“Wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire. Likewise with randomness, uncertainty, chaos – you want to use them, not hide from them. You want to be the fire and wish for the wind.”
Last week I gave a talk at the monthly Catalysts Collective event here in San Francisco on the topic of antifragility. The following points are highlights from my talk.
To understand the premise of Antifragile – Things That Gain From Disorder there are three key areas to consider.
We know what it means to be fragile – to be easily broken. Another way to interpret it is to be damaged by disorder. The world’s banking system is a good example – something left vulnerable to chaos, randomness, and uncertainty.
After the state of fragility comes resiliency. Things that are resilient have the ability withstand disorder. Imagine a structure built to withstand earthquakes. When an actual earthquake occurs, the building (hopefully) remains standing. It does not change.
A great story of being resilient is the phoenix. The phoenix may rise from the ashes, but he rises only to become what he once was before.
The final state Taleb focuses on is the state of being antifragile.
Antifragility is when something benefits from disorder. While startups are known to harbor an improbability of success, when viewed in increments success happens as a result of randomness, chance, volatility and instability.
When viewed from the macro level, the startup economy benefits society as a whole. It creates room for opportunity and innovation. Things like volatility and instability are required in order for them to achieve the point of contribution at scale. This concept can be applied to the contribution of individuals too – organic things, like muscle mass, require some level of instability or challenge in order to grow.
I believe that being antifragile is essential for personal revolution.
Some benefits of being antifragile include:
- Increased confidence
- Welcomeness to change
- The allowance of discomfort
- Possessing a growth mindset versus a fixed one.
Here are ways to become antifragile:
- Think of perceived failure as opportunity
- Lean into fear
- Embrace community
- Listen to yourself and to others
- Seek opportunities
- Build a strong baseline
- Use the barbell strategy.
The barbell strategy is a method presented by Taleb. Consider the image of a barbell. The maximum amount of risk you’re willing to take goes on one side. It’s balanced by Maslov’s basic needs (food, water, safety) on the opposing end.
This is a very basic introduction to the basic concepts of Antifragility. If you’d like to learn more, I recommend checking out the book itself or visit the following blogs that present nice summaries and applicable tips for becoming antifragile.