You have to strike the right balance between competency or knowledge on the one hand and gumption on the other. Too much competency and no gumption is no good. And if you don’t know your circle of competence, then too much gumption will get you killed.
But the more you know the limits to your knowledge, the more valuable gumption is.
If you buy something because it’s undervalued, then you have to think about selling it when it approaches your calculation of its intrinsic value. That’s hard. But if you buy a few great companies, then you can sit on your ass. That’s a good thing.
We’re partial to putting out large amounts of money where we won’t have to make another decision.
Ben Franklin said: ‘I’m not moral because it’s the right thing to do – but because it’s the best policy.’ We knew early how advantageous it would be to get a reputation for doing the right thing and it’s worked out well for us. My friend Peter Kaufman, said ‘if the rascals really knew how well honor worked they would come to it.’ People make contracts with Berkshire all the time because they trust us to behave well where we have the power and they don’t. There is an old expression on this subject, which is really an expression on moral theory: ‘How nice it is to have a tyrant’s strength and how wrong it is to use it like a tyrant.’ It’s such a simple idea, but it’s a correct idea
Humility engenders learning because it beats back the arrogance that puts blinders on. It leaves you open for truths to reveal themselves. You don’t stand in your own way… . Do you know how you can tell when someone is truly humble? I believe there’s one simple test: because they consistently observe and listen, the humble improve. They don’t assume, ‘I know the way.’