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.
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