Warren Buffett is an icon for success. His accomplishments and wealth have landed him in a category that few others have attained--and he's not slowing down any time soon. Though he's in his eighties, he shows no signs of retiring and continues to thrive professionally.
It makes you wonder--why does he continue to work so hard when he could very easily hang up his hat? After working with hundreds of executives over the years, it's clear to me: Warren Buffet is clearly working in his Zone of Genius.
In the HBO documentary Becoming Warren Buffett, you can see that Warren built a business that perfectly aligns with his genius-the thinking or problem-solving that he's best at. He's obsessed with the concept of compound interest, so I would wager that his genius has something to do with creating growth opportunities. His goal is to grow investments as quickly as possible, and compound interest is one of his key tools.
These are clear indications that he is challenged, in the best way possible, by his work, resulting in continuous intellectual engagement. I don't know Warren Buffet personally, so I can't make assumptions about his purpose, or the impact on others that's most meaningful to him. But he clearly derives meaning from the work he does because he has so much energy for it.
The lesson for you? When you are able to have an impact on others or in the world that is meaningful to you, you access intrinsic motivation, which gives you the endless energy that Buffet so clearly has for what he is doing.
When you're working in your Zone of Genius, work doesn't feel like work, because it's an extension of who you are. As Buffet says, he "tap dances his way to work." He also doesn't care much for spending his billions and even lives in the same house he bought in 1958. He calls it "the third best investment he's ever made." This behavior is another clear sign that he's not an achievement junkie, meaning you get more joy out of the achievement than the process of creating the achievement. He clearly loves the process of his work just as much as, if not more than, the outcome of earning billions.
If you want to be like Buffet, learn your Zone of Genius and make it a focal point for your work and your career. Once you're actively using your Zone of Genius at work regularly, you'll experience the intellectual challenge that you crave and feel like you're making an impact on the world that is most meaningful to you. And who knows, before long the thought of retirement might actually sound worse than doing the work you love.