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Sunday, September 5, 2010


On the 4th July holiday weekend in 1991, Warren Buffett met Bill Gates.  The story of their introduction as written in The Snowball is a great read so I won't ruin it for you here, but I will repeat a comment that Warren Buffett made about it:

"Then at dinner, Bill Gates Sr. posed the question to the table: What factor did people feel was the most important in getting to where they'd gotten in life? And I said 'Focus.' And Bill said the same thing."

About 10 years ago, I first came across the notion that genius is not an accident of birth, but 10,000 hours of work. Aparently, this was proven in a scientific study in 2008 and written about in the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  

Last year I read Anthony Robbins' book Awaken the Giant Within.  It includes a process for working out which goals to focus (there's that word again) on.  In the last step of the process, you write down what you are going to do each day for the next 10 days to work towards your goals.

At the time, I was pregnant and suffering with morning sickness.  By which I mean, I suffered food poisoning for nine months except it wasn't food poisoning, it just felt like it.  The upshot of this being that I was not feeling particularly motivated, so I decided I would do the absolute bare minimum for each of the 10 days.  For example, if I had to spend one minute looking up something on a website, that would be it for the day.  As a result of doing the absolute bare minium for those 10 days, I got more achieved in those 10 days that for the entire rest of the year.

Following the quote about focus by Warren Buffett, the author of The Snowball, Alice Schroeder, waxes lyrical about Warren Buffett's ability to focus like its a form of magic.  But I think she is wrong.  I think its a very straight forward thing, the more time you spend developing your skills the better your skills will be.  I think we all like to over-complicate things and assume successful people are inately better than us - but really, its just that they got off their arse.

In my last post, I wrote about the success I have had using the feng shui silver box.  You could not be blamed for thinking that the silver box is a form of magic, but again I don't think it is.  I think it is a ritual for developing your focus.  First you have to think about your goal and refine the wording down to one sentence.  Then you write out the words on a card and place it in the silver box.  Silver is a precious metal, so again the importance of this goal is highlighted to you.  Each time you see the box, which stands out in your home because it is silver, you are reminded of your goal, so your attention is focused on it.

The two silver box goals I have had success with both required my focus.  The first in gathering all the information required and filling out the extensive form for the Baby Bonus.  But I knew in advance that I was eligible.  I also had a fairly good indication that I could pass the test to join Mensa based on result of career apitutude tests and I was aware that, as with all tests, the more practice you do, the higher the score you will achieve.  So I was spending a least an hour a day doing practice tests leading up to the formal examination.

Even if I win the house in the lottery, I will still not be convinced it's magic, because someone has to win and there are only 80,000 tickets.  Yesterday I was given a tattslotto ticket for next week's $20 million draw.  I have put the ticket in the silver box.  If I win the $20 million, with odds of 1 to 8,145,060, then I may concede that there is something more to it.  In the meantime people, I recommend you follow Nike's advice and Just Do It!

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