Books that Changed My Life (2016): Antifragile

Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

What Was Happening in My Life

I was working on the pitch decks for Regenerative Real Estate, the unsuccessful GIS-driven agricultural real estate company we started to scale up regenerative agriculture. My business partner at the time called and said, “You have to read this book.” I finally had a chance to dig into Taleb’s third book (Antifragile is part of the ‘Incerto’ Series, written after “Fooled by Randomness” and “The Black Swan”) as I travelled in Viet Nam and Taiwan, perfectly complex and chaotic eco-cultural systems in which to ruminate on fragility, resilience, and regeneration.

How “Antifragile” Changed My Life

I’m going to give away the core of the book right now. Answer this question: What is the opposite of ‘fragile’?

For 99% off people I’ve asked, the responses are invariably “strong” or “sturdy” or “resilient” or “robust”. But none of these are the opposite of fragile. If I drop a beautiful ceramic bowl, and it breaks, then it was fragile. If I drop the same bowl and it stays intact, then it was resilient. (Definition of resilient = able to withstand shocks and maintain function.) But resilience is the mid-point on a continuum, not the opposite!

Antifragile Continuum

So what would happen to the bowl if it was the opposite of fragile? When it hit the ground, instead of breaking or maintaining itself, it would get stronger. This is antifragility: systems whose capabilities increase in times of stress or disturbance.

“Antifragile” opened my eyes to an unseen characteristic and capacity of the world around me. Our immune systems are antifragile. Entrepreneurship as a whole is antifragile. Some political and governance systems (e.g. Switzerland, many indigenous cultures) are antifragile.

Going forward, my work was to design systems for antifragility. What does antifragile agriculture look like? How can an antifragile business be designed? What principles and agreements grow antifragility in human relationships?

I’ll write more on all of these. Plus, the relationship between antifragility and regeneration. In the meantime, I strongly recommend you read this book.


Get it on Amazon or AbeBooks

(If you’re just arriving at Re-Source: Ethan Soloviev on Regenerative Agriculture, Business and Life, welcome! This post is part of a series called ‘Life Changing Books’ – the most important books in my overall development and evolution. Click here to see a list of all the books, organized chronologically and thematically!)