There should be an instinctual inverse relationship between a human's critical thinking faculties and entering a game of Chicken. Two drivers set on a collision course. Simply mash the gas pedal and drive straight. You swerve, you lose. Unlike Russian Roulette, “winning” lies not in the fateful chamber of a cylinder’s spin, but within your ability to gauge your opponent’s commitment to his or her life and cause. Chicken is a classic game of survival—a duel of binary commitment.
We commit to people everyday: People first, then the surrounding situations, places, and things. Sometimes the present value of our commitments maximizes the future value of our relationships and goals, other times maybe not. Commitments are about when (timing) and how hard (resources) we commit.
To always win a game of Chicken, don’t let the game be played. Pre-commit to winning so the outcome is pre-determined. Before sitting in the driver’s seat:
- Smile at your opponent.
- Show him/her that you’ve disengaged your steering wheel (and willingness to make rational decisions).
- Try to recruit your adversary to shackle your feet and hands in real-time, then blindfold yourself.
- Ready the brick to lean against the gas pedal. Your nemesis forecasts the inevitable outcome should he engage. Beyond the ignition not turning, you are destined for victory.
ONLY APPLY THIS FRAMEWORK THEORETICALLY. I use this extreme example like a puppy uses its favorite chew toy. But, like me, if you are dwelling on your 2011 Resolutions, this always-win strategy is a helpful reminder to set in motion non-negotiable pre-commitment factors to our goals.
To you and yours, I wish you a most amazing Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Years, and any and every reason we can reflect/inflect/celebrate heading into 2011.
Happy Holidays and thank you for a wonderful 2010. Heading full-speed into 2011, may you and everyone your life touches have a most healthful, adventurous, and prosperous year.
Young Impact: We continue to see growing demand for our signature StartUp Scrambles. Feedback has been astounding and word has spread quickly. I’m back in the D.C. from February 4-6th to host 60+ student changemakers from universities across D.C. in partnership with Ashoka’s Youth Venture, SRA Touchstone Consulting, and a growing list of organizations and companies. Our attendees are self-selected leaders who push themselves to pitch, plan, and build startup ventures over one intense weekend. Find more information on the event website.