Balthasar Gracian

Have you lost your focus? Balthasar Gracian has a remedy. 

Balthasar Gracian

Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca

In business as in life, it’s very easy to lose one’s focus. Indeed, a person can get so absorbed in everyday problems that he or she no longer sees the forest for the trees. An example comes to mind, from the 1980s, during the surge in stock prices. In his annual report for Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet wrote how a lot of people had been imploring him to invest some of that company’s large cash reserves in various other companies.


But Buffet had an intuitive sense that stock prices were getting too high. So, in his report Buffet quoted the French philosopher and monk Blaise Pascal, who said that that our real problem in life is our inability to stay in our cell. Instead, out of a kind of foolish restlessness, we venture out.

What Buffet was saying was that it was best for Berkshire Hathaway to

stick to its knitting and not to get involved with the buying frenzy, on Wall Street. As usual, Buffet’s intuitions proved correct.


What’s true of stock market investments is true of life in general. It’s necessary to know where not to invest one’s time and energy. As Balthasar Gracian states:


“Know how to withdraw. It is a great lesson in life to know how to deny, it is still greater to know how to deny oneself as regards both affairs and persons. There are extraneous occupations that eat away precious time. To be occupied in what does not concern you is worse than doing nothing. It is not enough for a careful person not to interfere with others, he must see that they do not interfere with him.” (Balthasar Gracian. The Art of Worldly Wisdom. Translated by Joseph Jacobs. Shambala Pocket Classics. p. 29.)


Since our time is limited, it is therefore important to decide which projects are most important and which one would be better off abandoning. Alas, sometimes there are friendships that need to be abandoned or at least curtailed. As Gracian states, “The greatest skill at cards is to know when to discard.”


Sometimes, what is required is discarding a whole way of life. One is reminded, in that regard, of the ending of the film Casablanca. Rick Blaine (played by Humphrey Bogart) decides that it’s time to sell his restaurant and join in the war effort. Are you holding some cards that you would be better off discarding?


Do you have a business, career, or personal problem? Need an innovative solution? Dr. Mark Dillof utilizes powerful insights from philosophy, psychology, literature & history! Call him at 1-888-737-5724 or e-mail Dr. Dillof today to set up a free exploratory session.



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