Michelle Huntington, the 342nd person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, lives her life with an anti-fragile mindset.

As Michelle explains, rather than responding to setbacks or challenges with resilience, which involves returning to a previous state, she prefers anti-fragility, which involves making yourself stronger and emerging in a better place than where you started.

Michelle has lived an incredibly diverse life, with no shortage of setbacks and challenges.

During her twenties, she lived on a cotton farm, did commercial interior design and taught business, among other things. One day, a new friend, who worked in aviation, raised the idea of Michelle studying to become a pilot. This was actually an old dream of Michelle’s – her father had been in the air force and she’d wanted to become a pilot herself, until a careers adviser told her it wasn’t a suitable profession for women.

Michelle had to sell her home to afford the training course, which cost tens of thousands of dollars, but she decided to take the risk. During her first three training flights, she vomited, but forced herself to keep going. From there, she climbed the ranks, from working as an instructor and charter pilot to becoming a captain for Rex Airlines and Virgin Australia. As one of Virgin’s few female captains, Michelle appeared on billboards and gave speeches.

During the pandemic, Michelle left the aviation industry and took her career in a completely different direction. Today, she works as head of operations and customer success for KindiCare, a two-sided marketplace for the early childhood education and care market, delivers keynote presentations about leadership and anti-fragility, and co-hosts a podcast.

While it sounds like Michelle has had a smooth career path, in reality she’s faced numerous personal and workplace challenges. Michelle has learned that at those moments of fear and self-doubt, the best way to respond is with an anti-fragile mindset.