Taleb, writes that hard work and planning gets you a Mercedes. Black Swans get you a private jet. What do you try to take from this? Humility in the face of things I can’t control. And to learn to be happy and content with the results of the parts I can.
Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.
Nassim Taleb is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting and thoughtful philosophers today. His views on uncertainty and randomness are particularly fascinating to me. FYI, you can find more of Taleb’s thoughts–in quasi-blog form–here: http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/notebook.htm
His first entry at the bottom of the page concerning the distinction between “platonic uncertainty” and “aplatonic uncertainty” and how it may fit into my day-to-day life is especially interesting. I also admire his ability to notice aesthetic beauty in randomness.
ps. That link takes me to an amazon listing of Geraldo’s new book. I don’t know what you’re trying to get at with that but I figure I’d let you know in case it’s a mistake.
Is that the right link?
I don’t know about Taleb. He seems to just be yet another repackager of a number of older ideas who claims that they’re epiphanies. Informative, but not necessarily original.
Success is stochastic, Gaussian probability distributions don’t take into account extenuating circumstances, the distinction between random and pseudorandom is irrelevant if the system you would be simulating is too complex. Oh, and that trusting theory instead of practical understanding is flawed.
What does that have to do with the thoughts posited above?
If one individual is selected from the pool of “Mercedes quality” workers for the Private Jet lifestyle then Taleb would attribute this selection to Blackswan serendipity that lead this worker to be selected out of a pool of possible canidates- similar to the example he gave of authors published in major medical journels.
I think that this is a piece of the puzzle, its true uncontrolable randomness/serendipity play a huge role in life. There is no reason to get upset over things outside of your ability to control or predict. But this perspective also ignores the “X” factors that are controllable- factors that are directly attrituable to success.
Pushing through the dip harder/faster then your competitors. Being that inch better in quality of products/ideas. Using principles of strategy in Greene’s books. All X-factors that lead to success- and that can make the difference between being just another Mercedes and being the tricked out Mercedes that reaches the tipping point to become phenomenally successful.
Scott Adams, certainly an entertaining man, recently suggested that “everyone is born with the same amount of luck, but it gets distributed unevenly.” (http://dilbert.com/blog/entry/luck_distribution/)
Assuming that either Taleb or Adams might be correct (and personal observations alone suggest neither are far off the mark), that ability to ‘go with the flow’ is absolutely essential to living a sane, if not happy, life. It seems to me that the most successful people benefit from their adaptability as much as their smarts or work ethic.