On Myth Busting–Warren Buffett’s Optimistic view of America’s Economy

Open Letter from Berkshire’s Chairman Warren Buffett – Insightful and uplifting perspective on the State of America’s economy.

Optimistic view of America from Warren Buffet “Correcting the myth that our children will not live as well as they themselves do”.

In his 2016 letter to shareholders, Warren Buffett ( Net worth as of 3/16/2016 $62 B ranked second only to Bill Gates) displayed cheery optimism for America’s future, writing that the crop of presidential candidates’ “negative drumbeat” about the nation’s prospects is “dead wrong.”  Below I am taking the liberty to share his comments from his  140 page Annual Report to shareholders. Buffett’s comments about the state of American business is certainly refreshing from the “gloom and doom” nightly news. This needs to be a must read for all Presidential candidates.  

“It’s an election year, and candidates can’t stop speaking about our country’s problems (which, of course, only they can solve). As a result of this negative outlook and drumbeat, many Americans now believe that their children will not live as well as they themselves do. That view is dead wrong: The babies being born in America today are the luckiest crop in history. American GDP per capita is now about $56,000. As I mentioned last year that – in real terms – is a staggering six times the amount in 1930, the year I was born, a leap far beyond the wildest dreams of my parents or their contemporaries. U.S. citizens are not intrinsically more intelligent today, nor do they work harder than did Americans in 1930. Rather, they work far more efficiently and thereby produce far more. This all-powerful trend is certain to continue: America’s economic magic remains alive and well. Some commentators bemoan our current 2% per year growth in real GDP – and, yes, we would all like to see a higher rate. But let’s do some simple math using the much-lamented 2% figure. That rate, we will see, delivers astounding gains. 7 America’s population is growing about .8% per year (.5% from births minus deaths and .3% from net migration). Thus 2% of overall growth produces about 1.2% of per capita growth. That may not sound impressive. But in a single generation of, say, 25 years, that rate of growth leads to a gain of 34.4% in real GDP per capita. (Compounding’s effects produce the excess over the percentage that would result by simply multiplying 25 x 1.2%.) In turn, that 34.4% gain will produce a staggering $19,000 increase in real GDP per capita for the next generation. Were that to be distributed equally, the gain would be $76,000 annually for a family of four. Today’s politicians need not shed tears for tomorrow’s children. Indeed, most of today’s children are doing well. All families in my upper middle-class neighborhood regularly enjoy a living standard better than that achieved by John D. Rockefeller Sr. at the time of my birth. His unparalleled fortune couldn’t buy what we now take for granted, whether the field is – to name just a few – transportation, entertainment, communication or medical services. Rockefeller certainly had power and fame; he could not, however, live as well as my neighbors now do. Though the pie to be shared by the next generation will be far larger than today’s, how it will be divided will remain fiercely contentious. Just as is now the case, there will be struggles for the increased output of goods and services between those people in their productive years and retirees, between the healthy and the infirm, between the inheritors and the Horatio Algers, between investors and workers and, in particular, between those with talents that are valued highly by the marketplace and the equally decent hard-working Americans who lack the skills the market prizes. Clashes of that sort have forever been with us – and will forever continue. Congress will be the battlefield; money and votes will be the weapons. Lobbying will remain a growth industry. The good news, however, is that even members of the “losing” sides will almost certainly enjoy – as they should – far more goods and services in the future than they have in the past. The quality of their increased bounty will also dramatically improve. Nothing rivals the market system in producing what people want – nor, even more so, in delivering what people don’t yet know they want. My parents, when young, could not envision a television set, nor did I, in my 50s, think I needed a personal computer. Both products, once people saw what they could do, quickly revolutionized their lives. I now spend ten hours a week playing bridge online. And, as I write this letter, “search” is invaluable to me. (I’m not ready for Tinder, however.) For 240 years it’s been a terrible mistake to bet against America, and now is no time to start. America’s golden goose of commerce and innovation will continue to lay more and larger eggs. America’s social security promises will be honored and perhaps made more generous. And, yes, America’s kids will live far better than their parents did”.

