Leaning into Antifragility

A small reminder of what's ahead, from Taleb's Antifragile

I woke up today, and logged into work at 7am. Like I did the day before… and the day before that.

I responded to emails, had hours worth of phone calls, and messed around in Powerpoint for a while.

And tomorrow will be something similar.

So too will next week, and the week that follows.

It's been a while since I read Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Antifragile, but earlier today, as I sent yet another email, I was reminded of just one of the occupational fragility examples he provides.

Taleb writes of two brothers, one a banker and the other a taxi-driver. John, the banker, has been employed in a stable position with the bank for 25 years, paid the same amount every few weeks. He's built his life around it.

George, the taxi-driver, makes about the same amount of money at the end of the year, but laments the instability of his job. Some days are good, providing him with lots of fares. Other days are bad, with just one fare to speak of.

While he laments the instability of his career, Taleb argues that the variability in his career, harboring a bit of antifragility, allows him to adapt and change continuously, always learning from the environment, continuously under pressure to be fit. While John on the other hand, is incredibly fragile. One financial disaster, and his job, and similarly, his prospects at acquiring another similar one, are in grave danger.

I'm a lock to destroy the technically sound definition of antifragile if I venture too far from Taleb's own words, but it seems, from the example provided above, the pursuit I'm undertaking — a pursuit of joblessness — is one that must inevitably lean into antifragility.1

Some days good, some days bad. But ultimately, banking on a bit of randomness and some stressors, while finding ways to adapt to the environment I’m in.

I’ve always told myself I’d be smart enough to figure it out.

“I’ll figure it out.” My antifragile motto?

I've grown accustomed to the fragility and comfortability of a steady income and job, but I'm bracing myself for change.

I'll leave you with this Taleb quote...

“Complex systems are weakened, even killed, when deprived of stressors.”

Here's to the stressors.