Jayme and I recently watched a terrific HBO Documentary called “Becoming Warren Buffet”. I can’t recommend it strongly enough. It’s really an enlightening piece on the premier investor of our time and potentially of all time, Warren Buffet. Warren is worth roughly $68 Billion and the documentary does an excellent job of getting into his financial philosophies and discusses how he has built his net worth up to such a staggering amount. At the beginning of the documentary, they show Warren Buffet nickel and dime-ing over the menu at McDonald’s every morning on his way to the office based on where the market stands. If the financial markets are up, he will splurge and spend over three dollars. If the market is standing still, he will spend just over two and a half dollars. And if the market is down, he affords himself one breakfast sandwich. He has built his life on saving money and using the principles of compounding interest. The financial aspect of the documentary is truly enlightening. But, the part that really stands out to me is how he views “life” and has created his daily habits to facilitate those philosophies. At the beginning of the documentary he is sitting in front of a classroom of high school students in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, where he still lives and works to this day. His comments to these kids really rung a bell with me.
“Let’s just imagine that when we finish, I’m going to let each one of you pick out the car of your choice. Sounds good doesn’t it! Pick it out, any color, it’ll be tied up with a bow, and it’ll be at your house tomorrow. And you say, ‘Well, what’s the catch?’ And the catch is… that it’s the only car you’re going to get in your lifetime. Now what are you going to do knowing that that’s the only car you’re going to have and you love that car? You’re going to take care of it like you cannot believe. Now what I’d like to suggest is you’re not only going to get one car in your lifetime. But you’re going to get one body and one mind and that’s all you’re going to get. And that body and mind feels terrific now, but it has to last you a lifetime.”
That hit me like a sledgehammer. Warren Buffet is 86 years old. He speaks clearly. His brain is incredibly sharp, and his vehicle is still firing on all cylinders as evidenced by his stellar business track record.
I oftentimes get asked if I want my kids to play football. At times I waiver back and forth before coming to something like this…
I built my personal name/brand on the game of football. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities that it has afforded me and my family. I had the time of my life and learned a wild amount of lessons in a very “short” amount of time. I learned to overcome adversity and manage success. I’ve learned to deal with the spotlight in both negative and positive situations. I couldn’t be more thankful for my time.
But, what about my kids?
Here’s what I’ve come to realize at 35 years old, after 11 years in the NFL as it relates to my body.
I would surmise that there are plenty of 35 year olds who physically feel worse than me. I’m not going to stand here (yes I’m standing as I type) and act like I’ve suffered the most pain and inflicted the most damage on my “vehicle”, as Warren Buffet describes the brain and body, in history. Plenty of 35 year olds have done more damage to themselves whether through accident or their own volition. In that same breath, I would also surmise that I feel as bad as a certain number of 60-70 year olds who have heeded Buffet’s advice to take care of their body and brain. But do you want your kids to play football?!
Unequivocally…No. I don’t want my kids to play football. At this point in life, after a career transition from football to broadcasting, I’ve realized that fun and excitement can happen on many different levels. At times, I have just as much fun on the radio in the morning on XTRA 1360 FSSD as I had playing football. No, I don’t get the massive peaks of adrenaline and shots of “fight or flight” as I once got. But, I also don’t get the days like the one where I had a compression fracture of my T1 vertebrae and couldn’t lift my head off of my pillow in the morning and went on to play the following Sunday. What I tell myself and will tell them when it is time is that, “I suffered and risked physical damage for financial gain and an adrenaline fix, and we were quite fortunate to be able to do what we did. But, that sword has been fallen on and it is no longer necessary for you to take on the lifelong physical burden that is an accoutrement to getting that adrenaline fix.” Save yourself.
The greatest lesson that football showed me was my mortality through the physical damage. Sitting on the couch after surgeries that were to repair shoulders, feet, knees, and ankles, and watching teammates take over for me in the lineup, it hit me… ‘This is like life’. You will get too old at some point to carry on with work and someone will replace you in the process. The wheels in the sky keep on turning. Significant portions of my day are spent trying to feel better and attempting to get some pain relief through staying active and maintaining flexibility. I realize that I will get old and die. I also realized through my retirement that I have to work to maintain happiness. I have to push both the creative and logical sides of my brain. So, while I made a great living playing football, the work must continue not for my financial health, but for my mental health and happiness. And that led me to this…
Play the long game. Understand that whatever you decide to do today will most certainly affect you down the line. Whether positively or negatively, no action goes without an antagonist. To bring it back to Warren Buffet and economics, the first lesson I learned at Purdue University in Economics 101 was “There is no free lunch!”
So I will urge my boys this as we get into the ages where competitive sports will begin to take place:
Use common sense. Look around you at the sports in which the elderly folks are able to participate. I call those Lifelong sports! Those are the sports that we should be targeting for our Health. They allow us to get competitive. The allow us to have a dopamine release and adrenaline spikes. They allow us cardiovascular health and to keep our legs strong. They keep us in a social circle and allow us to work within the confines of a team. They help us deal with both success and defeat. They help us keep our ego in check. They allow us a vessel to work on ourselves. They give us all the benefits of sport, but they also mitigate the risk. They help us take care of our vehicle and the big engine that allows that vehicle to run (the brain). Common sense will tell you that colliding full speed in to another human is not that intelligent. Sure, it may be fun at the time, and it may feel great, at the time.But it isn’t that smart. After all, we do avoid car wrecks at all cost. I would prefer that my boys protect their bodies, protect their brains and find a healthy outlet for their energy and competitive desires.
That said, I realize the hypocrisy of my statements. I still love the game of football. I love watching it. I love being around football people. It’s an incredible sport to watch. The beauty, the violence, the stories of the guys who have overcome the odds to make it to the heights of a profession. It’s as entertaining as every movie that has ever been made. I get all of that!
But, when it comes to MY kids… I would urge them to use their minds to make a name for themselves. I would urge them to use their brain and find a passion that also affords the lifestyle for which they dream. I would urge them to dream of health and longevity and the memories that can be created with their families and friends, rather than material dreams, which are frankly unfulfilling. I would urge them to pursue those passions in as healthy of a vehicle as possible for as long as possible.
To finish off the Warren Buffet documentary, he said, “The world is a great movie to watch, but you don’t want to sleep walk through life. The important thing to do is to look for the job you would take if you didn’t need a job. And life is wonderful then… You jump out of bed in the mornings because you’re looking forward to the day. I have for over 60 years been able to tap dance to work just because I’m doing what I love doing… and I just feel very, very lucky.”
And remember, “…you’re going to get one body and one mind and that’s all you’re going to get.”
Do your best to take care of those two important pieces. The brain and body are what’s going to allow you to pursue your passions up until the day you pass. Treat your body and mind like your last vehicle.
Feed it good foods. Maintain your flexibility. Stay active.
Continue to stimulate yourself. And avoid car wrecks at all cost!