I’ve wanted to read this for a while, as it gets a lot of good notices as a “business book” that also has its eye on how to manage life and, well, principles.
As are many good books, it’s kind of polarizing. Those that like it, love it. Those that don’t, say it’s just an empty suit of a book.
Either way, it’s definitely not Tim Ferriss.
Here’s a summary (not mine) to give some sense of the book’s scope and approach.
Dalio’s work and life principles share the common core themes of reality and openness. His first life principle, for example, is to “embrace reality and deal with it.” Reality means understanding the unvarnished truth about oneself and others. However, it is hard to see yourself or others objectively if people are not honest and forthcoming (as his colleagues had been) and/or if you are not willing to listen to what they have to say. As a result, Dalio emphasizes the importance of being “radically open-minded and radically transparent.”
Radical transparency is equally prominent in Dalio’s work principles. His first work principle is to “trust in radical truth and radical transparency.” This requires a culture of brutal honesty. “Create an environment in which everyone has the right to understand what’s going on, and no one has the right to hold a critical opinion without speaking up,” he writes.
One of his other core work principles is what he calls “believability-weighted decision-making,” which is based on the idea that, he writes, “it is better to weight the opinions of more capable decision-makers more heavily than those of less capable decision-makers.” The challenge is to develop the measures of believability that are accepted by everyone in the organization — a challenge he meets through systematic and objective monitoring of people’s track records.
At nearly 600 pages, Dalio’s Principles offers a comprehensive framework for personal and professional success that is detailed and inspirational. These are not after-the-fact reflections on a life well led but, rather, the principles that Dalio developed in the moment as he sought to identify and capture the lessons of his successes and mistakes. “My hope is that reading this book will prompt you and others to discover your own principles from wherever you think is best and ideally write them down,” Dalio writes. “Doing that will allow you and others to be clear about what your principles are, and understand each other better.”