Ray Dalio says everyone makes mistakes

Entrepreneur and business thinker Ray Dalio. Source: YouTube.

Leadership
SmartCompany Plus

The art of making mistakes

Authors
SmartCompany Plus
Business Advice, Startup Advice
7 minute Read


You can’t be successful without making mistakes. The key is how and what you learn from them. Don’t be emotional about it, be rational. Seek counsel from wise people, and move on positively in the knowledge there are more mistakes to come. 

“Everyone makes mistakes. The main difference is that successful people learn from them and unsuccessful people don’t,” says entrepreneur and business thinker Ray Dalio in Principles: Life and Work. “By creating an environment in which it is okay to safely make mistakes so that people can learn from them, you’ll see rapid progress and fewer significant mistakes. This is especially true in organizations where creativity and independent thinking are important, as success will inevitably require the acceptance of failure as a part of the process. As Thomas Edison once said, ‘I have not failed. I’ve just found ten thousand ways that do not work.’

“My painful mistakes shifted me from having a perspective of ‘I know I’m right’ to having one of ‘How do I know I’m right?’ They gave me the humility I needed to balance my audacity. Knowing that I could be painfully wrong and curiosity about why other smart people saw things differently prompted me to look at things through the eyes of others as well as my own. That allowed me to see many more dimensions than if I saw things just through my own eyes.”


“Making mistakes is analogous to building muscle in athletic training,” writes legendary business teacher Jim Collins in Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0. “Think about it for a minute: how does an athlete get stronger? By pushing to the point of failure. You do, say, three pull-ups and fail on the fourth. The body adapts and gets stronger and the next time you can do four pull-ups, and fail on the fifth. The next time out you can do five pull-ups, and fail on the sixth, and so on. The process of making decisions, some of which are ‘failures,’ and learning from them is ‘building muscle.’ If you don’t ever make mistakes, you’ll forever be stuck at three pull-ups.”

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