In his book Principles
, hedge fund manager Ray Dalio writes that there is a five-step process to becoming successful and getting what you want out of life.
Each step requires a different set of abilities:
1. Setting clear goals requires seeing the big picture, and being able to prioritize.
2. Identifying problems that stand in the way of those goals requires you to be perceptive, synthesize details, and maintain high standards.
3. Diagnosing the root causes of those problems requires you to be logical, to see multiple possibilities, and to be willing to have difficult conversations.
4. Designing solutions to move past those problems requires an ability to visualize processes and a practical approach.
5. Executing those designs to achieve desirable results requires self-discipline, good work habits, and an orientation centered on results.
As Dalio points out, although doing all five steps well is “required for being really successful,” it’s unlikely that any one person will be good at all of them.
Do you know anyone who has all of these abilities?
Probably not. And that’s OK.
The key is to know which areas you’re weak in, and either make an effort to improve, or partner with others who are strong in those areas.
For Dalio, the best way to reveal your weaknesses is to look at the patterns of your mistakes.
Reflecting on the five steps, in which area(s) do you consistently perform poorly?
Dalio acknowledges that answering this question can be hard because it’s difficult to see ourselves objectively. Remembering that the point of the exercise is to increase your chances of success can help create the needed emotional distance.
After all, “weaknesses don’t matter if you find solutions.”