How do you innovate? First, try to get in trouble. I mean serious, but not terminal, trouble. “When life gives you a lemon …” It is a well-known trick that if you need something urgently done, give the task to the busiest (or second busiest) person in the office.
Most humans manage to squander their free time, as free time makes them dysfunctional, lazy, and unmotivated—the busier they get, the more active they are at other tasks. Further, my characterization of a loser is someone who, after making a mistake, doesn’t introspect, doesn’t exploit it, feels embarrassed and defensive rather than enriched with a new piece of information, and tries to explain why he made the mistake rather than moving on. These types often consider themselves the “victims” of some large plot, a bad boss, or bad weather.
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb in Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder
Get in trouble. Go for stress. On purpose. That’s the path to better days ahead. Don’t be fragile. Be antifragile. (Antifragile — imagine a box that you mail with this stamped on it: “please mishandle”).
So, Antifragile is quite a read. Complicated, silly, arrogant, complex, profound… it is almost indescribable. I remember in one of Scott Peck’s books he described how the book-sellers never quite knew where to shelve his books. Is Antifragile a business book? Yes, no, I don’t really know…
Here is what he says. If you coast, you get lazy, and weak. You are tested by tests… stresses. And these stresses make you stronger. Until they don’t, and then you crater. So, you want just enough stress to get stronger (which is a lot of stress to make you much, much stronger), but not enough to “break” you.
You know, from Nietzsche: “What does not kill me makes me stronger.” (Though Taleb argues that this does not quite get it right…)
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis