Play Smarter


First Posted 15-Apr-2015

I’m one of the good guys. I believe that everyone I deal with will play by basic rules I don’t have to worry about. It makes me very nervous to think about an opponent who isn’t polite, won’t behave in expected ways, and may not be in a mood to be beneficent to me. I love my idea of victory–that I could outmaneuver my opponent in a way that destroys his or her desire to continue the fight. What if, though, my opponent doesn’t care about my little polite, well-ordered and safe world. What if his or her whole strategy is to disrupt mine and destroy my will to continue the fight?
I write my ideas assuming cooperation. I am also the one that says I don’t behave. That someone could best me at my game, at being disruptive, is a bit unnerving. For every paradigm, every system, every better way of doing society, there is a way to game it. There is a way to cheat, to mess with it in a way that produces a desired outcome. My rules for victory may be pleasing to me. They don’t protect me from being beaten even under the rules I suggest.

Bad guy with weapon wants whatever. Bad guy assumes we will be afraid of the threat and comply. It’s presented as a binary choice. Do what I say or I’ll hurt you. What if . . . there were other choices that result in some hurt, some pain, but we don’t have to do what he or she says? Could we do something that screws up the situation to our advantage? Well . . . yeah.

You have to understand your opponent. You have to figure out where he or she is weak. You have also know his strengths. If the game is to destroy his or her will to fight, then you have to know what it is that will ruin it for him or her. Since part of the stated game is to preserve his or her ability to fight, you have to gather intelligence so you know going in the sorts of tactics have the best chance at accomplishing the mission. If you don’t know military history well you’ll need to dig into that. Where is the battle? How does the battlefield affect the fight? It’s tough to think that trying to control the rules could be my ruin. But whatever. I’m a poor warrior if I don’t consider the ways that my careful world could be attacked, even if the point of the attack is to destroy my will to fight. A lot of the fun of it is being challenged. If the fight isn’t real, if there isn’t anything truly being contested, then it’s kinda boring. The path is to celebrate my opponent’s ability to win at my game and take each loss as a teachable moment. Then come back and win.