Nassim Taleb’s book, Antifragile, was a game changer to me. The theory is to set up your life in such a way that not only are you resilient to shocks, you actually benefit when adversity strikes.
One of the best examples he uses is debt. Debt makes you fragile. If interest rates go up or the bank calls in the loan, you’re in trouble.
Not having debt makes you resilient. Having lots of cash means you’re anti-fragile in that you can take advantage of opportunities in high-interest rate environments whilst everyone else is running for the hills.
Being anti-fragile means devising a strategy whereby you benefit from unpleasant shocks to the system.
Another example of anti-fragility: Having debt is a good thing in a high-inflation economy where the central bank keeps interest rates low. The erosion of the value of your Rands works against you if you have cash in bank, but works for you if you have borrowed money against an appreciating asset such as a property.
The debt only increases by official interest rates, whereas your property value and rental income increases by real inflation rates.
Now to the topic of this blog, how I applied anti-fragility theory to a very important part of my life:
I used to be the guy who simply wouldn’t drink coffee unless it was excellent. The problem with this strategy is that I was vulnerable to painful shocks when in a strange town and unable to find excellent coffee (i.e.: all towns between Cape Town and Johannesburg).
So I changed tack. I started drinking crappy instant coffee again, and I started liking it again. So now I’m anti-fragile to coffee.
If there’s great coffee available that’s awesome! If there’s only Ricoffy that’s awesome too!
Thank you Nassim Taleb.