What I Learnt from Ray Dalio’s Principles

A Few Things….
Published in
3 min readMar 4, 2018

When I first heard about Ray Dalio writing a book, I thought “Here we go again!”

I had read the “Principles” document on the Bridgewater site in 2012 and wasn’t sure what the point of elaborating that into a 550-page book would be.

People kept telling me to read the book and I kept being a hater.

Eventually, I got the book as a gift one day.

I opened it up.

Here’s What I Learnt From Ray:

What a paradigm shift.

I realized that I often go through life being a passive recipient of what the world has to offer. A casual bystander or a simple worker in the machine that is the world.

Ray’s advice is to not be person in the machine, instead be the designer of your machine. This applies to your job, your relationship, your life.

Design the machine, design your life for the purpose you want it to have.

If the machine isn’t producing the results you want, figure out how to fix it, to get the output (the life) you want.

Or as Ray says in the book:

Think for yourself to decide 1) what you want 2) what is true and 3) what you should do to achieve #1 in light of #2

This can be broken down into the following five ideas:

  1. Don’t confuse what you wish were true with what is really true.
  2. Don’t worry about looking good — worry instead about achieving your goals.
  3. Don’t overweight first-order consequences relative to second and third-order ones.
  4. Don’t let pain stand in the way of progress.
  5. Don’t blame bad outcomes on anyone but yourself.

Dreams + Reality + Determination = A Successful Life

Powerful Life Questions:

  1. What are the rules and principles by which you want to live your life ?
  2. What’s important to you and what you are solving for ?
  3. How do you ensure that you are seeking truth ?
  4. Who are you and how are you constructed ? He’s a big fan of Myers-Briggs and other such tests. I am too. (I am an ISTJ incidentally).
  5. How are you going to get what you want ?

Decision Making:

Principles is really a book about good decision making.

Life is just a series of decisions, so making better decisions leads to a better life.

Simplify — Can you simplify this seemingly complex problem in to just another one of those. Have you seen this before ? Sometimes you need to step back and see the machine from a higher level.

Be radically open minded — Don’t let the fears of what others think stand in your way. Seek truth and diagnose problems to their root causes. You are looking for the best answer, not the best idea you came up with.

Focus on expected value — All decisions should focus on increasing expected value. Can you increase probability of being right ? What can you do to increase certainty ?

Seek people with experience who can help you triangulate to truth — Who’s done this before and is more likely to be right ? Who has success here ? Beware of people who have little experiences and lots of opinions.

Making mistakes is ok — It’s ok to be wrong. It’s not ok to not learn from them. What are the biggest mistakes you make. When do you make those mistakes? Are there particular types of mistakes you make often?

My Favorite Idea: If you aren’t thinking back to who you were a year ago and grimacing you aren’t growing fast enough.


If you haven’t watched his: How the Economic Machine Works, you are missing out in a big way !!

Sign Up to Get More at https://afewthings.substack.com/



A Few Things….

Discovering & Curating - The Big Ideas across Books and Markets.…. subscribe to the weekly at: https://afewthings.substack.com/