Antifragile: How to Apply This Mindset to the Workplace

Antifragile How to Apply This Mindset to the Workplace
Antifragile How to Apply This Mindset to the Workplace

Antifragile is a revolutionary concept that represents the opposite of fragility in the workplace. But it is necessary to be more than solid and resilient to adopt this mentality: it is essential to overcome adversities and grow with them.

The antifragile professional can handle any challenge and take advantage of even the most chaotic situations. Next, we’ll understand where this concept came from and apply it in everyday corporate life.

Read on and understand how to become genuinely antifragile.

What does antifragile mean?

Antifragile is a philosophical concept that represents the exact opposite of fragile.

In this case, fragile breaks break or deform when exposed to an aggressor agent or an unexpected situation. At the same time, antifragile benefits from that same agent and thrives on uncertainties.

It is essential to understand that, from a philosophical point of view, the opposite of fragile is not robust or firm, as initially imagined. That’s because tough things can withstand impacts but stay the same every time.

On the other hand, Antifragile things go further and evolve from the impacts they suffer and extreme volatility scenarios.

Therefore, the term antifragile has been used to describe people who can face adverse situations, survive external pressure and take advantage of the chaos, assuming a highly resilient mindset.

It is a mental model (mindset) that can completely take professionals out of their comfort zone and allow them to turn clutter and obstacles into opportunities to maximize performance in an organizational setting.

The origin of the concept

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a Lebanese essayist and researcher, living in the United States, created the concept of anti-fragility.

So, he is considered one of the greatest thinkers in the financial market; and his theory is based on the uncertainty and high volatility of the industry. Taleb is known for making his fortune during major economic downturns such as Black Monday in 1987 and the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

He is also known for creating another popular concept in the business world; the Black Swan, an unpredictable and irregular event on a large scale with significant consequences.

Importance of the Antifragile Mindset

The antifragile mentality is a new way of facing challenges, uncertain scenarios, and extreme pressure situations. It is not just about resilience or robustness, as it is necessary to go beyond just resisting impacts: it is essential to learn from them and evolve.

Throughout history, humanity has relied on antifragility to evolve its culture, behavior, and political-economic systems.

An example used by Taleb to illustrate his concept is that several modern diseases such as diabetes seem to be associated with a lack of randomness in food and the absence of a stressor such as occasional hunger.

Likewise, the financial market would not survive without the volatility factor and the risks taken by investors. Therefore, antifragility is necessary for the evolution of humanity itself, as complex systems weaken and even die when deprived of stressors.

The central idea is to encourage people to take risks and extract great opportunities from difficult situations, rather than just resisting the pressures or; worse; succumbing to them.

Characteristics of the antifragile model

The antifragile model rests on several pillars presented in Nassim Taleb’s book. Meet the main ones.

High volatility

Volatility is one of the main characteristics of the antifragile model, which means the quality of what is inconsistent, variable, and uncertain.

It is no wonder it is one of the best-known concepts in the financial market, more specifically in variable income; which comprises investments with uncertain profitability at the investment time.

Those who invest in stocks, options, and commodities, for example, are used to the ups and downs of the charts; and are looking for long-term returns in high-risk scenarios.

Therefore, antifragility presupposes a model capable of dealing with extreme volatility and extracting benefits from this situation, as bold investors do.

Acceptance of chaos

Accepting chaos means embracing the natural disorder of things and understanding that events will be out of your control most of the time.

This apparent disconnect from facts in the market, economic systems, conflicts, and companies is necessary for future order to exist, and antifragility ensures that you can learn from these experiences.

Randomness

It’s comfortable to think that things happen in a correct or even a predestined order, right?

It so happens that, in the antifragile model, the rule is the randomness of events. In other words, you can be sure that X will happen and you will encounter Y, and somehow, you will know how to take advantage of this unpredictability.

Valuation of errors

Mistakes are precious in the antifragile model as they are the path to learning and evolution. We can see something similar in the culture of startups, which treat the error as a necessary process for business growth and encourage their employees to take risks.

Incomplete understanding

We are obsessed with data and statistics in the business world, but the antifragile model goes against that idea.

The proposal is that the human being can act without full knowledge of the situation, as theoretically, it would be impossible to have this type of certainty. In the book, Taleb asserts that “we are better at acting than thinking”; and argues that it is better to be ignorant and antifragile than intelligent and fragile.

Nonlinearity

Antifragility assumes that systems are not linear. They do not follow a logical sequence with predictable responses and a perfect chain of events.

Life and business cannot be represented by a graph with a straight line; in practice. Instead, it would be a curve with many ups and downs.

See Taleb’s quote on the subject:

“‘Non-linear’ means that when you double the dose of the drug, or when you double the number of employees in the factory, the effect you get will not be twice the original, but more or less.”

Simplification

The antifragile model also advocates the simplification of processes in modern life. It is the famous “less is more” carried out in daily activities.

In Taleb’s own words:

“A complex system, contrary to popular belief, does not need complicated regulations or intricate policies. The simpler, the better. Complications lead to multiplicative chains of unexpected effects.”

How to apply the antifragile mindset at work

Now that you understand the antifragile concept, all that remains is to apply this idea in your day-to-day work.

See some tips

Don’t be afraid to risk

The first step in adopting an antifragile mindset at work is to lose the fear of taking risks. For example, this goes for situations where you can take on a challenging project, lead a team, or make a complex decision in the company.

Rather than grieve at the possibilities of going wrong, it would help if you considered the excellent opportunity to take risks and grow from learning.

Be an eternal learner

Antifragile professionals see mistakes as essential steps for the development of their skills. For this, it is necessary to adopt an eternal learner posture and always be willing to leave your comfort zone to try something for the first time.

Develop your adaptability

The ability to adapt to any scenario is the foundation for achieving antifragile status at work. If you have the necessary flexibility, you will take advantage of even the most difficult situations.

An example is situational leadership, which starts from each employee’s profile for more flexible people management.

Seek innovation

“Thinking outside the box” to become an antifragile practitioner, you must first have this knowledge.

On a day-to-day basis, you must be creative in solving problems and always be on the lookout for innovation within the company, even if it seems riskier than staying average.

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