Let’s talk more about resilience.

In my last post, we looked at the impact our expectations have on resilience – our ability to bounce back from whatever setbacks or challenges we have.

Our Expectations Impact Resilience

Have you ever gone to take a sip from your mug and  it wasn’t what you expected? I did that last week. I thought I had coffee in my mug because that’s what’s usually in my mug and it was GINGER TEA. 

I like ginger tea, but it wasn’t what I expected. I was primed for the coffeeness of coffee, not the tang of ginger. 

So, I spit it out. My expectations impacted my swallowing, right? 


“Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder.” 

I want to share an idea from a book written by Nassim Taleb called, “Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder.” 

He’s got this big complex book and he talks about antifragility as far as economic systems and big things. I mean, this guy’s got a brilliant mind. I’m not going to try to explain the whole book. What I do want to talk about is this idea of being antifragile and how it impacts us as people.


One concept in the book is a triad of fragile, robust, and antifragile. 

Now we understand that fragile means something can break easily, like delicate glass. A little dandelion that gets blown by the wind, that’s fragile. It’s impacted, disintegrated by the circumstance it meets.

Something that’s robust  is resilient. Resiliency is what we’ve been talking about.

A creature that is robust or resilient can handle a setback and bounces back to return to their prior state, or their normal condition.

Something that’s antifragile gets STRONGER from a challenge. 

They IMPROVE from struggles and setbacks. How amazing is it to be antifragile?


The Spectrum of Antifragility

I don’t think antifragile is an all or nothing kind of thing.

 I see it on a spectrum. 

I think it depends on what’s happening in us and around us. 

You know why that is?  

Because we’re people. We’re complex. We’re intricate beings with a lot of interdependencies within us and around us. So, you know, it’s not just an all or nothing kind of thing.


Here’s an example for you of how it can depend. 

I love to cook. I love to be creative in the kitchen. I do not love to grocery shop and I really don’t love to clean up, but I love to cook. And I think it’s usually fun to have some random ingredients to just make something with. But, if I’ve had a really long day, and I’m tired, and I’ve worked hard and all kinds of things have gone on, and then it’s time for me to go fix supper and I walk in and the kitchen is a wreck – and I’ve just had it. 

Well, you know what? I don’t feel like putting together something for supper- let’s just order pizza. I’m kind of fragile in that situation. The situation broke me.  I’m not cooking supper- can’t do it, order the pizza.


But, on a different day, when I’ve had a good day, and I feel strong, I’ve enjoyed myself,  the kitchen is clean, the same circumstances around me-  I open the refrigerator, it’s time to fix supper, and there’s random leftovers – and I’m like, “Heck yeah, I got this. We’re having the best stir-fry ever!” and I do it.

My response to the same circumstance depends on a variety of factors. I bet you can easily see this kind of thing happening in your own life.


Now, just because one night I gave up and we ordered pizza because I was fragile does not mean that we order pizza every night for the rest of our lives, right? 

We’re not doomed to eat pizza – and by the way, I do like a good pizza, that’s not the point. 

The point is just because I was fragile one time, or five times, or fifty times – just because I was fragile in that situation does not mean I’m doomed to repeat it always. 

But how many times do we catch ourselves with a situation in life where we think, “Nah, I can’t do that. I can’t speak up, and say that? Cause that’s just not me.”


Antifragile Means Picking Up and GROWING

Some other things to think about being antifragile, it doesn’t mean you’re perfect. 

It doesn’t mean that you don’t still have feelings, maybe even strong feelings about your situation and think, “I’m not sure that this is going to work. I’m nervous. I’m scared.  I don’t know.” 

It also doesn’t mean that life will always work out for you the way you think it will even when you’re being antifragile.


What being antifragile does mean is – you’re willing to experience what’s happening in life. You’re willing to fail AND pick yourself back up and try again.

Often in our society, failure’s given a bad name, when really, this is how we learn. 


When a  toddler is learning how to walk,, we don’t call it “failure,” when they stumble and fall. No, they’re learning how to walk.

Well, we people are learning how to live life.

It doesn’t matter if we are five, or fifteen, or fifty-five, or seventy-five – we’re still learning things. 

So being antifragile is being willing to put ourselves out there, and experience, and learn and grow.


Sometimes, being antifragile may not look very smart, from an outside perspective.

It may not even look very smart from when you’re looking at it yourself.


But I think there’s this perseverance, this beautiful willingness to grow, to allow yourself that freedom to grow into the person you want to be, and to not let life break you.


Antifragility and Your Job Search

Some of my clients are looking for jobs, and the whole idea of being antifragile is huge for them to come into the job search with the expectations that  it may not be easy, and it may not go the way I think it should or could, but  I’m going to grow. I’m going to persist. I’m going to evaluate and adjust after every interview. I’m going to have my resume, my cover letter, and I’m going to work on my job search and I’m going to do everything that I can do and if I hear a ‘no,’ that’s okay. I’m not going to let it take the wind out of my sails. I’m going to keep on going.

Our expectation and our ability to adjust and to grow and to come out stronger – for those looking for a job – coming out with a job – that’s the goal. So, being antifragile is crucial for the folks who are looking for jobs.


Are You A Fighter?

There was a conversation on Facebook the other day about the trials and struggles of an MMA fighter – and how many years it took him to battle up to reign at the top of the MMA fights and make millions of dollars. It was very inspirational, and the question was asked “Are you a fighter too?” 

I immediately thought, “Of course, I’m a fighter.”

But I kept thinking about it throughout the day.

I realized that, yes,  I am a fighter but what I really  want to be– the spirit I want to have in my life is NOT fighting.

I think there’s so much of that in the world already.

I want to be antifragile.

I’m going to grow. I’m going to persist. I’m going to learn.

When I have obstacles and setbacks, I’m going to improve and it may not be the first time that I hit that obstacle, that I improve. 

It may be the tenth time, or even the hundredth time that I have that obstacle that I improve.

But my goal is to be antifragile. That’s it. That’s what I want.



Life coaching tips from Tracey at tbrowning.com