Last week I read about one of the secrets of billionaire Warren Buffett’s success. He claims his secret is that he “just sits in the office and reads all day”. In fact, Buffett estimates that about 80% of his working hours are spent reading.
Buffett believes his brilliance is a direct result of reading and once urged someone to “read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge builds up, like compound interest.”
As I was sharing this piece of Buffett’s advice to a few of my friends, they asked me how many books I read a week. I started thinking about it and answered “about two to three books a week.”
The next question posed was “how do you find time to read?”
I quickly answered “discipline”. You just have to make time and discipline yourself to do it. But as I further pondered I realised that discipline required giving up many things.
Before we start to do something, we need to stop doing something else. If you want to get healthy, it’s a good idea to stop eating fatty foods before you start exercising. Discipline is as much about stopping as it is about doing. For me, to ensure I read a few books a week, I needed to stop watching TV, stop playing computer games and wasting time on unproductive activities. Discipline is a concept everyone is aware of, but few truly understand. The most successful people in life exert discipline on a daily basis.
It is critical to every living being and without it, the world around us would be in disarray. Restraint is a big part of discipline. Not giving into something you want is a sign of strength.
Right after the 2012 Olympics ended, I met up with Datuk Lee Chong Wei and Pandelela Rinong, the medal winners from Malaysia at the London Games. As they shared their journey to greatness, there were constant references to sacrifice, hard work and discipline.
This "discipline" that both Lee and Rinong keep talking about is 'mental toughness'. Mental toughness is key to why they push themselves so hard in training and practice sessions. And why they continually force their body through painful agonising training sessions when all their friends were out 'having a good time.' Mental Toughness is what we term as delayed gratification.
Delayed gratification is the ability to suspend gain now to gain a greater and better reward in the future. This requires significant willpower. For most of us, our willpower to delay or suspend a reward now for a future bigger one seems to fail us more often than not. Why is that? The answer may lie in marshmellows!
Watch a video of my discussion with Dato Lee Chong Wei after he won his sliver medal at the London 2012 Olympics below: