Principles - Life and Work
Ray Dalio
Contributed by Roseanne Meinecke
Part 1 - The Importance of Principles

Ray Dalio, the author of Principles and the founder of Bridgewater associates his success story with the several principles he acquired throughout his life. He thinks that having principles that work is an essential aspect of life, as it helps people acquire want they want in life (Dalio 7). Dalio claims that people have to grasp each other’s principles for understanding to prevail. In his definition of principles, he says that principles are the elements that connect a person’s values and his or her actions. He thinks that these elements are there to guide an individual’s actions thus helping them to effectively deal with the laws of reality (Dalio 7). Due to this reason, Dalio finds himself fascinated by neuroscience, evolution and the working process of the human mind since they are the concepts that remain unchanged even with time. Apart from that, Dalio has a high regard and appreciation for the mistakes he encountered in his journey to success. Essentially, he considers these mistakes as some of his most significant life experiences considering that they paved his way in discovering the principles that now guide his decision-making processes (Dalio 8). He claims that by reflecting on his mistakes and turning the lessons learned from the experiences into principles, he managed to achieve and surpass his life set goals. Therefore, Dalio believes that every decision is within an individual’s control, and with practice, careful reflection and the application of certain principles, he thinks that everyone can greatly improve his or her decision-making process (Dalio 5).

Dalio also touches on the importance of principles saying that they help people become successful. His justification is that without principles, people would keep on bumping on each other without understanding their own values. He also claims that these people would not know how to behave in order to be consistent with those values (Dalio 7). According to Dalio, people may forge their own principles or accept those generated by others (Dalio 7). However, he thinks that it may be difficult for one to come up with his or her own principles. Nonetheless, he thinks that holding incompatible principles can lead to conflict between values and actions, something portrayed by many hypocrites (Dalio 7). Further, Dalio claims that an individual’s principles usually determines his or her standards of behavior. In addition, the author asserts that the most valuable principles come from a person’s experience and the reflection shown by that individual on the principles (Dalio 8).


Dalio uses this part of his work to touch on principles as a general concept. He gives his interpretations of the concept portraying his idealistic nature to the reader. Nevertheless, he manages to explain his decision of not pushing his ideas to anyone considering that people are different and compatibility is important. Despite that, the author is mindful of others and he wishes to empower his readers with the essential knowledge of principles, their importance, and origin through self-evaluation and critical thinking. Besides, Dalio says that people may forge their own principles thus showing the relevance of his work and its importance in the current world. Apart from that, Dalio shows the reader the significance of principles while emphasizing on reflection as an ideal way of perfecting the principles. Through this, he puts it clear that one cannot just decide to adopt some principles from nowhere. Instead, one has to consider any principles he or she decides to embrace and reflecting on those ideologies is the perfect way of ensuring that they are appropriate and effective. In addition, Dalio is trying to show his audience that reflection will always help an individual in identifying any mistakes made thus avoiding them in future encounters.

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