Antifragile Quality in Time of Crisis.

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

Bill Aulet, Director of the Martin Trust entrepreneurship program at MIT and a special “lean” professor (see Lean Entrepreneurship Guide (chart) for his Disciplined Entrepreneurship method) has started an EXCELLENT series of virtual (Zoom) broadcasts at his Entrepreneurship Speaker Series “Antifragile”.  “Today’s humanitarian and economic disaster has created an unimaginable shock to all; the future is nothing as it was imagined just weeks ago.  We teach our students to be antifragile—to not only survive in such a world, but to thrive in it. Ways they can get stronger in the face of adversity, incomplete information, time urgency, and dramatic outcomes. Our students figure out how to turn a negative into a positive.”  We share it here:

Living an Antifragile Life

Now that we have this knowledge, what should we do with it?

Life is messy and seemingly getting messier. Can we position ourselves to gain from this disorder … to not only recover from mistakes but get stronger?

The answer is yes. There are principles we can follow to help us.

Buster Benson has some excellent thoughts on how to live an antifragile life, giving us these core principles taken from the Antifragile book:

  • 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

In short, 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. It’s easy to optimize for today, simply spend more money than you make or eat food that’s food designed in a lab to make you eat more and more. But if you play the long game you stop optimizing 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. I believe that’s why so many people play the short game. But as the old adage goes, when you do what everyone else does, don’t be surprised when you get the same results everyone else does.

Here’s a link to the first interviews with Jocko Willink, famous Navy SEAL, and Billy Campbell, SC businessman who was on the”Miracle on the Hudson” US Air flight.  Each describes their own experience reacted to a crisis or danger and how best to handle yourself in similar situations:

(Click here to go to the Zoom recording)

Jocko tells us to step back, detach and prioritize steps then execute based on his experience in his first fire fight in Iraq. Billy had 55 seconds to contemplate his life before crash landing into the Hudson River that left him with these impressions -a conversation with God, exquisite memories, adjusting to an isle full of people, his belief in miracles, and as Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says, “bloom where you are planted”.  Well worth watching and learning the concept.


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