Charlie Munger on his golden rule, to deserve what you want

In his 2007 USC Gould School of Law commencement address, Charlie Munger described one of the core ideas that have helped him throughout life:

Luckily I had the idea at a very early age that the safest way to try to get what you want is to try to deserve what you want. It’s such a simple idea. It’s the golden rule. You want to deliver to the world what you would buy if you were on the other end.

There is no ethos in my opinion that is better for any lawyer or any other person to have. By and large, the people who’ve had this ethos win in life, and they don’t win just money and honors. They win the respect, the deserved trust of the people they deal with. And there is huge pleasure in life to be obtained from getting deserved trust.

Now, occasionally, you will find a perfect rogue of a person who dies rich and widely known. But mostly these people are fully understood as despicable by the surrounding civilization. If the Cathedral is full of people at the funeral ceremony, most of them are there to celebrate the fact that the person is dead. That reminds me of the story of the time when one of these people died, and the Minister said, “It’s now time to say something nice about the deceased.” And nobody came forward, and nobody came forward, and nobody came forward. And finally one man came up and said, “Well, his brother was worse.” [Audience laughs.]

That is not where you want to go. A life ending in such a funeral is not the life you want to have.


Category  Life Wisdom
Tags  Charlie Munger · Moral & Ethics
Source  Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger (Expanded Third Edition)