A Life Worth Living

I like to alternate between reading fiction and non-fiction. Lately, I’ve been on a big biography kick for non-fiction. Mostly, I’ve been reading about successful entrepreneurs. I’ve always enjoyed stories about people’s lives and combined with my interest in learning about what makes certain businesses and operators successful, it’s a fitting combination. I recently finished “The Snowball” by Alice Schroeder, which is a biography of Warren Buffet. I really enjoyed it. She provides a more complete picture of his life than the carefully curated public image.

In the book, a direct quote is included from Warren’s response to a student group asking about his greatest success and greatest failure. The quote really stuck out to me. I’ve included it here:

“Basically, 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, and they get testimonial dinners and they get hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them. If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.

That’s the ultimate test of how you have lived your life. The trouble with love is that you can’t buy it. You can buy sex. You can buy testimonial dinners. You can buy pamphlets that say how wonderful you are. But the only way to get love is to be lovable. It’s very irritating if you have a lot of money. You’d like to think you could write a check: I’ll buy a million dollars’ worth of love. But it doesn’t work that way. The more you give love away, the more you get.”

There’s some irony in reading that quote from someone who spent their life relentlessly accumulating wealth. Regardless, the spirit of the message certainly resonated with me, and in some ways, because of Buffet’s relentless and successful pursuit of wealth, he’s uniquely well positioned to make such a statement. You can never have too many reminders to prioritize those you love and the quality of your personal relationships above all else.