One of the biggest questions I have struggled with is, how much time should I spend thinking instead of doing? That was after reading an interview by the great American investor, Warren Buffett’s view on the subject. According to Buffett, thinking helps you to achieve more. In my life and times with my great friend, Oludele Ologunde, an omnivorous reader, I learned that without doing, you would never achieve anything. Another aphorism says, the man who can think will always be the master of the man who can do. Yet another says, without thinking things through, you might end up doing the wrong things.
However, thinking by itself is worthless without action. But if you act without thinking, you might probably end up in jail. This is why this topic is critical. But sadly, most of us never even consider living by thinking or doing ratio. For me, I live by the 80/20 ratio. That means I live by the Pareto Principle, formulated by Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923), an Italian economist. The Pareto Principle is also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, which states that for many events, 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes, which is why most things in life are not distributed evenly and why you should create your own ratio.
The most respected individuals of our time: Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, two investors who are celebrated for their right decisions and thinking processes have thinking ratio. They are not only thinkers, but they are also successful practitioners. It is well known that Buffett reads at least 5 hours a day, he reads newspapers, periodicals, and books. From the outside, reading is inactivity, looks like you are not doing anything. The Western society is biased towards doing. That is why often people ask you: What are you doing?
I believe that the thinking/doing ratio in most organizations and governments in Nigeria is something like 10/90. That is why Nigeria is gravitating towards the failed state. Nothing works because we spend far more time doing than thinking. If we take a lesson from Buffett and Munger’s book, we will know that’s not an effective ratio. According to Peter Bevelin, author of Poor Charlie’s Almanack, Buffett and Munger have a habit of committing far more time to learn and think than to do. It means these champions have more than 80/20 thinking/doing ratios. It is not for nothing that Buffett is the greatest investor in the world.
Should we all spend more than 80 percent of our time thinking? This depends on both your nature and your work. The amount of thinking you need depends on your work. Buffett makes few decisions, but when he does, he makes huge profits and large bets. But most of us need more execution, making calls, writing emails, and attending meetings. Writing 500 books in 42 years: that was Isaac Asimov.
By Bayo Ogunmupe
Email address: [email protected]