Always take the red pill

Always seek out the truth even if it contradicts the beliefs you hold. Self-deceit and ignorance can harm you.

In the science fiction movie The Matrix, Morpheus (played by Laurence Fishburne) offers Neo (played by Keanu Reeves) a blue pill and a red pill and the opportunity to understand the true nature of reality.

“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

As Neo reaches out to pick, Morpheus says,

“Remember, all I am offering is the truth. Nothing more.”[1]

If we don’t allow ourselves to see reality, we will make poor choices.

Ray Dalio swallowed the red pill and offers them to his employees. Ray founded Bridgewater Associates over 45 years ago. One of the top investment management firms in the world, Bridgewater manages over $160 billion in assets. Ray credits Bridgewater’s success to building the company culture on radical truth and radical transparency. They believe learning compounds when you get feedback and hear what everyone else is thinking. All 1,500 employees are expected to speak their mind. They prefer not to live in the fog of not knowing what people think. No matter what their status in the organization, employees are expected to speak up and share harsh truths.

A good example of taking the red pill comes from an email sent to Ray from an employee named Jim Haskel. The email highlights the direct honest communication expected at Bridgewater. Remember, Ray is the founder and CEO of one of the most successful companies in the world.


You deserve a “D-” for your performance today in the meeting . . . you did not prepare at all because there is no way you could have and been that disorganized. In the future, I/we would ask you to take some time and prepare and maybe even I should come up and start talking to you to get you warmed up or something but we can’t let this happen again. If you in any way think my view is wrong, please ask the others or we can talk about it.[2]


Here are a few practical ways to take the red pill.

  • Ask hard questions.
  • Seek the truth. Especially when it contradicts your beliefs.
  • Ask, what’s true?
  • Don’t lie. Be trustworthy. Act with integrity.
  • Don’t shy away from conflict.
  • Speak up. Don’t filter.
  • Be open. Be vulnerable.

There’s usually an exception to every rule. Consider alternatives if pursuing truth results in breaking the law or physical violence. To improve your judgement and be wrong less often. Always take the red pill and seek out the truth.

[1] The Matrix, produced by Joel Silver, written by Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski, production company Warner Bros, 1999.

[2] Ray Dalio, TED Conference 2017, “How to build a company where the best ideas win.”


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