A few years back I had the good fortune to be invited by Berkshire-Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s holding company, to it’s annual shareholders’ meeting. When Buffett first purchased the company, its stock was trading at $12 to $18 a share. At this writing, it’s reached $100,000 a share and climbing making Buffett the richest man in the world. When someone at the meeting asked him, “What do you attribute your success to?” Buffett responded with a story.
He said that when Bobby Fisher the American chess player, was playing chess against a Russian player, a big debate ensued about whether a human being could beat a computer at chess. All the articles coming out on the question were saying that a human being would never be able to beat a computer because a computer could think through every infinitesimal possibility and choose the best move to win the game.
But what they found was just the opposite – a human being could not only tie the computer, but could sometimes even beat it through a process of what Buffett called “selective grouping.” Selective grouping is the internal process by which humans can automatically discount 90 percent of possibilities without ever having to consider them fully, so that they can focus their attention on the remaining 10 percent of possible moves that would make the greatest strategic impact.
“If you want to know what makes our overwhelming success,” Buffett responded, “It’s been selective grouping. It’s what we FOCUS on. And equally important, it’s what we choose not to focus on.” The process of choosing what to focus on is occurring in your brain every second of every day. And it is determining what you experience in life and what you don’t experience. It’s a great lesson to apply to time management. It also speaks volumes about focus as one of the most important factors in producing results, since you cannot experience that which you don’t put your attention on. To Buffett’s second point, you must always seriously consider the “opportunity cost” of choosing to focus on things that take your focus away from building the wealth that you truly deserve.
You must carefully evaluate every investment decision of time and resources, and never be afraid to re-assess situations and ask yourself the question “Knowing what I now know, would I still get involved in what I’m doing?” If the answer is a resounding “NO.” Have the courage and intelligence to step away from these wastes of time, energy, and resources and use your time in the highest and most effective way possible, in relation to your ultimate goals.