Success Leads to Scarcity, Failure to Abundance

We seem to take the opposite position… success leads to abundance.  Well doesn’t it?  If you get good marks in school, you get to get into your choice of College or University, and your choice of program.  Success!  Good grades in University place you at the top of your class and therefore into prime hiring opportunities.  Success!  Getting good in your career, profession, or trade can lead you to promotions, raises, bonuses.  Success, success, nothing but success!

So where is the scarcity?

Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad and the entire series of books which grew from his bestseller addresses this topic exactly… his ‘Rich Dad’ did not do well in school, so he went out to start his own business.  By starting a business his Rich Dad actually started out and was much ‘poorer’ (financially speaking) than his ‘Poor Dad’ because everything he made was reinvested back into his business.  Poor Dad is actually a real life example of the opening paragraph…. he was someone who went from ‘success’ to ‘success’, ending up with a PhD becoming the Superintendent of Schools in the State of Hawaii.

So, where’s the catch…

Read the full story here.

Rich Dad Poor Dad


Available at Chapters Indigo and

the Burlington Public Library.

4 thoughts on “Success Leads to Scarcity, Failure to Abundance

  1. MGrodski Post author

    This blog may have been titled better if it read…
    Success Leads to Fragility, Failure to Antifragility

    Dr Nassim Taleb‘s book titled “Antifragile” explores the concepts of fragility, robustness, and antifragility and the risks associated with building anything – an economy, a device, a business model, the individual – without a tolerance to understand nor withstand tail risks.

    In sport, athletes and coaches seem to believe that toughness, and the ability to win arises from overtraining, and the tolerance to withstand overtraining repeatedly. As discussed in the blogs titled “Stress Adaptation and Overtraining”, it is clear that this strategy – like the ‘success’ focus discussed in the above blog post – can lead to short term gains, but in the end is met with long term losses (i.e. injuries, burn out, max out), significant recovery and healing time required to return just to a healthy normal state, let alone returning to a level of fitness commensurate with national or international competition. As in business and finance, short term success strategies are fragile, not robust.

    Robustness, endurance, tolerance for adverse conditions arises from experiencing failure after failure, and hardening oneself against those conditions. In a by gone era, people like the products, services and companies they built were made to last, quality was critical, it was the goal. Today much is built to last just long enough to provide companies with the opportunity to release the upgraded version, resulting in the purchase of the new, and disposal of the old. Quantity, turnover, one time use, convenience takes precedence over all else. Problem is quality is never convenient, neither in products, services, companies, nor in athletes. You want to be a quality athlete: one with the capacity to endure, tolerance for adversity unlike any competitor, then an attitude of convenience will not award you these results.

    Now if you want to be as Dr Taleb suggests is possible, i.e. antifragile, then you need to take robustness to an entirely new level, and that is creating new solutions to problems that no one has imagined possible to be solved. It is not simply failing and learning to take failure, it is learning to learn from failure so as to modify technique, and with persistent enthusiasm applying alternative solutions until the break through occurs. It is unyielding faith that the break through will occur, its just a matter of learning, trial and error. Learning this process over years, developing the depth of character which builds from enduring this process over years, this is what develops antifragile individuals who yield consistent peak performances.

    For athletes, becoming antifragile is equivalent to having the ability to attack always one more time than any of your competitors, it is having trained in a manner where your opponents do not understand why they fatigue yet you persist, it is taking your knowledge of human performance and of your sport to a new level where simply trying to keep up with you is hard work for everyone else.

    Steel is fragile. Forged steel is robust as it has been caused to endure repeated stress. It is the blacksmith who is antifragile, for he is the one who knows how to take the piece of steel and mold it to create a solution for the problem at hand. Craftmanship develops from apprenticeship. Apprenticeship is not a course, not a device, not a week long training camp promising you to rise to a new level; apprenticeship is the commitment to learn not just the science, but also the art, the nuances, to go through trial and error until the mystery with which your mentor works become revealed.

    The difference between the apprentice and the craftsman: the apprentice can forge one solution from a select piece of steel, the craftsman can forge any solution out of any piece of steel.

