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From composer, musician, and philanthropist Peter Buffett comes a warm, wise, and inspirational book that asks, Which will you choose: the path of least resistance or the path of potentially greatest satisfaction?
You may think that with a last name like his, Buffett has enjoyed a life of endless privilege. But the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett says that the only real inheritance handed down from his parents was a philosophy: Forge your own path in life. It is a creed that has allowed him to follow his own passions, establish his own identity, and reap his own successes.
In Life Is What You Make It, Buffett expounds on the strong set of values given to him by his trusting and broadminded mother, his industrious and talented father, and the many life teachers he has met along the way.
Today’s society, Buffett posits, has begun to replace a work ethic, relishing what you do, with a wealth ethic, honoring the payoff instead of the process. We confuse privilege with material accumulation, character with external validation. Yet, by focusing more on substance and less on reward, we can open doors of opportunity and strive toward a greater sense of fulfillment. In clear and concise terms, Buffett reveals a great truth: Life is random, neither fair nor unfair.
From there it becomes easy to recognize the equal dignity and value of every human life—our circumstances may vary but our essences do not. We see that our journey in life rarely follows a straight line but is often met with false starts, crises, and blunders. How we push through and persevere in these challenging moments is where we begin to create the life of our dreams—from discovering our vocations to living out our bliss to giving back to others.
Personal and revealing, instructive and intuitive, Life Is What You Make It is about transcending your circumstances, taking up the reins of your destiny, and living your life to the fullest.
Some Key Ideas:
- Economic prosperity may come and go; that’s just how it is. But values are the steady currency that earn us the all-important rewards of self-respect and peace of mind.
- Our values guide our choices; our choices define who we are. Life is what we make it.
- No matter who your parents are, you’ve still got your own life to figure out.
- There is a famous quotation from the Book of Luke that was taken very seriously in our family: From those to whom much has been given, much is expected.
- …at the start of our lives, no one deserves anything. No one deserves to be rich or poor, privileged or oppressed, healthy or challenged. No one deserves good parents or bad. These are things that happen randomly to the life that has just begun. They are neither fair nor unfair; they simply are.
- Self respect can come only from earning your own reward.
- …psychologist Dr. Madeline Levine, author of The Price of Privilege. Based on a 2007 study, Dr. Levine concluded that 30 to 40 percent of adolescents from affluent homes experience troubling psychological symptoms. Among teenage girls in this demographic, 22 percent suffer from clinical depression; that’s three times the national average. Ten to 15 percent of those who suffer from depression eventually commit suicide.
To learn more about this great book, click here.
In the majority of projects that I work on, whether they be for businesses or helping families live their dreams, the two biggest challenges that I normally encounter are 1) lack of clarity of what is really wanted; and 2) not understanding that structural dynamics need to be addressed to actually accomplish the new vision.
In regard to lack of clarity, if you do not know what you want, there are millions of ideas constantly bombarding you each day from other people that will continually take you off track from living your dreams. Unfortunately, I find this is true whether you are rich or poor. Therefore, if Clarity is an issue, you must first focus on your own inward journey of self-discovery before embarking on your outward journey of manifesting your desired results.
In regard to structural dynamics, imagine that you are a farmer with a river flowing through your land. Although you can use the water from the river to nourish your crops, the riverbed is fixed on how the river flows through your land. Problem solving only helps with strategies of pulling water from the river but does nothing to resolve the fundamental structure of the existing riverbed.
In his book, The Path of Least Resistance, Robert Fritz explains problem solving this way:
“At best, problem solving can bring temporary relief from a specific situation, but it seldom leads to final success….The path of least resistance in problem solving is to move from worse to better and then from better to worse again. This is because the actions taken are generated by the problem. If the intensity of the problem is lessened by the actions you took, there is less motivation to take further actions.”
Another way to look at this scenario is as follows:
leads to action to solve the problem
less intensity of the problem
less action to solve the problem
the problem remaining.
The psychologist Carl Jung said the following:
“All the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally insoluble…They can never be solved, but only outgrown. This “outgrowth” proved on further investigation to require a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest appeared on the patient’s horizon, and through this broadening of his or her outlook the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms but faded when confronted with a new and stronger life urge.”
Therefore, if you focus on what you truly value and what you really want, you can use the creative process to manifest your desires. As Robert Fritz goes on to say, “creators not only imagine or envision, they also have the ability to bring what they imagine into reality. Once a creation exists, an evolutionary process can take place. Each past creation builds a foundation for the next creation.” Therefore, the key question really is “what do you want to create?”