To be or not to be

Sitting at the core of becoming antifragile is our ability to take decisions when the outcome is difficult to predict.

Key to us unlocking this ability is a powerful idea that runs invisibly through almost every aspect of our culture.

This is the hidden pattern gave Shakespeare’s Hamlet his most famous line, “To be, or not to be.” This is what shapes the defining mantra of the world’s most powerful nation: “You can become anything you want to.” And this is what is hidden in the universal structure of the Hero’s Journey, that runs through almost every spellbinding, bestselling story ever told: from Casablanca to Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Breaking Bad.

The key is the idea that we might one day grow to fulfil our destiny, our identity.

Who we think we are determines the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the cars we drive (or don’t). It shapes the careers we choose, the way we vote, and the people who become our friends, lovers, and life-partners. Who we think we are sits behind every action that we take: whether we follow the well-worn path or the road less travelled.

And in a time of change, this small but powerful idea becomes even more important, for four significant reasons.

The first is that change brings us challenges that make it harder to do the things we are used to doing and to have the things we are used to having. This becomes a challenge to our identity.

The second is that these challenges then force us to make choices we’d rather not make, at times we’d rather not make them.

The third is that — if we approach it in the right way — each decision can actually become an opportunity for us to get clearer on what matters most to us and who we most want to become.

And the fourth is that the the clearer we become on who we are willing to be (and not to be) and why, the easier it becomes to make these choices, and the more inspired we can feel each morning to get up and do what needs to be done.

In a time of change, knowing more clearly who we want to be and not to be is a powerful method both for defining what success looks like for us and for achieving that success.

This is the fourth step to becoming antifragile.

When faced with significant changes, how quickly and easily do you choose what actions to take? Would you like to become faster and clearer at this?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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