Today’s Fast Summary:
The term ‘antifragility’ refers to thriving from disorder and change. The universe’s most lasting concepts, ideas, and things, have an antifragile system in place.
Antifragile people grow and learn from stressful events. They come out of them stronger and more capable of moving forward.
Integrate antifragility into your life through adaptation. You must cultivate diverse experiences, embrace failures, and adopt a growth mindset.
How to thrive in the 21st Century.
The Antifragility Framework (By a best-selling author)
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most responsive to change.” - Charles Darwin
I find this quote from Charles Darwin, the founder of modern evolutionary theory, compelling.
Through his research, Darwin noticed that certain members of a species were more likely to survive than others: Their ability to adapt to their environment made them more fit for survival.
Antifragility, a concept developed by Nassim Taleb, a statistician, former risk analyst, and bestselling author of the book, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder, operates on this concept.
The term ‘antifragility’ refers to thriving from disorder and change. Ideas, businesses, cultures, and people can be antifragile.
The universe’s most lasting concepts, ideas, and things, have an antifragile system in place. The things that don’t, don’t survive.
Taleb says this of Antifragility, “Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”
The idea behind this framework is that shocks, stress, and uncertainty benefit you. You must first survive them.
The Characteristics of Antifragile People
“The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.” - Japanese Proverb
This proverb illustrates the characteristics of adaptability. Bamboo is malleable and therefore stronger. Robust objects are inherently antifragile.
Take a cup for example. A glass cup will crack and shatter when mishandled or dropped.
Like a steel rod, a robust object maintains its structure under pressure. An antifragile person is a steel rod with one exception. Antifragile systems don’t simply withstand stress. They improve as a result.
Antifragile people grow and learn from stressful events. They come out of them stronger and more capable of moving forward. They aren’t afraid of mistakes. They see mistakes as opportunities to learn.
When antifragile people encounter a setback, they use the information to move forward.
Exercise is a great example of this. During exercise, your body withstands stress and strain.
You don’t crack when you do a push-up. Instead, the body adapts. Your muscles grow, and you realize you can do another.
The next day, you know your body can take ten push-ups, not just the six you did yesterday.
Your body is naturally antifragile. It benefits from exertion and stress.
Big-Picture Ways To Become More Antifragile
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” - Albert Einstein
Your body is innately antifragile. Your mind is not.
Integrate antifragility into your life through adaptation. The following techniques can be adopted to increase your antifragility.
1. Embrace small failures. Random events occur. Some things are out of your control. Embrace this to become more adaptive and prepared.
Deliberately expose yourself to small, controlled failures. Think of them as vaccines. These prepare you to handle adversity and future challenges.
Take a new route to work or try a new restaurant. Take small risks and embrace unpredictability.
2. Diversify. Decentralized systems and diverse financial portfolios reduce shock vulnerability. Diverse experiences promote antifragility.
Don’t be rigid in your beliefs, relationships, and schedule. Open yourself up to new experiences.
Cultivate a wide range of skills, interests, and relationships. Engage in diverse hobbies outside of work.
These will make you more adaptable to change and better prepared to thrive in various situations.
If you face hardship in one area, you maintain support from another.
3. Practice intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting refers to fasting for controlled periods. These periods vary in length and generally range between 16 and 24 hours.
This practice helps your body increase its resilience. It adapts to periods of hunger and nourishment.
This process mirrors that of life. It’s a transferable skill.
4. Pursue a growth mindset. Adopt a mindset that values learning, improvement, and progress over perfection.
You'll be more open to change and will be better equipped to handle potential setbacks.
5. Engage in regular physical exercise. Physical activity trains your body to increase its resistance to stress.
It trains your mind on how to cope with exertion. Regular exercise trains your brain to cope with stress.
6. Practice mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness is the habit of being aware of your thoughts and emotions. It’s about living in the moment.
Meditation helps increase mindfulness. It allows for thoughtful reflection. Both of these improve your response to stress and change.
7. Develop emotional intelligence. Understanding the emotions of others and how to navigate them is key to antifragility. It improves empathy and adaptability.
Develop the skills necessary to understand, manage, and navigate your emotions and those of others.
This will help you become more resilient in response to change.
8. Take calculated risks.
Risk and risky behaviours aren’t synonymous with one another. Gambling excessively, spending large sums, or skydiving without a parachute are risky behaviours.
The term, “iatrogenic” refers to harm caused by the healer. Avoid undue harm to yourself.
Weigh and research decisions. Be calculated and cautious.
Think rationally. Accept challenges that have potential rewards and small levels of risk. Step out of your comfort zone.
9. Learn from the mistakes of others. Consider Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
There are no new problems, only old ones with new appearances. Don’t make the same mistakes your peers did.
Spend time learning from how other smart people have navigated universal problems. Take on their wisdom.
10. Simple is smarter. Complex problems and stressors aren’t truly complicated.
Decomplication, or narrowing a problem down to its simplest form, is your best friend. If your problem is getting a promotion, think about what you can do to get there.
Don’t worry about office politics or external factors. When examined thoroughly, your problems are likely simple.
This week, I ask you to meditate on antifragility. Consider what you feel antifragility means, and the concrete ways you can become antifragile in the face of change.
Write about antifragility.
a. Based on what you learned in this newsletter, consider the properties of antifragility. Are there any ideas, concepts, things, objects, or people you think of as antifragile?
b. Are you antifragile? Reflect on a time when you needed to adapt or change. How did you cope with this change? What characteristics did you need to embody in order to adapt?
Reflect on ways you can become more antifragile.
a. Consider the practical tips presented in this newsletter. Which did you feel were helpful? Were there any you didn’t find helpful or applicable?
b. How can you incorporate those you found practical into your daily life? Consider only concrete ways these can be incorporated.
Use the antifragility framework to navigate life’s unexpected events. You’ll be able to not only survive them but to thrive moving forward.
I’d love to hear from you:
Do you feel you’re antifragile?
How can the principles of antifragility benefit you?
What would you add?
Tweet at me (@_alexbrogan) or respond to this email — I’ll try to respond to everyone.
Have a wonderful, Wednesday all.
Until next time,