Don’t Get Trapped

Aug 20, 2021


Discover how Star Trek’s Kobayashi Maru, a no-win training scenario, challenges us to reconsider dated decision trees and break the rules!

Star Trek’s Kobayashi Maru is a fictional training simulation known to be a no-win scenario. One Starfleet Academy cadet took the test three times before reprogramming the parameters and ultimately solving the unsolvable. We’ve all experienced the lose-lose dilemma. Sometimes, it is even of our own making, like an insatiable desire to be successful while at the same time fearing success. Or the intense hunger to increase income, while at the same time not feeling worthy of charging a fair rate. So, what gave Cadet James T. Kirk the advantage in his dilemma?

Challenged to rescue the Kobayashi Maru (a disabled civilian vessel in the neutral zone) from the Klingons (sworn enemies of Star Fleet)-- he broke the rules! I enjoyed puzzling through the complex Lucidchart decision tree posing no fewer than eleven choices including: ignoring a distress call, responding to a red alert, and being emotionally compromised. The 2009 movie, Star Trek, depicts a crew going through the motions of the simulation while Kirk casually eats an apple. In the face of certain failure, he expects a positive outcome because he reprogrammed the parameters of the exercise. 

What parameters (or habits) have you established around your challenges?

  • Success: How do you truly define success: mentoring young moms, leading a cohesive team, or winning an award? When you imagine yourself at the pinnacle of triumph, what limiting beliefs keep you from achieving your greatest pursuits?
  • Money: What is your relationship with cash, savings, investing, and spending? How would you define your worthiness of income? What truly motivates you to earn: charitable donations, college tuition, or a 30-foot yacht?
  • Happiness: Limited resources tend to bring out a scarcity mindset and challenge even the most positive. What circular thinking keeps you from being happy, joyful, and at peace? What’s not working? What needs to go?

Following Kirk’s antics during the training exercise, he received a commendation for “creative thinking” or what some would call cheating. If you were to reprogram your own rules, would it really be cheating or simply creating a win-win scenario? Our habitual thoughts, self-talk, and preconceived notions dictate our daily activities. …And, our daily activities shape our future. Don’t get stuck in old, convoluted decision trees. Break your own rules! Get used to the prospect of success, money, and happiness (according to your new definitions). Revise expectations and recommit to possibility. I can’t talk you into it… You are the only one that can avoid the trap of your own Kobayashi Maru

Sources: LucidChart: Can You Beat The Kobayashi Maru Flowchart?; YouTube: Star Trek (2009) (2m 05s); YouTube: Star Trek II The Wrath Of Khan - The Kobayashi Maru (5m 40s).

by Michelle Sugerman • Leading Synergies, LLC • © All Rights Reserved

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