Influence Requires Antifragility

Antifragile Flames

How can wind extinguish a candle and energize fire?

In thinking about books that influenced me the most in recent months, Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book, “Antifragile” is without question one of two books that changed me the most.

You might know Taleb as the author of “Black Swan,”  a book on unexpected and unpredictable events (not the Natalie Portman freaky ballet movie).

Antifragile CoverAntifragile is a big fat mind-blowing, game-changing concept and read.

It truly is a big book both in length and complexity. Unlike what I usually do, I read it both in Kindle and in Audio. I started in audio and discovered that I needed to take more notes and see the words on the page in addition to hearing the narration (although, the audio book reader is terrific).

Antifragile changed the way I thought about fitness and diet.

It changed the way I thought about investments.

It changed the way I thought about business.

It changed the way I thought about how to structure our company.

It changed my prayer life.

It changed how I thought about my career.

Taleb begins with this idea: ““Wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire.”

How can moving air both extinguish and energize?

In our worlds, how is it that one event kills in one situation and in another situation fosters growth?

When things happen in your life, wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could grow and prosper without regard to the event?

Put another way, no matter what happens in your life, if you’re antifragile, you rise, you grow, you get stronger.

Before reading (and re-reading) Antifragile, I thought that my goal was to be strong or robust. I’d never imagined an opposite of “fragile” that was truly an opposite. Taleb writes that most people when asked to describe the opposite of fragile, say “robust” or “strong.”

Taleb says  “antifragility” (literally, the opposite of fragile) isn’t robustness or resilience.

Antifragility goes beyond. Where resilient resists shocks and stays the same, “the antifragile gets better.” Note that, gets better with shocks. Uncertainty becomes a positive. Change and disruption are benefits.

Taleb says:

“Antifragility has a singular property of allowing us to deal with the unknown, to do things without understanding them—and do them well.”

“Antifragility loves randomness and uncertainty.”

“Anything that has more upside than downside from random events (or certain shocks) is antifragile; the reverse is fragile.”

Antifragile changed the way I approach fitness (and yes, in addition to discussing economic trends and business strategy he applies his theory to diet and fitness). I walk a bunch and I do yoga. After Antifragile, I do rowing sprints (HIIT workouts) and heavier weight lifting.

I’ve always experimented with my eating and diet. Now, I’ve added intermittent fasting to the mix. Why? I’m persuaded I can become physically antifragile in addition to making my career antifragile and our business antifragile.

I had the ah-ha when I made my 2nd trip through the book about Jesus and antifragility. No one who’s walked the earth was more antifragile than Jesus. What was meant to end his influence, grew it. What was meant to extinguish his followers’ influence, expanded it. It was a nice, ah-ha.

Antifragile is a crucial concept to understand if you want to influence the world around you. Because the reality is that you’re either heading into a crisis, in a crisis or just coming out of a crisis. That’s life. And life is better if you’re antifragile.

A key tool for your influential living is the book and concept, Antifragile.

Read. The. Book.

For now, comments are off, but you can email me at sthomas [at] wizardofads [dot] com. That’ll get to me.

I’d love to hear from you.


Steve Thomas
Photo Credit: Jekkone