Success

Billionaire Ray Dalio says this outlook will help you achieve your dreams

Ray Dalio, founder of investment firm Bridgewater Associates, speaking at the WEF in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 22, 2019.
Adam Galica | CNBC

It's often argued that some people are dreamers while others are realists. But hedge-fund billionaire Ray Dalio believes that you need both qualities to be successful.

In fact, Dalio says all dreamers need a healthy dose of realism to help them achieve their dreams. "Being hyperrealistic will help you choose your dreams wisely and then achieve them," Dalio wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday.

Dalio is the founder of the world's largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, which manages roughly $160 billion in assets.

In that social-media post, Dalio touts the importance of balancing realism and idealism by pursuing your dreams while also being as realistic as possible about the best ways to achieve them.

"Understanding, accepting and working with reality is both practical and beautiful," Dalio writes on Facebook. "I have become so much of a hyperrealist that I've learned to appreciate the beauty of all realities, even harsh ones, and have come to despise impractical idealism."

By "impractical idealism," Dalio is referring to the way of thinking that's mostly associated with dreamers who either never follow through and pursue their lofty ideals, or who do so in impractical, or unrealistic, ways. (For instance, an impractical idealist could be more likely to spend more time daydreaming about success than actually working to achieve their goals.)

But Dalio isn't against dreaming at all, he asserts. "Don't get me wrong: I believe in making dreams happen," the billionaire writes on Facebook. "To me, there's nothing better in life than doing that. The pursuit of dreams is what gives life its flavor.

"My point is that people who create great things aren't idle dreamers: They are totally grounded in reality," he says.

A 2018 Psychology Today article notes that dreaming about success is more effective when a person also imagines the realistic obstacles they'll face on the path to their dreams. "Successful goal pursuits require figuring out which wishes are desirable and feasible and which ones to let go," Shahram Heshmat, an associate professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Springfield, writes in the article.

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Dalio's post is part of a series of the "Principles" he regularly posts on social media, many of which stem from his 2017 book, "Principles: Life & Work," in which the billionaire shares his insights into leadership and success.

Dalio is far from the only business leader who believes that success requires a mix of idealism and practicality.

In 2016, Apple CEO Tim Cook discussed the characteristics he looks for in Apple employees, and one of them is "agitated idealism." Cook describes the characteristic this way: "We look for people who won't accept the status quo, people who aren't satisfied with the way things are, that really want to change the world and sort of put all of themselves into doing it," Cook said at the time.

At the same time, Cook added that Apple looks for employees who are "wicked smart" and have "grit and determination." In other words, the ability to dream about changing the world is essential for success at the tech giant, but so is the ability to bear down and get to work on achieving those goals.

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