Antifragile

How To Benefit From Disorder

Antifragility allows us to deal with the unknown, to do things without understanding them - and do them well


innolution

Antifragile is a term coined by Nassim Taleb to represent things that benefit from disorder.

Fragile things are harmed by disorder. For example, a bone china tea cup and saucer are fragile. If you accidentally drop them on the floor, they will break. To protect such fragile crockery, it is handled with care.

Robust and resilient things, such as objects made of steel, are commonly regarded as the opposite of fragile. But, strictly speaking, being unaffected by disorder is not the opposite of being harmed by disorder.

There is not a word that means the "opposite of fragility"  thus Taleb created the term antifragile, which is defined as things that benefit from disorder.

Antifragility is the quality of something that gets better, or thrives, in the presence of disorder.

A good example of something that is antifragile is the body’s immune system which when exposed to a low dose of a virus such as Covid 19 and its variants the body’s immune system starts to develop an ability to fight it.








In his book Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder
Nassim Taleb says:

"Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure , risk, and uncertainty.

Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness.

The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.

This property is behind everything that has changed with time: evolution, culture, ideas, revolutions, political systems, technological innovation, cultural and economic success, corporate survival, good recipes (say, chicken soup or steak tartare with a drop of cognac), the rise of cities, cultures, legal systems, equatorial forests, bacterial resistance … even our own existence as a species on this planet.

The antifragile loves randomness and uncertainty, which also means— crucially—a love of errors, a certain class of errors.

Antifragility has a singular property of allowing us to deal with the unknown, to do things without understanding them - and do them well.


Robustness is not enough

"Consider that Mother Nature is not just “safe.” It is aggressive in destroying and replacing, in selecting and reshuffling . When it comes to random events, “robust” is certainly not good enough.

In the long run everything with the most minute vulnerability breaks, given the ruthlessness of time— yet our planet has been around for perhaps four billion years and, convincingly, robustness can’t just be it: you need perfect robustness for a crack not to end up crashing the system.

Given the unattainability of perfect robustness, we need a mechanism by which the system regenerates itself continuously by using, rather than suffering from, random events, unpredictable shocks, stressors, and volatility."













Living an Antifragile Life

So how can you apply this insight?

At time of writing in Spring 2021 as the world lurches towards eventual recovery from the coronavirus pandemic life is messy and seemingly getting messier.

Are there ways in which you can position yourself to make gains from this disorder and get stronger?

The answer is yes. There are principles you can follow that will help you.

Shane Parrish suggests these core principles:

  • Stick to simple rules
  • Build in redundancy [have back-up plans] and layers [no single point of failure]
  • Resist the urge to suppress randomness
  • Make sure that you have your soul in the game
  • Experiment and tinker — take lots of small risks
  • Avoid risks that, if lost, would wipe you out completely
  • Don’t get consumed by data
  • Keep your options open
  • Focus more on avoiding things that don’t work than trying to find out what does work
  • Respect the old — look for habits and rules that have been around for a long time

Further reading on the qualities of antifragility and practical tactics for Living Antifragile




    Stop optimizing for today or tomorrow and start playing the long game. That means being less efficient in the short term but more effective in the long term. [Shane Parrish]



If you play the long game you stop optimizing for the short term and start thinking ahead to the second-order consequences of your decisions.

It’s hard to play the long game when there is a visible negative as the first step.

You have to be willing to look like an idiot in the short term to look like a genius in the long term.



    When you do what everyone else does, don’t be surprised when you get the same results everyone else does. [Shane Parrish]












Further reading:

Living Antifragile

Black Swans

Nassim Taleb


Return from "Antifragile" to: Mental Models






Chinese (Traditional)EnglishFrenchGermanItalianRussianSpanishVietnamese


Custom Site Search


The Balanced Toolkit



The Balanced Life



3 Keys Solutions


Get new posts by email:

LATEST ARTICLES

  1. How To Stay Connected To Your True Source Of Power

    "Your ego's desire to be in control, your ego usurping the role of your higher self, disconnects you from your true source of power." A stone of help is a constant reminder to stay connected to your…

    Read More

  2. Dying To Self - To Gain All Give All

    "If You Want To Be Given Everything - Give Everything Up". “Tao Te Ching” Your ego is essential and does a wonderful job of running things for you and marshalling your mental and emotional resources t…

    Read More

  3. My Experience Of Mindfulness In Situations Of Imposed Change

    I found that the biggest key to all this is to behave and respond in ways that may seem completely alien to you by cultivating a very deep acceptance of what is. Many years ago my fortunes had change…

    Read More

  4. The Balanced Life

    The Key To Keeping Your Balance Is Knowing When You Lost It. The balanced life is one where you recognise the full spectrum of possible responses and have develop sufficient experience, insight and se…

    Read More

  5. Self Motivation - How To Motivate Yourself In Tough Times

    Our focus here is going to be on the heavy duty / big picture level motivation that you need to get you through tough times often involving imposed change that have large and perhaps dramatic impacts…

    Read More

  6. Your Higher Self - Your Hardwired Portal To The Universe

    Think of your conscious mind as a ship floating on the ocean of your subconscious mind, and above is the sky of your higher consciousness. When things are tough and you are starting to think that no…

    Read More

  7. How Can I Change My Mind?

    Whilst it is true that we can be taught, generally we won't change. Your mind is either working for you or, more typically, working against you. There is a part of your mind that is very happy with h…

    Read More

  8. Managing Personal Change Is Hard - Here's How You CAN Make It Work

    Whilst it is true that we can be taught, generally we won't change. You can waste years of your life (as I have done) and spend a fortune in various forms of introspection, analysis and therapy diggi…

    Read More

  9. Change Comes From Within

    "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate." For much of my life I didn't understand that change comes from within, I used to believe that change wa…

    Read More

  10. How Things Are - The Inbuilt Design Flaw

    This is the nature of things. This is how things are. Nobody has the perfect life. We all struggle and strive to attain health, wealth and personal happiness. Yet these three big areas: our health, o…

    Read More




Support This Site