Trial, error, and antifragility

I was looking for the transcript for the Brainstorm event with Christopher Hallpike when I came across the one from last October with Mike Cernovich. I started looking it over, and before I knew it, I found myself 14 pages in. It’s full of good advice from Mike, and it includes me talking about how I’ve applied his advice, both from Gorilla Mindset and from watching his example.

Here is a brief selection from it. I should be able to send it out in epub format to the Brainstorm members next week. The transcript for the Steve Keen event will probably go out around the same time.

QUESTION: I am reading Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb and find the way of going through life by trial and error interesting. Will you both agree on that?

MIKE: My two-part answer to that would be, and I talked about this at the seminar I had the other day, is that life is not like a dance but a wrestling match. That’s a quote from Mark Twain. As for trial and error, you have to let life push back. A lot of people say how do I find my talents? How do I find what I am good at? How do I find my passion? Reality is going to push back at you, and that is where you are going to figure out whether you are good or not. That is where trial and error comes in. So, yeah, I am a huge believer in trial and error. Vox has talked about failing quickly, which is another thing that I believe in.

Let’s say, for example, you want to be really good at something. This is the way that I think you need to go about things. You need to try a lot of things until you find out something that you have the potential to be world-class at. I think everybody has the potential to be really good at something. It might not be the same thing, but there is something inside of you. Everybody has a gift if you try everything, but if you don’t try enough things then you are not going to find out what you are good at and what you’re not good at. For example, I always liked boxing. I was pretty good at boxing, but I would never have been an elite guy. Maybe if I fought really hard I could have been on ESPN once or twice on an undercard, but I never would have been a world-class boxer. So I said, well I am not going to get my head beaten in much longer for something I will never be elite at. How my business model works is that every time I get negative attention, every time I get conflict, I get stronger, my websites get stronger, and I sell more books.

VOX: I think that for both of us, being antifragile is particularly important because we are so targeted by SJWs who are constantly trying to disqualify, discredit, and disemploye. They can’t fire you from your job. They can’t fire me from my job. It is just not possible. That is exactly what being antifragile is.

MIKE: But more than that, the more they attack, the more your web traffic grows.

VOX: That is true as well, but the important thing, the important concept, is to allow yourself to live life in an antifragile way, because antifragility is about more than politics and personal enemies. You want to be antifragile with regards to the economy, changes in your personal life, and even the people around you. For me, the trial and error concept is vital because one of the biggest flaws that I see in a lot of the intelligent people around me is that they are constantly trying to work out the perfect plan. That just doesn’t work. Like Mike Tyson said, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. That is the situation that most of us are in with our businesses, or with our jobs. We all have a plan, and we all try to come up with an idea that will work, but then reality so often throws you a curveball that you can’t plan for.

MIKE: I was just re-emphasizing that point which is you’re not going to know what you’re good at until life decides what you’re good at. We don’t really have unlimited potential for anything. Some things we are going to be better at and some things we are going to be terrible at and some things no matter how hard you try, how hard you practice, you’re never going to be great at. That is why instead of sitting around thinking well in ten years here is what I am going to be, you need to be thinking in ten minutes here is what I am going to do and I am going to do it. You will find out real quick if that is going to work out for you.

I highly recommend both Antifragile and Gorilla Mindset. They are very, very different books, but they will both affect your thinking in positive ways. And speaking of Brainstorm, we’ll probably hold the monthly closed event sometime next week. There is much to discuss.