I’m really enjoying billionaire investor Ray Dalio’s book, Principles. Dalio writes very candidly about his journey in life and work, and the principles he has developed that guide him. Chapter 3 in Part II of the book is titled ‘Be Radically Open-Minded.’ Though the title suggests our need to be humble enough to listen, it is also about the value of allowing other people in your life to help you overcome the barriers (e.g. your ego and blind spots) that are standing in the way of what you want, challenge your thinking through thoughtful disagreement, and of listening to ‘believable’ people (his term).
The Principle of Dual Minds
Dalio also discusses the importance of having people in your life who will thoughtfully disagree with you. This idea resonated with me so deeply that I decided to give it a name: the principle of dual minds. Put into consistent practice, the principle of dual minds can be a powerful tool to amp up the success of your personal and business ventures. In fact, this principle of dual minds trumps most people’s ability to operate on their own. This chapter spoke to me about the value of partners in business, whether legal or operational. However, Dalio isn’t just talking about any legal partner—he is talking about a partner that you are humble enough to listen to and who is courageous enough to disagree with you—you guessed it, that’s “the principle of dual minds.” But it’s not always easy to accomplish. Truly, it takes work and practice to get to a place where you can argue well with your partner and reach a conclusion that two limited people could not have reached on their own. Dalio points out in the book that while it may seem time-consuming to go through the process of disagreement, spending time disagreeing with a thoughtful and intelligent person who can help you grow is actually time well spent—and I emphatically agree.
My partner and I spend a fair amount of time learning, discussing, and exploring the big ideas we want to accomplish in our businesses. We both love what we do, and we deeply care about one other and our passionate opinions. This is inevitably going to lead to disagreements, but the cool thing is that we feel the freedom to say “I disagree with you.” This trust to disagree with one other has been built over time. Every time either one of us says “I disagree with you” we know that the other person is going to listen deeply to that disagreement. Our goal is not to win the disagreement. Our goal is to hear each other and make better, more effective, more profitable, more life-changing decisions. And that is typically the result of our disagreements. As Dalio says, “People who change their minds because they learned something are the winners, whereas those who stubbornly refuse to learn are the losers.” I won’t be a loser—so I must take the attitude of a learner.
I love to do business coaching with agency owners who are radically open-minded to new ideas, who love to be challenged, who love to be disagreed with, and who will lay down their ideas to pick up a better, more thoughtful path. I care about the agency owners I coach, so my purpose is always for their good. But they have to trust that I am only going to lead them and disagree with them in ways that will lead to more introspection, better thought, and more sound decisions on their part. In fact, I’m being paid to produce this value.
You are probably in the same category as me—I want to be a person who learns and wins. I want to achieve big things, and I want to run effective companies that produce profit, while also changing the lives of those we serve. I’ve learned that I can’t pull this off by myself, so I’ve also learned to value the process of aligning dual minds. This takes time and practice and requires wrangling our own feelings while participating in thoughtful disagreements. But this practice will ultimately result in the ability to achieve bigger things than most. Many try to achieve their agency growth journey, or a personal journey, on their own—something I’ve learned has limitations. Why not become one of the few who boldly welcomes other people to courageously disagree with you while you listen for a path you’ve yet to consider on your journey of building your agency? If you do this, you will achieve what most people cannot achieve.
“We all need others to help us triangulate and get to the best possible decisions.” – Dalio