The Kobayashi Maru Test

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If you “get” the title of the blog, you are a Trekkie!  If not, read on, this blog is for everyone.

Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan is my favorite movie (stop chuckling).  I often re-watch it when I am faced with a complex quandary where original thinking and action is warranted.  

There are two themes embedded within the movie that teach us life lessons.

Theme one explores the notion that challenges the existence of a “no win” situation.  To test cadets in the Command Track at Starfleet Academy, a flight simulation test is used that puts the captain and the crew of the ship in a seemingly “no-win” scenario, usually involving the life and death of others.  This simulation is known as the Kobayashi Maru Test.  It’s a brilliant examination of human thought, logic, and decisions.  To read more about the test, click here.

Theme two, delves into the axiom that states, “the needs of the many out-weigh the needs of the few or the one.”

Captain Kirk invariably discovers creative solutions to every obstacle and often with the help and guidance of his bold staff. There are always possibilities and he vehemently denies ever subscribing to a “no-win” scenario.

But the second theme, related to Spock’s selfless act of self-sacrifice in order to save his colleagues, highlights Spock’s pursuit of a life of meaning and understanding beyond winning and losing.  You have to be logical and sometimes the needs of the many are paramount.

If you did not see the movie here is the gist:

Kirk’s idea of a “win” was Spock surviving and simultaneously saving the ship from the evil Khan (Ricardo Montalban was an excellent baddie!).  However, the ship could only be spared a fiery demise by Spock putting himself in mortal danger and subsequently sacrificing his life.

Spock’s decision creates the ultimate “no-win” for Kirk . . . the death of his best friend.  Kirk then grapples with understanding winning and possibilities very differently.

Unlike Kirk, Spock did not frame his decision as one with a potential for a win or for a loss.  He saved the ship and everyone else on it at the expense of his own life.  This decision was no-brainer for Spock.  After all, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of one.

Now this is a movie so any good, dramatic scene will be about LIFE vs. DEATH.

But let’s face it, in our real lives winning and losing is the dominant paradigm of our age.  The choice of whether or not to subscribe to that paradigm, however, lies with you.

What seemingly “no-win” situation are you facing?  How can you be creative, imaginative, and ingenious in finding solutions without caring about winning or losing? (AND without DYING, please!)

Let others talk about life as a series of wins or losses, because undoubtedly people will.  Revel in the fact that you put yourself out there to explore possibilities, absent of winning and losing.  The only “no-win” is not trying, not understanding, not increasing your awareness.

And if you feel stuck, blocked, angry or exasperated at your “inability” to figure it out, hire a coach!


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