Jan 31, 2019

6 min read

What Warren Buffett can teach developers about their goals

Written by

Vippy The VPS

Warren Buffett isn’t known for his development skills—as far as I know. You wouldn’t immediately think he has much to say about learning JavaScript or Go.

Well, in truth, he doesn’t. But an anecdote involving him and his personal pilot is just as good for setting goals as a developer as it is for deciding your life’s goals.

You can read the whole story if you have time, but here’s the shortest version I can manage.

Buffett asked his pilot to write down the top 25 things he wanted to accomplish in his lifetime. Anything that came to mind.

Once the pilot finished the list, Buffett asked him to circle the most important 5. Only five, no matter how important all 25 items seemed.

The pilot said he’d start working on the top 5 items right away. He also said he would work on the other 20 as he had the time or saw fit.

Buffett interrupted him, insisting that those other 20 items just became a list of things to avoid at all costs. He wasn’t allowed to work toward those until he had accomplished the top 5.

Buffett’s strategy might sound harsh, but it relies on the idea that success depends on the elimination of distractions. Items that end up on the avoid list are still meaningful, but they distract otherwise successful people from achieving any of their goals. It’s why many people have a dozen half-finished projects and maybe just one finished one.

My quickly-growing list

The development community is one of constant distraction. There’s always another framework, language, or app to try. And it seems like as soon as you’ve learned something, the rest of

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