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Key Lessons & Ideas from Ray Dalio’s Principles

“Principles are ways of successfully dealing with reality to get what you want out of life.”

Ray Dalio

Principles by Ray Dalio is a book that deeply impacted me.

This book found me in a painful transition time of my life where I felt unaligned with my purpose. I felt at crossroads, confused, burnt out, and started to process my subconscious mind through therapy. Did I mention that I was also in the midst of a career change? 

Principles gave me the perspective that I needed in order to enter the next phase of my life, relationships, and career. I wouldn’t be where I currently am without reading it. As I write this, I feel calm, fulfilled, and authentically aligned. I found that deep love and spark again through reality, mindfulness, and problem-solving. 

Here are the top lessons from Principles:

There is nothing to fear from the truth. Accepting the truth is accepting reality.

“Truth —more precisely, an accurate understanding of reality— is the essential foundation for producing good outcomes.”

In order to get the outcome you want, you need to take a good, hard look at yourself and the reality of the situation. In my case, I had a hard time accepting that I needed therapy because I didn’t want to admit that something was wrong. It was so much easier ignoring what bothered me, and acting like nothing was wrong. 

But what is the true cost of delusion? What is the true cost of ignoring reality?

“Being truthful was an extension of my freedom to be me.”

How liberating is that to hear? This has become one of my mantras: I stand tall in my truth. The truth gives me the freedom to be authentically me. 

I need to be authentically me to stand in my power and to create deep love and trust, which is the key to meaningful relationships.

“Finding out what is true, regardless of what that is, including all the stuff most people think is bad—like mistakes and personal weaknesses—is good because I can then deal with these things so that they don’t stand in my way. I learned that there is nothing to fear from truth.”

Growing up, I was taught to keep up appearances. Flaws = bad and shameful. Perfect = good and respectable. No one else was allowed to see my flaws, so I concealed them. 

What I learned as I matured, is that keeping up appearances really does nothing for you other than uphold this belief in your mind about who you think you should be

The truth takes that pressure off of you. The truth is self-acceptance. The truth is easier on your mental load.

“I learned that being totally truthful, especially about mistakes and weaknesses, led to a rapid rate of improvement and movement toward what I wanted.”

What did I have to confront within myself in order to get to the next version of me? What did I have to address? What did I subconsciously not take accountability for? What part of me is getting in the way of myself?

People (including me) don’t like to examine their weaknesses. Ray Dalio argues that this alone is the greatest source of pain because it impedes people’s abilities to seek the truth and grow from them. Identifying your weaknesses lets you understand which weaknesses are standing in the way of your goals.

“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.”

Embrace pain, it means you’re evolving

“The desire to evolve, i.e., to get better, is probably humanity’s most pervasive driving force.”

Personal evolution moves society forward, and there is no growth without pain. Learning how to embrace pain and not run away from it, is an important skill set – it empowers you to accept your evolution.

Reality + Dreams + Determination = A Successful Life

This principle suggests that you can follow one of two paths to happiness: 

  1. Have high expectations and strive to exceed them, or
  2. Lower your expectations so that they are at or below your conditions. 

Most of us choose the first path, which means that to be happy we have to keep evolving. And to evolve, we need to embrace pain. 

Ray Dalio’s 5-Step Process to Getting What You Want Out of Life

  1. Have clear goals. 
  2. Identify and don’t tolerate the problems that stand in the way of achieving your goals. 
  3. Accurately diagnose these problems. 
  4. Design plans that explicitly lay out tasks that will get you around your problems and on to your goals. 
  5. Implement these plans—i.e., do these tasks

In Principles, he goes into great detail about each of these steps in the 5-Step Process. If you loved this blog post, you will LOVE the book. This has been Josh’s favourite book of all time, and it’s easily become mine as well! Every time I re-read chapters of this book, a new lesson presents itself to me that I needed to hear. 

Since reading this book, I’ve learned to become radically transparent about my experiences and feelings with every single person, to always seek the truth and reality first, and to embrace my weaknesses and pain to have better solutions and outcomes. 

If you’ve read this blog, and book, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Send me a DM to let me know your takeaways, and how this book has impacted you.

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