Ray Dalio Quotes

Weigh values and abilities more heavily than skills in deciding whom to hire.

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There is giant untapped potential in disagreement, especially if the disagreement is between two or more thoughtful people.

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Watch out for people who think it's embarrassing not to know.

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Be wary of the arrogant intellectual who comments from the stands without having played on the field.

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Don't worry about looking good - worry about achieving your goals.

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The best advice I can give you is to ask yourself what do you want, then ask 'what is true' — and then ask yourself 'what should be done about it.' I believe that if you do this you will move much faster towards what you want to get out of life than if you don't!

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While individuals operating individually can choose whatever values and principles they like, when working in a group the people must agree on the group's values and principles. If the group is not clear about them, confusion and eventually gravitation toward the population's averages will result. If the group's values and principles are clear, their way of being (i.e., their culture) will permeate everything they do.

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The pain of problems is a call to find solutions rather than a reason for unhappiness and inaction, so it's silly, pointless, and harmful to be upset at the problems and choices that come at you (though it's understandable).

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Life is like a game where you seek to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of achieving your goals. You get better at this game through practice. The game consists of a series of choices that have consequences. You can't stop the problems and choices from coming at you, so it's better to learn how to deal with them.

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People with good work habits have to-do lists that are reasonably prioritized, and they make themselves do what needs to be done. By contrast, people with poor work habits almost randomly react to the stuff that comes at them, or they can't bring themselves to do the things they need to do but don't like to do (or are unable to do).

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More than anything else, what differentiates people who live up to their potential from those who don't is a willingness to look at themselves and others objectively.

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If you can stare hard at your problems, they almost always shrink or disappear, because you almost always find a better way of dealing with them than if you don't face them head on. The more difficult the problem, the more important it is that you stare at it and deal with it. After seeing how effectively facing reality – especially your problems, mistakes and weaknesses – works, you will become comfortable with it and won't want to operate any other way. I also believe that one of the best ways of getting at truth is reflecting with others who have opposing views and who share your interest in finding the truth rather than being proven right.

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Unlike in school, in life you don't have to come up with all the right answers. You can ask the people around you for help — or even ask them to do the things you don't do well. In other words, there is almost no reason not to succeed if you take the attitude of 1) total flexibility — good answers can come from anyone or anywhere (and in fact, as I have mentioned, there are far more good answers "out there" than there are in you) and 2) total accountability: regardless of where the good answers come from, it's your job to find them.

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Life is like a giant smorgasbord of more delicious alternatives than you can ever hope to taste. So you have to reject having some things you want in order to get other things you want more.

Some people fail at this point, afraid to reject a good alternative for fear that the loss will deprive them of some essential ingredient to their personal happiness. As a result, they pursue too many goals at the same time, achieving few or none of them.

So it's important to remember: it doesn't really matter if some things are unavailable to you, because the selection of what IS available is so great.

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By and large, life will give you what you deserve and it doesn't give a damn what you "like." So it is up to you to take full responsibility to connect what you want with what you need to do to get it, and then to do those things — which often are difficult but produce good results — so that you'll then deserve to get what you want.

That's just the way it is, so you might as well accept it. Once you accept that playing the game will be uncomfortable, and you do it for a while, it will become much easier (like it does when getting fit). When you excel at it, you will find your ability to get what you want thrilling. You'll see that excuses like "That's not easy" are of no value and that it pays to "push through it" at a pace you can handle. Like getting physically fit, the most important thing is that you keep moving forward at whatever pace you choose, recognizing the consequences of your actions. When you think that it's too hard, remember that in the long run, doing the things that will make you successful is a lot easier than being unsuccessful.

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I believe that for the most part, achieving success — whatever that is for you — is mostly a matter of personal choice and that, initially, making the right choices can be difficult. However, because of the law of nature that pushing your boundaries will make you stronger, which will lead to improved results that will motivate you, the more you operate in your "stretch zone," the more you adapt and the less character it takes to operate at the higher level of performance. So, if you don't let up on yourself, i.e., if you operate with the same level of "pain," you will naturally evolve at an accelerating pace.

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People who worry about looking good typically hide what they don't know and hide their weaknesses, so they never learn how to properly deal with them and these weaknesses remain impediments in the future. These people typically try to prove that they have the answers, even when they really don't. Why do they behave in this unproductive way? They typically believe the senseless but common view that great people are those who have the answers in their heads and don't have weaknesses. Not only does this view not square with reality, but it also stands in the way of progress.

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People who confuse what they wish were true with what is really true create distorted pictures of reality that make it impossible for them to make the best choices.

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Since the only way you are going to find solutions to painful problems is by thinking deeply about them — i.e., reflecting — if you can develop a knee-jerk reaction to pain that is to reflect rather than to fight or flee, it will lead to your rapid learning/evolving.

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Nature gave us pain as a messaging device to tell us that we are approaching, or that we have exceeded, our limits in some way. At the same time, nature made the process of getting stronger require us to push our limits. Gaining strength is the adaptation process of the body and the mind to encountering one's limits, which is painful. In other words, both pain and strength typically result from encountering one's barriers.

