A Review: "Principles" by Ray Dalio

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I started reading "Principles" over Christmas and although it is a beast of a book, it has to be one of the best personal development investments I have ever made. Not only is it a great guide in navigating one's own personal life, but also their work life as well. (especially if they are in a leadership role)

"Good principles are ways of dealing with reality to get what you want out of life." - Ray Dalio

Dalio, an American billionaire investor, hedge fund manager, and philanthropist, simplifies the processes and mindsets that have been the foundation for his success in his book "Principles". Not only does he share what his principles are, but also reflects back on stories from his life that support and describe the principles in which he is explaining. There are five "Life" principles and sixteen "Work" principles, all with between five and ten sub principles that Dalio goes into great detail. I wanted to share the principles and mindsets that resonated with me and have made an immediate impact on my life, starting with the "Two Yous".


The "Two Yous"

Dalio explains that a you have "two yous". One being your higher level you (the logical/conscious "you"), and the lower level you (the emotional/subconscious "you"). He explains that the two "yous" continuously fight to control you and your actions. When I first read this it felt like a lightbulb went off. I had never thought about the way I think like that before. Dalio also explains that in order to make the most effective decisions most often, aligning one's emotional and logical brain is critical.

I realized that the emotional "me" often won over my logical "me" more times than not. It often made me feel good in the moment when making the decision, but may have not been the best logical decision in the long run. I certainly have had times where I questioned why I made the decision I did somewhere down the road. Since reflecting on my decision making process since reading "Principles" I have felt that I have been able to make more balanced decisions and not let my emotional "me" win outright. Instead, I have been able to allow my logical brain to have more of a say in the decisions I make, and I have never felt more confident and empowered when making decisions!


The "5 Step Process to Get What You Want Out of Life"

I feel that we have all gone through some sort of goal setting exercise, whether it be in our heads or more structured and written out. Dalio's is a simple, almost obvious, but clear process to get what you want out of life.

1. Have Clear Goals

2. Identify and don't tolerate the problems that stand in the way of your achieving your goals.

3. Accurately diagnose the problems to get at the root of their causes.

4. Design plans that will get around them.

5. Do what is necessary to push these designs through to results.

The "5 Step Process to Get What You Want Out of Life" | Principles by Ray Dalio | © 2017

The "5 Step Process to Get What You Want Out of Life" | Principles by Ray Dalio | © 2017

The process is illustrated by the diagram above. This cycle is practiced over and over and over again in our lives whether we see it or not. For me, it was another light bulb moment where Dalio explained the process of achieving my goals in a way that was clear and well thought out. I now use this process as one of my main tools when setting my own goals and planning to attain them! 


"Embrace Reality and Deal with It"

The last theme in "Principles" I want to touch on is truly embracing reality and dealing with it. I think it is something that many of us in today's world of social media and instant gratification get pulled away from. It is something that can be hard to do, but once we harness the ability to embrace reality, it makes it a whole lot easier to take the next step and deal with it. This is the only way that we can get to where we want to be. Our logical brain can justify almost everything that we do. We make excuses for why things aren't the way they are, we complain about how things are instead of taking action to make them the way we want them to be. If we allow these mindsets and thought processes to take over we ultimately lose control of our own lives.

"Embrace Reality and Deal with It" is the first Principle that Dalio talks about in the book and (I believe) the most important. One of my favourite sub-principles from this principle is "Own your outcomes". Not only is this a quality of a great leader, I believe it makes you a better human being! Dalio says "Whatever circumstances life brings you, you will be more likely to achieve success and find happiness if you take responsibility for making your decisions well instead of complaining about things beyond your control." I could not believe this to be more true. We make thousands of micro decisions each day, and by taking pride in the decisions you make, and owning them as your own, regardless of the outcome, is how I feel we can live our best lives.


I 100% recommend this book. It has made a massive impact on my life and I will be revisiting it over and over again. I would love to hear your thoughts on the book and what your favourite principles are! Leave a comment below or feel free to shoot me an email at bryton@brytonudy.com. I would love to chat! 


Bryton UdyComment