plato.  All of whom wrote extensively on the importance of thinking and meditating.

There’s a distinct pattern to this.  Great men, copy the wisdom of great men who came before them.  Or as Charlie Munger puts it;

I believe in the discipline of mastering the best that other people have ever figured out. – Charlie Munger

This process is also known as “cloning”.   Warren is a Grandmaster at cloning.  In his life, Warren has notably;

  • Mastered the fundamental principles of value investing from Ben Graham.
  • Mastered the fundamentals of the insurance business from Lorimer Davidson.
  • Evolved as an investor by embracing the ideas of Charlie Munger and Phil Fisher.

Warren Buffett has an uncanny ability to learn the best ideas that already exist and adopt them completely into his own knowledge and philosophy.

This speaks volumes to the value of “cloning”.  As investors, we should endeavor to do the same and master the best of what Warren Buffett has learned.  We can start here.

Read. Sit. Think.

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