Kobayashi Maru, the no-win scenario
Introducing Kobayashi Maru a few weeks back, I had no idea I would be stuck in this kind of situation. And let me tell you, Friend – one part of me is devastated because… It is a no-win situation. By definition, there is no way for me to come out on top. But the other part is absolutely exciting, because… It’s Kobayashi Maru.
When you are young, they assume you know nothing
I can see that this weird excitement of mine is making you confused, my friend. But hey, when life throws pop cultural phenomena at you, there is no room for being sad about it. Even though it is technically a no-win situation. Cheer up, though. Being aware of the circumstances is the first step to solving the issues. Even if they seem unsolvable.
I wanted to have a coffee with you, but seeing that hyperactive-ness, an extra dose of caffeine was not an option. A run then! But you have to keep up the pace. Did you know that the professional runners can run 10k in 33 minutes? Don’t worry. Running is the escape from Kobayashi Maru, but it’s not something we can actually outrun. Did you know that I used to hate running?
It was ridiculous to me to make it on “time”. The standards are stupid and I always thought it is better to finish a run than come in at the finish line, according to specific table. Who were the people that decided it was okay to pressurize kids from a young age? You smile, trying to adjust to my rather slower pace, but the smile means that the old-me is back.
Sequin smile, black lipstick
Because that last week was awful. Work wise mainly, because it turns out that people that are supposed to have your back… Vanish and bend their heads down, when the heat comes. Heat. There was no heat, just people blowing smoke. Tiring, but unfortunately out of my hands. We cross the road to the woods, to complete my favorite 4k loop. Here I can explain why I think it’s a Kobayashi Maru.
But you got it right, friend. It is politics, just with no sensual charm to it. It’s stone-cold, heartless and destructive politics. The higher it goes, the worse. But let me remind you how the actual Kobayashi-Maru exercise goes: designed to test the cadet’s decision process but also… Something else. The crew receives a distress call from the ship, called Kobayashi Maru – a civilian ship that has struck a gravity mine in the Klingon Neutral Zone. This distress call is impossible to verify.
It is time for captain-cadet to make a decision: attempt to rescue the Kobayashi Maru’s crew and passengers, which would result violating the Neutral Zone and provoke the Klingons into armed action or even war, or abandon the Kobayashi Maru, which means the death of passengers and crew, but would prevent the war with the Klingons.
Like I said, a lose-lose situation. What is the key to surviving this kind of storm? Kirk cheated, in both timelines. One handled it better than the other. Personally, I am a bigger fan of how it was dealt with in the Kelvin branch.
A friend to all is a friend to none
We progressed on our run; I think we made it to ¼ of the workout. We passed so many dogs on our way! It’s the weekend, a lot of people actually went out. But you can feel the autumn in the air. Sure, upcoming weeks are forecasted to be quite hot, but you can feel that subtle whim. I will spend this autumn in my apartment, which is both exciting and scary, I am used to living with someone and truth being said… I can see the change between my parents and me. And it’s not caused by the fact that I’m moving; I think we finally understood each other.
` In the Kelvin timeline, they actually made Kirk face the consequences of his cheating. And it got me thinking – is the no-win situation, a real Kobayashi Maru, truly unsolvable? I am not talking about turning it into a win-win, but just… I don’t know. Something. Kirk cheated. Is this really the only way? It seems like a win-lose, though. In the original ST, he was praised for being smart and thinking outside of the box.
Is that what I need in my situation? To cheat? Or just accept my faith, and go with The Office philosophy – “Not everything’s a lesson, Ryan. Sometimes you just fail”? You stop rapidly in your tracks. I only noticed it after a few meters. You look at me and I can see that confusion again. My gaze wanders on the big log. We can take a break here.
But I knew you, playing hide-and-seek
Watching you sit down in anger is not pleasant. We’ve been on this road again, not so long ago, remember? But this is different. First of all, I am excited about my own Kobayashi Maru. This is important and the second I realized what was going on, I felt… Relief. Do you hear me, friend? I felt relieved, because this is familiar.
And okay, I have my knowledge from a movie. But there is also some psychology behind my approach. Or math even. Are you familiar with game theory? This used to be my favorite part of math, logic or whatever the subject name it was. Anyway, game theory describes Kobayashi Maru (okay, it does not have this epic name, it’s a no-win situation) as a situation in which no player benefits from any outcome.
Why is it important, you may ask? Because I believe that math, statistics, logic and psychology might have an answer to the question: what to do when you are stuck in a lose-lose situation. So, I did some digging. And it’s not what you think.
