In my article about Annie Leibovitz that was posted in ALLI last month, I took a foray into the art of photography and connected it with the art of writing. I enjoyed that so much that I started looking for other possible connections. I didn’t expect to find exactly what I wanted about secrets to success in the financial world, but I did. I stumbled on Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge-fund firm, and here’s what caught my attention: “Without pursuing dreams, life is mundane.”
What writer can’t agree with that? Well, this one, for sure. But then he talks about what he calls hyper-realism. So, because I’m curious if nothing else, I wanted to know what that means and what that does. He explains it as being a deep understanding, an acceptance and being able to work with reality as it is and not as he wishes it were.
Okay. I got it. And I’m paying attention.
Later he gives what he says are his secrets to investing and managing money and—most importantly—getting through the next 24 hours. I can use all the help I can get when it comes to “getting through” another day and actually accomplishing something, too.
Here are Galio’s Secrets:
- Know your goals and run after them.
- Identify and face the problems, however painful, that stand in the way of your goals.
- Diagnose the root causes of these problems.
- Design a plan to get around these obstacles.
- Execute on your plan, pushing yourself to do whatever is needed.
Are these secrets to success universal enough?
I see why this man is so successful. He has a philosophy that is overarching, much larger than one that’s about making money. He spoke directly to me here: “You will lose something or someone you think you can’t live without. You might think your life is ruined and there’s no way to go forward. But it will pass. There’s always a best path forward; you just don’t see it yet.”
Okay, now I stop and push back in my chair because the day before I read this article, my Zen teacher said, and I paraphrase, when you’re in doubt about making a decision, give it time. Don’t rush it. Let the right choice come to you. It will.
I’m now feeling as if I’m in a cosmic vortex, and my head’s filled with how I can use this, how others can use this. As writers haven’t you had times the plot won’t work, the agent fails, the book languishes without sales, or you’re undecided about which path to publication you want to take? Have you agonized over what to do? I certainly have, so I’m making notes about this waiting and giving it time and not catapulting into a ill-advised decision. And I’m thinking about what Dalio says about there being a “pathway” to the right decision when I find, “Unfortunately, you probably won’t like it…”
Well, try me. So I read on.
He calls it radical open-mindedness. Wait. That means I can’t be right all the time. Really? But please continue Mr. Dalio.
“Your deepest-seated needs and fears reside in areas of your brain that control your emotions (I’m inserting the amygdala, you know, the old fight or flight part of us) and are not accessible to your higher-level conscious awareness,” Dalio says. “And because our need to be right can be more important than our need to find out what’s true, we like to believe our own opinions without properly stress-testing them.
“We especially don’t like to look at our mistakes and weaknesses.” He adds, “We are instinctively prone to react to explorations of them as though they’re attacks. We get angry, even though it would be more logical for us to be open to feedback from others.”
I’m all for learning more, not less and I’d love to make some good decisions in just about every aspect of my life, including the writing part. As I read more, I started asking myself if I’m living up to my potential or falling short because I’m not paying attention?
And you, do you shut down when someone criticizes your work, or do you take a look at that criticism and consider it? Do you practice radical open-mindedness instead of shutting down in anger? As a writer, what do you think about cross-pollination, learning from people who are in different fields?