Being antifragile is different from being resilient or robust. Being resilient or robust means that you bounce back quickly from disturbances. As an example, resiliency is a building that is designed to stand up to hurricane-force winds.
Antifragility moves beyond resiliency by identifying things that not only bounce back quickly from adversity but become stronger in the process. As an example, a surfer may become accustomed to handling rough ocean swells that would drown an inexperienced swimmer.
Taleb explains that:
- Fragile items break under stress, antifragile items get better from it.
- In order for a system to be antifragile, most of its parts must be fragile.
- Antifragile systems work because they build extra capacity when put under stress, uncertainty, and relentless change
Live Like a Hydra
One of the things I really enjoyed from the piece was this list of 10 ways to live an antifragile life:
- Stick to simple rules
- Build in redundancy 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
For more on this topic, check out this post from Taleb on the implications of antifragility.