How to become antifragile so you can thrive in the next crisis?
If you want to succeed and dominate, to separate yourself from the pack, and increase your chance of survival when SHTF, it’s no longer enough to bounce back from adversity and volatility – to simply be resilient.
You have to bounce back stronger and better.
You have to become antifragile.
Right now you might be asking what is antifragility?
Related post: Top 50 Bug Out Bag List Essentials
On Becoming Antifragile
What Is Antifragility And Why It Matters
In his book, Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, Nassim Nicholas Taleb used the word “antifragile” to describe the condition of things that do not merely survive, but grow stronger, in response to low-order volatility.
Taleb takes the concept of antifragility far beyond applying it to any single field.
His book, The Black Swan, the Impact of the Highly Improbable had huge implications for anyone who measures risk, including survivalists.
A Black Swan is an event (either positive or negative) “that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.
The mortgage crisis of 2008 was a Black Swan event, as were both World Wars.
Hardly anyone predicted them, they all had huge impacts on history, and they all seemed utterly predictable in hindsight.
And I’m not saying that “Yes! Sh** happens, so don’t bother trying to predict things.”
But as “Yes, sh** happens. The trick is to put yourself in a position to survive and even thrive when it does.”
In Antifragile, Taleb offers some simple heuristics to help businesses and individuals thrive in a life swirling with volatility.
Before he does that, though, Taleb makes the case that people/systems/organizations/things/ideas can be described in one of three ways: fragile, robust, or antifragile.
To paraphrase, there is that which is fragile which includes things that are damaged by shocks or volatility.
An example of what is fragile are the large, (over)optimized, overreliant on technology, overreliant on the so-called scientific method instead of age-tested heuristics.
Fragile businesses, people, and organizations are often too smart for their own good.
Our modern world is obsessed with efficiency and optimization. Businesses seek to crank out as many widgets as they can on tight timeframes and with as little cost as possible.
Similarly, individuals are told to be as efficient as they can with their time.
And it works…if everything goes to plan. But everything rarely goes as planned. Randomness is the rule, not the exception.
Then there is that which is robust, which is not harmed by shocks or volatility, but also does not benefit from them either.
People can be robust when they stay cool, calm, and collected during periods of stress.
Buddhism and Stoicism promote psychological resilience, as both philosophies teach indifference to change. When you’re mentally resilient, you don’t care if you’re rich or if you lose your wealth in a single day.
Resilience, or robustness, is certainly more desirable than fragility.
But Taleb argues that to aim just for resilience is a “sissy” move because you’re essentially settling for the status quo.
Sure, when things are robust, you bounce back from adversity, but you just bounce back to the state you were in before the fall.
That’s why your goal should be to become as antifragile as possible.
Lastly, there is that which is antifragile, which benefits or grows stronger in response to shocks or volatility.
When people or systems are antifragile, there’s more upside than downside when Black Swan events occur.
Antifragile systems feed on chaos and uncertainty like a primordial god.
Taleb likens antifragility to the Hydra from Greek mythology. The Hydra was a hideous multi-headed lizard monster.
Whenever a hero cut off one of the Hydra’s heads, two would grow back in its place — the Hydra became stronger with adversity.
Another example is the effect of resistance training on the human body. As we repeatedly expose our bodies to low-order resistance, we some damage our muscle tissue.
In response, our muscles grow stronger and more powerful.
How Can You Become Antifragile
Below are a few of this quality’s key characteristics you need in order to become antifragile.
Antifragile Key #1 – Built-In Redundancies
For the antifragile, thriving in randomness is the goal, which often requires being “inefficient” through layering redundancies.
Unlike fragile systems/organizations/people, antifragile things don’t make efficiency the primary goal.
“Redundancy is ambiguous because it seems like a waste if nothing unusual happens. Except that something unusual happens — usually.”
Nature is filled with “inefficient” redundancies.
Animals have two lungs, two kidneys, and two testicles, when one of each would work just fine. Since one in a pair of organs can become disabled through disease or trauma, it pays to have a spare.
The perfect example of this is a survivalist versus a minimalist.
Minimalism is aesthetically pleasing, but if the world went to pot, the guy with just 100 possessions would be screwed.
The survivalist who has built-in redundancies — not just a fridge full of food but a stockpile of MREs, not just central heating but a wood burning stove, not just money but cigarettes for currency — will not only survive a disaster but thrive in it.
Examples Of Antifragile Redundancies
Beneficial redundancies come in a wide variety of forms.
The most ready example is that of tangible gear, especially supplies for emergency situations.
But they can also take the form of skills, mental preparation, and relationships, and be equally useful in your everyday life.
Here are just a few examples of how redundancies can help you thrive when SHTF:
- 72-hour survival kit
- Winter Car Survival Kit
- A Survival bunker
- Water storage
- A Root Cellar
- Stockpile of food
- Memorized knowledge and skills
- Emergency fund.
- Alternative form of currency (cigarettes, Bitcoin, etc)
- Analog watch (see why here)
- A large network
As you decide which redundancies to create/keep, and which to forgo, weigh your decisions thoughtfully, by asking questions such as:
- What is the cost to purchase?
- What is the opportunity cost of owning/keeping this item? By storing one thing, you won’t have room for another.
- Will this item hinder or help me in feeling confident and taking action?
- Could buying this item turn out to be an investment in some way?
- Will buying/keeping this item, or investing my time in X pursuit, make me more or less antifragile?
There are many redundancies which require very little investment in either time, money, or storage space, and yet have the potential to create a huge ROI in your life.
