A great way to learn is to learn from the greats.
People throughout history who have achieved big things - whether it be preventing wars, developing theories, saving lives, creating companies and more.
You can learn a lot from these people. And I think the best way to learn is at the real fundamental level, the level of principle.
It's hard to build on tips or tactics. Principles can be applied to everything that we do. Like Truth, for example, which is a fundamental principle for producing good outcomes. It sounds trivial, but how much better would the world be if we all operated from the principle of truth and honesty?
One such person we can learn from is Ray Dalio. He is an American investor, hedge fund manager, and philanthropist. Dalio is the founder of investment firm Bridgewater Associates, one of the world's largest hedge funds.
Running one of the world's largest hedge funds is hard, you need to develop some pretty solid personal and company operating principles to achieve consistent positive results.
Lucky for us, Dalio has published a 3-part guide detailing the importance of having principles, his life principles and his management principles. It's a 55 page read but well worth the effort.
Below are the bits from the book I found most valuable, which I think are immediately applicable.
I want you to work for yourself, to come up with independent opinions, to stress-test them, to be wary about being overconfident, and to reflect on the consequences of your decisions and constantly improve.
Learn from your mistakes.
Failure is due to not accepting and successfully dealing with the realities of life. Success is simple a matter of accepting and successfully dealing with all of my realities.
Finding out what is true - even mistakes and weaknesses - is good, because I can then deal with them.
There is nothing to fear from truth - knowing them allows us to deal with them better. Exploring them exposes us to feedback that is essential to our learning.
Being truthful is an extension of my freedom to be me. Being one way on the inside and another on the outside to please others causes you conflict and makes you lose touch with what you really think and feel.
How you handle your mistakes and weaknesses is what differentiates you from others. Each mistake is a puzzle. Solve it and be more effective in the future.
Successful people make lots of mistakes along the way and have weaknesses and have to figure out how to get around them. People who face up to reality and deal with the obstacles improve faster.
Figuring out for yourself what you want and how to get it is the better path.
Having questions is better than having answers as questions lead to more learning.
You learn most by reflecting on and figuring out the solutions to your mistakes.
Have an interesting, diverse life with lots of learning, meaningful work and meaningful relationships.
Ray Dalio’s Main Principles:
Most Fundamental Principle:
Truth—more precisely, an accurate understanding of reality—is the essential foundation for producing good outcomes.
He believes that you get rewarded or punished according to whether we operate in harmony or in conflict with nature’s laws. So, for something to be “good”, it must be grounded in reality.
The desire to evolve, i.e. to get better, is probably humanity’s most pervasive force.
Because of the law of diminishing returns, it is only natural to seek something new, or seeking new depths of something old, is required to bring us satisfaction.
In other words, the sequence of 1) seeking new things (goals); 2) working and learning in the process of pursuing these goals; 3) obtaining these goals; and 4) then doing this over and over again is the personal evolutionary process that fulfills most of us and moves society forward.
Pursuing self-interest in harmony with the laws of the universe and contributing to evolution is universally rewarded.
There is an excellent correlation between giving society what it wants and making money.
The faster one appropriately adapts, the better.
We all have things that we value that we want and we all have strengths and weaknesses that affect our paths for getting them. The most important quality that differentiates successful people from unsuccessful people is our capacity to learn and adapt to these things.
Some people get over the ego barrier and others don’t. Which path they choose, more than anything else, determines how good their outcomes are. Aristotle defined tragedy as a bad outcome for a person because of a fatal flaw that he can’t get around. So it is tragic when people let ego barriers lead them to experience bad outcomes.
The quality of our lives depends on the quality of the decisions we make.
I believe that the way we make our dreams into reality is by constantly engaging with reality in pursuit of our dreams and by using these encounters to learn more about reality itself and how to interact with it in order to get what we want—and that if we do this with determination, we almost certainly will be successful. In short: Reality + Dreams + Determination = A Successful Life
Personal evolution is the greatest accomplishment and the greatest reward.
People need meaningful work and meaningful relationships in order to be fulfilled.
Your Most Important Choices:
It is a fundamental law of nature that to evolve one has to push one’s limits, which is painful, in order to gain strength—whether it’s in the form of lifting weights, facing problems head-on, or in any other way...When we encounter pain, we are at an important juncture in the decision-making process.
Pain + Reflection = Progress
People who confuse what they wish were true with what is really true create distorted pictures of reality that make it impossible for them to make the best choices. They typically do this because facing “harsh realities” can be very difficult. However, by not facing these harsh realities, they don’t find ways of properly dealing with them. And because their decisions are not based in reality, they can’t anticipate the consequences of their decisions.
In contrast, people who know that understanding what is real is the first step toward optimally dealing with it make better decisions.
Ask yourself, “Is it true?”
…because knowing what is true is good
People who worry about looking good typically hide what they don’t know and hide their weaknesses, so they never learn how to properly deal with them and these weaknesses remain impediments in the future.
People who over weigh the first-order consequences of their decisions and ignore the effects that the second- and subsequent-order consequences will have on their goals rarely reach their goals.
Successful people understand that bad things come at everyone and that it is their responsibility to make their lives what they want them to be by successfully dealing with whatever challenges they face.
In summary, I believe that you can probably get what you want out of life if you can suspend your ego and take a no-excuses approach to achieving your goals with open-mindedness, determination, and courage, especially if you rely on the help of people who are strong in areas that you are weak.
If I had to pick just one quality that those who make the right choices have, it is character. Character is the ability to get one’s self to do the difficult things that produce the desired results.
Your Two Yous and Your Machine
Those who are the most successful are capable of “higher level thinking” —i.e., they are able to step back and design a “machine” consisting of the right people doing the right things to get what they want. They are able to assess and improve how their “machine” works by comparing the outcomes that the machine is producing with their goals. Schematically, the process is as shown in the diagram below. It is a feedback loop.
That schematic is meant to convey that your goals will determine the “machine” that you create to achieve them; that machine will produce outcomes that you should compare with your goals to judge how your machine is working. Your “machine” will consist of the design and people you choose to achieve the goals.
Think of it as though there are two yous—you as the designer and overseer of the plan to achieve your goals (let’s call that one you(1)) and you as one of the participants in pursuing that mission (which we will call you(2)). You(2) is a resource that you(1) have to get what you(1) want, but by no means your only resource. To be successful you(1) have to be objective about you(2).
If you(1) see that you(2) are not capable of doing something, it is only sensible for you(1) to have someone else do it. In other words, you(1) should look down at you(2) and all the other resources at your(1) disposal and create a “machine” to achieve your(1) goals, remembering that you(1) don’t necessarily need to do anything other than to design and manage the machine to get what you(1) want. If you(1) find that you(2) can’t do something well, fire yourself (2) and get a good replacement! You shouldn’t be upset that you found out that you(2) are bad at that—you(1) should be happy because you(1) have improved your(1) chances of getting what you(1) want. If you(1) are disappointed because you(2) can’t be the best person to do everything, you(1) are terribly naïve because nobody can do everything well.
The biggest mistake most people make is to not see themselves and others objectively. If they could just get around this, they could live up to their potential.
My 5-Step Process to Getting What You Want Out of Life
Most importantly, ask yourself what is your biggest weakness that stands in the way of what you want.
Values→ 1) Goals → 2) Problems → 3) Diagnoses → 4) Designs → 5) Tasks
Treat your life like a game or a martial art. Your mission is to figure out how to get around your challenges to get your goals. In the process of playing the game, you will become more skilled.
Ray Dalio's Management Principles