Black and white portrait of Ray Dalio: Narrator and Creator of Life Principles

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

Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs, cites principles as his key to success.

Work Principle

Train your ear.

Over time, you’ll hear the same verbal cues indicating that someone is thinking about something badly or failing to apply principles appropriately. Common examples of these cues include:

  • The anonymous “we,” which indicates that someone is likely depersonalizing a mistake (e.g., “We should have been more careful” instead of “John should have been more careful.”)
  • “I think I,” which is a marker of a self-assessment and could be a cue that someone is more confident in their own performance than is accurate (e.g., “I think I’ve been managing the project well”)
  • Answering a question like, “How’s it going?” with a statement of the trend (e.g., “It’s been getting better”) vs. a crisp synthesis of whether what’s in question is adequate (e.g., “It’s below the bar.”)
  • Saying something “isn’t totally true,” which often means it’s by and large true.
  • “I don’t know / I could be wrong, but…” People often follow this caveat by expressing an opinion that isn’t believable, so the listener should use it as an indication to ask questions instead of accepting the view.
  • Responding to a question with, “I’m not sure, but I do know that…” This often leads to the conversation being diverted into talk about what the responder claims he or she “does know” instead of what you were asking about. Don’t fall into this trap!

Work Principle

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Learn to get more of what you want out of life.

Life Principles

Work Principles

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