January 29, 2006

Kobayashi Maru

First, a very happy pre-birthday to Fred Hembeck, who - like Jack Benny - celebrates his 39th birthday every year. On January 30th, please send him a nice note and/or post a tribute on your blog. I'm sure Fred would appreciate it.

But enough of that - I was reviewing some scribbles in my Moleskine, and realized that I had wanted to follow up on one of my biggest "gotta blog this" notes. So consider this a post that mixes my usual strengths - a love of pop culture and strong personal observation.

I've admitted my love for Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan (and taken a good natured ribbing from Logan), but for various reasons. In high school, it was because it was new Trek, and it was two hours of starships blasting each other. However, in recent times, it's because of one key concept, one plot device that it introduced.

The Kobayashi Maru.

It's considered a test of character - how someone faces a no-win situation. Do you lose with grace, or do you run like a coward? How do you face complete and utter failure - with confidence, or with fear? (It's also considered a good test of lateral thinking - how creative can you be in a tough situation). Of course, we all know how James Kirk handled it - he changed the conditions of the test.

No, he didn't cheat - he "changed the conditions of the test." It's only been recently that I've realized what this means. The past six months have been my own Kobayashi Maru - leaving a job that I was unhappy with for various reasons, and having faith that things would work out. (It was also made clear that I was not the favorite...but enough on-line bashing. Will tell details privately). Granted, it got scary for awhile (and the first few months are going to be tough) but I realized that Kirk changed the scenario from a no-win to a win-win...because there is no such thing as a no-win situation. He assessed the situation, and found new options for action.

In short, the Kobayashi Maru is a metaphor for life...clever, ain't it?

And now, because I always opt for the cheap laugh...always remember:

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