“It is not necessary to do extraordinary things to get extraordinary results.”

Warren Buffett

Two things make sensational news headlines more quickly and prominently than anything else: first, trouble in financial markets, which impact people’s investments and retirement savings; and second, the prospect of war.

As news outlets splash doomsday headlines as boldly as they can, many buy into the hype, acting as willing participants in spreading fear to anyone who will listen — and the poverty consciousness grows like a weed.

But not everyone buys into the hysteria. Some remain focused on what they want to achieve, ignoring what is out of their control, and in doing so can stumble across opportunities that others only dream of.

During the US Savings and Loan Crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, interest rates were raised to curb inflation and numerous financial institutions sought deregulation to enable them to innovate—their very survival depended on it. As financial companies struggled, bank stock prices were hammered, including the stock of Wells Fargo, which plummeted almost 50%.

One investor, Warren Buffett—who was then in his fifties, and known for his keen sense of rationality—decided to investigate the intrinsic value of these companies himself, rather than reacting to everyone else’s fear.

At the time, Wells Fargo’s market capitalization was around $2.9 billion. Through his research Buffett concluded that the company would not only survive the crisis and return to its former but might one day even surpass it. Buffett backed his judgment and bought a significant stake in the renowned US bank.

His analysis and instincts were correct. Today, Wells Fargo boasts a market capitalization of more than $270 billion, giving Buffett a return of over 9,000%on his investment.

In a 2004 letter to his Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, the legendary investor offered an insight into how he feels about how most people think: “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”

With each downturn, recession or financial crisis, Buffett does not throw up his hands in despair or cower under his desk. Rather, he views it as an opportunity to consolidate his wealth, buying deeply undervalued companies and setting up operational efficiencies and synergies that lead to enormous returns over time.

Those who are well advanced on the path to self-mastery, like Warren Buffett, are NOT extraordinary people. Instead, they consistently and purposefully apply a proven formula of simple actions that lead to extraordinary achievement over time—starting with getting crystal clear on what they want.

While others drift with whatever gust comes their way, winners use their calm, focused minds to identify and take advantage of opportunities to achieve their goals faster.

On 30 August, Buffett turns 88. Happy birthday to one of the greats of our time.

Onwards and upwards always,
James W.

PS – With USD $30+ billion donated, Warren Buffett is also regarded as the second greatest philanthropist of all time.

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