Some are even free; if you’re strapped for resources on every front, start with those.
Antifragile Key #2 – Employ The Barbell Strategy
A Barbell strategy, a la Taleb consists of making sure that 90% of your capital is safe, by investing it in Risk-Free assets, which cover from inflation. On the other hand use 10%, or the remaining capital for very risky investments.
Risk-Free assets could include cash, treasuries, gold and silver and risky investments could include growth stocks, Bitcoin, options and the like.
Antifragile Key #3 – Practice Via Negativa
According to Taleb, “the first step towards antifragility consists in first decreasing downside.”
We do that through practicing via negativa — a phrase borrowed from theology.
Instead of focusing your time on adding things to your life to make it better, focus first on subtracting habits, practices, things, people that fragilize you.
A few examples: get rid of debt, quit smoking, stop hanging around toxic friends, eliminate unhealthy foods.
Antifragile Key #4 – Keep Your Options Open
Increase optionality in your life.
When volatility and chaos increase, it’s the man with the most options who is the most antifragile.
How do you increase optionality?
Having money in the bank and a stockpile of ammo and cigarette certainly increases your options; it gives you breathing room during economic downturns, but also provides flexibility to take advantage of positive unforeseen opportunities or to pursue goals.
Increasing your skills or buy a rental gives you optionality as well.
If one career goes bust, you have the skills or the rental to jumpstart a new one.
Our World Is Becoming More Fragile Everyday
Our world is growing more complex and that as it does, it also grows more complicated.
As complex man-made systems grow more complicated, they become more fragile like a house of cards, exposing us to the hazards of such systems: domino effect, cascading failure, runaway chain reaction and compounded hazards.
Humanity has not dealt with the consequences of engineering fragility into our critical systems on a global scale before.
People are migrating to cities, putting all our eggs in one basket.
At the same time, we have been very busy building globally interdependent systems, but with members which are not themselves independent.
Only 2% of the population produces 100% the food.
It is then distributed on a just in time inventory basis which is in turn dependent on world banking, the electrical grid, the internet and global shipping.
We have set the stage for catastrophe of a scope which humanity has not yet seen.
Instead of having localized catastrophic events, we are hurdling down the path of more complex = better, which results in engineering fragility into systems we need to sustain live.
This path leads to catastrophes on regional and global scales instead of the localized catastrophes we have dealt with in the past.
We are not prepared to deal with local catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina. Katrina was a precursor event.
We built a city dependent on a complex and therefore inherently fragile system of levies and they failed catastrophically.
In the last century, China meddled with nature, which is inherently antifragile.
Decisionmakers figured the sparrows were eating rice, hurting the rice yield. Unscientifically overestimating their understanding of the role of the sparrow in the ecosystem, they did their best to kill them off.
They didn’t understand that, while the sparrows did eat some rice, they ate a whole lot more pests than rice. Without the sparrows to control the pests, the rice yields were abysmal and 20 million people starved to death.
The decision to kill the sparrows caused the largest famine on record. But that was just one country. Imagine the consequences catastrophic failure of the world banking system, the internet, the electrical grid or global food distribution.
And history now seems to be repeating itself. Just take a look at what’s happening now:
- Genetically Modified Mosquito project has gone wrong, with, really, “unforeseen outcomes
- First sun-dimming experiment will test a way to cool Earth
- Bill Gates-Backed Controversial Geoengineering Test Moves Forward With New Committee
What could possibly go wrong this time?
How To Thrive In A Crisis – Become Antifragile
As survivalists, we consider risk and exposure and make what we judge to be reasonable measures to mitigate them.
Unfortunately, we cannot accurately predict all risks and exposure, which leaves us vulnerable to unknowns (despite what many Scientifics and governments might say to convince you).
What we can do is to develop and acquire the skills, gear, abilities, traits, production capability and relationships likely to enable us to adapt to general volatility, chaos and change.
We can acquire knowledge, tools and resources that are multi-use and have applications in a wide range of emergencies.
We can keep our plans flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances.
We can reduce our dependence and attachment in favor of options and self-reliance.
These steps position us to benefit from volatility.
Family Bunker Plans
And if you’re looking for a way to become more antifragile by building your own survival bunker, we highly recommend Family Bunker Plans.
Here’s what you’re going to learn with this Family Bunker Construction Manual
- Secret construction sources to get your materials at the lowest possible price. This can make or break your chances at building an affordable survival bunker.
- Crucial site preparation tips! Warning: You must know this before preparing ANY site. Without this information, your efforts could result in frustration and lost money.
- Design and layout planning tips and advice from a qualified expert. These design tips will help you choose the right layout for you and your family.
- On top of my layout tips your also going to get professional 3D diagrams to help you along the way!
- Learn how to correctly prepare your site. We go into quite a lot of detail with plenty of diagrams and pictures on this topic because this is where I see a lot of newbie bunker builders go wrong. So pay attention and don’t miss this step!
- Get our electrical layout and installation plans. I’ve topped this off with full diagrams to make this as simple as possible.
As you can see, this is an extremely extensive bunker product You will not find this level of detailed information anywhere else.
Many of these methods deserve more unpacking and I highly recommend picking up a copy of Antifragile. It’s a great book that’s both enlightening and enjoyable to read.
In the past, we’ve covered most of the obvious survival gear we think everyone should own, such as:
- Bug out bag
- Best watch to survive an EMP attack
- Survival flashlight
- Survival shovel
- Water containers
- Neck gaiters
- Survival Machete
- etc., etc., etc.
How do you plan on becoming more antifragile? Share your advices below!