Antifragility – What will recovery from the Covid-19 crises take?

By Ednah Khosa

Long before 2020 and the world of Covid-19, we’d moved from a stable, predictable world to one characterised by volatility and uncertainty. In this context organisations are better defined by shifting, overlapping networks than the traditional, static organogram we know so well.  Yet there is little doubt that the last 18 months have amplified and accelerated this change as we navigate the ‘corono-coaster’ ups and downs on a daily basis both individually and collectively.

The central question for all of us at the moment is ‘How do we adjust to these Covid times – how do we bounce back and recover from all the losses and challenges that we have faced in the past year?’

In April 2021, Factor10 hosted a masterclass with global partners Tal Ben-Shahar and Angus Ridgway – authors of the ‘Joy of Leadership’  and co- founders of Potentialife – in which they introduced the concept of ‘anti fragility’. The masterclass expanded beyond the current, wide-spread ‘resilience’ focus and being able to ‘bounce back’ after adversity; instead offering the idea of ‘anti-fragility’ and the possibility of ‘bouncing forward’ and post traumatic growth. Tal and Angus positioned a set of conditions and principles for us to step into the ‘best versions’ of ourselves; and create new ‘islands of sanity’  reinventing our  current ways of coping and ‘protective cocoons’ and creating something stronger.

SHARP – Tal and Angus’s  model and an acronym  integrates evidence -based studies from the field of positive psychology, neuroscience and behavioural science –  captures the conditions needed for ‘anti-fragility’. These include:

  1. Strengths – knowing and using strengths and passions more
  2. Health – using energy and recovery to better manage stress
  3. Absorption – being more mindful, engaged and present
  4. Relationships – being both positive and authentic in our interactions
  5. – identifying and living in a purpose-driven way daily.

As we grapple with everything the current time asks of us, ‘anti-fragility’ suggests that we can grow, re-imagine and re-invent ourselves post this collective trauma if we’re SHARP.  It invites us to reach deeply into our own humanity and to recognise the humanity of those around us.  It asks us to take care of both ourselves and others –  to connect, to rest and to focus on a greater sense of meaning and purpose. In a way, it provides a map for us towards better times and better selves.

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