The Call to Adventure, Part 4: See the Patterns in the Machinery

(This is Part 4 of the Capture Higher Ed blog series, The Call to Adventure, which discusses billionaire Ray Dalio’s “Principles of Success” and how they can be applied in the admissions office. To get up to speed on the series, read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Today, we will look at Dalio’s fourth and fifth Principles of Success — “Meet the Abyss” and “See the Patterns in the Machinery.”)

  1. Meet the Abyss

We’ve all been there; we’ve been there, that is, if we’ve been around for a while. It could be a lost job, or a divorce. We lose someone close to us, or get a major illness. At some point, if we grow at all, we’re going to also fall. And far, for that matter.

Hitting bottom will leave you dazed and confused, no doubt. But as Arnold Schwarzenegger says in a motivational video my CEO sent out (see? That YouTube again), how far can you fall? The ground is right there. Get up. Because the fact is, whatever you think of as a tragedy will pass. No feeling is final, a friend often reminds me — and failure is just one of those feelings.

And at any rate, a big fall will mean big learning. But be careful: a significant, crushing experience will make you want to play it safe. Don’t! Experiencing a crash is no reason to stop chasing your goal. Instead, it should put things in perspective … and urge you on.

  1. See the Patterns in the Machinery

To Dalio, everything is a machine. Not literally, of course, but in the sense that there is a pattern and a rhythm to everything from the revolutions of the cosmos to the orbit of the moon to the American economy to your own heart beating. Trust that pattern and, more importantly, make it work for you.

“Nature,” to Dalio, who practices transcendental meditation, “provides a guide for what’s true.” He looks to the patterns of nature, which resound, of course, in his own body and his own life. In those patterns lies reality, and once one can discern that reality — the “truth” of the situation — then one can apply principles to deal with it. There are patterns, too, to history — and that includes economic history, educational history, all of human history.

Once you see the Truth, you’ll see that risk and reward naturally go together. Your task is to balance the two. “To get the most out of life,” says Dalio, “one has to take more risks.”

Join me next week when I break out Dalio’s sixth and seventh “Principles of Success,” which examine “The Barriers” to success and the importance of “Open Mindedness.”

By Sean Hill, Senior Content Writer, Capture Higher Ed