Happiness is Working With Great People: Here’s Why

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Principles: Life and Work" by Ray Dalio. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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Is the phrase “happiness is working with great people” true? How can you find happiness working with great people, and how does it help your company succeed?

The idea that happiness is working with great people is often true in the workplace. Working with good people can improve productivity and help employees have more fulfilling careers. Collaborating with others is an important part of the workplace.

Read more about how to find happiness working with great people, and how relying on others can help you thrive.

Happiness is Working With Great People: A Productive Workplace

Cooperation is natural in human history. Humans evolved to support cooperation, allowing groups to accomplish more than individuals. Cooperation led to the development of values such as altruism, morality, and honor. So it makes sense for humans to find that happiness is working with great people.

To accomplish your goals, you need to rely on other people. You need to be humble and recognize that you lack both the objectivity and the complete skill set to achieve all of your goals. Instead, other people will 1) help you see your blind spots, and 2) provide complementary skills to cover for your weaknesses. If you want to believe that happiness is working with great colleagues, you’ll be willing to rely on others.

Other People See Your Blind Spots

You will never be able to view yourself objectively most of the time. As we learned, often your ego will get in the way and bias you. In other cases, you might simply be blind to certain aspects of yourself. Part of the idea of “happiness is working with great people” means that others can pick up where you miss things, and you can do the same for them.

You should get others to be radically truthful with you so you can see the truth about yourself. As founder and CEO of Bridgewater, Dalio had complete authority to do things his way, yet he willingly built himself a management committee to oversee him. He knew that relying on others was the best way to arrive at the truth, and believes that at work, happiness is working with great colleagues.

To get the most out of other people’s viewpoints, practice thoughtful disagreement. This is an important part of the idea of “happiness is working with great people.”

  • Seek out the smartest, most believable people in the area of concern. Especially find people who disagree with you so you can understand their reasoning.
  • Afterward, find other people who disagree with the people you just talked to. Listen to their thoughtful disagreements.

Other People Complement Your Weaknesses

You will never be able to be proficient at all the things necessary to reach your goals. Be humble about this, and look toward working with good people to fill in those gaps.

Nobody can be proficient at everything. Do you think Einstein was a great basketball player? Probably not. Despite his strengths, Einstein was incompetent at a lot of things. Do you think less of him for not being able to make free throws? If not, then you shouldn’t think poorly of yourself for having weaknesses. If happiness is working with great colleagues, then you can be happy knowing you have people around you to help you.

Don’t be upset if you find you’re bad at something—be happy you found out, since this will improve your chances of meeting your goal. When you find a weakness, you can deal with it. This is a better situation to be in than to be blind to your weaknesses. It will also help you turn to your colleagues in time of need, and further explore the ideas that happiness is working with great people.

Once you find your weakness, figure out whether it’s something you should improve yourself or something you should get others to help you with. You can try to work at your weaknesses, but sometimes it’s just inconsistent with your nature. For example, some visionaries are bad at execution and details, and trying to get better can only take them so far. In cases like these, it’s probably better to ask others to fill the gap so you can focus on where you’re strong.

(If you do want to work on your weaknesses, Dalio recommends doing mental exercises, which are just like physical exercises for the mind. This includes reflecting on your painful mistakes and deliberately practicing the things that are currently uncomfortable for you, such as being more or less talkative or following through on your plans.)

Since we know that when it comes to work, happiness is working with great people, you should look for an environment that pursues a culture of collaboration. Happiness is working with good people because it helps you and the company succeed.

Happiness is Working With Great People: Here’s Why

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Here's what you'll find in our full Principles: Life and Work summary :

  • How Ray Dalio lost it all on bad bets, then rebounded to build the world's largest hedge fund
  • The 5-step process to getting anything you want out of life
  • Why getting the best results means being relentlessly honest with everyone you work with

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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