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There is an excellent correlation between giving society what it wants and making money, and almost no correlation between the desire to make money and how much money one makes.

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People who acquire things beyond their usefulness not only will derive little or no marginal gains from these acquisitions, but they also will experience negative consequences, as with any form of gluttony.

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I believe that understanding what is good is obtained by looking at the way the world works and figuring out how to operate in harmony with it to help it (and yourself) evolve.

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I believe that we all get rewarded and punished according to whether we operate in harmony or in conflict with nature's laws, and that all societies will succeed or fail in the degrees that they operate consistently with these laws.

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I have found that by looking at what is rewarded and punished, and why, universally — i.e., in nature as well as in humanity — I have been able to learn more about what is "good" and "bad" than by listening to most people's views about good and bad.

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Though how nature works is way beyond man's ability to comprehend, I have found that observing how nature works offers innumerable lessons that can help us understand the realities that affect us.

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Success is achieved by people who deeply understand reality and know how to use it to get what they want. The converse is also true: idealists who are not well-grounded in reality create problems, not progress.

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I believe there are an infinite number of laws of the universe and that all progress or dreams achieved come from operating in a way that's consistent with them. These laws and the principles of how to operate in harmony with them have always existed. We were given these laws by nature. Man didn't and can't make them up. He can only hope to understand them and use them to get what he wants.

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I have been very lucky because I have had the opportunity to see what it's like to have little or no money and what it's like to have a lot of it. I'm lucky because people make such a big deal of it and, if I didn't experience both, I wouldn't be able to know how important it really is for me. I can't comment on what having a lot of money means to others, but I do know that for me, having a lot more money isn't a lot better than having enough to cover the basics. That's because, for me, the best things in life — meaningful work, meaningful relationships, interesting experiences, good food, sleep, music, ideas, sex, and other basic needs and pleasures — are not, past a certain point, materially improved upon by having a lot of money.

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I believe that our society's "mistakephobia" is crippling, a problem that begins in most elementary schools, where we learn to learn what we are taught rather than to form our own goals and to figure out how to achieve them. We are fed with facts and tested and those who make the fewest mistakes are considered to be the smart ones, so we learn that it is embarrassing to not know and to make mistakes. Our education system spends virtually no time on how to learn from mistakes, yet this is critical to real learning. As a result, school typically doesn't prepare young people for real life — unless their lives are spent following instructions and pleasing others. In my opinion, that's why so many students who succeed in school fail in life.

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One of the greatest sources of problems in our society arises from people having loads of wrong theories in their heads — often theories that are critical of others — that they won't test by speaking to the relevant people about them. Instead, they talk behind people's backs, which leads to pervasive misinformation. I learned to hate this because I could see that making judgments about people so that they are tried and sentenced in your head, without asking them for their perspective, is both unethical and unproductive. So I learned to love real integrity (saying the same things as one believes) and to despise the lack of it.

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I learned that everyone makes mistakes and has weaknesses and that one of the most important things that differentiates people is their approach to handling them. I learned that there is an incredible beauty to mistakes, because embedded in each mistake is a puzzle, and a gem that I could get if I solved it, i.e. a principle that I could use to reduce my mistakes in the future. I learned that each mistake was probably a reflection of something that I was (or others were) doing wrong, so if I could figure out what that was, I could learn how to be more effective. I learned that wrestling with my problems, mistakes, and weaknesses was the training that strengthened me. Also, I learned that it was the pain of this wrestling that made me and those around me appreciate our successes.

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People who are one way on the inside and believe that they need to be another way outside to please others become conflicted and often lose touch with what they really think and feel. It's difficult for them to be happy and almost impossible for them to be at their best.

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Sometimes we forge our own principles and sometimes we accept others' principles, or holistic packages of principles, such as religion and legal systems. While it isn't necessarily a bad thing to use others' principles — it's difficult to come up with your own, and often much wisdom has gone into those already created — adopting pre-packaged principles without much thought exposes you to the risk of inconsistency with your true values.

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Principles are concepts that can be applied over and over again in similar circumstances as distinct from narrow answers to specific questions. Every game has principles that successful players master to achieve winning results. So does life. Principles are ways of successfully dealing with the laws of nature or the laws of life. Those who understand more of them and understand them well know how to interact with the world more effectively than those who know fewer of them or know them less well. Different principles apply to different aspects of life—e.g., there are "skiing principles" for skiing, "parenting principles" for parenting, "management principles" for managing, "investment principles" for investing, etc—and there are over-arching "life principles" that influence our approaches to all things. And, of course, different people subscribe to different principles that they believe work best.

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Successful people ask for the criticism of others and consider its merit.

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Never say anything about a person you wouldn't say to them directly, and don't try people without accusing them to their face. Badmouthing people behind their backs shows a serious lack of integrity and is counterproductive. It doesn't yield any beneficial change, and it subverts both the people you are badmouthing and the environment as a whole.

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For every mistake that you learn from you will save thousands of similar mistakes in the future, so if you treat mistakes as learning opportunities that yield rapid improvements you should be excited by them. But if you treat them as bad things, you will make yourself and others miserable, and you won't grow.

