One of the most original thinkers of the 21st century is that of Nassim Nicholas Taleb. The concept of Anti-fragility that he has helped to define has deeply informed our thinking and motivations here at the Volk Project.
Simply, there is fragility, robustness and Anti-fragility.
Fragility relates to those things or systems or ideas that are harmed by chaos, randomness, disorder, shocks or unforseen events.
Robustness relates to that which endures relatively unscathed the aforementioned chaos, or which bounces back to it’s original states.
Anti-fragility, on the other hand, is that which gains from chaos, randomness, disorder, shocks or unforseen events.
The distinctions are not trivial.
Fragility in the ancient world can be best defined in the tale of the Sword of Damocles,
Robustness in the ancient world is typified by the Phoenix, the mythical fire bird that died and was reborn in flame, always returning to that original state of unimaginable beauty and grace for which it was known.
Robustness or Endurance are the concepts that most people are familiar with and think of as the opposite of fragility, which is understandable as there is no single non-composite word that expresses the true idea of Anti-fragility, that which gains from disorder.
Anti-fragility has a parallel as well in the ancient world.
Whenever a head was cut off from the hydra, it didn’t just regrow, it grew two more.
The more that people tried to kill it, the worse a monster it became. It was only by using fire to disrupt the regrowth process that it was able to be killed in the ancient stories by Hercules.
In our time, we have many ordered and extremely fragile systems, especially in relation to the workers.
There are many concerns to take into account and factors to be discussed but even while there is an abundance of jobs, there is much uncertainty and fragility in regards to them.
There will be more recessions in the future, there will be chaos and volatility and unforeseen events. As in the past, what is to say that those patterns of human behavior that lead to economic collapses will not repeat themselves in some way?
The answer is not to merely hope for the best or even build robust businesses, but rather, build Anti-fragile systems and labor.
That is one of our internal strategies, and as we build the future, we look to that which has endured in the past, and let the wisdom of the ancients guide us.
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