5 Career Insights from The Black Swan 

JP Michel
"The Black Swan changed my view of how the world works."
-Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize–winning psychologist 

Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s best seller features several insights that we can apply to #careerdevelopment. Career advisors who use these insights can transform how their students prepare for their future.

1. Your future is not just another tomorrow.

Most people underestimate how much they will change. The result is a belief that the future will be another tomorrow, similar to today. 

Action: Acknowledge the likelihood of change in your life. A useful exercise that helps is to look at how much you’ve changed in the past. 

2. Black Swans are coming.

During your career, you will experience unpredictable outlier events. A new technology, a chance meeting, an unexpected opportunity, etc. Taleb calls these Black Swans. The term is based on a saying that presumed black swans did not exist (until they did).

Action: Make room for the unexpected. 

3. The impact of Black Swans is significant. 

These unpredictable events will have an outsized impact on your career. Most of us underestimate both the frequency and the impact of these events.  

Action: Beyond simply anticipating changes, consider the potential scale of these changes. 

4. Embrace the chaos.

We take what we know a little too seriously. The Scientific Revolution made us feel that we were in possession of tools that would allow us to master the future. We believed that uncertainty was gone.

The reality is that we teach people methods that deal with a simple world, in a linear form. Then, we turn them loose in a complex world.  

Action: Commit to lifelong learning, beyond what is expected of you. Learning and unlearning is one of the top skills to thrive in an ever changing, chaotic world. (For more, see the Adaptation Advantage, by Heather E. McGowan).

5. You can prepare, even though you can’t predict.

Our ability to predict the future is limited. Preparing accordingly will help you take advantage of chance, and understand when to protect yourself or to take risks. (For more, see the Chaos Theory of Careers by Jim Bright and Robert Pryor). 

Action: Assess your risk tolerance and use a "barbell" strategy: implement career strategies where you can be hyper-conservative and others where you can be hyper-aggressive.

Photo by Marvin Rozendal on Unsplash

#careeradvice #careers

Let's keep in touch