At the age of 25, in 1949, a law firm hired this man for a salary that is about $30,000 in today’s dollars. After a marriage that lasted 8 years he was divorced in 1953. He had been married since he was 21. He lost everything in the divorce, his wife keeping the family home, their only major asset. Shortly after the divorce he learnt that his son had leukemia. In those days there was no cure, nor was there any health insurance. You paid everything out of pocket. He poured everything he had into treating his son while spending as much time with him as possible. He would go to the hospital and hold his son’s hand and then stumble out into the streets crying. In 1955, a year after the diagnosis his son died at the age of 9.
Being divorced, broke, and having buried his 9 year old son, just when you think nothing could get worse, he had to undergo an horrific operation later in life, that left him in such pain that eventually he had to have one of his eye removed.
The name of this man is Charlie Munger. By the time he became 69 he was a Billionaire, counted amongst the richest 400 people in the world, and had been happily married to his second wife for 35 years. He is now father of eight children and many grandchildren and he has achieved his dream of having a huge family and a house full of books. Charlie Munger is now regarded as a well-respected businessman and thinker, his Poor Charlie’s Almanac is a classic and a must read for thinkers, leaders, investors, and entrepreneurs. How did he do it? His mantra has been to “be a constant learner”. By never stopping learning you are better today than you were yesterday, and over time this builds up and after a critical level is reached, results begin to show. For most of us this does not happen because we give up in despondency. The trick is to keep learning through success and failure.
There is no straight path to happiness, as Charlie’s life illustrates. We each have to persevere and have faith. We have to continue to learn and strive to make things better, without giving up in despondency.
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