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.
To see how the dots connect through time you must collect, analyze, and sort different types of information, which isn't easy. For example, let's imagine a day in which eight outcomes occur. Some are good, some bad. Let's illustrate this day as shown, with each type of event represented by a letter and the quality of the outcome represented by its height.
In order to see the day this way, you must categorize outcomes by type (signified by letters) and quality (the higher up the graph, the better), which will require synthesizing a by-and-large assessment of each. (To make the example more concrete, imagine you're running an ice cream shop and the W's represent sales, the X's represent customer experience ratings, the Y's represent press and reviews, the Z's represent staff engagement, etc.) Keep in mind that our example is a relatively simple one: just eight occurrences over one day.
From the chart below, you can see that it was a great day for sales (because the W's are at the top) and a bad day for customer experience (the X's). You might conjecture why--maybe a crowd generated sales but produced long lines.
People who are good at pulling out such patterns of events are rare and essential, but as with most abilities, synthesizing through time is only partially innate; even if you're not good at it, you can get better through practice. You'll increase your chances of succeeding at it if you follow the next principle.