#1557 Areté +1° #071: Dalio's 5 Steps to Success

& Mistake Learner’s Highs

Hi, this is Brian.

Welcome back to another Areté +1°, one of the 451 micro-chapters from our new book, Areté: Activate Your Heroic Potential.

Let's get to work.


Now that we have a few powerful tools to help us properly handle challenges, it’s time to learn how to deal with what you call “failure.”

Here’s the short story with that one: IT’S ALL DATA!

When we properly frame our experiences in life, there’s no such thing as “winning” or “losing.” We either win or we learn and learning IS winning so…

We WIN or we WIN. Period.

Of course, there will be times when we don’t hit the targets we set for ourselves, but that in no way implies we “failed” in the way we tend to think of that word as long as we’re practicing our philosophy and using that data to get a little better.

Don’t believe me? Perfect.

How about Ray Dalio?

As you may know, Ray Dalio is one of the most successful people alive. Time magazine says he’s one of the one hundred most influential people on the planet while Fortune magazine says his company (Bridgewater Associates) is the fifth most important private company in the U.S. while Forbes tells us he’s one of the one hundred wealthiest people alive.

How’d he achieve that extraordinary level of success?

In his book Principles he walks us through precisely how he does it. In fact, he shares a “Five-Step Process to Get What You Want in Life.”

Before we take a quick look at that process, let’s step back and look at a complementary framework Dalio shares.

He tells us that the whole point of life is to evolve, and he draws beautiful upward spirals to capture the essence of a good life.

In short: We start with an audacious goal. Then we FAIL. Then we learn. Then we improve. Then we set even more audacious goals. And we repeat the process. Forever.

(Did you notice that second step? Yep. We set audacious goals and THEN WE FAIL!! More on that in a moment.)

For now, back to our 5-Step Process to Get What You Want in Life that mirrors his higher-level process of evolving.

The five steps include Goals, Problems, Diagnosis, Design, and Doing. The process goes something like this:

Step 1. We need Goals. What do you want? Get clear. Visualize it. Know your why.

Step 2. Identify the Problems you’re facing that are preventing you from reaching your goal. Most (unsuccessful) people (with a fixed mindset) like to pretend that they’ll be able to achieve their goals without hiccups. The best among us, Dalio tells us, KNOW they will face obstacles and use them as fuel to evolve.

Step 3. Diagnose the problem. What’s at the root of your problems? Get clear.

Step 4. Design a solution to the problem. What do you need to do to solve the riddle? As Dalio would put it, build a “machine” that will solve your problem.

Step 5. Get to work Doing what needs to be done.

Again: You start with an audacious goal. Then you fail. Then you figure out why you failed. Then you design a better solution to your challenge. Then you get to work on the solution.

Then you spiral up and repeat that process of evolving into a slightly better version of you.

For how long? E N D L E S S L Y.

Now, Dalio tells us that it’s REALLY important to fall in love with that process. ESPECIALLY (!) the part most people shy away from—that whole failing part.

Question: “But can’t I just evolve without all those mistakes?” (Insert laughter from all wise teachers ever.)

Answer: “No. You can’t.”

Therefore, the wisest among us tell us that we want to fall so deeply in love with the process of making mistakes and then getting a little better that we’re kinda like a runner who hits a certain point during his or her run where the pain goes away and the “runner’s high” takes over.

Dalio calls this a “mistake-learner’s high.”

You’re so engaged in the dynamic process of optimizing that you learn to LOVE the mistakes—knowing that they’re just part of the process of going after something audacious and the perfect data/fuel to activate your Heroic potential just a little more today.

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