When two multi-billionaires dispense advice, it pays to listen.
It especially pays to listen when both men are not just exceptional investors, but exceptional thinkers.
Two Billionaires Go To Lunch…
In his latest memo, It’s Not Easy, legendary investor Howard Marks tells the story of a lunch with Charlie Munger back in 2011.
Finishing up Munger said to him, “It’s not supposed to be easy. Anyone who finds it easy is stupid.” Marks goes on to say that achieving outsized success is hard and anyone who thinks otherwise is overlooking the complexity.
As he tells it, they are operating at first-level thinking. They are doing the same things as everyone else and hoping for a different outcome. Those at level-two, however, are thinking at a higher level.
He was writing about investing, but you can equally apply his idea to all success.
Create Success At A Deeper Level
Nearly everything we learn in our society suggests that the formula for success is easy. Blood, sweat, and tears, put your head down and work hard, we learn that success comes through sacrifice and brute force.
At first-level thinking it is true that success requires an obvious level of “sacrifice,” but first-level thinking is likely to disappoint.
Most people will run themselves ragged forever chasing success and even those who sprint to complete the marathon are like the many who visit the stars on Hollywood Boulevard, mostly standing around wondering, is this all it is?
The real rewards for success come at the second-level where you recognize success isn’t about reaching an illusory outcome but who you are becoming along the way.
It isn’t about working hard, but doing hard things. It isn’t about your outcome but mastering your craft. It isn’t about pounding away, but stepping back, thinking at a higher level, and developing a sophisticated process for getting what you want.
Either way, it isn’t easy. But it is stupid to grind it out when you can just as easily step back and go for what you truly want.