What does it mean to be Anti-Fragile?

February 9, 2017 / Leadership
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Whoah – hang on to your hat!

Bringing Leadership Home

There is a lot of stress and challenge ping-ponging around our world these days. The leadership call is screamingly loud to remain grounded; to come from the clarity of fierce ownership, truth and love. I’m hearing from clients that ordinary stressors are harder than ever to navigate:

  • One executive team is forming camps and battle lines; taking shots from behind fake smiles – sabotaging collaboration and decision making
  • Another CFO is facing a run for advancement that may be sabotaged or accelerated by his own team – and his tolerance is thin
  • A business owner has just met a wonderful man, and is discovering her vulnerabilities – hidden for years behind the anesthetizing veil of professional success – and is shocked by how derailed she feels
  • The founder and CEO of an exploding company is terrified that he’s missing something vital and will crash and burn

None of these challenges is out of the ordinary, and yet, an ordinary response to them will not promote a thriving outcome.

So…

How do we amplify thriving?

Consider being Anti-Fragile.

Have you heard that term? It comes from a book by the same name written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

What does Anti-Fragile mean?

FRAGILE is the state of being wounded by, diminished by or harmed by events we experience. These events can be external, or they might be thoughts or feelings we have ourselves. We might say about them: “I’m upset.”

RESILIENT is the state of experiencing the wounding or injury mentioned above, but getting through it – rising again. We might say about them: “I’m Ok.”

ANTI-FRAGILE is getting from the experiences mentioned above. An event occurs – it shocks, wounds, upsets or even destroys something precious. Being anti-fragile we ask, what may I gain from this experience? How can I use this for my upliftment? We might say about them: “I’m thriving.”

How do we get to, and stay in, that Thriving place?

The first step in being anti-fragile is knowing that such a path is possible!

“By every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”

–JK Rowling

Those are the words of J.K. Rowling. Rowling’s famous Harry Potter series has been translated into 73 languages, sold millions of copies and accrued over $20 billion through movie adaptations and sponsorships.

Failure? What?

She went from being an unemployed single mother living off unemployment benefits to one of the best selling authors of all time.

She says, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” — J.K. Rowling

Rowling found a path to be anti-fragile. Not just resilient. She used her challenges to call forth her spirit’s essence and creativity. Her challenges no doubt informed her sensitivity to what the main character Harry Potter might have felt inside his challenges and allowed her to tell his story much more poignantly than she could have if she’d been writing from distant imagination.

This is why those of us who have had to overcome difficulty are so very often the most extraordinary creators and resources to others.

We all, always, have the choice to find thriving in every situation. That doesn’t mean there are no tears, no sadness, shock or grief. Sometimes there is all of the above. When Antifragile is the intention however, we maneuver through the swamp with tenderness and grace.

I love the phrase: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

Where in your life are you avoiding challenges that instead you might see as opportunities?

To your continued antifragile thriving!

With love,

Lisa