What is Antifragile?
Antifragile is a word that wasn’t in my lexicon. I never even heard the term until quite recently when I watched a presentation by the writer and scholar Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the subject.
Is Antifragile a Word?
It turns out fragile doesn’t have an opposite word, robust or durable being the best attempts to describe it. Both of these terms do not take into account that fragile items break under stress, where antifragile items get better or stronger because off or from the stress.
I view being antifragile is a journey without an end. No-one or any system can be absolutely, one hundred percent antifragile. We can be more antifragile than a neighbor or competitor but that doesn’t make us antifragile, just more robust to what the world can throw at us. As the old saying goes “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. That is in essence what antifragility is really about for me, preparing for shocks to the system and getting stronger because of them.
The Future is Fragile – Be Antifragile
We can’t predict the future, but we can anticipate changes, be aware, learn from history (if it doesn’t repeat, it certainly rhymes) and make educated and informed decisions or even go with gut instinct. Actually, you should always go with your gut instinct, but that’s another blog post.
One of the reasons I started natural farming was to become antifragile, even though I wasn’t aware of the concept at the time.
Since the sub-prime market crash of 2008, nothing that happened in the economy back then was fixed, only papered over. Now the same issues have inflated the mother of all bubbles and started to explode as predictably as we knew they would.
On top of that, under the cover of Covaids, governments all around the world have locked their countries down, killed commerce and decimated industries. Did someone say to divert your attention away from the central bank’s wealth transfer shenanigans! Surly not!
Supply chains have been broken, food prices are rising, and currencies are being printed by central banks like they are going out of fashion (as they are). This counterfeiting or wealth transfer will invariably lead to hyperinflation.
This collapsing world economy we prepared for and to date are riding the shockwaves pretty good. We haven’t shattered into a million little pieces, yet!
The restrictions on travel and lockdowns are an inconvenience and will probably be with us for years to come. Remember when it all started? It was just a case of wash your hands with a anti-bacterial (to kill a virus lolz) and don’t stray too far for a couple of weeks. Ah, halcyon days! Well here we are six months later…
Planting seeds is a defiant act. Taking cuttings and multiplying root stock is heresy, growing your own food is anarchy. With every seed we nurture, plant and grow we become a little more antifragile. We don’t need to rely on the shops stocking produce, we are not affected by rising food prices or needing a wheelbarrow full of cash to buy a loaf of bread. We are planting seeds to become antifragile.
Having all your eggs in one basket – that’s fragile. Carrying your eggs in multiple baskets – that’s antifragile.
Join the Dots and Visualize Your Future
A stoic exercise called the premeditatio malorum (the pre-meditation of evils) is the imagining of things that could go wrong or be taken away from us. This exercise helps us prepare for life’s inevitable fuckups or setbacks and identify fragile structures in our lives, so we can replace them with antifragile systems.
Don’t Carry All Your Eggs in One Basket
We know if we carry all our eggs in one basket we could potentially break the lot if we stumble or fall. However, a little for thought for the consequences of carry all our eggs in one basket would reveal carrying them in more than one basket or have more than one person carry the eggs in different baskets would make egg carry more antifragile and we’d get to eat more eggs (some scrambled).
We took this concept a stage further an keep two flocks of chickens, one at home and the other at the farm.
How Do I Become an Antifragile?
Growing our own food is just one area where our life is more antifragile than probably anyone I know. Businesses, side hustles, investing, banking and learning new skills are all other important areas where we apply self-awareness, decentralization and antifragile strategies or even build antifragile assets.
Mother Nature Thrives on Chaos
Bringing it back to working the land, another reason I started natural farming was for the returns on investment. Whereas most conventional farmers mono crop, have insurmountable debt and high inputs from chemical fertilizers and expensive machinery, one bad season of adverse weather conditions could put them under water for good. That’s a fragile system.
Permaculture or natural farming is pretty much low/no cost to start and maintain. This method of farming produces high and diverse yields, nutrient rich food and surpluses that can be sold for hard currency, especially when you create value added products. Anarchy Chocolate anyone!
We prefer to share our excess produce with friends and family. This helps to forge friendships and build community. That’s antifragile.
It’s also important to note that there is no better return on investment to be found anywhere than planting a seed once and reaping the bounty of the fruits. It will produce season after season, year after year.
The small investment of planting seeds will keep paying me and my family a healthy return for the rest of our lives. It will also pay itself forward to someone else long after we’ve been composted.
Don’t forget how fragile we are but take action now to be more antifragile in all areas of your life.
Turn of the TV, stay humble, be honest and aware.