lifting weights by a sign that says whatever it takes

5 Tips for Success: How to Be Antifragile

antifragile personal development May 23, 2022

You may have heard of "antifragility."

If you've been keeping up with the latest buzzwords in the business world, you may have heard of "antifragility." But what is it, and how can you use it to your advantage in your career? In this post, I'll define antifragility and explain how it applies to the professional world. I'll also give you some tips on how to become more antifragile yourself.

Antifragility is an important concept.

Antifragility is an important concept to understand in order for your life and business not only to survive but thrive. Nassim Taleb, the author of "Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder," says that there are some things that, despite being stressed or injured, will grow stronger when exposed to certain stressors--they're called anti-fragile!

So think about this. If you've lifted weights, you know what I mean, right? You pump iron, you stress the muscles, and they respond by getting stronger when you give them enough time to rest and some nutrition.

You may remember that I referred to Taleb's book Antifragile in a previous podcast about hidden vulnerabilities. This is such a good book from a career perspective, but also the perspective of your whole life. I thought I'd give you some insights as to what things I took away from the book and how they might help your career. Well, I probably have 100 things to share from the book, but these are the first five great takeaways that relate to your career.

First, beware of decision-makers without skin in the game.

This means that if somebody is offering you advice, whether it's career or personal, and they will not suffer if it's wrong, but you will then be careful about taking that advice. This is especially true if the person can benefit should the advice be good but not suffer any consequences should it be wrong.

For example, if someone tells you to quit your job and start a new company. Then if you succeed they have a rich friend and maybe some free products. But if you fail, well, better start over.

You may be able to create skin in the game for people advising you. In the example of quitting your job, you could ask the person advising you if they are willing to invest in your new company. If they say no, then think carefully about taking their advice?

I'm not saying you don't take advice from someone with no skin in the game. You do that all the time when you're taking prescribed medicines. And in fact, I guess that's what you're doing by listening to me. You're taking advice from me. I'm not saying you don't take advice from somebody without skin in the game. I'm saying beware of it and be careful of this situation.

Second is the definition of a loser.

Someone who, after making a mistake, is defensive, doesn't learn from the mistake and considers themselves a victim. This is really important. You're gonna make mistakes. What you have to do after that is determine why you made those mistakes and learn from them. By doing this, you're turning a bad situation into something, at least from your perspective, a little better. Because you've learned something.

Now, I'm not a fan of the saying that you don't learn from your success. You only learn from failure. That's just not true. You can learn from your success and mistakes, and you should make every effort to do so.

Third, time is the "mother of all stressors."

I agree. I would also add nature if that is applicable. But how does this insight apply to your career? Well, sometimes you'll hear that we do something because that's the way it's always been done. Now that's a good reason if things have changed or the way it was done is not working.

But be careful about tossing out something that works just because it's the old way or it's the way it's always been done. You can end up getting rid of something good just for the sake of not wanting to keep the same old thing.

Fourth, always have options.

According to Taleb, options are what make you antifragile and allow you to benefit from the positive side of uncertainty without the corresponding harm from the negative side. I agree with developing courses of action that include options. Nobody can predict the future. So on the career side of things, you don't want to lock yourself onto a single path that requires you to have to backtrack on your education or job experience. For example, with regard to your career choices, think about whether a computer or a robot can do that job. If so, it will probably happen. And if you're locked into that path, you're gonna have to change.

Fifth, you don't always have to be right; just don't do anything stupid.

You are not always going to be right with the decisions you make while doing your job. Everyone knows that, and that is especially true at the start of your career. It becomes less and less accepted the further along you go in your career, but no one's perfect. Right?

What will really hurt your career and your reputation is doing something stupid. So how do you know when something is stupid? My best advice here is to listen to that inner voice. We all have the one that says doing something is dumb and may even hurt. I ignored that voice once when I was drafting an emotional email. That voice said, "Don't send that." But I did, and it didn't go well.

The next way to know something as stupid is to listen to those friends around you who have your best interest at heart. Now, I don't mean all the people who may be around you. Only the ones who you know have your best interests at heart. If they say, you're about to do something stupid. You should heed that advice and not do it.

That's enough rambling for today.

My three takeaways:

  1. Taleb's book, Antifragile, is a great book worth the time invested in reading it. You're going to learn a whole lot more than what I told you, and it's not going to be just about your career.
  2. Think about antifragility and how you can create or exploit things in your career that are or could be made antifragile. For example, learning new skills while you have a good job. Then if something bad happens, such as losing your job, you have additional skills or certifications that allow you to get an even better job.
  3. Finally, learn from your mistakes. Think about options when making decisions, and don't do anything stupid.

Antifragile is a great book that can help you think about your career in a new way. By learning from your mistakes and exploiting things that are antifragile, you can make yourself more resilient in the face of adversity. I highly recommend reading it if you want to take your career to the next level.