Author: Martin Trust Center

by Chris Keshian MBA ’22, MIT delta v Program Manager

The Martin Trust Center recently presented an 8-part “Antifragile Speaker Series” in response to the COVID-19 crisis. This is the fourth in a series of blog posts that are meant to shed some light on what it means to be antifragile, and why it so important for entrepreneurs.

Tao is a Chinese word signifying “way.” Tao is the natural order of the universe whose character one’s human intuition must discern in order to realize the potential for individual wisdom. Taoism emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao.

Some describe Tao as the “natural flow of things.” In the context of entrepreneurial endeavors, living in harmony with the Tao is like “rolling with the punches.”

Mental flexibility and open-minded acceptance are critical to being able to stay calm and see potential alternative solutions when confronted with entrepreneurial setbacks.

I firmly believe that I have been well-served by cultivating a world view that allows me to adopt the perspective that “things are as they are meant to be.” According to this perspective, my experiences are contrived by a larger universal force that conspires to provide learning and growth for me in each situation.

This perspective has allowed me to breathe through difficult times and learn to move with them rather than rigidly fight against them.

In Meditations, Marcus Aurelius writes “the impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” If you are flowing with life and “rolling with the punches” instead of being flummoxed by each obstacle you encounter, you can (like water flowing downstream) find another way around it, or potentially even use that obstacle to your advantage.

I am not advocating for a religious perspective, necessarily. But I am advocating for an objective view of the world, with a bias toward viewing unpleasant events as pre-destined learning opportunities.

If this is how things are, then my job is not to fight them, but to accept them, as well as to strive to become aligned with the force and momentum that binds the universe together. This is where I see crossover and alignment among many religions and philosophies, each of which has its own reference to this concept.

  • Taoism refers to aligning with the Way.
  • Stoicism is about placidly accepting and dealing with the trials and obstacles of life.
  • Christianity / Islam / Judaism refer to accepting and trusting God’s will or God’s plan for the world and for your life.
  • Buddhism is about getting rid of suffering, which is caused by one’s desire for things to be different. It is about accepting reality as it exists and learning to adjust to it and find peace in the discomfort.

Basically, all of these philosophies are about dealing with the chaos of the world we live in, one where we actually have very little control and are subject to uncertainty and loss. Rather than griping about how an event unfolds, this worldview has allowed me instead to see what I can learn from it and how I can grow through the pain and suffering. It has also kept me from becoming cynical and jaded when things don’t go my way.

This is the fourth in a series of five posts. Read the others here: