June 10, 2014

Alex Bellini and antifragility

Sport

Alex Bellini and antifragility

Alex Bellini is a sportsman sui generis. Known for his solo ocean crossings, today we can see him on television as he tells us about his next adventure. One year adrift on an iceberg, to face a new challenge that goes beyond the efforts of an athlete: he defines it a hermit’s adventure, a way to challenge himself first of all. Adrift is the name of the project, which will also have a social value: with him on the raft of ice there will be journalists, bloggers and ecologists, united by the desire to raise public awareness on the issue of climate change.

But today I want to talk about another aspect of Alex that struck me: I did not expect a sportsman to quote an essay of financial mathematics: Antifragile by Nassim Taleb. The idea of the book is that only by embracing uncertainty we can change, in order to become stronger and reinvent ourselves. Bellini draws some interesting conclusions from this: he organizes his adventures as an entrepreneur, to minimize the risks involved. But he acknowledges that the unknown, the volatile, the precarious, are the building blocks of life: they allow us to bring out the best of ourselves and access deep resources which may be limited by our rationality.

Taleb is famous for saying: My greatest hobby is teasing those who take themselves too seriously and those who do not have the guts to say, at least once in a while, ‘I do not know …’. For many a sign of weakness, for others an exciting statement: the thrill of the unknown and the challenge of changing and opening up to a new future, yet to be built.

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