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

Think through which values, abilities, and skills you are looking for (in that order).

Values are the deep-seated beliefs that motivate behaviors and determine people's compatibilities with each other. People will fight for their values, and they are likely to fight with people who don't share them. Abilities are ways of thinking and behaving. Some people are great learners and fast processors; others possess the ability to see things at a higher level. Some focus more on the particulars; still others think creatively or logically or with supreme organization. Skills are learned tools, such as being able to speak a foreign language or write computer code. While values and abilities are unlikely to change much, most skills can be acquired in a limited amount of time (e.g., software proficiency can be learned) and often change in worth (today's most in-demand programming language is likely to be obsolete in a few years).

It is important for you to know what mix of qualities is important to fit each role and, more broadly, what values and abilities are required in people with whom you can have successful relationships. In picking people for long-term relationships, values are most important, abilities come next, and skills are the least important. Yet most people make the mistake of choosing skills and abilities first and overlooking values. We value people most who have what I call the three C's: character, common sense, and creativity.

If your people are bound by a sense of community and mission and they are capable, you will have an extraordinary organization. Some people will value the mission and community and others won't. Since at Bridgewater the key shared values that maintain our culture are meaningful work and meaningful relationships, radical truth and radical transparency, an open-minded willingness to explore harsh realities including one's own weaknesses, a sense of ownership, a drive for excellence, and the willingness to do the good but difficult things, we look for highly capable people who deeply want all of those things.

Work Principle

Find a Meaningful Principle for You

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

Life Principles

Work Principles

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