I have been reading Ray Dalio’s Principles. Ray Dalio is the CEO of Bridgewater which is a big famous successful hedge fund he started in the 70’s. Principles, is a 123 page philosophical text he published in 2011 about how to live your life and how to manage people and organizations. Its extremely good. I’m not done yet but I have a feeling it is something I’m going to be rereading many times over the next few years. You can download it from the Bridewater website.

Here is a sample:

Most people react to pain badly. They have “fight or flight” reactions to it: they either strike out at whatever brought them the pain or they try to run away from it. As a result, they don’t learn to find ways around their barriers, so they encounter them over and over again and make little or no progress toward what they want…

Believe it or not, you are lucky to feel the pain if you approach it correctly, because it will signal that you need to find solutions and to progress. 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.

And from that he derives this equation:

Pain + Reflection = Progress

So I’ve been trying to do this. Whenever I experience conflict, stress, anger, or pain, I will try to make that into an opportunity to evolve and to become stronger.

Quite a lot of Principles feels like common sense. But at the same time I can see that some of that common sense stuff is stuff I haven’t been doing or have been doing half way or just have not thought through as much as Dalio has. I think that having this set of considered formalized principles to refer to will help me to get what I want from life.

By the way, I discovered Principles via Sebastian Marshall. Sebastion is an American who has been living and working in Japan for about 10 years. His writing is always interesting and is a great source of new ideas for me.