Fragility, Robustness and Anti-Fragile

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If you have read my previous posts on Black Swan & Bed of Procrustes, you would know very well that I am a big fan of Taleb. When I read his essays, I would feel like conversing with him. An amazing feeling. Though his books take longer time for me to read, I enjoy those moments. I spent about a couple of weeks reading his work Anti-fragile. If there is one key takeaway , it would be this key fact
There are some systems that gains from volatility , and how do we best use them in our life. Those are anti fragile , exact opposite to fragile- which gets negatively impacted  because of volatility.
He applies this concept in Fitness & Health to understand our body , medicine , business , banking , risk analysis, mother nature and various areas to show the key point that randomness and volatility has always benefited us. These variability or stressors really help the system to improve.
Its quite perplexing that those from whom we have benefitted the most aren’t those who have tried to help us but rather those who have actively tried but eventually failed to harm us  - Anti Fragile, Taleb
As I looked at my own life, there had been acute stressors in my life which pushed me to improve better. Those unexpected volatility in life definitely helped become stronger eventually. As we saw in Black Swan, there are some highly consequential , un predictable and rare outcomes can define our life. The best anti dote against Black swan is not trying to predict it , but anti-fragility. Try to reduce fragility in the system as much possible which makes us robust to black swan. The best example I can take for my own personal life first from the book are
  • Avoid debt like a sin to the best in life, debt definitely makes us fragile. Trying to take many small bets which has the optionality of limited loss but unlimited gain. Try to search for these real options, these give you the anti fragility. I know of someone, who has got into multiple business, succeeded and failed in a few. Now trying to get into a new business of granite quarrying. This new business venture he is trying to get into also happened by chance event , a total serendipity. But he was in pursuit of different things which helped him land on this. That would be his credit. The business model he is trying to get in also has the optionality I called out earlier – a known limited loss, and unlimited upside.
  • In health & fitness – My mom and I are big believers of intermittent fasting, though we came to know through our religion – but later when we experienced the  changes in our body became staunch believers of this. This intermittent fasting gives us the volatility and stressors needed for our body once in a while and that definitely makes it anti fragile up to some point
I will not go through more, but just a couple of examples to highlight, the insightful learning from Anti fragility. Please do pick and read Antifragile if you have not read.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for reviewing this book, Hari; I'll put it on my reading list. Which do you recommend if I only have time for one: Black Swan or Antifragile?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Bettina,

      Black swan is the best by Taleb so far. Anti fragile do refer to some areas called out in Black swan. If your interest is in learning application of the concept of antifragility related to health and body then go for anti fragile.

      I am suggesting anti-fragile purely based on your interest and reading your blog , this might be related to your area of interest. Hope this helps.

      Thanks, Hari

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