Nico Appel

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What I don’t do – acts of omission

Meeting people, you might also get asked quite often what it actually is that you are doing.

I, for one, am beginning to realize that this is the less important and interesting question to ask or answer. Because of what I do and how I do it, more could be said about what I don’t do – consciously and intentionally.

Nassim Taleb uses the phrase via negativa (slightly redefined) in Antifragile. He writes:

Yet in practice it is the negative that’s used by the pros, those selected by evolution: chess grandmasters usually win by not losing; people become rich by not going bust (particularly when others do); religions are mostly about interdicts; the learning of life is about what to avoid.

It’s fascinating. The underlying mechanic is this:

Positive action, doing, is “respected and glorified by our primitive minds” (location 5042).

Negative actions, not doing something, “are not considered acts and do not appear to be part of one’s mission” (location 5047).

So when we meet next time, let’s talk about what we don’t do that is working for us.