Note: please pass-on this blog on to all your friends who are down on America and inclined to believe the “doom and gloom” message of the news media and Presidential candidates.

http://www.rrdezproxy.com/~webdrop/ezproxy/201603/2015%20Annual%20Report.pdf

 

Daily Quote and Self-Coaching Challenge: Coping with Life Difficulties and Losses

A Self-Coaching “Smart-Step” approach to Coping with anxiety and difficult times

Daily Quote: ” When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”.–Viktor Frankl 

Through out life we will encounter good and bad times. With the rapid pace of living  we all experience change as a way of life. Some of us learn to roll with the punches and find ways to get through our daily ups and downs. Others get “stuck” and have a difficult time functioning at an acceptable level. And still others find themselves anxious or increasingly depressed over a problem, concern, or worry for a long time. So we all react differently to change and try to find individual ways to cope. In my experience with clients, I have found some ways that are more effective than others to cope and push try to relief. Below I will provide two Self-Coaching tools that provide a practical framework and a mental set for dealing with these personal obstacles to live a life of constructive action. I suggest you write them down in your personal journal or on a 3x 5 index card so that when you find yourself on the edge or overwhelmed with worry and  insecure thinking, you read these tips to get you through the difficult situations you find yourself in. If necessary, read them over and over again, mantra like.

1.) I will let life be what it is. I won’t “make stuff up” too upset my balance and positive outlook. Sure there are obstacles and inconveniences but no awfulness and shoulds’ in life. Try using positive self-talk like the following: This too shall pass…it could have been much worst…this is inconvenient and unexpected so consciously  STOP. Take a deep BREATH. SMILE and Move ON. 
Sometimes, when the phone rings and the voice or message at the other end knocks you for a loop, you may feel shock, out of control or overwhelmed with what life has just delivered you. And yet you need to keep going on because sometimes there are no solutions or answers to life’s difficulties. Rather than reading these events as “awful” and “unsolvable”, a more constructive approach to terrible news is to notice and accept how you are feeling, if sad, be sad; if you start to cry just cry; if angry; be angry and then redirect your attention to something more useful. For example, find a tissue to wipe your tears, if you are standing sit-down, go for a long slow walk etc. Redirection physically can be a powerful constructive act.  Just remember this event as just a moment in life–not good or bad, just life.  Mentally reject the inner voice that tells you this is awful and you can’ go on. Don’t fight the fear or focus on it;  just notice it and accept it. Acknowledge these events are real, unwanted and  inconvenient obstacles that just need to be handled the best way you know how. With heighten emotions and unclear thinking about loss and fear driven thinking your insecurity and confusion will rise and you may find yourself slowed downed–but this is event is not the end of life or awful! What feels to be hopeless and overwhelming is only an emotional flooding created by this unexpected circumstance. Keep in mind your tool to STOP. Breath. Smile. Keep Moving and trust yourself to handle this situation.

2. Not every problem has a solution, and sometimes you have to just keep going and accept that maybe or maybe not an answer or understanding will appear. 
In time, some problems can be solved or understood. On the other hand, some problems will never be solved and you need to learn to live with this uncertainty and ambiguity of not knowing. Unfortunately, this is not easy to do, but begins with clear and positive thinking (3-1 rule of positivity) not with doubts, fears and negative thoughts. It is your irrational demand for answers and certainty in dealing with life’s problems and ambiguities that generate irrational thoughts, fretting behavior and other unhealthy symptoms such as nervousness, losing control, anxiety and feeling sick.

As you practice these new mental sets,  it helps to remind yourself of the countless problems and worries that have come and gone in your life. How many problems have you solved? One thousand? Ten thousand? or Hundred thousand? Many times you have faced problems and figured-out, how to survive these difficulties  by re-framing, re-strategizing, or over just letting time take its course. Right? Trust yourself and be more gentle and self compassionate because life difficulties eventually become part of your biography and you move on. Remember you have more fuel in the tank than you think you do.

Poem: Living in the NOW. Now. Now.

 Poem: Living in the NOW. Now. Now. MW Hardwick

Listen for understanding.

