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

Do What You Set Out to Do

The organization, like the individual, has to push through to results in order to succeed--this is step five in the 5-Step Process.

While recently cleaning up a huge pile of work products from the 1980s and 1990s, I came across boxes and boxes full of research. There were thousands of pages, most covered with my scribbles, and I realized that they represented just a fraction of the effort I'd put in. At our fortieth-year celebration I was given copies of the almost ten thousand Bridgewater Daily Observations that we'd published. Every one of them expressed our deepest thinking and research about markets and economies. I also stumbled across the manuscript of an eight-hundred-page book that I wrote but then got too busy to publish, and countless other memos and letters to clients, research reports, and versions of the book you're reading now. Why did I do all these things? Why do others work so hard to achieve their goals?

From what I can see, we do it for different reasons. For me, the main reason is that I can visualize the results of pushing through so intensely that I experience the thrill of success even while I'm still struggling to achieve it. Similarly, I can visualize the tragic results of not pushing through. I am also motivated by a sense of responsibility; I have a hard time letting people I care about down. But that's just what's true for me. Others describe their motivation as attachment to the community and its mission. Some do it for approval and some do it for financial rewards. All these are perfectly acceptable motivations and should be used and harmonized in a way consistent with the culture.

The way one brings people together to do this is key. This is what most people call "leadership." What are the most important things that a leader needs to do in order to get their organizations to push through to results? Most importantly, they must recruit individuals who are willing to do the work that success requires. While there might be more glamour in coming up with the brilliant new ideas, most of success comes from doing the mundane and often distasteful stuff, like identifying and dealing with problems and pushing hard over a long time. This was certainly the case with the Client Service Department. Through a lot of relentless hard work in the years since the original problem turned up, the department has become an example to other teams at Bridgewater--and our client satisfaction levels remain consistently high. The great irony of all this is that none of our clients ever even noticed the problems we saw with the memos. Sending out work not up to our standards was bad--and I'm glad it was corrected. But it could've been much worse, tarnishing our reputation for delivering pervasive excellence. Once that happens, it becomes much harder to restore trust.

Work Principle

Find a Meaningful Principle for You

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

Life Principles

Work Principles

Please review our
Privacy Policy and Terms of Service
, which will go into effect on
. By continuing to use this site or our products or services, you agree to our
Terms of Service and acknowledge that you have read our Privacy Policy.