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Warren Buffett: “It’s better to hang out with people better than you”

What’s the secret to success in life?

 It’s not a simple question to answer.

But we all know people who live hugely successful lives. How do they do it? Do they know some life-enhancing secret that you don’t?

Actually, yes, they do!

The secret may not be obvious, but some people know it and live by it.

Warren Buffett is one of those people.

And today I’m going to share his secret with you.

Inc. reports that Buffett shared his secret for success with a 14-year old at a Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting over a decade ago.

It was the occasion of the annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting in Omaha, Nebraska and its chairman and CEO, Warren Buffett, was fielding questions from people in the audience.

That was when a 14-year-old from California asked Buffett what advice he would give a young person on how to be successful.

Buffett’s short response speaks volumes

And it’s applicable to people of all ages, even today.

Buffett said: “It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.”

This answer requires some reflection. What did Buffett mean? Better in what way?

He was referring to qualities and traits that elevate people, make us better as leaders, workers, and human beings, writes Emily Canal for Inc.

What are these qualities and traits that you should look out for when you choose the people you spend your time with?

1) Hang out with people that have integrity.

For Buffett integrity is non-negotiable.  He once said: “You’re looking for three things, generally, in a person: intelligence, energy, and integrity. And if they don’t have the last one, don’t even bother with the first two.”

People who behave with integrity can be trusted, you never need to question their actions, or whether they might do something underhand.

2) Hang out with intentionally focused people that know when to say ‘no.’

Buffett also famously said: “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

These words are a wake-up call to the temptations that we can’t resist: buying the bigger house now that the pay check is bigger; taking on an extra project as a favor for someone while you are already stretched too far; staying for that drink after work with a potential somebody while you have an important meeting the next day.

If you want to be successful you have to learn to say no to things that distract you from your goal.

3) Hang out with people that feed their minds by reading.

It’s well-known that Buffett is a prolific reader.

“I still probably spend five or six hours a day reading,” Buffett says in HBO’s documentary, Becoming Warren Buffett.

“I like to sit and think. I spend a lot of time doing that and sometimes it is pretty unproductive, but I find it enjoyable to think about business or investment problems.”

And that’s not all. He keeps abreast of current events by reading six newspapers each day: The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The New York Times, The USA Today, The Omaha World-Herald and American Banker.

Clearly if you are serious about becoming successful you have to build your knowledge. Buffett shows us how and his track record speaks for itself.

4) Hang out with people that are legitimately loved by others.

Buffett does not measure success in terms of money, but in terms of relationships – the number of people that truly loves you.

Inc. quotes him as having said: “When you get to my age, you’ll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you.

“I know people who have a lot of money … but the truth is that nobody in the world loves them….that’s the ultimate test of how you have lived your life.

“The trouble with love is that you can’t buy it … The only way to get love is to be lovable … The more you give love away, the more you get.”

RELATED ARTICLE: 20 inspirational Warren Buffett quotes about building a successful career

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Written by Coert Engels

I'm a South African based writer and am passionate about exploring the latest ideas in artificial intelligence, robotics and nanotechnology. I also focus on the human condition, with a particular interest human intuition and creativity. To share some feedback about my articles, email me at [email protected]

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