A few years ago I wrote a series of short blog posts about Ray Dalio's Principles. I would read a section, think for a bit, and then write about how I could implement the concept into my life.
But I never finished the blog series.
Didn't even finish the book.
And now, three years later, I think I know why.
The principles in Principles aren't for me.
They're not my style.
I would never work at Bridgewater Capital. I wouldn't get the job. I wouldn't even get the interview. And if I took the job I’d quit before lunch on the first day.
But I did read enough of the book to take something from it.
The thing I took was this: Write down principles that are important to you and then follow them.
Last year I begun to slowly create my list. Just one at a time, when something struck me as wise and necessary, I'd write it down.
I have a few principles so far and I would like to share them with you here.
The best ideas can come from anywhere. They can come from you or me or the boss or the janitor. They can come from a research paper or Twitter, an octogenarian or a child.
It doesn't matter the title or the intelligence of the person with the idea. All that matters is the idea itself.
There's that old saying that if you're the smartest person at the table, then you're at the wrong table. I'm not buying it.
Because even if you are the “smartest” person at that table, each and every other person certainly knows more than you about something.
As humans we're constrained by our own unique perspectives. We've lived just one life, seen the world through just one set of eyes. To think we know more about everything than everyone at a table - even a table of two - is insanity.
What's the best idea? What's going to move the group forward? What's most likely to work?
It's not about credit. It's not about ego. It's about getting it right. Or at least getting it less wrong this time than we did last time.
Given enough time, every new, creative idea becomes standard practice. In 1903 the Wright Brothers became famous for flying along the beach for 12 seconds. Now there are 100,000 commercial flights a day, and they only make the news when they crash.
New ideas are borrowed, improved upon, and standardized. They become table stakes.
The people who only adopt an idea once it's been approved by the masses are playing catch up. They've been left in the dust.
Those who implement novel concepts early gain an edge. They're nimble and agile and leaders in their field.
But most of the value goes to the people who first figure out these new things.
So we should just do that. Easy, right?
Where do these ideas even come from? And how can we possibly be the people to come up with them?
The key is to explore anomalies.
Look for things that don't quite fit.
What doesn't fit the current narrative?
What are the outliers?
What is happening that you can't explain?
These are the treasure maps we should explore. And while most are dead ends, some will lead to frame shifting insights.
Lead with Love
I wrote this in an Instagram post on my newborn baby's secret account:
“Before Estella was born, people would say that having a baby opens up a new section of your heart. For me that hasn't been quite right.
What she's done is multiply the love I feel for everyone. Her Mom. Her grandparents. Our relatives. All my friends. Mr. Feeny. Even strangers.
She has reminded me and shown me how beautiful life is and how connected we all are. There are no new spaces. But the spaces are now infinite.
This is my heart exploding.”
So now I lead with love.
Leading with Love sets up every conversation, every interaction, every everything to succeed. It allows me to be kind and compassionate. It reminds me to listen and to care. It makes the world a brighter place.
Nothing can go wrong when you lead with Love. You can make mistakes, but not really. A botched attempt at connection is still an attempt at connection.
Love is ego less. But it also feels incredible. It's like this amazing happiness hack. You give love, you brighten people's day, and the next thing you know, you're smiling.
Love your family. And friends. And neighbors. And the lady behind the counter where you buy your protein bars. Love your mailman and Uber driver. Love the guy who cuts you off in traffic.
Because why not? What's the alternative? Hate? Ambivalence? Simple tolerance? Fuck that. Just lead with Love.
All You Need Is Enough
If desire is the root of suffering, just don't desire. Easy peasy. Live your life without desiring anything and you'll want for nothing. It's a great way to live.
Until you go crazy.
Until you realize that without any desire you have no purpose, no drive.
So desire much. Dream big. Don't settle. That'll get you where you want to go.
Until where you want to go changes. Or isn't what you hoped it would be.
So what should you do? To desire or not desire? That is the question.
The answer is easy to say and hard to do.
Have goals. Work hard. Dream big. Strive for greatness in whatever way you want.
But know that if you miss your goals, never catch your dreams, and fall undeniably short of greatness, life is still wonderful if you know what you need.
And all you need is enough.
Just make sure you remember what enough is.
Food. Shelter. Love. Joy. The sun on your face. A smile on your lips. A joke on the tip of your tongue.