One question has fascinated me my entire adult life: what causes some people to become world-class leaders, performers and changemakers, while most others plateau?
I've explored the answer to this question by reading thousands of biographies, academic studies, and books across dozens of disciplines. Over time, I've noticed a deeper practice of top performers, one so counterintuitive that it's often overlooked.
Despite having way more responsibility than anyone else, top performers in the business world often find time to step away from their urgent work, slow down and invest in activities that have a long-term payoff in greater knowledge, creativity, and energy. As a result, they may achieve less in a day at first, but drastically more over the course of their lives.
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I call this compound time because, like compound interest, a small investment now yields surprisingly large returns over time.
Warren Buffett, for example, despite owning companies with hundreds of thousands of employees, isn't as busy as you are. By his own estimate, he has spent 80 percent of his career reading and thinking.
At the 2016 Daily Journal annual meeting, Charlie Munger, Buffett's 40-year business partner, shared that the only scheduled item on his calendar one week was getting his haircut and that most of his weeks were similar. This is the opposite of most people who are overwhelmed with short-term deadlines, meetings, and minutiae.
Ben Franklin once wisely said: "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." Perhaps the source of Buffett's true wealth is not just the compounding of his money, but the compounding of his knowledge, which has allowed him to make better decisions. Or as billionaire entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist Paul Tudor Jones has eloquently said, "Intellectual capital will always trump financial capital."