Charlie Munger - 12 key learnings

By Hamzah Javaid

November 20, 2022

12 pieces of advice I resonate with from Charlie Munger.

12 pieces of advice I resonate with from Charlie Munger.

Here are the 12 quotes from Charlie Munger that have influenced me the most:

1) “I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.”

This quote has always struck a chord with me because it’s a reminder to stay humble and open-minded. It’s easy to form opinions based on our own biases and limited knowledge, but Munger’s philosophy challenges us to approach every issue with an insatiable curiosity and a willingness to learn.

By seeking out opposing viewpoints and educating ourselves on all sides of an argument, we can gain a deeper understanding of the issue at hand and make more informed decisions. This approach not only leads to better outcomes, but it also fosters intellectual growth and a more well-rounded perspective.

In a world where echo chambers and confirmation bias are all too common, Munger’s quote serves as a valuable reminder to resist the temptation to jump to conclusions and instead, approach every situation with a desire to learn and understand.

2) “The first rule is that you’ve got to have multiple models – because if you just have one or two that you’re using, the nature of human psychology is such that you’ll torture reality so that it fits your models, or at least you’ll think it does.”

Charlie Munger’s advice to “have multiple models” is a powerful reminder of the importance of seeking diverse perspectives. By relying on just one or two models, we risk unconsciously distorting reality to fit our preconceptions. This cognitive bias can have serious consequences, leading to poor decision-making and costly mistakes. Munger’s quote inspires us to approach problems with an open mind and seek out new mental models to expand our understanding of the world. By doing so, we can make more informed decisions and avoid the pitfalls of cognitive bias.

It’s a powerful lesson that reminds us to always be curious and constantly seek out new perspectives in our quest for knowledge and understanding.

3) “You must force yourself to consider opposing arguments. Especially when they challenge your best-loved ideas.”

As human beings, we tend to hold on tightly to our beliefs and ideas. It’s natural to feel uncomfortable when these beliefs are challenged, especially when they’re ideas we deeply cherish. However, it’s important to be open to opposing arguments, even if they make us uncomfortable. In fact, it’s only by considering different perspectives that we can grow and learn.0

The quote reminds us that we must force ourselves to consider opposing arguments, especially when they challenge our most cherished ideas. By doing so, we expand our knowledge, and our beliefs become more nuanced and grounded. So, let’s challenge ourselves to keep an open mind and consider opposing arguments, even when it’s difficult. In doing so, we may just learn something new and gain a deeper understanding of the world around us.

4)“Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Discharge your duties faithfully and well. Step by step you get ahead, but not necessarily in fast spurts.”

To “be a little wiser” every day means to cultivate a learning mindset, to seek out new experiences, and to reflect on past mistakes and successes. It’s about taking small steps towards personal growth and development, rather than striving for perfection in one fell swoop.

Munger’s emphasis on “discharging your duties faithfully and well” speaks to the importance of taking responsibility for our actions and commitments. It means showing up and doing our best, even when we don’t feel like it, and taking ownership of our mistakes.

The idea that progress happens “step by step” acknowledges that personal growth is a gradual process, requiring patience and persistence. It’s a reminder that success isn’t always achieved in dramatic leaps, but through consistent effort and dedication.

5)“If you’re capable of being open-minded, a lot of different people can be right in different ways and for different reasons.”

The quote is a testament to the importance of open-mindedness and the value of diverse perspectives. It is a call to reject rigid thinking and embrace the complexity of the world around us.

To be open-minded means to be willing to consider new ideas, to question our assumptions, and to entertain viewpoints that may differ from our own. It requires a certain level of humility, as we acknowledge that our understanding of the world is limited and that others may have insights and knowledge that we lack.

Munger’s assertion that “a lot of different people can be right” highlights the idea that there is rarely one “correct” way of seeing or doing things. Our experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives shape the way we interpret and interact with the world, and these differences can lead to a variety of valid perspectives.

The phrase “in different ways and for different reasons” speaks to the nuanced and multifaceted nature of truth. What may be true for one person or in one context may not hold true for another. By recognizing and respecting these differences, we can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the world and the people in it.

6)“The best thing a human being can do is to help another human being know more.”

One of the most meaningful contributions we can make to the world is to help others expand their understanding and awareness.

To “help another human being know more” means to engage in activities that promote learning and growth, whether it be through teaching, mentorship, or simply sharing ideas and experiences. It recognizes that knowledge is a powerful tool for improving one’s life and the world around them, and that sharing it is a way to create positive change.

To truly help others know more, we must first seek to understand their unique needs and perspectives, and tailor our approach accordingly. This requires not only knowledge but also emotional intelligence, patience, and a willingness to listen.

