Most of us are born with attributes that both help us and hurt us, depending on their applications, and the more extreme the attribute, the more extreme the potential good and bad outcomes these attributes are likely to produce. For example, highly creative, goal-oriented people who are good at imagining the big picture often can easily get tripped up on the details of daily life, while highly pragmatic, task-oriented people who are great with the details might not be creative. That is because the ways their minds work make it difficult for them to see both ways of thinking. In nature everything was made for a purpose, and so too were these different ways of thinking. They just have different purposes. It is extremely important to one’s happiness and success to know oneself—most importantly to understand one’s own values and abilities—and then to find the right fits. We all have things that we value that we want and we all have strengths and weaknesses that affect our paths for getting them. The most important quality that differentiates successful people from unsuccessful people is our capacity to learn and adapt to these things.
Unlike any other species, man is capable of reflecting on himself and the things around him to learn and
adapt in order to improve. He has this capability because, in the evolution of species man’s brain
developed a part that no other species has—the prefrontal cortex. It is the part of the human brain that
gives us the ability to reflect and conduct other cognitive thinking. Because of this, people who can
objectively reflect on themselves and others —most importantly on their weaknesses are—can figure out
how to get around these weaknesses, can evolve fastest and come closer to realizing their potentials
than those who can’t.
-Ray Dalio, as excerpted from Principles