Life is a series of highs and lows. It’s a rollercoaster ride, and it serves us best if we both enjoy the peaks that we experience as well as make most of the valleys that come our way.
The low phases are vital opportunities for us to practice patience, zoom out and evaluate our lives and our previous choices, and chart a new, better course.
We have all heard several stories of entrepreneurs who hit the gold mine, but then, later on, lost all their fortune and disappeared into the ether.
In 1975, Ray Dalio started his investment firm, Bridgewater Associates, and apparently he had the Midas touch as he quickly brought humongous returns for his clients. But in the early ’80s, things took a different turn. He predicted a global economic depression and went all-in on that bet. However, the economy remained undeterred and continued on an 18-year bull run. As a result, he lost everything and had to let go of every last employee. On top of that, he had to even borrow money from his dad to buy groceries. After this titanic crash-and-burn, Dalio could have given up and quit. Instead, he considered this setback a gift that helped him grow, both personally and professionally.
In his best-selling book, Principles, he writes, “In retrospect, my crash was one of the best things that ever happened to me because it gave me the humility I needed to balance my aggressiveness.”
Dalio used this low phase to implement an “idea meritocracy” at his firm, a system of management that gets the best ideas out of employees while managing risk. Bridgewater is now the world’s largest hedge fund, managing approximately $125 billion, an incredible achievement that he admits would not be possible without the lessons that he learned during the dark and painful times in 1982.
We can’t escape the low seasons of life, we are humans after all. But we can use those difficult times in the abyss to our advantage by engaging in self-introspection and personal growth, and crafting a better strategy to move forward.
As a wise person once said, “Life is filled with highs and lows–valleys and peaks that will test your resilience, that will push you to overcome challenges–and the lessons you’ll learn on your way to the top will only make you stronger, better.”