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Warren Buffett's Classic Genie Story

Buffett says, 'You only get one mind and one body. And it's got to last a lifetime.'

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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In the Warren Buffett biography The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, the Oracle of Omaha shares a very Buffett-like fable about a genie that appeared to him at age 16 and offered him the car of his choice. To give this story the full justice it deserves, here's the excerpt from the book:

Let's say that when I turned sixteen, a genie had appeared to me. And that genie said, "Warren, I'm going to give you the car of your choice. It'll be here tomorrow morning with a big bow tied on it. Brand-new. And it's all yours."

Having heard all the genie stories, I would say, "What's the catch?" And the genie would answer, "There's only one catch. This is the last car you're ever going to get in your life. So it's got to last a lifetime."

If that had happened, I would have picked out that car. But, can you imagine, knowing it had to last a lifetime, what I would do with it?

I would read the manual about five times. I would always keep it garaged. If there was the least little dent or scratch, I'd have it fixed right away because I wouldn't want it rusting. I would baby that car, because it would have to last a lifetime.

That's exactly the position you are in concerning your mind and body. You only get one mind and one body. And it's got to last a lifetime. Now, it's very easy to let them ride for many years. But if you don't take care of that mind and that body, they'll be a wreck forty years later, just like the car would be.

It's what you do right now, today, that determines how your mind and body will operate ten, twenty, and thirty years from now.

Our most crucial assets: Mind and body

This story has depth and remains a classic. Some readers interpret it as a lesson in priorities and decision-making. Others look at it as a leadership lesson about making practical decisions that serve the greater good. Let's inspect it for what it really is. Buffett's message draws a parallel to our most crucial assets: our mind and body.

Consider this -- one lifetime, one mind, one body. No upgrades. No replacements. This is a lifetime warranty deal, and it's non-negotiable. Where do you even begin?

I would start by understanding the emotional realm--the mind part, by delving into emotional intelligence, positive psychology, and the fundamentals of emotional well-being. With a sound mind, everything else fails. 

One of the fundamentals that addresses both mind and body is to practice self-care. This can include meditation, physical exercise, and mindfulness. Oh, and some sleep--real sleep! Treat these things as prized possessions, demanding consistent and meticulous maintenance, just like that one car you're going to keep forever.

Commit to self-improvement

The journey toward mind-body wholeness is not an easy one. If you want to keep that body from rusting and being a wreck years later, you have to commit to improving it; this requires a commitment to change and having a plan to maintain those changes every single day, consistently.

Commitment to self-improvement is hard; I'll admit that right off the bat. You have to stop and ask yourself: What's important to me? What do I want to achieve in my life, my health, and my well-being? What improvements do I have to make to reach that goal?

I'll end with this: Commit. Right now. Commit to making those improvements. Then start doing it. Today. Tomorrow. Never stop. If that means seeking professional guidance, whether from a coach or therapist, for your mind or body, commit. Rust and aging never sleep, and neither should your commitment to self-improvement.

Buffett's directive is clear: Today's choices reverberate in the years to come. Your actions now form the architecture of your mental and physical health in the future. This isn't about short-term gains but rather the sustained, methodical care your mind and body require for enduring success. 

Photo credit: Getty Images.

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