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Do not feel bad about your mistakes or those of others. Love them! Remember that 1) they are to be expected, 2) they're the first and most essential part of the learning process, and 3) feeling bad about them will prevent you from getting better. People typically feel bad about mistakes because they think in a short-sighted way that mistakes reflect their badness or because they're worried about being punished (or not being rewarded). People also tend to get angry at those who make mistakes because in a short-sighted way they focus on the bad outcome rather than the educational, evolutionary process they're a part of. That's a real tragedy.

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Observe the patterns of mistakes to see if they are a product of weaknesses. Connect the dots without ego barriers. If there is a pattern of mistakes, it probably signifies a weakness. Everyone has weaknesses. The fastest path to success is to know what they are and how to deal with them so that they don't stand in your way.

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To test if you are worrying too much about looking good, observe how you feel when you find out you've made a mistake or don't know something.

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When there is pain, the animal instinct is 'fight or flight' (i.e., to either strike back or run away) - reflect instead. When you can calm yourself down, thinking about the dilemma that is causing you pain will bring you to a higher level and enlighten you, leading to progress.

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Ask yourself whether you have earned the right to have an opinion. Opinions are easy to produce, so bad ones abound. Knowing that you don't know something is nearly as valuable as knowing it. The worst situation is thinking you know something when you don't.

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Distinguish open-minded people from closed-minded people. Open-minded people seek to learn by asking questions; they realize that what they know is little in relation to what there is to know and recognize that they might be wrong. Closed-minded people always tell you what they know, even if they know hardly anything about the subject being discussed. They are typically made uncomfortable by being around those who know a lot more about a subject, unlike open-minded people who are thrilled by such company.

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Ironically, people who suppress the mini-confrontations for fear of conflict tend to have huge conflicts later, which can lead to separation, precisely because they let minor problems fester. On the other hand, people who address the mini-conflicts head-on in order to straighten things out tend to have the great, long-lasting relationships.

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It's more important to do big things well than to do small things perfectly.

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Recognize that the inevitable responsible party is the person who bears the consequences of what is done. Because of this, the RP must choose wisely when delegating responsibilities to others, and he must incentivize and manage them appropriately. There is no escaping that. For example, you are the inevitable RP for taking care of your health because you're the one who inevitably bears the consequences. If you're sick, you might choose to delegate the responsibility of figuring out what do to about it to a doctor. However, it is your responsibility to pick the right doctor because you will bear the consequences of that decision. While it is, of course, also the doctor's responsibility to handle the responsibilities that you delegate to him, you still need to make sure that his incentives are aligned with his responsibilities and that he is doing his job well. The inevitable responsible party can't delegate all his responsibilities away and expect good outcomes, even in cases in which he has no expertise.

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It is a law of nature that you must do difficult things to gain strength and power. As with working out, after a while you make the connection between doing difficult things and the benefits you get from doing them, and you come to look forward to doing these difficult things.

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Experience creates internalization. A huge difference exists between memory-based "book" learning and hands-on, internalized learning. A medical student who has "learned" to perform an operation in his medical school class has not learned it in the same way as a doctor who has already conducted several operations. In the first case, the learning is stored in the conscious mind, and the medical student draws on his memory bank to remember what he has learned. In the second case, what the doctor has learned through hands-on experience is stored in the subconscious mind and pops up without his consciously recalling it from the memory bank. People who excel at book learning tend to call up from memory what they have learned in order to follow stored instructions. Others who are better at internalized learning use the thoughts that flow from their subconscious. The experienced skier doesn't recite instructions on how to ski and then execute them; rather, he does it well "without thinking," in the same way he breathes without thinking. Understanding these differences is essential. Remember that experience creates internalization. Doing things repeatedly leads to internalization, which produces a quality of understanding that is generally vastly superior to intellectualized learning.

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Firing people is not a big deal—certainly nowhere near as big a deal as keeping badly performing people, because keeping a person in a job they are not suited for is terrible both for the person (because it prevents personal evolution) and our community (because we all bear the consequences and it erodes meritocracy).

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The real sign of a master manager is that he doesn't have to "do" practically anything. Of course, a great manager has to hire and oversee the people who do things; but a "supreme master" manager can even hire a person or two to do this and has achieved such leverage that things are effortlessly running superbly. Of course, there is a continuum related to this. The main message I'm trying to convey is that managers should strive to hire, train, and oversee in a way in which others can superbly handle as much as possible on their own. Managers should view the need to get involved in the nitty-gritty themselves as a bad sign.

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While everyone has the right to have questions and theories, only believable people have the right to have opinions. If you can't successfully ski down a difficult slope, you shouldn't tell others how to do it, though you can ask questions about it and even express your views about possible ways if you make clear that you are unsure.

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Don't be a perfectionist, because perfectionists often spend too much time on little differences at the margins at the expense of other big, important things. Be an effective imperfectionist. Solutions that broadly work well (e.g., how people should contact each other in the event of crises) are generally better than highly specialized solutions (e.g., how each person should contact each other in the event of every conceivable crisis), especially in the early stages of a plan. There generally isn't much gained by lots of detail relative to a good broad solution.

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