Bridgewater Associates is one of, if not, the most successful hedge funds of the last quarter century.
One could argue that the output is simply a manifestation of putting the smartest people from the best schools in the world and having them synthesize data until you have a robust enough model that is too good to fail.
But as an partner at Bain Capital told my close friend while he was interviewing, “Smart lines up around the door, what makes you different?”
And anecdotally, every hedge fund I work with on a daily basis has people from the likes of Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton. These guys are oft wicked smart but mediocre in output.
Why then is Bridgewater so successful and why should we care?
Looking past the veracity of their investment model, one could very well find the answer in the ethos of the firm and it’s founder, Ray Dalio:
“Hyper-realism, a notion that brutal honesty, no matter how uncomfortable, yields the best results.”
Ruthless introspection if you will.
At Bridgewater, everything you do will be dissected and scrutinized to ensure progress and improvement. Even if you are Ray Dalio, how you think will be put under a microscope.
There is no place for sugarcoating the truth and concern for self-esteem at Bridgewater; it’s aim for objective truth, however cold and painful, is what has made it the Titan it is today.
Rid Yourself of Your Ego
What makes the ethos of Ray Dalio stand out is that we are an egocentric species. Everything we do and think is driven out of the core of self-preservation.
Think about it.
Imagine for a second that you are by all accounts a loser. Does it make sense from an evolutionary perspective to operate within this framework as your modus operandi? Will your genes survive if you are just realistic with yourself?
Our default setting is the false pretense that whatever negative events happen in our life emanate from forces completely outside our control.
These are not rare occurrences. We are self-driven. We are gene-driven.
And that is why the vast majority of us remain mediocre. Our minds are too coddled to see why we have stagnated and failed to progress.
Why Have I Failed?
I’ll take myself for example.
If I refrained and kept my deconstruction to myself, this post would be nothing more than word vomit without substance.
It is time we become comfortable with uncomfortable truths whether they are made public like at Bridgewater or they remain confined to the inner depths of our psyche.
To continue to harp on Dalio (he’s a billionaire, you should probably listen),
“There is nothing to fear from truth…being truthful is essential to being an independent thinker and obtaining greater understanding of what is right.”
Show Me Strength
I’ve “wanted” for a long time for this platform to be a big-time player in the online fitness world.
In an industry dominated by superficial bullshit and bio-hacks, I truly believe Chad and I offer a unique voice and knowledge from living and breathing everything training and nutrition over the last decade or so. We’ve failed a lot on our journey of perpetual self-improvement but kept going.
Onward and upward.
That is what this is all about after all.
Abs and bench press totals are fleeting, hallow joys. But the process of self-improvement, constantly bettering You Inc., that’s the secret sauce. That is what keeps people coming back for more after the quest for vanity has long been abolished.
To Chad’s credit, he’s crushed it.
He’s gotten all of Southwest Florida incredibly diesel. Don’t believe me? Check out our instagram feed and observe what he’s done with women who love getting strong and transforming themselves and their bodies. He got featured on Dan John’s email list. The Dan John. These are all big things, all integral steps that have significantly advanced Show Me Strength forward.
4 articles in the past 18 months. Even worse is that I have about 25 half-written but “shame” has overtaken my mindset and I haven’t finished.
I’m naturally an introvert. Some who have gotten to know me over the years may think otherwise but outward manifestations may never reflect what is true.
As any introvert knows, we can be pretty damn good at the whole ruthless introspection thing. The voices in our head rarely, if ever, lie dormant and at times they can take you to hallow depths in your mind.
As Milton said, “The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven.”
While introspection has been paramount to my growth as an individual, one needs balance.
Dissecting and critiquing yourself is not an optimal state to live in and as I’ve written here, at times it’s been quite the struggle.
But what have I done to quell the storm?
I’ve trained maybe three times in the past 3 months despite knowing that aerobic exercise and training are nature’s anti-depressant. Those who know me may think that’s a typo – it is not.
I read the best mindset book on the market – Gorilla Mindset – but have I ruthlessly applied the exercises in my life? Not nearly enough.
You get the idea.
To Get What We Want
We all have our wants and our desires but so few of us get to where we want to be.
As Charlie Munger said,
“to get what you want you have to deserve what you want. The world is not yet a crazy enough place to reward undeserving people.”
Many may quickly dismiss Ray Dalio because they’re the ones who are different. They acquiesce that ruthless introspection may be a useful tool but only for those who haven’t been dealt as shitty a deck as they. These people are victims. They always have been.
Do not let your hubris cloud the objectivity of your life.
What you find may be bleak.
If progress and improvement, and not just it’s romantic ideal, is what you truly desire, then ruthless introspection must become your new modus operandi.
Find out what you want in life. Not what you would prefer, what you want.
Take being rich.
If you say you want to be rich and you punch out at 5 everyday to go Netflix it up at home, you simply like the idea of being rich.
Those that are serious would assess want they want and then ask the hard questions as to why you haven’t accomplished it yet. Operative word being YOU, not what others have done to get in your way.
You saw how I deconstructed myself. Be ruthless in your assessment.
Charlie Munger, the man Warren Buffett calls the smartest person alive, stresses the need to view and observe the world through mental models.
For those willing to confront themselves, embrace pain, and trudge forward to accomplishing something significant with their lives, adopting ruthless introspection is non-negotiable.
What you’ll find on your journey is that you can never trade what you want most for what you want in the moment.