Episode Four ‘The Abyss’
We progress forward until we encounter setbacks.
Whether or not we get out of them and continue forward or spiral downward depends on whether or not we're willing to face the failure objectively, and make the right decisions to turn the loop upward again.
Something terrible happened to me in 1982, when I bet everything on a depression that never came.
The period between 1979 and 1982 was one of extreme turbulence for the global economy, and markets, and for me.
And I believe that the US economy with the world economy tied to it was headed toward a catastrophe.
This view was extremely controversial.
I wanted the great upside and very publicly took a big risk and was wrong, dead wrong.
After a delay the stock market began a big bull market that lasted 18 years, and the US economy enjoyed the greatest growth period in its history.
This experience was like a blow to my head with a baseball bat.
I had to cut my losses so that my company Bridgewater was left with one employee, me.
I was so broke, I had to borrow ,000 from my dad to pay my bills.
But even worse was having to let go the people I cared so much about.
I wondered whether I should give up my dream of working for myself and play it safe.
By working for someone else in a job that would require me to put on a tie and commute every day.
Though I knew that for me taking less risk would mean having a less great life.
Being so wrong and especially being so publicly wrong was painfully humbling.
I am still shocked and embarrassed by how arrogant I was in being totally confident in a totally incorrect view.
Though I'd been right much more than I'd been wrong, I had let one bad bet erase all my good ones.
I thought very hard about the relationship between risk and reward, and how to manage them.
But I couldn't see a path forward that would give me the rewards I wanted without unacceptable risk.
This kind of experience happens to everyone.
It will happen to you.
You will lose something or someone you think you can't live without, or you will suffer a terrible illness or injury, or your career will fall apart before your eyes.
You might think that your life is ruined and that there is no way to go forward.
But it will pass.
I assure you that there is always a best path forward, and you probably just don't see it yet.
You just have to reflect well to find it.
You have to embrace your reality.
In Episode 5, I’ll show you how this realization drove me to wonder how reality works and how to best deal with it.