"Missing a train is only painful if you run after it!"

What is interesting about the conclusion of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book The Black Swan was not how he said he is very aggressive when he can gain exposure to positive Black Swans and very conservative when he is under threat from a negative one. It was the "life-changing advice" he received from a classmate in Paris, who once prevented him from running to catch a subway, saying "I don't run for trains."

Taleb said that while this may seem a very small piece of advice, it registered. Good for him. On a daily basis we come across advice, wisdom, quotes and lessons that have the potential of changing our life, but they simply don't REGISTER. It is always "in one ear, out the other". Look at what Taleb has learned from this "very small piece of advice":

"In refusing to run to catch trains, I have felt the true value of elegance and aesthetics in behaviour, a sense of being in control of my time, my schedule, and my life," Taleb wrote. He has taught himself to resist running to keep on schedule. He has taught himself that one stands above the rat race and the pecking order if one does so by choice.

He relates this wisdom to Black Swans and said that you are exposed to the improbable only if you let it control you.

I am ashamed to say that while I always secretly sneer at those Hong Kong people who mindlessly flock to a train like some conditioned sheep as soon as they see its door open, I am nevertheless guilty of running to catch a train when I am in a hurry. The irony is that I think I am above them because at least I do it with a reason. It's a classic case of seeing the speck in other people's eyes but not noticing the log in our own.

How ignorant and heady can one get?

No comments: