In 12 Words Warren Buffett Just Gave the Best Life Advice, but It Takes Courage to Follow

Here's why associating with folks who are better than you are at a skill will take you far in life.
Warren Buffett attends the "Becoming Warren Buffett" World Premiere at The Museum of Modern Art on January 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by J. Kempin/Getty Images)

A new CNBC interview with billionaires Warren Buffett and his business partner, Charlie Munger, sheds light on their six decades of friendship. Buffett and Munger built Berkshire Hathaway from a single textile mill into a $650 billion powerhouse.

And they've never had an argument. Why? They admire each other's strengths.

Near the end of the episode, Buffett offered this advice to anyone who wants to lead a successful life or career: It's better to associate with people who are better than you are.

As I've come to know many influential CEOs and entrepreneurs in my career as a communication expert, I realize just how powerful Buffett's advice is--and why it's hard for most people to follow.

Here's how to start taking Buffett's advice to build the life you've always imagined.

1. Set aside your ego.

This is the hardest step to take, and why few people follow Buffett's advice. When was the last time you acknowledged that a peer, spouse, friend, or even a competitor makes you a better person?

Professional golfer Phil Mickelson--who made history by winning the PGA Championship at the age of 51--once admitted in a press conference that if it hadn't been for Tiger Woods, he wouldn't have been as good as he's been long after most athletes retire.

I've used Mickelson's story with my daughters; one loves playing music and the other loves playing a sport. It's OK to admit that another person is a better piano player or better at a particular skill. Another person's strength doesn't take anything away from you. In fact, you can use their example as motivation to improve.

2. Contact people you admire. 

Although I've written 10 books, I continue to grow as a writer because I've exposed myself to the best in the business. After taking step one and setting aside my ego, I could read other business and non-fiction books with an appreciation for another writer's strengths. I've often followed up with personal calls to the writers I admire.

When you tell people you like their work, you'll be amazed at how forthcoming they are with tips to help you improve.

3. Stay open to diverse experiences.

You can learn only so much by associating with people who share your same background, education, etc. Step outside your comfort zone and actively seek out those whose experiences and strengths are different from your own.

For example, I don't have a military background, but I jump at the opportunity to speak at military bases and to elite soldiers like the Green Berets and TopGun fighter pilots. By doing so, I've become friends with people who have uncommon courage. I have skills they would like to learn, and they have strengths that I admire. As a result, we make each other better.

In the interview, Munger agreed with Buffett's advice that it helps to associate with people who make you better. "To get a good partner, be a good partner," he added. You'll be a good partner if you set aside your ego, acknowledge that others have talents you'd like to emulate, and stay open to new experiences.

A good partner will attract other good partners, and together you'll rise.


This article was originally published on Inc Magazine.

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