Since I started Bridgewater, I have gained a lot more experience that taught me a lot more, mostly by making mistakes and learning from them. Most importantly:
• I learned that failure is by and large due to not accepting and successfully dealing with the realities of life, and that achieving success is simply a matter of accepting and successfully dealing with all my realities.
• I learned that finding out what is true, regardless of what that is, including all the stuff most people think is bad—like mistakes and personal weaknesses—is good because I can then deal with these things so that they don’t stand in my way.
• I learned that there is nothing to fear from truth. While some truths can be scary—for example, finding out that you have a deadly disease—knowing them allows us to deal with them better. Being truthful, and letting others be completely truthful, allows me and others to fully explore our thoughts and exposes us to the feedback that is essential for our learning.
• I learned that being truthful was an extension of my freedom to be me. I believe that people who are one way on the inside and believe that they need to be another way outside to please others become conflicted and often lose touch with what they really think and feel. It’s difficult for them to be happy and almost impossible for them to be at their best. I know that’s true for me.
• I learned that I want the people I deal with to say what they really believe and to listen to what others say in reply, in order to find out what is true. I learned that one of the greatest sources of problems in our society arises from people having loads of wrong theories in their heads— often theories that are critical of others—that they won’t test by speaking to the relevant people about them. Instead, they talk behind people’s backs, which leads to pervasive misinformation. I learned to hate this because I could see that making judgments about people so that they are tried and sentenced in your head, without asking them for their perspective, is both unethical and unproductive. So I learned to love real integrity (saying the same things as one believes) and to despise the lack of it.
It is unethical because a basic principle of justice is that everyone has the right to face his accuser. And it is unproductive because it does not lead to the exploration of “Is it true?” which can lead to understanding and improvement.
I do not mean that you should say everything you think, just that what you do say matches your thoughts.
The word “integrity” is from the Latin root “integer,” which means “one” i.e., that you are the same inside and out. Most people would be insulted if you told them that they don’t have integrity—but how many people do you know who tell people what they really think?
• I learned that everyone makes mistakes and has weaknesses and that one of the most important things that differentiates people is their approach to handling them. I learned that there is an incredible beauty to mistakes, because embedded in each mistake is a puzzle, and a gem that I could get if I solved it, i.e., a principle that I could use to reduce my mistakes in the future. I learned that each mistake was probably a reflection of something that I was (or others were) doing wrong, so if I could figure out what that was, I could learn how to be more effective. I learned that wrestling with my problems, mistakes, and weaknesses was the training that strengthened me. Also, I learned that it was the pain of this wrestling that made me and those around me appreciate our successes.
I believe that our society‘s “mistakephobia” is crippling, a problem that begins in most elementary schools, where we learn to learn what we are taught rather than to form our own goals and to figure out how to achieve them. We are fed with facts and tested and those who make the fewest mistakes are considered to be the smart ones, so we learn that it is embarrassing to not know and to make mistakes. Our education system spends virtually no time on how to learn from mistakes, yet this is critical to real learning. As a result, school typically doesn’t prepare young people for real life—unless their lives are spent following instructions and pleasing others. In my opinion, that’s why so many students who succeed in school fail in life.
• I learned that the popular picture of success—which is like a glossy photo of an ideal man or woman out of a Ralph Lauren catalog, with a bio attached listing all of their accomplishments like going to the best prep schools and an Ivy League college, and getting all the answers right on tests—is an inaccurate picture of the typical successful person. I met a number of great people and learned that none of them were born great—they all made lots of mistakes and had lots weaknesses—and that great people become great by looking at their mistakes and weaknesses and figuring out how to get around them. So I learned that the people who make the most of the process of encountering reality, especially the painful obstacles, learn the most and get what they want faster than people who do not. I learned that they are the great ones—the ones I wanted to have around me.
• In short, I learned that being totally truthful, especially about mistakes and weaknesses, led to a rapid rate of improvement and movement toward what I wanted.
While this approach worked great for me, I found it more opposite than similar to most others’ approaches, which has produced communications challenges.
Specifically, I found that:
* While most others seem to believe that learning what we are taught is the path to success, I believe that figuring out for yourself what you want and how to get it is a better path.
After all, isn’t the point of learning to help you get what you want? So don’t you have to start with what you want and figure out what you have to learn in order to get it?
• While most others seem to believe that having answers is better than having questions, I believe that having questions is better than having answers because it leads to more learning.
In fact I believe that most people who are quick to come up with answers simply haven’t thought about all the ways that they can be wrong.
While most others seem to believe that mistakes are bad things, I believe mistakes are good things because I believe that most learning comes via making mistakes and reflecting on them.
While most others seem to believe that finding out about one’s weaknesses is a bad thing, I believe that it is a good thing because it is the first step toward finding out what to do about them and not letting them stand in your way.
While most others seem to believe that pain is bad, I believe that pain is required to become stronger.