Stop. Reflect. Act.

Explore other people’s point of view

Take an imaginative trip into their world.

Withhold judgments.

Be thankful for there willingness to share.

Try be more accepting.

Catch them when they are falling.

Embrace change.

Trust in yourself and others.

Do what you love.

Follow your own drummer.

Dance to your own music.

Be caring and thoughtful.

Let go of control.

Embrace the unknown and ambiguous.

Say thank you more often.

Be open-minded and flexible.

Be the change you wish to be.

Make peace with your enemies.

Play with a 5 year old.

Break the rules once in while.

Live and Life of No Regrets.

Do Random Acts of Kindness.

Forgive and let go even when it’s hard.

Compliment others.

Live a balanced life—time for work, for family and yourself.

Be creative –paint a picture, write a poem or throw a pot.

Don’t count the minutes enjoy the “here and now”.

Laugh, cry and smile more.

Be grateful for all you have.

Help others rediscovery there brighter side.

Enjoy being creative and playful.

Conquer your fears by “leaning-in”.

Learn to pick yourself up after failing or falling down.

Clean up your messes.

Take your first step to living your dreams—Now. Now. Now…

Exploring the Luck Factor in Life–6 Principles for Increasing Your Luck

Daily Quote: Being relaxed and open allows lucky people to see what’s around them and to maximize what’s around them. Richard Wiseman, author of The Luck Factor: Changing Your Luck, Changing Your Life: The Four Essential Principles (Miramax, 2003), …Lucky people look at events differently than others. They are more observant and typically have a different mindset than unlucky folks”.  

Dr. Tom Peter’s once said: Luck was the main reason for selling over 5 million books called in Search of Excellence. Most business books of genre   generally 5,000 copies. When I heard this from Peters in one of his lectures I was amazed and stunted. I thought how could I bottle this thing called luck for selling the next breakthrough management book or the “pet rock” phenomena. I searched the internet and now can share with you that according to some researchers there are specific reasons why some people are lucky and others are not.

“It’s better to be lucky than smart.” “You make your own luck in life.” “Some folks are just born lucky.” In an environment marked by rising

Dr. Richard Wiseman, is head of a psychology research department at the University of Hertfordshire in England.  He thinks most of us  could use a little luck — at our companies, in our careers, with our investments. Richard Wiseman thinks that he can help you find and create more luck in your life. For the past eight years, he and his colleagues have studied what makes some people lucky and others not. After conducting thousands of interviews and hundreds of experiments, Wiseman says he has cracked the LUCK CODE.  In an article in Fast Company he hypothesis that luck is not due to kismet, karma, or coincidence, he says. Instead, lucky folks — without even knowing it — think and behave in ways that create good fortune in their lives. In his new book,The Luck Factor: Changing Your Luck, Changing Your Life: The Four Essential Principles (Miramax, 2003), Wiseman reveals four approaches to life that turn certain people into luck magnets. Wiseman’s research has uncovered four principles to create more good fortune in your life and career. And I have added a few more ideas from my reading on the subject of LUCK.

1. MAXIMIZE CHANCE OPPORTUNITIES

Lucky people are skilled at creating, noticing, and acting upon chance opportunities. They do this in various ways, which include building and maintaining a strong network, adopting a relaxed attitude to life, and being open to new experiences.

2. LISTEN TO YOUR GUT AND LISTEN TO LUCKY HUNCHES

Lucky people make effective decisions by listening to their intuition and gut feelings. They also take steps to actively boost their intuitive abilities — for example, by meditating and clearing their mind of other thoughts.

3. POSITIVE EXPECTATIONS ABOUT LIFE AND THE FUTURE

Lucky people are certain that the future will be bright. Over time, that expectation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because it helps lucky people persist in the face of failure and positively shapes their interactions with other people.

4. TURN BAD LUCK INTO GOOD. LEMONADE STORY.

Lucky people employ various psychological techniques to cope with, and even thrive upon, the ill fortune that comes their way. For example, they spontaneously imagine how things could have been worse, they don’t dwell on the ill fortune, and they take control of the situation.

