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What I Learnt from Antifragile (V)

This post was first sent to my newsletter on November 16th, 2020.
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Teaching Birds How to Fly, & Skin in the Game!



via pixabay


This probably is the last post, I have on Antifragile, for now.

These lessons over the past few weeks are those, that have sunk in for me, and something that I use on a daily basis. I’ll write more as I learn and internalise some new piece of wisdom (knowing the book, I’m sure I will).

Skin in the Game, is the most important thing, I have learnt from the book.
(It was important enough, to Taleb too, that he went wrote a whole book on it, after Antifragile.

The only folks I should ever listen to, follow, are the folks who have done it, who are doing the work, the folks who have skin in the game.
The world rests of the shoulders of doers.

It is not enough for me to just read a blog to learn Python or programming.
There are a whole lot of folks, spouting opinions, and telling me how to do things. But a guy, who has walked the path I want to walk, who uses his skills the way I aim to, who uses it to better the world he lives in?
Him, I will listen to and do what he tells me to, because he talks to me with his scars.

When I wanted to get out of debt, I read a whole lot of books, but the only person whose advice I followed, was Dave Ramsey

I was a rebellious teen and would have my disagreements with my parents, but growing up, I realise I still live the values they taught me. Because they lived it themselves. Hard work and faith.

The teaching birds how to fly is the flip side of the coin.
It speaks to folks who tell stories and explanations about things and events, after the fact.
Everything, I see, most near everything was built by tinkerers and doers.
Not by folks who theorised and saw the whole picture in their mind and then brought forth perfection.
There might be a few who do that, but that’s not how the rest of the world works.
And I had to learn this the hard way.
There are tons of people who explain things, who tell me how things work, or how things should be done.
But without skin in the game, this is like what Taleb calls, teaching birds how to fly.
Imagine some stuffy manager, with his charts and his plans and his MBA going upto a sparrow and lecturing the poor thing on how exactly it should flap its wings and how it should pose its body for maximum aerodynamic efficiency.
I imagine the sparrow would just ruffle its feathers and go look for the next bird feeder.
The manager, though will still labour under the illusion, that he taught the sparrow to fly!
And then go on to give talks and publish posts on social media as the world’s leading avian technologist.
In the meanwhile it does not matter one whit to the sparrow as it flits about and dives for its grain and berries and whatnot, using its innate knowledge.
So now I always pay attention to whether it is Max Planck himself, who teaches me … or his driver.

This I now know. That when it comes to my relationships or advice or anything that relates to other people, they ought to have skin in the game if they want me to take them seriously.

The same thing helps me look at the big things that I have no control over. Do the decision makers of things that affect me, have skin in the game? Are they affected if things go south? If not, I realise that all this is just a charade, and I am an unwilling victim, and I have to route my life around such events and decisions.

Also applies to the advice I give to my mentees or my friends.
I keep my opinions to myself.
Unless I am asked.
And then, I will only ever talk about the things I have done, the stuff I have experience with, the experiences that life has given me the scars for.
I will happily talk to you about how to lose weight, or computers and networks, or getting out of debt, or writing.
But if you ask me about politics in India or what needs to be done to save the strays of Mumbai, or how to double your money in 10 days, I sadly have no answer for you.
Because I know nothing :)

Look at what the other side is telling you.
Heads, you lose? Tails, they win?
Is someone taking advantage of the fact that you cannot see what they are doing?

It’s simple in the end.
Are they willing to put their money where their mouth is?
Look at whether they have skin in the game.


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