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No-win scenarios are a part of life

I have been a fan of Star Trek since I first saw “Encounter at Farpoint” something like thirty years ago. The combination of curiosity, science fiction, and a society to which I believe we would do well to aspire genuinely makes me happy. Although I wouldn’t claim that all of Trek is good (but rather that there is a fair amount of schlock in Trek), I enjoy it a lot.

One of the commonly used tropes in Star Trek is that of the no-win scenario. There is a much referred to training exercise known as the Kobayashi Maru, which is intended to teach the lesson that sometimes, we are faced with a situation where we cannot win, that we must not only accept it, but seek to find the best way out of it.

In the episode Peak Performance (TNGS2E21), Captain Jean-Luc Picard counsels Data on the facts of life, speaking to this very fact:

Jean-Luc Picard saying “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose.”
Jean-Luc Picard saying “That is not a weakness. That is Life.”

This is so very true, and it is something we must do our best to remember. Sometimes, all you can do is to mitigate the consequences of your actions, and though you cannot win, you can choose how you lose. I have made no secret of the fact that I am, from time to time, applying for jobs. While my goal is always to get the job, if I do not, I do my best to accept that with grace. To do otherwise is to ensure that the loss reflects poorly on me.

Likewise, when dealing with outages, it is crucial to try to resolve the as soon as possible. When dealing with the aftermath, we must choose whether to punish, or to learn. No-win scenarios are a fact of life, and sometimes all we can do is to mitigate the consequences.

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