THE LIFE COACH SCHOOL PODCAST – Brooke Castillo

Episode 284 – ANTI-FRAGILE

One of my favorite Bible characters is the Apostle Peter. I would have named our first son after that great Apostle, except I’d dated a Peter. And you can’t name a child after someone you’d long-ago dated. Okay, you can. But we didn’t. So we don’t have a Peter.

Let’s look at Peter and the other Apostles, sitting with Christ at the Last Supper:

“Now when the even was come, He sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, He said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?”

Matthew 26:20-22

Can you imagine Peter’s dismay? “Is it me? I have tried my best to follow Thee, Lord. I know I have failed in so many ways: I couldn’t walk on the water, I asked all the wrong questions, but I have learned from my failures! Is it possible that I will fail again? Will I be the one who betrays my Lord?”

I won’t go into the rest of the story. We know how it goes. But, listening to the podcast this week, anti-fragile verses fragile, I felt the spirit of the Apostles’ words: Is it I? I have tried so hard, Lord? Could this be another way that I am falling short?

Is Brooke talking about ME here? Am I “fragile”? Am I “overly sensitive, overly hurt by everything that happens in the world…easily broken or damaged”? Lots of questions today. Lots of self-analyzing.

“I think so many of you are living your life as if you are fragile, as if you can’t take the failure, you can’t take the mistakes, you can’t take the humiliation, you can’t take the attacks, or the stress – that you have to protect yourself, which, of course, makes you more fragile.”

What is anti-fragile? It is not enough to be strong in the face of failure or trials – to stand up to mistakes or attacks. Anti-fragile is:

“A system that increases in capability to thrive, as a result of stressors, shocks, mistakes, faults, attacks, or failures. It increases in capability the more that it fails, the more mistakes it makes, the more that it is attacked…”

We are anti-fragile when we learn from the struggle – when we “increase in capability”, not despite the troubles, but because of the troubles.

Question. Is it possible to be anti-fragile in some areas of our lives, while living as if we are fragile in other areas?

My son died. I cried. I cried for a long time. Even last night, I dreamed about the hospital Matthew died in. It is real. But I pick myself up. I choose to carry on, and I have found myself living and loving more than I had before his death. ANTI-FRAGILE.

My parents got divorced. I cried. I threw things. I stopped sleeping. I despaired. I doubted relationships in my own life. I made myself physically sick. I still live in pain and frustration. FRAGILE.

Bryant and I go to the gym to stress out our muscles, three times a week. Really, that is what we are doing, right? By providing that stressor – that struggle – we are strengthening our bodies’ muscles.

The human body is literally anti-fragile.

But some muscles heal from the stress and then grow quicker than others. Why? Maybe it’s me. Maybe I am doing the exercises inefficiently or maybe even wrong, all together. Maybe I hadn’t cared for that part of my body in the past as conscientiously as other parts of my body. Maybe I’ve even abused that part of my body in the past, and it is fragile because of the neglect or the abuse.

By continuing to exercise that part of my body, patiently and carefully, slowly, and maybe even with the help of a physical therapist, the anti-fragile nature of my body will enable even that fragile body part to strengthen itself.

“What would it mean if we were anti-fragile? If we knew that all the challenges in our lives were free weights that would make us stronger – how would we approach our lives in a different way?”

If I assume not only my physical body is anti-fragile by nature, but also my brain – which controls my emotions, actions, results – is anti-fragile by nature, then my “problems” become a strengthening factor, if I “lift” them – if I go to them, embrace them, accept them, and use them to serve me. And maybe I will need to lift slowly, patiently, carefully. And maybe I need help to exercise in “correct form”, so as not to cause more damage. But, if I do so, I will be better next year than I was this year.

That makes me want to cry, for relief.

Brooke has always talked about the 50%. Life is 50% positive and 50% negative. That is just life – that is just the world that we live in. “And one of the points I believe of being in the world, is to utilize that (50% negative) to fortify ourselves, to grow ourselves, to evolve ourselves beyond what we would be capable of doing” if we only lived in the 50% positive.

How would I approach my life in a different way, if I were anti-fragile? I think I would be more brave in the face of that 50% negative. I wouldn’t need to hide or cower in fear of stress and pain. I think I would also be more compassionate – to myself, to others, to this life-experience.

So, yes. IT IS I. Right? Brooke is talking to me. And I am thrilled. If I am the problem, I am also the solution.