Ray Dalio On Handling Mistakes And On Being Truthful

I believe that all great investors are, first and foremost, truth seekers; and ultimately they all become much wiser as they grow older.  This is owed to the fact they are all humble enough to be lifetime learners.  Ray Dalio says it best here:

"I have gained a lot more experience that taught me a lot more, mostly by making mistakes and learning from them. Most importantly:

I learned that failure is, by and large, due to not accepting and successfully dealing with the realities of life, and that achieving success is simply a matter of accepting and successfully dealing with all my realities.

I learned that finding out what is true, regardless of what that is, including all the stuff most people think is bad — like mistakes and personal weaknesses — is good because I can then deal with these things so that they don’t stand in my way.

I learned that there is nothing to fear from truth. While some truths can be scary— for example, finding out that you have a deadly disease — knowing them allows us to deal with them better. Being truthful, and letting others be completely truthful, allows me and others to fully explore our thoughts and exposes us to the feedback that is essential for our learning.

I learned that being truthful was an extension of my freedom to be me. I believe that 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. I know that’s true for me.

I learned that I want the people I deal with to say what they really believe and to listen to what others say in reply, in order to find out what is true. I learned that 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.

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."

--- Ray Dalio (hedge fund titan)


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