What game do you love so much you never want to be taken out of it?
James Altucher recently hosted Jim Cramer on one of his podcasts and asked him why he continues to do what he does when he doesn’t have to do it. Jim gave him a story about his dad still selling into his 90’s. His dad never wanted to retire. He wanted to work forever. He simply loved what he did for a living and never wanted to stop. He kept going and going and going.
Jim says he loves stocks and wants to constantly talk about them and promote them as the greatest wealth creator of all time. He says he never wants to stop with this messaging and being in the media discussing publicly-traded companies. His love for the stock market and the wealth it creates for people is clearly his passion. Jim Cramer has plenty of money — he doesn’t need to wake up at 3 AM each day and write about stocks, but he does. He doesn’t need to devote 12 to 14 hours of each weekday to the stock market, but he does. He doesn’t need to write one more word about any stock, ever, but he continues. He clearly loves the game and never wants to be taken out of it.
You see this passion and enthusiasm for the markets in Warren Buffett, too. Buffett has plenty of money. He could have long ago hung up his spurs and hat and gone to Tahiti, sipping boat drinks all day. But there he is in Omaha, enduring its cold winters, whistling while he works. Buffett has absolutely killed it in the markets and at Berkshire. Everyone agrees with this. Yet he continues on working. Like most people, it was about the money at first. But beyond a certain amount of money, it becomes something more than that, something more enduring and driving and engaging. Granted, Buffett has every advantage at work one can demand. But these advantages don’t bore him, they help inspire him and move him, like the people he chooses to surround himself with. In his annual letter to shareholders, Buffett has ended them with a salute to the Berkshire home office people, those who help make his job easy. Buffett praises them because they help make him — and Berkshire — successful. This is a great way to publicly support the staff, and also to celebrate them and their contributions, a wonderful leadership tenet. Warren Buffett, too, loves the game, and never wants to be taken out of it.
Ray Dalio is another professional who chooses to work. Ray’s foundational theme is meaningful work and meaningful relationships. This is what’s behind what he does. He derives great pleasure from seeking both of these things. Without them, life is incomplete. Ray doesn’t have to work any more than Buffett or Cramer do. Working is an active choice he makes to get the squeeze he wants out of life. As he says, playing the markets has been a blast to him since he was 12. He’ll always do it.
What game do you love so much you never want to be taken out of it? What do you derive such pleasure from that you will always do it no matter what? What makes you jump out of bed in the morning, ready to get after it? We’ve all got our thing. It is our duty to find it, to discover it, and to nurture it daily. The professional examples above, while perhaps extreme, live their why. They know precisely why they’re doing what they’re doing, what drives them, and what they’re driven to do today. They are masters of their own realities. They are creators. They’re showing up and they’re ready to serve. After some time, it isn’t about the money any more. It is about the work. It’s about the people. It’s about the community you help build and nurture. It is about the culture that you help to shape. It is about the contribution you make at work, to your industry, to your peers.