Putting Chaos Into Context
What is up, my impressively hygienic friends? In addition to today’s Stuff, my latest article, This is Life: Putting Chaos into Context, just posted. I’ll link here and below. Thanks!
ONE FROM THE AGES
Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism on why we need to reflect:
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
ONE FROM TODAY
“Wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire. Likewise with randomness, uncertainty, chaos; you want to use them, not hide from them. You want to be the fire and wish for the wind…. We don’t just want to survive uncertainty, to just about make it. We want to survive uncertainty and, in addition — like a certain class of aggressive Roman Stoics — have the last word. The mission is how to domesticate, even dominate, even conquer, the unseen, the opaque, and the inexplicable….
Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”
Source: Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder, Nassim Taleb
ONE FROM US
Like many of you, my wife and I recently jumped onto the new Hulu series, Little Fires Everywhere. Without giving too much away, there is a great scene where one of the daughters, Lexie, is talking about her Yale application essay prompt: “Write about a time you overcame adversity.” This sets her mother off on a tangent about how ridiculous the question is - how she and her husband worked very hard to keep Lexie from facing any adversity and Yale is “punishing her for having good parents.”
As I highlight in the early chapters of my book (currently in the editing stage), modern parenting norms are driven by this mindset. Many pay lip service to the merits of overcoming adversity, but they measure themselves as a parent based on their ability to provide abundantly and protect from any hardship. There is often a great deal of emphasis placed on status markers like class-rankings, cars, and scholarships, but a misunderstanding about what experiences best prepare kids to create great lives. Regardless of what we give our kids, they will face all sorts of challenges and unfairness. But, few things will prove as unfair as being insulated from adversity.
More than any other concept, antifragility should guide youth-development. People grow antifragile in the same way that immune systems and muscles get stronger. It is General Adaptations Syndrome: face resistance, rest, adapt, and repeat. Over time we develop the capacity to face far more intense resistance over longer durations and to enjoy steady doses of mild resistance. We are able to play in the zones that would have once crushed us.
When kids expect outcomes to come easy and for a third-party to always solve their problems, they remain fragile and dependent. They are more likely to be afflicted by minor inconveniences and less likely to develop broad interests, purpose, a capacity for nuance, the courage to take risks, and the ability to learn from failure. When we systematically eliminate resistance, we create a fragile population that grows increasingly distressed by every uncomfortable moment - candles who fear the wind.
With that in mind, my article today attempts to give a little context to our current windstorm. I hope you enjoy:
This is Life: Putting Chaos into Context
Life is too short to be normal,
If you dig my article today, I think you’ll love this podcast: History on Fire - Daniele Bolelli interviews Dan Carlin
For more inspiring thoughts on antifragility, check out Kyle Maynard
And, for those looking for structure and self-development, the 30x30 Challenge is still only $1 (regularly $39.99) through April 17 with the promo code: CORONA