You drew stars around my scars
But now I’m bleeding
Let’s start with asking a different question: is Kobayashi Maru a good test of leadership skills? Can you really define a leader by how they respond to a no-win scenario? Certainly, it is a good way of attesting the ethical aspect of leadership, but… That is a dilemma I would never want to face: save people’s life and risk the possibility of war or sacrifice people and avoid the war?
James T. Kirk said he does not believe in no-win scenarios. But he reprogrammed the simulation in his favor and that is not easy in real life. I mean, how can I reprogram people around me? Besides, Kirk didn’t like to lose. He was a Starfleet’s flyboy and did not understand the purpose of the exercise. Which was the case and point of Kelvin’s timeline trial.
I uh, besides the obvious link to Kobayashi Maru, my situation seems like Catch-22. The book, I mean. Book by Joseph Heller. And that is the psychological aspect I want to touch now. Have you read it? It’s a great book! And hey, speaking of books – the 4th part of Mitch Rapp series is awesome. Should finish it this week and then it’s time for Godfather! It’s part of the Movie Club’s Book Club and… I stop because I can feel your gaze on me. Okay, I am drifting away, right?
I knew you, tried to change the ending
Peter losing Wendy
I smile, because that is one of the ways to “win” in a no-win situation. Change the ending by… Not engaging, leaving the field. You know how sometimes we are forced to choose lesser evil? Well, try choosing none. Refuse to be a part of a situation offering no acceptable alternative. That way you can protect your integrity – by choosing not to comply.
Unfortunately, I cannot just walk away from my job. I have bills to pay and I’m not a published author. Yet. But still, it sounds amazing, to be in a position when you can just walk the hell away from the toxic, lose-lose situation you are in. I am forced to choose the lesser evil – which is staying put and putting a lid on everything.
So, what to do with this Kobayashi Maru? I sit down next to you on a cold log. The tree was struck by lightning and moved by the archers, to clear their training path. So, we got “retreat” covered. The other option is to wait. Wait for conditions to change for the better. For a person that doesn’t like to be passive, this is probably the hardest thing to do. Why? Because there is no guarantee that things will improve. Heck, there is even an option that some people will think that since I’m not doing anything about it, I am fine with it.
Last option that psychology offers is to… Advance. Try to face the odds and make the decision based on your gut feeling. You don’t seem to be convinced, but we should get going. The mosquitoes will eat us alive.
I knew you’d haunt all of my what-ifs…
We run again and I can feel that unspoken question you have for me: what are YOU going to do? Survive, I think. There is no other option. I don’t have a lot of room to maneuver. But what I do have is 5 days of work and then 2 long weeks of well-deserved vacation. I plan to rest, do some hikes and swim. And run a lot as well.
What I also want to do is create a vision for myself. Literally, I want to think about where I see myself in a year, 2 and 5 years. Rough sketches, you know? Nothing final. No feeling is final, right? It is time to be the bunny. This will allow me to create a game plan, something to go on with. It sounds like a 4-step plan, right? Okay, let’s think…
Okay, here I found step 3: learn. Continue to develop and grow, never stop educating yourself. This time is never wasted, right friend? You have a damn fine brain, never let it feel numb or, what’s worse, bored. We know how dangerous a bored mind can be. Plus, I like to learn so that will never be a problem. And finally, step 4… Pay more attention to people who “want what’s best for you”. Not saying friends or family, no. I want to think about people at work. The same people, who choose the heaters instead of me.
And I knew you’d come back to me,
You’d come back to me…
We pick up the pace, but I don’t feel the pressure. After so many years of “system’s bullying” I took over running, and I am doing it on my terms. My rules, my path. And maybe time for taking over work will come too. Maybe the crushing feeling will stop one day. As of now, I have to stay put. And what will I do? The 4-step plan for sure.
One more thing – I want to start writing the damn book, for real. Oh, wait. Let’s not call it “the damn book”, I feel good about it. I already have a concept and Nolan connection (wink). Nickname of the heroine has changed. But the ending remains the same.
Hey, about that. I have a question – is it better to end a book with a cliffhanger or with proper closure? I’m asking because what if (oh how ironic), what if the book is not good and nobody wants to read it or buy it, and there will be that ONE someone left with a cliffhanger… You stop us both, grabbing my hand firmly. Oh. Ohh…
Just recently I stopped calling myself an “aspiring” writer. I’ve been doing this for almost (!) 2 years now. I am a writer. So, I suppose I will end it the way I want to and maybe… Maybe write another book for that ONE someone. Deal? And just maybe, there will be some of the Kobayashi Maru experience? Who knows? Guess you will have to read it!