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Call to adventure

“It’s the limitation we place on ourselves―oft-imaginary―that is the most confining.” – Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio founded Bridgewater Associates, a global macro investment firm and the world’s largest hedge fund. His industry-changing inventions led him to be compared to Apple founder Steve Jobs. An active philanthropist interested particularly in oceanographic research and conservation, Dalio is also part of The Giving Pledge, a commitment to give more than half of his wealth to charity.

Across his impressive career, Dalio has faced many points of struggle, times where he mustered all resolve to follow what he felt to be authentic. Dalio believes that we face the same kinds of situations again and again, and that we need principles to deal with reality, so that we become more successful over time.

Here are a few elements from his book ‘Principles: Life and Work’, based on four plus decades of life and work experience. They show how he pursues meaningful work and relationships, and they certainly don’t follow the path well-trodden.

  1. Call To Adventure.
    This is about the courage to decide for yourself, what you want to do with your life. If you don’t focus on this element, one day you will look back on a life directed by others.
  2. Embrace Reality And Deal With It.
    This is about the glass half full and not the glass half empty. The sooner you can view puzzles as challenges that reward you when solved, the better for your progress and your confidence.
  3. Learn From “The Abyss”.
    Yes, we all face times when nothing seems to go right. What can we learn from them, and apply in the future?
  4. Account For Weaknesses.
    Ego and blindspots – these are the two biggest barriers, according to Dalio. How aware are you of them?
  5. Be Radically Open-Minded.
    Surround yourself with people who really do think differently to you, and who can do things that you don’t do well. This is a good way of accounting for your weaknesses.

These elements are resonant with the ethos of adapting, learning and thriving in our 4IR age, and they make a great basis for a set of ‘tough questions’ to pose to yourself.

  • What is your call to adventure?
  • What puzzles are you solving in your everyday reality?
  • What have you learnt from your toughest times?
  • What role does your ego play in the work you do?
  • How many people close to you are very different from you?

Start asking yourself the tough questions on your leadership journey. As Seth Godin notes, soon is not as good as now.


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