5. Resilience, not luck, is the signature of greatness.  

Nietzsche wrote, “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.” We all get bad luck. The question is how to use it to turn it into “one of the best things that ever happened,” to not let it become a psychological prison.

6. Luck favors the persistent, but you can persist only if you survive. If you stay in the game long enough, good luck tends to return, but if you get knocked out, you’ll never have the chance to be lucky again. Luck favors the persistent, but you can persist only if you survive.

Daily Quote and Reflections: Just Thinking and Musing about Self–Renewal and Meaning in Life…John Gardner

Extended excerpt from a speech presented to the respected and renown consulting firm of McKinsey in 1990. Don’t miss the closing remarks on living a meaningful life because this is a great example of how to  use story telling to connect with an audience in a memorable way.

“Personal Renewal”
Delivered to McKinsey & Company, Phoenix, AZ
November 10, 1990 

” Nothing is ever finally safe. Every important battle is fought and re-fought. We need to develop a resilient, indomitable morale that enables us to face those realities and still strive with every ounce of energy to prevail. You may wonder if such a struggle — endless and of uncertain outcome — isn’t more than humans can bear. But all of history suggests that the human spirit is well fitted to cope with just that kind of world.

Remember I mentioned earlier the myth that learning is for young people. I want to give you some examples, In a piece I wrote for Reader’s Digest not long ago, I gave what seemed to me a particularly interesting true example of renewal. The man in question was 53 years old. Most of his adult life had been a losing struggle against debt and misfortune. In military service he received a battlefield injury that denied him the use of his left arm. And he was seized and held in captivity for five years. Later he held two government jobs, succeeding at neither. At 53 he was in prison — and not for the first time. There in prison, he decided to write a book, driven by Heaven knows what motive — boredom, the hope of gain, emotional release, creative impulse, who can say? And the book turned out to be one of the greatest ever written, a book that has enthralled the world for ever 350 years. The prisoner was Cervantes; the book: Don Quixote.

Another example was Pope John XXIII, a serious man who found a lot to laugh about. The son of peasant farmers, he once said “In Italy there are three roads to poverty — drinking, gambling and fanning. My family chose the slowest of the three.” When someone asked him how many people worked in the Vatican he said “Oh, about half.” He was 76 years old when he was elected Pope. Through a lifetime in the bureaucracy, the spark of spirit and imagination had remained undimmed, and when he reached the top he launched the most vigorous renewal that the Church has known in this century.

Still another example is Winston Churchill. At age 25, as a correspondent in the Boer War he became a prisoner of war and his dramatic escape made him a national hero. Elected to Parliament at 26, he performed brilliantly, held high cabinet posts with distinction and at 37 became First Lord of the Admiralty. Then he was discredited, unjustly, I believe, by the Dardanelles expedition — the defeat at Gallipoli– and lost his admiralty post. There followed 24 years of ups and downs. All too often the verdict on him was “Brilliant but erratic…not steady, not dependable.” He had only himself to blame. A friend described him as a man who jaywalked through life. He was 66 before his moment of flowering came. Someone said “It’s all right to be a late bloomer if you don’t miss the flower show.” Churchill didn’t miss it.

Well, I won’t give you any more examples. From those I’ve given I hope it’s clear to you that the door of opportunity doesn’t really close as long as you’re reasonably healthy. And I don’t just mean opportunity for high status, but opportunity to grow and enrich your life in every dimension. You just don’t know what’s ahead for you. And remember the words on the bronze plaque “Some men and women make the world better just by being the kind of people they are.” To be that kind of person would be worth all the years of living and learning. 

Many years ago I concluded a speech with a paragraph on the meaning in life. The speech was reprinted over the years, and 15 years later that final paragraph came back to me in a rather dramatic way, really a heartbreaking way. ”

A man wrote to me from Colorado saying that his 20 year-old daughter had been killed in an auto accident some weeks before and that she was carrying in her billfold a paragraph from a speech of mine. He said he was grateful because the paragraph — and the fact that she kept it close to her — told him something he might not otherwise have known about her values and concerns. I can’t imagine where or how she came across the paragraph, but here it is:

“Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.” 

