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.
Everyone makes mistakes. The main difference is that successful people learn from them and unsuccessful people don’t. By creating an environment in which it is okay to safely make mistakes so that people can learn from them, you’ll see rapid progress and fewer significant mistakes. This is especially true in organizations where creativity and independent thinking are important, as success will inevitably require the acceptance of failure as a part of the process. As Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found ten thousand ways that do not work.”
Mistakes will cause you pain, but you shouldn’t try to shield yourself or others from it. Pain is a message that something is wrong and it’s an effective teacher that one shouldn’t do that wrong thing again. To deal with your own and others’ weaknesses well you must acknowledge them frankly and openly and work to find ways of preventing them from hurting you in the future. It’s at this point that many people say, “No thanks, this isn’t for me—I’d rather not have to deal with these things.” But this is against your and your organization’s best interests—and will keep you from achieving your goals. It seems to me that if you look back on yourself a year ago and aren’t shocked by how stupid you were, you haven’t learned much. Still, few people go out of their way to embrace their mistakes. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Of course, in managing others who make mistakes, it is important to know the difference between 1) capable people who made mistakes and are self-reflective and open to learning from them, and 2) incapable people, or capable people who aren’t able to embrace their mistakes and learn from them.
Finding this kind of person isn’t easy. I’ve often thought that parents and schools overemphasize the value of having the right answers all the time. It seems to me that the best students in school tend to be the worst at learning from their mistakes, because they have been conditioned to associate mistakes with failure instead of opportunity. This is a major impediment to their progress. Intelligent people who embrace their mistakes and weaknesses substantially outperform their peers who have the same abilities but bigger ego barriers.