I don’t mean that the more pain the better. I believe that too much pain can break someone and that the absence of pain typically prevents growth so that one should accept the amount of pain that is consistent with achieving one’s objectives.
One of the advantages of my being over 60 years old—and there aren’t many—is that we can look back on my story to see how I came by these beliefs and how they have worked for me. It is now more than 35 years after I started Bridgewater and about the same number of years since I got married and began my family. I am obviously not your Ralph Lauren poster child for success, yet I’ve had a lot of successes, though they’re probably not what you’re thinking.
我 60 多岁了，我这个年纪的人优势已经不多了，其中之一就是我能回望过去，审视这些原则是否真的发挥过作用。我成立桥水联合基金公司 35 年，结婚成家也差不多这么多年，从我的经历来看，显然我不是大家想的那种拉夫·劳伦宣传海报上的成功典范，但我还是取得了很多成功，尽管不一定是你想象的那种成功。
Yes, I started Bridgewater from scratch, and now it’s a uniquely successful company and I am on the Forbes 400 list. But these results were never my goals—they were just residual outcomes—so my getting them can’t be indications of my success. And, quite frankly, I never found them very rewarding.
成立桥水联合基金，我算是白手起家，现在这家公司已经非常成功，我也在福布斯 400 富豪榜上占有一席。但这些从来都不是我的目标，算是附加回报吧，这些不能说明我就是成功的。说实在的，我也不觉得这些所谓的成就有什么意义。
I have been very lucky because I have had the opportunity to see what it’s like to have little or no money and what it’s like to have a lot of it. I’m lucky because people make such a big deal of it and, if I didn’t experience both, I wouldn’t be able to know how important it really is for me. I can’t comment on what having a lot of money means to others, but I do know that for me, having a lot more money isn’t a lot better than having enough to cover the basics. That’s because, for me, the best things in life—meaningful work, meaningful relationships, interesting experiences, good food, sleep, music, ideas, sex, and other basic needs and pleasures— are not, past a certain point, materially improved upon by having a lot of money. For me, money has always been very important to the point that I could have these basics covered and never very important beyond that. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that having more is good–it’s just that I don’t think it’s a big deal. So, while I spend money on some very expensive things that cost multiples relative to the more fundamental things, these expensive things have never brought me much enjoyment relative to the much cheaper, more fundamental things. They were just like cherries on the cake. For my tastes, if I had to choose, I’d rather be a backpacker who is exploring the world with little money than a big income earner who is in a job I don’t enjoy. (Though being in a job that provides me with what I want is best of all, for me). Also, from having come from having next-to-nothing to having a lot, I have developed a strong belief that, all things being equal, offering equal opportunity is fundamental to being good, while handing out money to capable people that weakens their need to get stronger and contribute to society is bad.
我一直都很幸运，因为我有机会体验身无分文，也知道富有是什么感觉。现在很多人都花很大精力赚钱，我如果没体验过贫穷与富有两种状态，就不会明白金钱对于我来说是否真的重要。 富有对别人来说意义如何我是无法评论的，但对我来说，赚更多的钱同只能满足基本需求的收入相比，并没有那么大的差别。因为我觉得人生最棒的事情是：有意义的工作，有意义的人 脉，有趣的经历，吃得好睡得好，听歌，各种新点子，性等其他基本需求和令人愉悦之物。当金钱积累达到某个临界点后，增加再多，也就不会明显提升这些我认为人生最棒的东西。金钱对我来说的重要性就是，能够满足我的基本生活需求，再多我就认为不重要了。我不是说认为拥有更多不好，只是觉得这没什么大不了的。花钱的时候，有些东西特别昂贵，购买这些东西并不能带给我比购买经济实惠且基本的东西更多的快乐。这就像蛋糕上的樱桃一样，锦上添花罢了。要我选的话，与其做一份高薪但不喜欢的工作，我宁可做个环游世界的穷背包客。对我来说，从事的工作如果做的是自己想做的就是最好了。从几乎一无所有到拥有甚多，我培养了一个很强的信念，即万物皆平等，提供平等的机会对成功很重要，若有能力的人获得太丰厚的报酬，就可能削弱他们渴望变强大和贡献社会的意愿，这对社会发展不利。
What I wanted was to have an interesting, diverse life filled with lots of learning—and especially meaningful work and meaningful relationships. I feel that I have gotten these in abundance and I am happy. And I feel that I got what I wanted by following the same basic approach I used as a 12-year-old caddie trying to beat the market, i.e., by
- working for what I wanted, not for what others wanted me to do;
- coming up with the best independent opinions I could muster to move toward my goals;
- stress – testing my opinions by having the smartest people I could find challenge them so I could find out where I was wrong;
- being wary about overconfidence, and good at not knowing; and
- wrestling with reality, experiencing the results of my decisions, and reflecting on what I did to produce them so that I could improve.
I believe that by following this approach I moved faster to my goals by learning a lot more than if I hadn’t followed it.