Inc. recently published an article titled: “Warren Buffett Says 4 Choices in Life Separate the Doers From the Dreamer.” In that article, Warren Buffett tells us to:
- Pick your friends wisely.
- Go to bed a little smarter each day.
- Improve your communication skills.
- Say no.
These choices, as Buffett calls them, are wisdom. Most of Buffett’s 4 choices can be found within Psalms 1, where we are told:
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.”
In 1 Kings 3, we see that God values the choice of wisdom. There, Solomon has a dream. In it, God tells Solomon “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon responds, choosing wisdom as his gift. “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
Solomon’s choice pleased God. So God tells Solomon, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”
Apparently Buffett learned to choose wisdom early in life. A CNBC article about Buffett says he began seriously investing at the age of 10. Buffett stayed with it. By age 30 , Buffett had over $1 million ($9.3 million when adjusted for inflation). When Buffett chose wisdom early, other blessings followed. Another corollary with Solomon is participation in the Giving Pledge. You can never out-give God. By helping others, Buffett makes Solomon’s choice – he looks outward instead of inward.
So what do we do with this? First, we learn that wisdom is a choice. It is not “a given.” You can choose to plan based on bedrock principles and facts, or you can choose among less principled approaches, rumors and unproven theories. Also, what do we do with information? Do we watch Warren Buffett and then do what Buffett does? No, that’s not my conclusion. While I respect Mr. Buffett, I’ve never met him and I don’t know anything about him except information in the media. Instead, I believe the answer is to anchor your life in unchanging principles and facts. For Christians, this means God’s principles and verified facts. If you’re not a Christian, maybe it means following a different code or studying someone like Buffett.
How do we use this at the Elder Law Practice? Do we tell you what to do or what to believe? No. We will give you legal advice, but it’s not our job to tell you how to live or what principles to follow. What we will do is ask lots of questions about who is important to you and what is important to you. We want to know what makes you tick. Then we will do our best to help you plan based on your principles and put your principles into practice in your life and in your estate. Regardless of what guides you, principle based planning, we believe, is a wise choice.