Part II: Change Your thoughts change your Life — Positive Self Talk

When negative events and thoughts happen, use positivity habits and words to find ways out of the negative in order to help you to control thoughts, do better, and move forward. The practice of positive self-talk is often the process that allows you to discover hidden strengths and build a “tougher mental attitude” by choosing “positivity” or negativity in any given situation.

Here are a few positivity quotes and ideas for you to use the next time you face strong negative self-talk

  1. Stop.. Breathe. Observe. Say—No! No! I can handle this and I will do the best I can.
  2. These negative thoughts won’t kill me; so confronting them makes me stronger.
  3. Reach for the moon if you miss you will still hit the stars.
  4. Don’t believe negative thoughts from the past just be the best you can be now in this moment.
  5. Your past does not have to be your future.
  6. It’s not what negative talk says to you that counts the most, it’s how you think and react to them that is really most important.
  7. Better to do something imperfectly than to sit there and do nothing.
  8. Within you is the capacity to actualize all that you need or desire.
  9. There would be nothing to frighten you if you refused to be afraid.
  10. Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
  11. Don’t be pushed by your negative thoughts. Be led by your purpose and dreams.
  12. Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.
  13. Life is beautiful because of you.
  14. The hardest thing in this world is to live in it, be courageous and keep moving forward
  15. We shall draw from positivity itself the means of control and inspiration.

Part I: Learn to Overcome your Demons and Negative Self-talk

Daily Quote: “First your negative talk controls and ignores your positivity, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win… Remember your past does not determine your future.” MWH 

Each of us has a set of internal messages that play like a tape recorder over and over in our minds. These internal messages can be either negative or positive. This dialogue frames our reaction to different people and circumstances in our life.

One of the ways to recognize, promote, and sustain optimism, is to observe and intentionally fill our thoughts with positive self-talk.

Too often the pattern of self-talk developed through life experiences is negative. We remember the negative things we were told as children by parents, siblings, or teachers. For some reason this negative commentary has more power than positive messages. Most of the research shows that it takes 3-5 positive messages to override negative ones.(Fredrickson and Gottman). Over the years these negative self-talk messages have replayed again and again in our minds, fueling our thoughts of frustration, shame, fear, guilt, and hopelessness.

Overriding these negative patterns takes willpower and sustain practice to change our brain. If people learned as children that they were worthless, we show them how truly special they are. If while growing up you learned to expect bad reactions, or unlucky events, you need to rewire these patterns and find better ways to react and create a more positive future.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Try the following reflection and re-wiring exercise.

1) Write down some of the negative messages that replay in your mind, ones that undermine your ability to feel comfortable and in control of events and circumstances in your life. Be specific whenever possible, and include anyone you remember who contributed to that message.

2) Now take a moment to focus on how to override these negative messages with positive experiences by remembering events where you triumphed in spite of negativity or changed negative self-talk to positive messages. Don’t give up if you don’t find them quickly. For every negative message there is a positive truth that will override and counter balance the power of the negativity.

You may have a negative message that replays in your head every time you make a mistake. As a child you may have been told “you’ll never amount to anything,” or “you can’t do anything right.” When you make a mistake — and you will, because we all do — you can choose to overwrite that message with a positive one, such as “I choose to accept my responsibility and grow from my mistake,” or “ When I find the lesson in making mistakes I now have the opportunity to thinking and behave in a more effective way. As I learn from my mistakes, I’m becoming a more functioning person.”

During this exercise, mistakes become opportunities to replace negative views of yourself with positive options for personal worth and growth. In addition, every time your over-ride a negative thought you form new paths for succeeding in the future.

 Positive Self-talk is Mental Toughness. Positive self-talk is  mental toughness in action. It is looking at circumstances with eyes that see the reality and truth of what is happening. Positive self-talk is about reaffirming your strength and worth. One of the fundamental truths is that life is difficult. To expect perfection in yourself is unrealistic. To expect no difficulties in life, whether through your own actions or sheer circumstance, is also unrealistic.