Sunday, 10 January 2010

Opportunity Cost and our Breathing Earth

Welcome to Breathing Earth.: A real-time simulation you MUST visit!

As for an answer to why I am spending less time writing on my blog, here's a story about judicious use of time (acknowledgements to Christopher Howard for the text below):

Warren Buffet was asked:

“What do you attribute your success to?”
Buffett responded with a story.

He said that when Bobby Fisher the American chess player, was playing chess against a Russian player, a big debate ensued about whether a human being could beat a computer at chess. All the articles coming out on the question were saying that a human being would never be able to beat a computer because a computer could think through every infinitesimal possibillity and choose the best move to win the game.

But what they found was just the opposite – a human being could not only tie the computer, but could sometimes even beat it through a process of what Buffett called “selective grouping.” Selective grouping is the internal process by which humans can automatically discount 90 percent of possibilities without ever having to consider them fully, so that they can focus their attention on the remaining 10 percent of possible moves that would make the greatest strategic impact.

“If you want to know what makes our overwhelming success,” Buffett responded, “It’s been selective grouping. It’s what we FOCUS on. And equally important, it’s what we choose not to focus on.” The process of choosing what to focus on is occurring in your brain every second of every day. And it is determing what you experience in life and what you don’t experience. It’s a great lesson to apply to time management. It also speaks volumes about focus as one of the most important factors in producing results, since you cannot experience that which you don’t put your attention on. To Buffett’s second point, you must always seriously consider the “opportunity cost” of choosing to focus on things that take your focus away from building (what) you truly deserve...

You must carefully evaluate every investment decision of time and resources, and never be afraid to re-assess situations and ask yourself the question “Knowing what I now know, would I still get involved in what I’m doing?” If the answer is a resounding “NO.” Have the courage and intelligence to step away from these wastes of time, energy, and resourcess and use your time in the highest and most effective way possible, in relation to your ultimate goals."

Couldn't we also apply this principle to climate change, to the Breathing Earth simulation you've just clicked on above? What's the OPPORTUNITY COST of NOT acting now to limit the damage our carbon emissions - and our economically progressive, but environmentally regressive - policies cause? Food for thought...

In the meantime, I will get on with building my business and furthering my eduction, folks, but promise to write personally next post. Until then: be aware of the opportunity cost of YOUR time and your actions...


  1. Long time reader, first time commenter. Thank you for this post!

    Absolutely we can apply this principle to climate change. Not only that, but when you look at the issue from an acceptable risk/opportunity cost situation, whether you believe climate change is [happening, not happening, happening but not caused by humans, natural cycles, etc. etc.] becomes irrelevant. From an acceptable risk standpoint, we should take action immediately, no matter our beliefs on the issue.

    Phenomenal (and fun!) video about acceptable risk and climate change: