In fact, his [Buffett] true genius isn’t just his ability to identify undervalued companies; it’s his ability to buy and hold onto those companies through the inevitable fluctuations that all markets experience. That’s not just about insight. It’s also about an ability to divorce yourself from emotion, to be rational at a time when other people are acting irrationally, and to be calm when others are fearful.
On the walls of the Berskhire offices, framed front pages from days of market panic, like the 1929 financial crash, serve as a reminder not to succumb to the passions of the moment. That’s something that all investors know they’re supposed to do. But actually being able to do it, being able to buy when everyone else is screaming, “Sell,” and not to buy when everyone is telling you to do so, is a very hard thing for most of us. For Buffett, it seems to have been as natural as breathing. But it’s not difficult to see how that hyperrationality, that ability to divorce yourself from what’s going on around you, might also make it difficult truly to connect with the events of everyday life, which happen, after all, in the moment. Buffett was born to be great at investing. He had to work really hard to be good at living.