Insights from Ray Dalio's "Principles" That Will Change Your View of Failure

Most of the time, we often think in “what ifs” or even refuse to accept what's in front of us. Doing this does not bring us closer to our goal. It only brings unnecessary stress and nothing else

How do you approach each obstacle and failure in your life? In truth, there is no “correct” or single manner to approach them. We all have different ways of addressing them based on how we grew up, the people we're involved with, our finances, etc. However, we can develop a mindset that will either help us overcome them or see them in a different light. This is what Ray Dalio shares with us in Principles.

Googling Ray Dalio will tell you that he’s a billionaire, investor, and as of June 2019, the 58th richest person in the world. Aside from his philanthropic practices, we like to think “Principles” is his way of giving back and sharing his wealth (of ideas) to help people achieve their personal goals, just like he did. Here are our favorite points from the book. Note that we won’t go through every part of it, as we highly suggest you read it for yourself. 

What are these Principles?

First, we need to define what a Principle is. According to Ray, when we fail at something, we do not actually simply waste time, effort, and money. Instead, we get new insights and learnings which we can use to our advantage the next time we try again--these are what principles are. These can be acquired with accepting and reflecting our failures instead of wallowing in self-pity or trying to bury them.

Accept your Reality

To turn a failure into a Principle, we need to embrace it. Ray tells us “Truth is the essential foundation for producing good outcomes.” Most of the time, we often think in “what ifs” or even refuse to accept what's in front of us. Doing this does not bring us closer to our goal. It only brings unnecessary stress and nothing else. It is only through failure that we can get better. One quote that really resonated was: “Work with reality as it is, not as you wish it should be.”  Yes, life is unfair, but how we respond to failure is up to us.

Ray’s simple formula for progress: PAIN + REFLECTION = PROGRESS

Getting out of the Abyss

Ray Dalio stumbled into his abyss during a recent recession, which lasted from 1979-1982. Note that the word is “abyss” and not a hole, cliff, pit, etc. In comparison to those, an abyss seems like it never ends--just like how our problems are sometimes. It is at this point when suffering is at its greatest and we may even think all hope is gone.

When we’re faced with personal abyss, we have two choices: spiral in or fight back. One thing that Ray assures is that IT WILL PASS. Once again, this is determined by how we embrace, reflect, and respond.

Personal Barriers that can get in the way


Our pride is the biggest obstacle to seeing things as they are. Sometimes, we think that we do not deserve our current predicament and so, complain in anger or frustration. Ray points out that our ego stems from the part of our brain that prevents us from objectively acknowledging our weaknesses. When it is triggered, “the need to RIGHT is more important vs. what is TRUE.

Blind Spots

Our overconfidence can be just as dangerous as our ego. The belief that we see and know everything can cause us to overlook and underestimate our problems.

Be Open-Minded

Keeping an open mind is that we allow us to continue learning. We do not limit ourselves to what we believe to be right and instead, accept new and alternative ways to get by. According to Principles, we should “replace the joy of being right with the joy of learning what’s true.” Admitting that we don’t have all the answers is humbling but necessary.

What is the beauty in your Struggle

A somewhat paradoxical quote Principles is that our greatest strength is connected to our weakness and vice versa. For Ray, success is not about achieving goals. The everyday struggles we go through to get there means we are also evolving every day. This evolution and growth is the true reward.

What are your favorite points from Principles? Comment below or share them with us on Instagram 

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