Antifragile Thinking – New Old Ancient Nature

How can we use volatility to improve our thinking?

Rank the incoming information according to age – New Old Ancient Nature – if in doubt then choose the older option.

Remember that time will kill most ideas and concepts. Be willing to miss out on the latest/greatest – pay attention to concepts that are proven by time.

I coach a surgeon and his Dad was also a doctor. Now retired, the older doctor noted that “everything I learned in med school turned out to be incorrect.” Now clearly, everything wasn’t wrong! I would love to ask the doc, out of everything you learned, what was right?

We might get a list like:

  • Hygiene – do it
  • Blood pressure as leading indicator of a need for lifestyle change
  • Smoking – avoid it

Thinking back to my own education (economics and finance). What proved to be correct?

  • Track the cash
  • Interest rate trends
  • Mean reversion
  • Compounding

Another field that interests is endurance sport:

  • Consistency
  • Variable Stimuli
  • Strength and Stamina
  • Specific Preparation


  • Restrict the “new” – refined, processed, modified, engineered
  • Focus on the “old”  – ingredients your great-grandmother could have eaten

In a field that interests you, what are the three concepts that have stood the test of time? Focus on those concepts.

As you discover the power of this concept, you’ll benefit from reducing the fire hose of noise that reaches you daily via the media, advertising and social networks. These sources of info are “new” and. therefore, useless at best. More likely, they are misleading and reduce the quality of our thinking.

To improve my thinking, I need less noise in my head. “Not-thought” is what makes “good thought” clear to me.

Turning this on it’s head… if I can increase the amount of “no-thought” then the depth of my insight will increase and I’ll be able to see the useful info contained in what gets through. Implications:

  • Reduce email – a favorite from Taleb’s AMA is limit to 15 messages per day
  • Restrict media and eliminate the most noisy sources – television, chat forums, Facebook, reality TV, talk radio
  • Schedule breaks to settle mind (exercise, mediation)
  • Replace mental habits that clutter thinking
    • envy replaced by being happy for others
    • over-correction replaced by finding the good
    • Tinkering replaced by letting it ride
    • anger/fear/sorrow replaced by gratitude

I find that I don’t need to be charitable for the above to work. 

“Thank God, I’m free to act differently than that person.” triggers gratitude and let’s me move on.