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 -
I feel like I began my blog in medias res. I want to backtrack and talk about the process of slowing one's life. I know my last few posts have been about overshooting slow and landing on stop, but I must say that I prefer my empty, minimalist, calm - if sometimes boring - life to the hectic, weight-on-my-chest, unconscious one that I have led at times before.
First, I want to focus on the technology we allow into our lives. I've written about deleting Facebook, but I want to talk more broadly about how we communicate with one another. There are 1001 articles talking about the paradox of being simultaneously more and less connected than ever before. And while, yes, I agree, this post isn't about that. I want to charge each of us to think about the value of different kinds of communication. I deleted Facebook largely because I felt that even when I was connecting with people I normally wouldn't, the value of that connection wasn't very high. A comment left on someone's wall is quickly written, quickly appreciated, and quickly forgotten. There is a direct correlation between how much effort is put into an interaction and how much value it adds to a relationship. When you have to reach out to someone directly by making a telephone call, writing an email/handwritten letter, or even visiting in order to connect, your relationship deepens and matures accordingly. Meanwhile, a text or "like" is a forgettable action, one that doesn't make any significant impact, and yet we spend huge portions of our day dedicated to such actions.
To meditate on this idea, I want you to join me for a challenge. For two days, let's refuse to text or connect through Facebook. More importantly, when we are in another's company, let's relish it. That means no cell phone usage while we are spending time with someone else. Let's look each other in the eye. Recognize life as the present moment right in front of us.
If we can, let's move to thinking about our everyday activities. How do you spend your day? Where do the hours go? I know before I decluttered my life, I spent a couple hours a day on Facebook, several hours watching HGTV, and probably an hour checking email. None of these things is inherently bad, I want to make clear. However, when we are thinking about "Our Life" (dun dun duuuuun), we simply mean the way we spend the hours of our days. And if we allow it, our days - and life - will slip through our fingers as we are numbing our minds with unnecessary and distracting activities. So let's bring light and brightness and clarity back to our minds. Let's examine our lives by examining our small, everyday activities.
So, ask yourself, what do I do everyday that brings me energy? What do I do everyday that tires me? How can you maximize those energizing activities and eliminate the tiring ones?