I came across Ray Dalio's "Principles" recently, and I'm totally enamored with this book. It's one of the most clear thinking, accurate, useful pieces of writing I've ever seen.
I haven't been this excited about a work I've come across since first finding Clauswitz's "On War" - the work which defined modern military science.
Clauswitz is amazing because it's all clear, point by point thinking, with no unnecessary flourish and no grand nonsense. It's all worth thinking through, and almost entirely correct-ish.
Of course, the details vary. Things change. But the gist of Clauswitz is broadly applicable.
Dalio is like that. Except, instead of being about military science (which has limited direct impact on daily life), it's about running your life by Principles and is broadly applicable to the actions you take, decisionmaking, building teams, etc.
It's brilliant. I particularly like this quote from page 117:
194) 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.
Elsewhere he defines "believable" as "People who have repeatedly and successfully accomplished the thing in question and have great explanations when probed are most believable."
What a brilliant dichotomy. If you don't have a track record AND a great explanation, then you can:
1. Bring up good questions that might lead to good thinking,
2. Propose a theory for how things might work, but,
You don't get to have an opinion on how things should go. Why not? Because you either haven't done it, or can't explain it.
It's brilliant because theorizing is incredibly useful. If you're not from a background where you had direct exposure to highly successful people growing up, you still need to ask good questions and come up with theories.
But they're still theories until tested, proven, and you've got a track record.
What a wonderful piece of writing. There's tons of gold in there, if you're inclined.
Seb, I went through Dalio's principles and it's the most useful book I've read for a long time. I really got a ton of value out of it and got sooo much better in decision making.
Thanks a lot for the recommendation!
What's cyclothymia? It's a mild form of the docs used to call "manic-depression," but which they re-name periodically. Cyclothymics can actually function decently well, and as such often don't know they've got it. If you cycle through highs and lows, are particularly artistic, or that describes someone you love, then read this post in full and please comment with your own experience. I'm still learning, myself.
AN INTRODUCTION TO CYCLOTHYMIA
Knowing the term "Cyclothymia" would have been very helpful to me a few years ago. This essay is plain English and, if I've done a good job, might help people who associate with a cyclothymic relate better to them, and might help a cyclothymic manage themselves better and produce better.
I'm against the "medical-ization" of life. We need medical terms, but we need to be able to explain things in plain English without labeling. Labeling, by definition, drastically simplifies.
Cyclothymia is simple at its roots, simple enough for a plain discussion without medicalization. Here's how it works for me -
They say that in life we are motivated by only two things - we either do things to seek pleasure or to avoid pain. Closely related to these are the values that we live for, which are things like passion, integrity, success, basically what I would call states of emotions that we think are highly important to us because achieving these states will give us utmost personal pleasure.
For me, the desire to study economics has evolved over time. In the beginning I was basically motivated by the desire to score good grades and the challenge it presented. Economics is widely touted as a difficult subject at the A-levels (which I think is a highly limiting belief and not true at all) and so I basically viewed it as a challenge that I have to do well in it. Over time as I got myself deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, I started to realise just how much I liked the subject for its logic and rationality and how the subject attempts to quantify and explain the complex world that we live in with some basic models and theories. The idea that we could somehow explain the uncertainty of our environment and the development of mankind as a whole seemed highly intriguing to me.
A chemist, a physicist, and an economist are all trapped on a desert island, trying to figure out how to open a can of food.
“Let’s heat the can over the fire until it explodes,” says the chemist.