Ray Dalio is an Idiot!
A Lot of Money but Not Much Up Top!
So, I’m intrigued by Ray Dalio.
Ray Dalio is an American billionaire investor, hedge fund manager, and philanthropist. Dalio is the founder of investment firm Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest hedge funds. As of January 2019, he is #79 of the world’s 100 wealthiest people, according to Bloomberg [cr. Wikipedia].
But his wealth is not what intrigues me. It’s that he’s not very bright.
Probably not many people say that to his face, but he is quite honest about it himself. In his book Principles, Dalio writes in the Introduction: “Before I begin telling you what I think, I want to establish that I am a ‘dumbs#*t’ who doesn’t know much relative to what I need to know. Whatever success I’ve had in life has had more to do with my knowing how to deal with my not knowing than anything I know.”
A Huge Success in Not Knowing
Most successful people want to tell you how much they know. Dalio is eager to tell you how much he doesn’t know. He says he recognized early on that he was an arrogant financial forecaster who got it wrong. He was in trouble because, after an honest self-assessment that few dare to do, he concluded he did not have what it takes to be successful in a volatile industry. What led him to do this drastic, brutal, no pulled punches self-assessment?
Failure. And the pain that followed it.
He forecasted wrong. No, really wrong! Lots of people lost a lot of money. He had to let go of his staff and borrow money from his father. The failure was so bad it broke his arrogance. But not his spirit.
A System of Meritocracy
Dalio rose out of the rubble changed. He set about creating a method whereby ideas could be tested. He knew he didn’t know how to be successful so he rebuilt his business on the basis of teamwork. The combined effort and imagination of his team together could surface the most successful plan — more than he could have imagined or created alone. Instead of being the sole idea broker, he became the referee in surfacing the best ideas of the team and creating a method of testing them. And instead of filtering the ideas on the basis of whether or not he liked them, he created an objective system whereby the best idea won the day, whether he liked it or not, or thought it the best idea or not. Because, Dalio says, we have an incredible propensity toward self-delusion.
That’s how a guy who is less than average (he says) became so successful.
Why Does a Pastor Care?
I suppose I care because the story is Jesus-ish. Now, I doubt Ray Dalio has frequently been compared to Jesus. However, I’m intrigued that he had such deep self-awareness (humility) that he realized how to apply his strengths but also — and he would say more importantly — understand his weaknesses and let others rise to cover them. And that our identity is less in being God-experts and more in living daily in awe of a God-filled world so greater than ourselves that we really don’t know how to understand it, and that any hope we have to manage it is to gather as a tribe of Believers to discern the Way.
So I guess I’m relieved…I don’t have to be the smartest one in the room. I can instead listen, ponder, be challenged, confronted and grow through the smarts God has given everyone else in the room! And, well, I guess that’s about the smartest thing I can do!
To God be the Glory!