I believe in that quote, and it is one of the guiding principles in my life. When you apply it in the context of relationships, it means for a healthy relationship to thrive, one should not spend all his or her energy attempting to alter another’s identity because the permanent changes start from within. You cannot coerce someone to change for your benefit or even to have the desire to change.
I have applied Warren Buffett’s words of wisdom in the context of my relationships and work.
How Lasting Change Starts From Within
While I am fortunate not to have a 9-5 job, there are times when the path of self-employment leaves me feeling weak and helpless. It is exhausting, physically and mentally, to manage three ventures, and the challenges I have to face can be terrifying sometimes. However, I have learned to pamper myself with tender loving care during difficult periods of my life and pay attention to what I can accomplish to improve my circumstances.
This implies getting better at what I do for a living, typically by observing how much progress I have made and intensifying my efforts to ensure that I do not make the same mistake twice. I also strive to be as time-efficient as possible in everything I do. This has made me a more productive person and a more valuable asset to organisations if I ever decided to return to the corporate world. Not only that, being efficient means I have more time to relax and pursue other exciting hobbies that I have yet to try out.
Warren Buffett’s advice to invest in the self first before others has served me the greatest when it comes to my engagement with the beings I value most. Each of us has those people in our lives who we cherish but have a tough time getting along with for one reason or another.
The more I have made this wisdom part of my everyday life, the more apparent it is to me that time spent on hoping people would change is time wasted. It is here that I learned that all I can do is focus on how I respond to them and how I act, in turn.
I am very aware that perfectionism is just wishful thinking. Realistically, like everyone else, I know I have made mistakes in my conversations with them and not always acted out of human compassion.
Recognising this about myself, and doubling my efforts to be kind to them, regardless of how they treated me, has made a massive difference in my life. I would go so far as to say it has transformed those relationships for the better.
Talking about relationships, Warren Buffett’s words also affected my love life in a significant way. One thing I realised in my adult relationships is that when I get into a fight, I do not uphold the value of justice.
Although I do not see myself as a game player, many of my friends know me as that guy who likes to use sarcasm and critical judgements in moments of friction, and to be lured into a fit of rage when I have been hurt so that they can sense my emotional discomfort.
Fortunately, I acknowledged this pattern soon after my first relationship collapsed, and I did all I can to alter the way I handled conflict and hurt feelings.
Even in the ideal relationship, misunderstandings and arguments are inevitable. Expectations fall short, and self-sacrifice is the norm. Painful feelings will be felt. That is a given. However, the last thing I want to become is the source of everyone’s unnecessary discomfort.
This pearl of wisdom from Warren Buffett has meant a lot to me because I am doing my best to become a better person than I was the day before. Simultaneously, I strive to mitigate the adverse impact I have on people inside my circle and amplify the positive impact, instead. Some may argue that this is an act of self-centredness as well because the more often I do this, the less fuss there is in my life. It serves well for a writer, but the same cannot be said for health.
I wake up feeling good about my life almost every day. I react more proactively to those who rub me inappropriately. Plus, I have a lovely significant other who always inspires me to become better and so much more than who I am currently. Undoubtedly, there is room for improvement for each of us, but prioritising myself first before others has already proved to be a pearl of life-changing wisdom.