How do you react to unforeseen circumstances?
For most of the last four years, unforeseen circumstances were the most unwelcome guests in my domicile. They had to be unwelcome — there wasn’t any time for them! I was a victim of two things: fragility and touristification.
Touristification is the planning of details down to the minutia and thinking this is “optimizing” and making the greatest use of time. To illustrate, let me show you what a typical week used to look like for me:
Not a ton of room for car trouble there.
This led to a whole host of issues, the most severe of which being an anxiety for what I would call the “coming next.” As I discussed this with my recently-returned-from-the-Peace-Corps sister, this was a massive issue for me. By living in constant anxiety of the “coming next,” I was missing the “happening now.” By missing the “happening now,” I was unable to be mentally present in the moments that I was physically present. Without being mentally present I couldn’t form emotional connections to moments, and without an emotional connection to a moment I didn’t form memories.
Obviously this wasn’t an issue 100% of the time, but it was far more pervasive than i would have liked and I missed out on a lot of great memories. My “optimized” time was far from it.
Now take a look at a typical busy week for me:
Granted, I work during the day, but my time is much more flexible. Ah, the beauty of a startup. Need a run mid-day because the morning was hectic? No problem. Something come up unexpectedly? No problem. Want to enjoy an unplanned evening? No problem.
Antifragility is a concept that is a lot harder to grasp, but even more impactful. I won’t go in to too much depth, as I am far from an expert — but here is what I can tell you.
For a long time, there was considered to be two states: 1.) Fragile and 2.) Robust.
In a fragile state, an object/system/emotion is strongly affected by events, and in a negative way. Someone suffering from touristification is in a fragile state — their systems can’t handle the unknown.
Robust states are described as unaffected by disorder. Sort of a long hair, don’t care philosophy. Car problems? No fucks given.
Recently, a third state has been proposed and studied: antifragility. The idea that disorder can actually make one stronger. It’s sort of a continuum, but not necessarily to say one end of the spectrum is completely better than the other.
It’s good to be fragile in some aspects — with personal relationships for example. The sweet isn’t as sweet without the sour (thanks, Tom Cruise). Sometimes being robust is enough. But being antifragile is embracing that disorder happens, is part of life, and can be harnessed to make you stronger. Learning from mistakes is an example of antifragility. Vaccines are an example of your body being antifragile — they are broken down to just grow stronger.
Later this week, I’ll talk about the true meaning of Black Swans and Lumpy Payoffs. Thanks for reading, let me know how I can help you!
Recommended reading: The inspiration and information for much of this post, by StartupBros.