Ray Dalio: The “Shaper” Archetype

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What is the “shaper” personality type? What are the key traits of Dalio’s shaper archetype?

According to Ray Dalio, “shaper” is a personality type characterized by a visionary outlook and critical thinking. The shaper comes up with unique and valuable visions and builds them out, despite the doubts of others.

Keep reading to learn about the characteristics of shapers, according to Dalio.

Characteristics of Shapers

In his book Principles, Dalio describes in detail a personality type he calls the “shaper.” Shapers tend to have sharp independent critical thinking skills.

Dalio realized his archetype when he was transitioning out of his CEO role, and he asked his lieutenants what his unique skill was. They answered it was “shaping.” He also believes other founder-entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk fit this archetype.

According to Ray Dalio, shapers have these qualities in common:

  • Their baseball card reads: Visionary + Practical Thinker + Determined 
  • They have independent thinking skills verging on rebelliousness.
  • They don’t let anything stand in the way of achieving their goals.
  • They are resilient and gritty. Their need to achieve is stronger than the pain they experience.
  • They have strong mental maps of how things should be done.
  • They test their mental maps and change them to make them work better.
  • They have a wider range of vision than most, seeing both big picture and granular details.
  • They are assertive and open-minded at the same time. They are creative, systematic, and practical at the same time.
  • They are intolerant of people who work for them who aren’t excellent.
  • Nothing ever feels good enough, and this gap is both a tragedy and a constant source of motivation.
  • They generally have low ranking on “concern for others”—largely because when faced between achieving their goal and pleasing others, they choose their goal every time.
  • They sustain success over decades with continuous innovations and successes, rather than selling their company once for a lot of money (Dalio calls these “inventors”) or entering existing organizations and leading them well.

Dalio doesn’t have any value judgment on whether shapers are more important or valuable than other types. He just classifies himself as one and believes other founders of large companies tend to be them too, since they have independent critical thinking skills.

Ray Dalio: The “Shaper” Archetype

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Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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