Anti Fragile - Local Edition

Anti Fragile - Local Edition

In these tough times, I hear a lot of people talking about grit and resilience. That it's important to hang in there and tough it out.

But I think it takes more than toughness to thrive in crisis.

It takes being Anti-fragile.

To explain this concept, imagine a glass bottle falling on the floor. It breaks. It's fragile.

A piece of rock falls on the same floor. It doesn't break. Is it anti-fragile?


The opposite of fragile - breaking easily, is not that you don't break when force is applied, but that you get better when pressured.

Nassim Taleb describes this concept in a great book(Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder) which I think is particularly important in these times. "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. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better"

Perhaps a more local example will help us understand this concept.

A piece of roti-canai dough is pounded on over and over and over again. With each knead, and pound the dough gets better and better. Finally it's flipped and stretched out, over and over again as thinly as possible until you're left with the lightest, tastiest dish that's a favourite amongst Malaysians.

Roti Canai is a local example of anti-fragile.

So the next time you feel the pain of the pounding or stretching process, consider how these could affect you the way it affects Roti Canai - making you better and better with every single flip/stretch. Don't just be a rock. Be like Roti Canai.

Wai Hong Fong
View Comments
Previous Post

Our one short life

Success! Your membership now is active.