These results are not limited to university studies. In his recent book “Richer, wiser, happierVeteran financial journalist William Green draws on many hours of interviewing very successful investors and, as you might expect, a recurring theme is that these people tend to work hard, think, research and to jostle the crowd.
But a counterintuitive sub-theme also emerges: how her subjects tend to take breaks, take time off, and make room in their lives to permanently distance themselves from the daily work cycle of the 21st century. Many – including Charlie Munger, longtime collaborator of Warren Buffett – make a point of making time for calm and contemplation. For Mr. Munger, that means ignoring the latest market news and the noise of the crowds and instead showing extreme patience.
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For another of those interviewed by Mr Green, Laura Geritz, CEO of Rondure Global Advisors, that means taking the time to sit by a stream and a newspaper. Developing “a regular meditation practice,” notes Mr. Green, has become “an essential habit for many successful investors.”
It’s not an afterthought, hobby, or personal wellness tactic, Green said in an interview. It is a reflection of the “ruthless pragmatism” that made his subjects successful in the first place – in the eternal search for an advantage, they found their ethics of rest. It’s almost a “counter-cultural” move, Green said. “I don’t think you think deeply without structuring your life this way,” he said, at a time when everyone is constantly challenged and reacting to short-term stimuli.
Likewise, Mr. Fitch and Mr. Frenzel point out in their book that famous athletes like LeBron James take rest and recovery very seriously, seeing it as part of their diet, not a loophole. The same should be true for many professionals and knowledge workers, Fitch said. Too many managers and workers are stuck in an outdated mindset that values long hours above all else. “The amount of input doesn’t matter,” says Fitch. “It’s the quality of the rendering.
The good news is that at least some businesses are starting to take breaks seriously. For starters, Fitch said, some agree that unlimited paid time off, a popular move among employers who have tried to fix the problem, doesn’t really do the trick. It can end up looking like another responsibility, and no one wants to be the employee who takes the most days off.
Lately, companies, including LinkedIn and Roblox have experienced compulsory vacation for all or most employees in the form of “school break” periods. Actions like these that focus on the value of free time represent a “profound” change, Fitch said. He and Mr Frenzel, both tech entrepreneurs, are tinkering with a software tool that would help human resources departments entice workers to take days off.