Education is not just a means to personal success, but a tool for creating a more just and equitable society. By helping others know more, we can contribute to a world that is more informed, empowered, and connected.

7)“The wise man gets more benefit from his enemies than the fool from his friends.”

Enemies can serve as a source of motivation, driving a person to become stronger, more resilient, and more strategic. They force us to examine ourselves, our beliefs, and our actions, and challenge us to become better versions of ourselves. In contrast, friends may be more likely to enable us, to reinforce our existing beliefs and habits, and to provide us with comfort rather than challenge.

By understanding our enemies’ motivations, strategies, and perspectives, we can gain a deeper understanding of the world around us and sharpen our own critical thinking skills. Munger’s quote reminds us that there is value in considering those who may not have our best interests at heart. While it may be tempting to surround ourselves only with those who agree with us, it is often the challenges and conflicts we encounter that help us grow the most.

8)“It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.”

Instead of trying to be very intelligent, people should focus on consistently avoiding stupidity. This idea may seem counterintuitive in a society that places such a high value on intelligence, but Munger argues that it is better to avoid making foolish mistakes than to have a high IQ.

Munger’s quote is a reminder that intelligence alone is not enough to achieve success; one must also be wise and make good decisions. It is not uncommon to encounter people who are highly intelligent but struggle with common sense and decision-making. It is better to be consistently wise than to be occasionally brilliant!

Is intelligence simply a matter of having a high IQ, or is it more about being able to make sound decisions and avoiding common mistakes? Munger’s quote reminds us that consistently avoiding stupidity is a more valuable trait than simply being intelligent.

9)“Spend less time trying to be brilliant and more time trying to avoid obvious stupidity”

“Spend less time trying to be brilliant and more time trying to avoid obvious stupidity,” may seem counterintuitive to some, especially those who believe that striving for brilliance is the key to success. Often, people become so obsessed with trying to be seen as brilliant or impressive that they overlook the basics, which can lead to careless mistakes and oversights. On the other hand, those who make a conscious effort to avoid obvious stupidity are less likely to make costly mistakes and more likely to achieve success in the long run.

We cannot control what opportunities come our way, but we can control how we respond to them. By focusing on avoiding obvious mistakes, we are more likely to be prepared for whatever challenges come our way.

10)“The best armor of old age is a well-spent life beforehand.”

“The best armor of old age is a well-spent life beforehand” offers a simple yet powerful insight into how we should approach life. It suggests that we should start building our “armor” of old age long before we reach it. The choices we make throughout our lives can either strengthen or weaken this armor.

The metaphor of armor is apt here because it implies a kind of protection against the hardships of old age. Aging is inevitable, but we can take steps to mitigate its negative effects. If we spend our lives pursuing things that are meaningful to us, cultivating relationships with loved ones, and taking care of our physical and mental health, we can create a kind of buffer against the difficulties of old age.

The choices we make today can have a profound impact on the quality of our lives in the future

11)“You’re not going to get very far in life based on what you already know. You’re going to advance in life by what you’re going to learn after you leave here.”

Learning is a lifelong journey. It’s easy to get complacent and comfortable with the knowledge and experience we have already gained. However, Munger is challenging us to push beyond our limits and strive for continuous growth and improvement. He suggests that our success in life will not be based on what we have already achieved, but rather on what we continue to learn and achieve in the future.

Munger’s words highlight the importance of being curious and open-minded. If we approach life with a sense of wonder and a desire to learn, we will be more likely to discover new opportunities and make meaningful progress. It’s never too late to start learning something new or pursuing a different path in life, and Munger’s quote reminds us that there is always room for growth and improvement.

12)“We try more to profit from always remembering the obvious than from grasping the esoteric. It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.”

Charlie Munger, the legendary investor and partner of Warren Buffett, emphasizes the importance of simple, common sense thinking. In this quote, he highlights the value of focusing on the obvious and avoiding foolishness over trying to be clever or pursuing esoteric knowledge.

Munger suggests that success is often achieved not by pursuing complicated strategies, but by consistently avoiding errors and making smart decisions based on common sense principles. This is because the most important lessons are often the simplest, but require the discipline to follow through with them.

By acknowledging the power of common sense, Munger encourages us to think critically and avoid the pitfalls of overthinking or overcomplicating. In essence, this quote reminds us to stay humble, stay curious, and never underestimate the power of common sense.

Posted on:
November 20, 2022
10 minute read, 1995 words
Manager Reflections
See Also:
Carl Friedrich Gauss
Charlie Munger - LatticeWork
Active Listening