  2. MGrodski Post author

    Fragile human = one who believes that health and well being arise from a visit to the doctor, the prescription pad, or the operating room, and/or regular visits to their regulated health professional for whatever quick fix they provide.
    > Example of the Fragile Mindset

    Robust human = focus exclusively on the physical aspect of performance, train as if they were forging a body from steel (i.e. beating it harder & longer = better, exhaustion is the measure of success in training); relies on a single strategy and mindset…go out hard, and hold it. Goal in everything: hold it longer than last time, eventually this yields ‘success’, with pain tolerance often cited as the pivot point. In times when success either arises or fails to arise, they are unable to accept other variables as having any correlation or causation with their objectives.
    > Example of the Robust Mindset

    Antifragile human = trains physically, mentally, and emotionally, is able to rotate through each dimension smoothly, from which they derive energy, vision, plasticity, allowing them to create solutions in the midst of adversity (e.g. training or competition) to address the effects of direct, indirect, and non-present variables while synthesizing risks associated with both intended and unintended consequences of available alternatives.
    > Example of the Antifragile Mindset

  3. MGrodski Post author

    Books by Dr Nassim Taleb:
    1. The Bed of Proscrustes – Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms
    2. Fooled by Randomness – The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in Markets
    3. The Black Swan – The Impact of the Highly Improbable
    4. Antifragile – Things that Gain From Disorder

    With the exception of #2, all these books are available at Burlington Public Library.

  4. MGrodski Post author

    An essay written carrying a similar perspective that there is a compounding effect to developing attributes which in time, allow the individual to leverage these skills to accomplish on a level inconsistent with the level of wealth his family had at the time of his birth.

    Published at: Ludwig Von Mises Institute Canada
    Freedom of Opportunity, nor Equality of Opportunity

    Now, of course, the real fact is that individuals are not born perfectly equal in all respects, not in the wealth of their parents, and they do not make the same choices in connection with developing their skills and abilities. Time and again, there are individuals born to poorer parents, to parents badly deficient not only in wealth, but in education, knowledge, and even character; individuals whose own endowment at birth or in childhood is not only not exceptional, but possibly deficient in some important respects. Yet, over the course of their lives, these individuals manage to far outstrip in their accomplishments practically everyone else, despite their having begun under such seemingly insuperable disadvantages.

    What enables them to do this is making the choice and the effort to exploit as far as they can whatever opportunities present themselves for self-improvement. Once they begin to do this, they actually do begin to improve themselves. And now, when they face the world, they are better equipped than before. And because they are better equipped, there are more opportunities for self-improvement open to them than there were before. They seize these further opportunities, thereby further improving themselves and their subsequent ability to act and to seize opportunities. And so on, year after year.

    What happens is that these individuals engage in a personal, internal process very similar to capital formation in the economy of a country. They use the means at their disposal to build the personal attributes—intellectual, psychological, moral, and physical—required for further success. And then they use the personal attributes they have constructed thus far to further construct such attributes. It is similar in principle to the process of a poor farmer scrimping and straining to obtain an additional supply of seed; of then using the larger supply of seed to produce a bigger crop the following year, from which a much greater supply of seed can be obtained for the year after that, and so on. Or to the economy of a whole country working very hard and saving very heavily to be able to make iron and steel available for the construction of the first railroads and steel mills, and then with the aid of those first railroads and steel mills being able to produce more of practically everything, including more and better railroads and steel mills.

    Concentration on building up the means of further action, whether internal and personal or external and material, produces exponentially increasing results. Each success serves to increase the capabilities for further action, which makes possible still greater success. Those who concentrate heavily on these efforts rapidly improve, while those who neglect them stagnate or decline. It is on these principles that we can understand both such things as how Japan, so poor and backward a generation or two ago, can now [early 1990s] be within sight of economically overtaking the United States and how Demosthenes the ancient Athenian, who began as a stutterer, could become a great orator, and how, again and again, in a free society, poor boys grow up to become rich and famous.

    Read the entire essay here.

Comments are closed.