What's better than resilience? Antifragility.
Fragility is like a vase. It's delicate, easily shattered if shaken or dropped. Things that are fragile get damaged under stress or change.
Resilience is like a rock. It stays unaltered, weathering storms without changing. That's resilience. Resilient things resist shocks and stay the same (although with enough pressure, they, too, may break).
Antifragility is where it gets exciting. Imagine a magical creature that doesn't just endure stress but thrives because of it. Like a phoenix reborn from ashes, antifragile things improve when exposed to challenges.
Why does this matter to politics & personal development?
Just think of the massive turbulences coming our way, literally and figuratively: implications of AI for our economies & social systems, consequences of climate change, political polarization.
For any one of us, these turbulences will affect our lives.
And even more so for those who need to make decisions that can shape these turbulences, so we get the best possible public impact.
Knowing the differences between fragility, resilience and antifragility can guide our decisions. Should we protect certain systems from all shocks (like the glass vase)? Or, do we design things that get better with challenges?
On a personal level, are we reaching for resilience or antifragility?
When I hear HR executives talk about resilience, what comes up is Yoga, time-off, home-office, and fruit smoothies.
All of these things can be helpful. But they seem to be compensation, an off-set for stress. The thinking is: don't put too much pressure on the rock or it will break.
Yoga is perhaps the exception here, just like mindfulness exercises. By going into challenging poses and dealing with the 'monkey mind' respectively, they train awareness, flexibility and detachment.
For me personally, cold exposure is a similar training in coping with stress, physically and mentally. I've written about my experiences of climbing a mountain in shorts and what I learnt from it about team performance.
Are you building resilience or antifragility?
I really believe we need to think more clearly about these questions, for us personally and for the systems that we work in.
p.s. 👇 below, find the latest podcast, what I'm currently reading/listening to and my favourite quote this week
📚 What I read & listen to
🖋️ My favourite quote
"Ignorance of reality can aid command of reality" - Donald Hoffman in The Case Against Reality, p. 76
🎙️ My latest podcast
I'm pausing the podcast over the summer, but have some great new conversations already that I'll share in September, e.g. with a Member of the German Bundestag and a leadership development expert from the US.
The last episode: