About Core Values, Ethics at Work


A few days ago I came upon an interesting read – a Manifesto of the founder of one of the largest hedge fund’s – Bridgewater Capital, one of the most successful financial organizations in the modern American history.  

Form a perspective of a business owner, thought leader and an entrepreneur, I became interested in reading this Manifesto, not only because it was a leading financial magnat’s view on living and conducting a successful business. I used to work in a financial industry and know well, that values of the founder are not necessarily those in the policies at the workplace itself. I was interested also because, surprisingly, the values of this independent mind resonated for me personally, from the very first pages, with my core values.  The way I view my own life’s success is largely based on these same principles.

I believe that the core value for most high achieving people is to be at their best.” (Part 2, Principles, Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Capital)

Suddenly this brings up the principle to “always do your best,”  with which I was imprinted during the years of growing up behind the iron curtain, growing up in the system of survival, albeit not very much different from the western in that sense, but a lot different in some core values. Survival, and doing the best you can, not just being another one of those in the ordinary crowd.  I strived to always do as best I can, according to what I knew at the time, making the best choices, the best thing to do. Not everyone I knew adopted the same values.  Referring to this value, “be at your best” is how I identified who I am and what I could and could not do.  

I suppose being at your best always engages the same criteria – it feels good, it is the right thing to do, it is ethical, it is what is best for me. However, I recognize that back then for me the value of the best decision criteria were different than now.

So I have certain values that are important. Family, home, work. Ethics, and esthetics.

Beauty and harmony, peaceful energy and good intentions. Art and life work. Art at work.

Is doing the best you can and being at your best the same thing? Is it possible to do your best when you are not at your best?

I began to make a distinction between

to be at my best, and

to do my best,


to be at my best.

This differentiation completely changed my perspective on what it’s like to be at your best AND simultaneously do your best.

So before it was just doing my best. Struggling to understand how to, when to do my best and what this means, I strived to do everything in the best way I deemed possible for me. The decision of doing the best thing, the right thing was based on survival, lifestyle choices and not on principle. 

Want more money, make sure you study hard get a profession and get a good job that pays well. I was told this many times.

The value of good education imprinted in me moved me to find a good school and to went through about 9 years of a program in architecture, all the way through graduate school. I did the best I could, at that time, utilizing the resources that were available to me. 

I read further in the Principles of Ray Dalio:

“I believe that people who are one way on the inside, and believe that they need to be another way outside to please others become conflicted and often lose touch with what they really think and feel. It is difficult for them to be happy, and almost impossible for them to be at their best.”

“They still can be better performers than others around them, but not truly at the best. At least that’s been true for me.”

WOW! What a revelation.

And particularly in what this means for me. When I first came to the US in 1989 ago I truly wanted to be noticed, I wanted to be the best at what I choose to do. But even more so I wanted to be part of what I see around me, I wanted to fit in. But one thing I could never do was to wear a mask of being someone else, when I was not that. I could not do what I did not believe, and I eventually had to come to terms with the work I could and could not do.

This is when I left the corporate environment and began working for a principle.

Only becoming familiar with the concept of who I am, I was able to finally make sense of a conflict inside me.

When I am at my best it is easy to know the right thing from the wrong thing. let that be another conversation.

Now, what’s’ true for you?



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