The Discipline of Finishing: Conor Neill

Speaker: Conor Neill

Length: 23:41


Imagine you are in a room with 200 of the people you know best. You’re given a deal: In exchange for 1000 pounds you will receive 10% of one person’s income every month for the rest of their lives. Who would you pick? Warren Buffet asked the same question to Conor Neill 7 years ago. Buffet has spent his whole career making this decision of who to invest in and has obviously had some success (he has a net worth of $60 billion).

Conor talks through some potential decision making criteria with the audience. Would you choose rank everyone’s grades from school and pick the best one? Definitely not. What you pick your best friend? Probably not. Although, it doesn’t work for adults, there is a psychology test that has proven to be the best indicator of future success. Its known as the Marshmallow Test and given to children usually aged 4 or 5. The child is given a marshmallow and told that if they can wait 5 minutes without eating it, they will get another one. The kids that can last the 5 minutes end up living lives that are qualitatively and quantitatively better.

Warren Buffet has his own criteria that he uses to make this prediction:

  1. Energy
  • Is this person in overall good health and wellbeing?
  • Does this person have a tendency to take action over thinking about action?
  1. Adaptive Intelligence
  • How quickly does this person notice the lamp post that is in their path?
  1. Integrity
  • How aligned are what this person means to do and what they actually do?

So if these are 3 criteria you can use to make your decision, who would you chose? The obvious answer is yourself. Not only do you get 100% of the income you earn, but you have control over your own energy, intelligence, and integrity.

Conor concludes the talk by leaving the audience with some tools to develop each of these traits.

The easiest way to improve your intelligence is to write stuff down, something he has done for the past 14 years. By documenting your life, you will have the accumulated knowledge of everything you’ve experienced. To learn how to improve energy, Conor tried to find out how endurance athletes manage to run for seemingly inhuman distances. By being present, he says, and focusing on the steps instead of the big picture. A horse has no concept of the finish; they will run until they collapse. Likewise, whenever you are running a metaphorical (or literal) marathon, ask yourself, “can I take one more step?” And if you can, take it, and then ask the same question again. The key takeaway to improve your integrity is to practice resisting temptation. Don’t stare at the marshmallow in front of you, ignore it. Success is a result of repeated good habits and it’s important to understand this. We overestimate what we can achieve in a day and underestimate what we can achieve in a year.

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