I have recently been inspired by reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book ” Antifragility – Things That Gain from Disorder”. Taleb is a well known philosopher, and to my understanding he is greatly respected among people who really are interested about our future and are living on the edge. And as all great thinkers throughout the history Taleb also has enemies, he is – or at least his insights and opinions are – really hated by most of the people in charge of our legacy organizations. And for a good reason – Taleb is really able to point out step by step, how fragile our current social, political, economical and even personal structures and lifestyles are.
“We made a wrong mistake “– Yogi Berra
I believe that his new term ”antifragile” is something which has been missing from our vocabulary. Certainly it has some of the same mystical glamour than ”serendipity”, which Horace Walpole described more than two centuries ago as ”a very expressive word”. For me ”antifragility” has become lately a very expressive word and a phenomenon to explain many of the reasons to our current problems in the society.
While reading Taleb I have also found a great expression for that lifestyle, which I started to follow few years ago when I resigned from a well paid job, moved to the country side on the lake, started my effectual entrepreneurship and started to connect globally with inspiring people living on the edge. My experience has helped me to understand the fact, that antifragile lifestyle is something you need in order, not only to survive, but also thrive while living the postnormal era. But as in nature, everything evolves, so it’s fundamental that antifragile lifestyle will be continously cultivated. And there is no theoretical model, which you could follow, so you have to create your own by trial and error and pivoting.
My recent experiences have helped to understand the fact, that antifragile lifestyle is something you need in order, not only to survive, but also to thrive while living the postnormal era.
As Taleb says, antifragility gains from disorder and certainly the postnormal era is full of disorder, unexpected events, ambiquity and uncertainty. It’s obvious that in this era to forecast the future is a waste of time and what seems robust in short term is fragile in long term (like the two different lifestyles of brothers John and George – a bank clerk and a taxi driver – brilliantly described by Taleb). So adapting an antifragile lifestyle might be a clever way to prepare to adapt and cope to the challenges of this new era.
What is an antifragile lifestyle then, how can one start to learn it?
Referring to the attached table (modified from Taleb, copyright Ilkka Kakko), I have described some of the focus areas in our lives and how the fragile and antifragile lifestyles are different (click the picture for a better view). Note: categorizing people strictly with these characteristics is a bit provocative and in most cases we will be somehow “hybrid in between”, but I believe that this will help someone to start thinking one’s values. What might look at the first sight robust and resilient might in long run turn out become a big catastrophe, and a fallacy of being safe and secured will make it even more difficult to understand and recover.
(Photo by Ilkka Kakko: “A trace of a hawk attacking a mouse on the icy lake, a mouse made a wrong mistake – a fatal one- by entering an open area”)