My Inner Scorecard

lyndale snow

Born in 1930, Warren Buffett made himself one of the world’s richest people. At the time of writing his net worth is estimated at $91.6bn .

In later life Buffett focused on philanthropy. Much of his wealth will pass to the foundation of his friends, Bill and Melinda Gates.

He devotes time to supporting young people achieve success, including passing on something he observed in his father, Howard, the idea of ‘an inner scorecard’

Many people have ‘an outer scorecard’, they measure success in how others view them. Do others approve of me? Are they impressed by my car? My house? My partner? My money?

In contrast ‘an inner scorecard’ accords with one’s own values: Am I being honest? Am I happy with how I treat people? Am I living in line with my own values?

The idea of the inner scorecard has a basis in academic and clinical psychotherapy.

Also born in the US, Carl Rogers (b1902) was President of the American Psychological Association 1946-7 and one of the first to use the scientific method to study the processes of therapy http://psychclassics Rogers was the one of the first to use voice recording of client sessions to analyse therapy sessions in detail (Freud used subsequent handwritten notes of his recollections). From his research, Rogers created theory and practically tested his theories, applying the scientific method.

Rogers’ detailed statement of his theory was published in 1959, although written much earlier in the 1950s. Rogers described what he called ‘an external locus of evaluation’. He meant, the place a person stands to evaluate themselves was outside of themselves, or to use Buffett’s term ‘an outer scorecard’.

Rogers’ idea was developing babies, children, teens, adults, were subject to pressure to conform to the ideas and expectations of others. Conforming to the wishes of parents, the developing child won and retained parental love, was taken care of and felt safe in the world. Rogers called these parental wishes ‘conditions of worth’, for example ‘I’ll love and care for you provided you do well at school, provided you don’t fight with your sister’ and so on . The antonym of this would be so-called ‘unconditional love’.

There are many different ways in which therapy works. In this context, some of the ways in which therapy works include: 1. Increasing awareness of some of our conditions of worth, previously held below conscious awareness, and 2. Becoming aware of our tendency to view ourselves through the evaluations of others and instead of this 3. To relocate the position of evaluation within ourselves, rather than in others, so that 4. We live according to our own interests and values; living outwardly in-line with who we are on the inside.

Instead of an ‘external locus of evaluation’ (Rogers) or an ‘outer scorecard’ (Buffett) this becomes an ‘internal locus of evaluation’ or an ‘inner scorecard’.

Rogers (1978) later wrote the book ‘personal power: inner strength and its revolutionary impact’. The notion of an ‘inner scorecard’ and specifying what goes on the scorecard gives a person a sense of inner strength. It is this kind of inner strength that Buffett has so effectively use in his investment approach, often going against the crowd, and enabling him to succeed, as he would define success. Being honest, decent, patient and hard-working are values Buffett has sought to live by

Many people, on hearing about Buffett’s wealth say ‘sure, I could succeed if I had all his millions’. Whilst Buffett did have some advantages in life, his father served four terms in the House of Representatives, his mother Leila was described as harshly critical, seemingly evoking feelings of fear and shame in Warren.

Growing up with a harsh and critical mother there are many paths a person could follow. Some people might get angry, project their anger outwards onto others, turn to drink, live a life of shame and so on. Using the analogy of a snowball, Buffett’s biographer, Alice Schroeder describes how young Warren channelled his energies into money-making, from an early age, and created an ever-growing snowball of money

In some ways it is simply the size of the snowball he created that has brought Buffett to public attention. Perhaps the real triumph in the life of Warren Buffett is of a man who, despite a harsh interpersonal beginning, followed his interests and enthusiasms and created the life he wanted for himself. Buffett is reported as saying ‘I’m so happy I tap dance to work’.

Life challenges us to follow our inner interests, enthusiasms and values, to be who we are, and create the life we want for ourselves, that is congruent with who we are.

Gym success!


‘How long will it take me before I can do that?’ asked a new participant at an exercise class I was attending.

Understandably, starting a new exercise class as part of a New Year resolution, we want to know how long before we notice a change.

This got me thinking. In this phase of my life, I’ve been a regular at the gym for the past five years. I’ve no idea how long it will take before someone starting afresh will achieve a certain goal. However, what had the past five years taught me about succeeding at the gym?

My reflections took me to an idea that, below conscious awareness, I had been working with for some time (a philosophy or theory of) ‘three rules for succeeding at the gym’:

  1. Just show up. If your plan is three times a week then show up three times a week. Even better if you can specify what days and what times each week. Harness the power of habit
  2. Do better than last time. No matter how tiny, somehow in some way, come up with a way of doing a bit better than last time, a slightly deeper squat, a slightly higher jump, even if only once. Known as incrementalism this is a way of focusing on the here and now and letting tomorrow take care of itself.
  3. At the end of the gym session/exercise class, congratulate yourself on achieving Rule 2. And if you can’t congratulate yourself on this, then congratulate yourself on achieving Rule 1. Celebrating success helps us feel better: improved mood leads to greater satisfaction with life

Sometimes we just can’t know how long it will take us to get to certain goal. Even so we can still do all we can to move us in the direction we want to go. And feel good about our endeavour: Show up. Do better. Celebrate success. Enjoy seeing what success we can achieve!