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Are You Antifragile?

3 min readApril 13, 2021

Are you antifragile? Or just fragile?

How do you react and respond to volatility, randomness and disorder?

I’ve been re-reading Nassim Taleb’s book: Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder.

People usually believe that resilience is the inverse of fragility. It’s not.

As Nassim writes “Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”

People who are antifragile learn how to get better under adverse conditions. They learn how to harness ambiguity, volatility and randomness to improve their performance and improve their odds of winning the next time.

Antifragile people benefit from the shock of the unexpected; they thrive and grow when exposed to chaos, stress, risk and uncertainty.

If you’re in sales and looking for a well-ordered work environment that’s shielded from chaos, volatility and ambiguity, then you took the wrong exit off the freeway.

To be an antifragile seller means that you must be prepared for anything that comes your way. Not just that one thing. Everything.

The key to this preparation is learning. Learn as much as you can about everything to prepare for any eventuality.

Remember this wisdom from Thomas Huxley: “Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.”

To learn something about everything means to consume information about a broad range of subjects. Be curious about everything around you. Don’t prejudge which knowledge will become helpful for you to have at some point.

To learn everything about something means to learn everything you can about buying and selling. You’re a seller. Learn everything you can about how that happens.

Following Huxley’s advice is how I’ve prepared myself throughout my career to deal with known variables and to anticipate the unknown.

Here are some rules from Taleb to help you become antifragile:

Stick to simple rules.

If your sales processes are too complex, or too rigid, they become more vulnerable to the natural randomness and volatility of life.

Resist the urge to suppress randomness.

It’s all well and good to have a tightly defined sales process and KPIs. It’s when you insist that reality conform to your process that you become fragile. Embrace ambiguity.

Make sure that you have your soul in the game.

If you’re in sales just to make money, go get another job. Products come and go but you have to be passionate about serving customers and solving problems.

Experiment and tinker.

Take lots of small risks. Rinse and repeat. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” Truer words were never spoken for a sales professional.

Don’t get consumed by data.

Everyone mistakes correlations for cause and effect. And, makes assumptions and generalizations that are not supported by facts in evidence. Data is important if used carefully. It’s your assumption that it’s always right that gets you into trouble.

Focus more on avoiding things that don’t work than trying to find out what does work.

This is a great place to start. Certain things don’t work. Communism. Trickle-down economics. Overly rigid sales processes. Avoid them first before you start experimenting.

Respect the old.

Embrace habits and rules that have been around for a long time. As much as things change, there are some enduring constants. The basics of building a relationship and trust with another human being, for instance.

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About the Author

Andy PaulringDNA

Bestselling author of Amp Up your Sales and Zero Time Selling, Andy Paul is #8 on LinkedIn’s list of the Top 50 Global Sales Experts to follow. With more than 170,000 followers, Andy is a highly sought-after speaker and sales sage who interviews the world’s foremost sales minds and extraordinarily interesting people to bring you strategies and insights that you can use to generate epic wins and massive value.