How to become a hydra

Jimmy sips his cherry cola, looks Vernon in the eye and says: "You don't want to be resilient. I mean: You do. But what you Really want to be is Anti-fragile. The symbol of resilience, the phenix, once killed, resuscitates identical to its old self. The Hydra, mascot of anti-fragility, grows an extra head each time a head is cut. It hence grows larger than its old self after hardships."

Vernon, looking out the window of the Old Buick, murmurs: "So ... What if you don't want hardships?"

Jimmy smiles like his cunning self: "No pain no gain." He opens the book and reads: "Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure , risk, and uncertainty. (...) Let us call it anti-fragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the anti-fragile gets better."


The muscular black man to whom "no pain, no gain" had dug out the bodybuilding days asks:

  • "So ... How do I become a hydra ?"
  • "Listen to this: Consider that Mother Nature is not just “safe.” It is aggressive in destroying and replacing, in selecting and reshuffling . (...) our planet has been around for perhaps four billion years and, convincingly, robustness can’t just be it: you need perfect robustness for a crack not to end up crashing the system. Given the unattainability of perfect robustness, we need a mechanism by which the system regenerates itself continuously by using, rather than suffering from, random events, unpredictable shocks, stressors, and volatility."

Vernon unwraps his fork and pierces his chicken breast. Jimmy emerges from his book, pauses for a second and says: "Maybe you shouldn't get that car loan buddy. The book says: You have to avoid debt because debt makes the system more fragile. You have to increase redundancies in some spaces. You have to avoid optimization." Vernon picks a potato, smells it and sticks it under his molars. His canines had been hurting him lately.