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My antifragile plant

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Anthony Pica
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My antifragile plant

My antifragile plant

I waited all summer for my elephant ear plant to grow.

I planted the bulb in July, but it refused to grow—until my son "helped" by ripping it out of the soil when he was playing.

I put the bulb back into the soil, and within three days it somehow grew more than it did all summer.

As the cliché goes, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

If you're familiar with Nassim Taleb's work, the phrase "things that gain from disorder" might ring a bell.

In his book Antifragile, Taleb introduces us to the concept of antifragility with this question:

You are in the post office about to send a gift, a package full of champagne glasses, to a cousin in Central Siberia. As the package can be damaged during transportation, you would stamp "fragile," "breakable," or "handle with care" on it (in red). Now what is the exact opposite of such situation, the exact opposite of "fragile"?

And he offers a simple response:

The exact opposite of a "fragile" parcel would be a package on which one has written "please mishandle" or “please handle carelessly." Its contents would not just be unbreakable, but would benefit from shocks and a wide array of trauma.

We know that resilience is a key component of leadership. While fragile leaders buckle under pressure, resilient leaders bounce back and maintain composure for the sake of the team and its mission.

But playing on another level are antifragile leaders that view obstacles as opportunities. They leverage hardship for improvement. Learning from mistakes and treating failure as education in disguise, they keep moving forward to advance their position. They grow in spite of adversity—just like my elephant ear plant.

"The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better," says Taleb.

I'm not sure why my elephant ear plant started growing only after it was ripped from its home and replanted, but it now serves as a curious reminder of antifragile leadership.

My antifragile plant
My antifragile plant

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