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Collection: Warren Buffett - #385 | The Art of "Too Hard" Pile



Good afternoon, Mr. Buffett, Mr. Munger. My name is Robert Piton (PH), and I’m from Chicago, Illinois.

Over your careers, has there been any question, either personally or professionally, that you haven’t been able to get a comfortable answer to that you cannot simply put in your “too difficult” pile? Thank you.




Well, sure. You get problems —


You may have just asked one. (Laughter)



Sure. If you’ve got a child dying of some horrible disease, you have a problem you can’t just put in a “too difficult” pile.

So there are lots of things in life that come to you that you — where you have no option to not consider the issue.

But where it’s voluntary, like choosing one investment from many, then the “too difficult” pile is a marvelous way of sifting your daily grist.


Yeah. I have a file on my desk — Laura Graham gave it to me — that’s entitled “too hard.” And, as Charlie said, if something is optional and it’s too hard, you just throw it in there.

If you’ve got the problems of weapons of mass destruction, it is too hard, but you have to keep wrestling with it. Because if you even reduce the probabilities a tiny bit, you know, you’re doing something. But you’re never going to solve it.

You just have to keep working at certain types of problems, and you hope you don’t have too many like that.



~ Please visit the site above for full video of Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting.


[YAPSS Takeaway]

  • If something is optional and it's too hard, the "too hard" pile is a marvelous way of sifting your daily grist.

  • If something is not optional and it's too hard, you got to keep wrestling with it because even if you reduce the probabilities a tiny bit, at least you're doing something. But you're never going to solve it and you shouldn't fall into self-pity.

"Life will have terrible blows, horrible blows, unfair blows. Doesn’t matter. And some people recover and others don’t. And there I think the attitude of Epictetus is the best. He thought that every mischance in life was an opportunity to behave well. Every mischance in life was an opportunity to learn something and your duty was not to be submerged in self-pity, but to utilize the terrible blow in a constructive fashion. That is a very good idea." ~Charlie Munger

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