The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Maybe, just maybe, the real geniuses in the professional world are those that can think differently. Taleb certainly does this. Here he explores the theory of the black swan, which is a metaphor for an improbable event that still happens. The image comes from the belief long held that black swans did not exist up until the moment they were found in the wild.
The black swan theory essentially refers to what Taleb calls the “silent risk” or those extreme outliers that cannot be predicted with mathematics. He notes how these events tend to have disproportionate impact on history, on finance, science and technology. Only with the benefit of hindsight do people claim to see the patterns that caused these essentially unpredictable events to come about.
This seems like an odd addition to list of essential books for a professional to read. It is highly philosophical and essentially focused on our ability to sometimes just never know. So, you ask, why read it? Well, if you can recognise and respond to the outlier and acknowledge its impact, you are more likely to take the benefits rather than the consequences of these events. Opening your eyes to the possibility that you might not see it coming but you might be able to see it when it arrives means you will lead the hindsight and savour the lessons.
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