I’ve been reading Ray Dalio’s new book, Principles, over the last several weeks and overall, I’m in love with it. His perspective is so fresh in comparison to the way I’ve observed organizations being managed. One idea within his writing has been a big area of development for me. He keeps referring to people as highly believable or not and I didn’t really understand the idea at first but throughout the book, I’ve started to see it take shape and even use it in my own life.
We all have those people in our lives we go to when we want advice on something; these people are normally decent friends we trust to have a good opinion. (As Dalio points out, there is no shortage of opinions and people are often too willing to share their own!) But believability goes beyond just us trusting them. Believability is about other people, with expertise in the field in question, trusting them.
How Should We Rate Believability?
Keep in mind that just because someone might have a low believability rating doesn’t mean they’re wrong. But their input should be weighted less valuable as we’re getting input from others.
Do they have expertise in the field?
I was purchasing a new book, “No One Wants to Read Your Sh*t,” by Steven Pressfield, and wanted to know if any people had heard of it or the author before. I would normally post a question to my Facebook page, “Has anyone heard of or read anything by Steven Pressfield? What are your thoughts?”
But…the believability idea was starting to sink in.
Instead, since Pressfield wrote about the creative process, I decided no only to reach out only to creatives, but only to creatives have put in a very good amount of work and were getting paid to do what they do. Two of the three I reached out to hadn’t heard of Steven Pressfield. The last one didn’t respond. Those opinions are worth something.
What if I had gotten a bunch of positive feedback on Facebook saying that he was the greatest writer and inspired them so much but the feedback was all from people who don’t even work in the creative field or haven’t found any success. That might not bode well for his book.
Have they experienced success doing what they’re recommending doing?
It’s one thing to have an idea; it’s entirely different to put that idea into practice. How many political arguments have I been in where I strongly held my convictions about how things should be done? I’ve never even been the manager of a large store. How the hell would I know?!
That doesn’t mean I was wrong!
But, I think it’s important that I recognize this when I’m making decisions. And even as I’m writing this I’m thinking, “This matters because all decisions do matter.” Every choice in our life matters because it affects ourselves and others.
Another thing I’m trying to do is take control of my diet and exercise. It’s tempting to just talk to people and say, “I need help! Someone recommend me to a resource.” Desperation can be a great motivator but if you’re picking up bad advice then you’re just going to end up being really motivated to do something that doesn’t work, right? Here’s what I need to find: a man who is older than me but eats healthier and has sustained an exercise regimen for a number of years. If I can get their advice then I should be weighing what they say a lot more than someone who’s recommending this “amazing” workout routine that they just started a week ago.
Why Do I Believe in Certain People?
There are so many books I’ve picked up and just believed every word on the page as if this person had been sent from God. That seems a little dangerous, and irresponsible.
I’m not even actually sure how to write this because I don’t know why I believe certain people yet.
My reading journey started around the age of 25; I picked up and read the Bible for the first time. (I had read much of the Bible as a young person but never all of it.) There was a reason I reached for the Bible and not another holy book. I was raised by Christian parents. And even though I had rebelled for years, much of what they taught about the divinity of Jesus really stuck with me.
Again, I wasn’t wrong to trust the Bible. It’s important to articulate why though. Scripture holds some of the most foundational passages for the way I see the world. Even today, 12 years later, I compare new books to many of the principles laid out throughout the Christian scriptures. If it disagrees with scripture then I may adopt the idea. If I do end up adopting the idea it is only after I have gone back and gained what I believe to be a clearer interpretation of the passage.
This is something I’m excited to work on all year and for the rest of my life. I think it’s a good thing to challenge and ask ourselves why we believe the things or people we believe in. Dalio wrote in his book that we have nothing to fear from learning the truth; Jesus said that the truth will set us free. I believe them both.
Thanks for taking the time to read!