It’s no surprise that Warren Buffett, the most successful investor in history, came to be known as “The Oracle of Omaha.” But the Berkshire Hathaway CEO isn’t just a whiz at analyzing businesses, he also has a knack for imparting the most essential wisdom in a manner so simple that even a child can understand.
Sounds simple, right?
But Buffett takes it a step further by offering an analogy: “Let’s say that I offer to buy you the car of your dreams. You can pick out any car that you want, and then when you get out of class this afternoon, that car will be waiting for you at home.”
As with most things in life, Buffett says there’s just one catch: It’s the only car you’re ever going to get…in your entire life.
“Now, knowing that, how are you going to treat that car?” he asks.
“You’re probably going to read the owner’s manual four times before you drive it; you’re going to keep it in the garage, protect it at all times, change the oil twice as often as necessary,” says Buffett. “If there’s the least little bit of rust, you’re going to get that fixed immediately so it doesn’t spread — because you know it has to last you as long as you live.”
And then, like a bag of bricks, Buffett hits us with a brilliant realization: The position you’re in with your car is exactly the position you’re in concerning your mind and body.
In other words, the way you treat your car should be no different than the way you treat your body.
“You have only one mind and one body for the rest of your life,” Buffett says. “If you aren’t taking care of them when you’re young, it’s like leaving that car out in hailstorms and letting rust eat away at it. If you don’t take care of your mind and body now, by the time you’re 40 or 50, you’ll be like a car that can’t go anywhere.”
Now, you might be wondering whether Buffett practices what he preaches — considering how vocal the billionaire has been about his love for Coca-Cola, hamburgers, steaks and hash browns.
For the most part, the answer is yes.
When a New Jersey nutritional dentist wrote Buffett a letter encouraging him to eat more healthy foods, he responded by saying his diet isn’t as bad as most might think.
“I have a wonderful doctor who nudges me in your direction every time I see him. All in all, I’ve enjoyed remarkably good health — largely because of genes, of course — but also, I think, because I enjoy life so much every day, ” he said in his response.
And back in 2007, when he was in his late 70s, he told CNBC that his doctor told him two years before: “Either you eat better or you exercise.”
Buffett chose the latter, which he called “the lesser of two evils.”
Gillian Zoe Segal is the author of “Getting There: A Book of Mentors ”and “New York Characters. ” She received a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a law degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She lives in New York City. Follow her on Linkedin.