To be or not to be

At the core of becoming antifragile is our ability to take decisions — even when the outcome is difficult to predict or facts are in short supply.

Our key to unlocking this ability is a powerful idea that runs invisibly through almost every aspect of our culture. It gave Shakespeare’s Hamlet his most famous line, “To be, or not to be.” It shapes the defining mantra of the world’s most powerful nation: “You can become anything you want to.” And it sits behind 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, Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones.

This is the idea that one day you might grow to fulfil your destiny.

Who we think we are, and aren’t, determines the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the cars we drive (or don’t). It shapes the jobs we choose, the ways we vote, and the people who become our friends, lovers, and life-partners. Who we think we are determines every action 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 very important reasons.

The first is that a time of change will bring 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. These changes will become most difficult when they challenge our identity. Being aware of these helps us to handle it.

The second is that challenges which arise in a time of change will often force us to make choices we’d rather not make, at times we’d rather not make them. Again, being aware of this helps us to handle it.

The third reason is that if we approach these decisions in the right way we can actually convert them into opportunities: to get clearer on what matters most to us and who we most want to become.

And the fourth reason this matters is that the clearer we become about who we want to be (and not to be), and why, then the quicker and easier these decisions will become  and the more inspired we will feel each morning to get up and do whatever we have chosen to do.

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

This is the fourth step to becoming antifragile.

How easy do you find it to take decisions based on little or no information or when you can’t predict what the outcome is going to be? Would you like to become better at this?

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

You can sign up to daily posts here.

You can buy the book here and the workbook here.

(And remember: you don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming, you also need to practice.)

Photo By Sheep purple via

Leave a Reply