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Cultivate Meaningful Work and Relationships: Principles by Ray Dalio – Philip Mott

Work Principle 2: Cultivate Meaningful Work and Meaningful Relationships.

Notes from January 7, 2019

A Few Questions I’m Pondering

  • Why do I trust certain resources?
  • What makes them believable?
  • How do I make decisions?

Obviously, I have a process internalized for these questions but it seems valuable to articulate it.

There were a few points of big reflection for me in this chapter. I’m often surprised when I read successful businessmen talk about the importance of meaningful relationships because it does not fit the “businessman” stereotype. Since I only highlighted a few points from this chapter I want to share the headings of this principle.

Meaningful Relationships Build and Sustain a Culture of Excellence

Page 339 “Meaningful relationships are invaluable for building and sustaining a culture of excellence because they create the trust and support that people need to push each other to do great things.”  

  • “Be loyal to the common mission and not to anyone who is not operating consistently with it.
  • Be crystal clear on what the deal is.  (What is generous, what is fair, and what is just plain taking advantage).
  • Recognize that the size of the organization can pose a threat to meaningful relationships.
  • Remember that most people will pretend to operate in your interest while operating in their own.
  • Treasure honorable people who are capable and will treat you well even when you’re not looking.”

Be Loyal to the Common Mission

Page 342 “Be loyal to the common mission and not to anyone who is not operating consistently with it.” This quote brought up some thoughts about my time at Connections Academy and in the school system at large. I’m not sure I ever bought completely into the mission of schools but I certainly spoke out about how I observed we weren’t truly serving students. I was the one that was changing though. Many educators and administrators felt that the school was going in the right direction. They were somewhat right to alienate me. My track record with students was not perfect and not great but some standards. I was basing my ideas on things I read in books, not on things I had already tested and put into practice.  I’m glad I made the decision to leave because my presence was not helping the organization. I still think the organization could have taken these ideas to heart more but the way I presented them probably didn’t help. Part of my focus for this calendar year is to spend more time listening and finding ways I can get behind other people’s missions instead of trying to convince them to adopt mine.

Be Clear on the Differences Between Generosity and Fairness

Page 344 “Generosity is good and entitlement is bad, and they can easily be confused, so be crystal clear on which is which.” This reminds me of the political discussion happening in our culture. There seem to be people who think that all types of government assistance are just entitlements, and therefore bad, while others feel that a good amount of government assistance programs are just extensions of our personal generosity, and therefore good. The truth may be somewhere in the middle. But, I’m asking myself, why is entitlement bad? Why do I accept this? Aren’t human rights “entitlements?” Dalio’s example he used to explain this was about bus rides. The company decided to provide bus rides for groups who lived in a specific area far from the office. A voice from the company chimed in that it would be fair to provide bus rides for all employees. Dalio felt that this employee misunderstood the action. It was not designed to be fair but to be a generous act. I think I see his point and I would imagine that every organization could decide for themselves what things should be done for all employees and what things can be done at the discretion of managers as acts of kindness. I can see how misunderstanding how the management views fairness and generosity could lead to problems with morale.

Most People Will Operate in their Own Interests

Page 346 The more I talk with people who have served many customers in business the more I’ve come to agree with this quote: “Most people will operate in a way that maximizes the amount of money they will get and that minimizes the amount of work they have to do to get it.” The downside of this quote is that I don’t always believe it. I often see the best in people. The principle feels cruel and unjust to look at people this way. However, Dalio is not recommending to be mean to these people, just to understand that we should keep this in mind as we develop policies and procedures.


I hope you found today’s reflections meaningful and interesting! Thank you for reading along with me! I have not decided what book I’m going to read next but I’m getting close to the end so I need to decide soon.




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