Warren Buffett has offered a plethora of tips for both investment decisions and making good decisions in life. One of his best is to lean on the belief that good things will happen to those who wait. In his own words, Buffett said:
No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.
But who really wants to wait when we can go full throttle and experience immediate payoffs on a good business strategy when the timing is right? Well, that’s certainly a doable endeavor for those of us focused on short-term gains and instant gratification, but that’s the antithesis of the Buffett way.
Jeff Bezos, the founder, executive chairman, and former president and CEO of Amazon, once asked Buffett, “Warren, your investment thesis is so simple, and yet so brilliant. Why doesn’t everyone just copy you?”
Buffett’s response, without hesitation: “Because nobody wants to get rich slow.”
Two keys to playing the long game
Warren Buffett is a firm believer in the important lesson of slowing down and thinking long term. He understands that the pursuit of short-term profit is a misguided phenomenon in business. During Covid, we forgot to play the long-term game because everybody went into reactionary mode, so the shift was on short-term thinking because of changes necessary from lockdowns posed by the pandemic.
Now that we are over the crisis, having a long-term strategy will eventually yield results and pave the way to success, making the journey that much sweeter. The operative word to make that happen boils down to one rare trait: patience.
Researchers have discovered that people exhibiting the rare trait of patience make more progress toward their goals and are more satisfied when they achieve them (particularly if those goals are difficult) compared with less patient people.
The key to making your patience a successful business virtue in support of your long game is to rely on one important factor: discipline.
I’ve seen too many people get discouraged, give up, and fail because they disregarded the means to get to the top of the mountain. They gave up because of an obsession with achieving the goal.
Goals are important, no doubt. What gets you to those goals, however, is both patience and discipline. This is what will help you persevere as you develop a pattern of repeated habits and actions that you take daily, over and over again, to reach your highest goals. Patience and discipline are what will ultimately lead to your success.
Buffett’s quote at the top suggests that we stop chasing after those pie-in-the-sky ideas and grandiose pursuits that yield no return. In the end, true success comes from focusing on those steady, small, and consistent day-to-day actions that pave the way to long-term results. Your best weapons — “no matter how great the talent or efforts” — are patience and discipline.