Wisdom//

Warren Buffett’s Simple Test to Determine How to Live Your Life

Treat others the way they want to be treated.

Image via Getty
Image via Getty

Warren Buffett is at his best when giving financial advice. And when you’re the third wealthiest person on the planet, you can say pretty much anything outside of investing, and people will drop whatever they’re doing to listen.

So “listen” to this gold nugget of wisdom Buffett dropped years back on defining your success:

“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.” 

The bottom line is this, adds Buffett: “The more you give love away, the more you get.” And according to Buffett, this is the ultimate test of how you have lived your life.

Love as a business value

The word “love” brings with it many off-putting and misinterpreted ideas, rightfully so. Love has no place in a transactional business world ruled by kingdoms of revenue and profit.

Or does it?

To truly leverage love as a business value, it must move beyond fleeting emotions to action, impact, and service that benefit the business and all its stakeholders (especially its most important anchor–its employees).

To Buffett,  “love in action” has extended to a stratosphere of which most wealthy entrepreneurs aren’t willing to venture: giving away your billions to charity.  

Since most of us will never accumulate that kind of obscene wealth, how do we put into practice this law of reciprocity by practically “giving away love” in order to receive it back, maybe two or three-fold? As leaders and owners, here are five ways to do it:

1. Treat others the way they want to be treated.

We’re all familiar with the universal Golden Rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” But the Platinum Rule takes it up to a whole new level of loving well: “Treat others the way they want to be treated.” This means demonstrating one key aspect of your emotional intelligence–empathy–where you imagine the world, or a situation, from someone else’s point of view rather than your own.

2. Choose to care for others.

We spend more awake hours at work than we do away from work; if it doesn’t feel like a collaborative and psychologically safe place where people–all people–belong and trust each other, it can be a proverbial drag that sends people packing. But in caring spaces, with shared values, meaningful work, and efficient systems in motion, the workplace is transformed into a vibrant, high-performing work culture.

3. Practice respect for competitive advantage.

When we choose to treat people with respect and dignity, the dynamic in the workplace is going to be radically different. In respecting others, you treat them as valued human beings. In truly human workplaces–those companies that are also profitable and making a mark in their industries–respect shows up at every level of the organizational chart; it runs counter to fear, control, micromanagement, incivility, and self-centeredness

4. Believe in your people.

Conventional thinking says that people have to earn trust. But it has been found that, in high-performing cultures, leaders are willing to give trust to their followers, as a gift, even before it’s earned. That’s because they believe in their people–their strengths, abilities, potential, and commitment to the job.

5. Eliminate fear.

Many thinkers view fear as the opposite of love. When fear permeates an organization, it stifles creativity and innovation. On the other hand, actionable love is a bright light that casts out fear: It breeds safety and trust, connects with hearts and minds of employees, cares for their well-being, and empowers people to be and do their very best.

Originally Published on Inc.

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